Sovereign Grace Leading and Saving in Philippi

Posted: March 4, 2008 by Rick Hogaboam in Biblical Studies, Theology
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I was meditating and thinking upon God’s sovereign hand at work in saving all whom He has appointed to salvation. He has decreed the salvation of His beloved adopted children and WILL SEE TO IT IMMUTABLY that all His lost sheep are gathered before the day of His appearing.  Paul’s journey to Philippi is undeniably marked by God’s Sovereign grace. Consider the following passages:

Acts 16:9  And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”

Here we see God at work in Sovereignly revealing His will for Paul through a dream. No dream, no trip to Macedonia. God is at work in directing where Paul should go. God is sovereignly guiding and directing His affairs so that He might save those whom He has appointed.

Acts 16:11-12 So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, (12)and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days.

This stop in Philippi will prove to be no coincidence or mere R&R. God has souls to save and has sent Paul here to see to it that some lost sheep are found.

Acts 16:13-14  (13) And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. (14) One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.

Lydia is the first sheep to be brought in. Notice how the Lord opened her heart. Though she was a worshipper of God and devote in her prayer, she still needed the Lord to open her heart so that she might believe and embrace the gospel. Sovereign grace leading Paul to Lydia, and Sovereign grace opening her heart!!!

Acts 16:16-19 (16) As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling.(17) She followed Paul and us, crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.”(18) And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.(19) But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers.

A demon possessed slave girl is delivered in the name of Jesus. Notice how Satan is at work in disrupting Paul’s ministry, and the name of Jesus delivers this girl. The implication is that she was truly delivered because her owners were very unhappy that the spirit of divination was gone, which they had profited from. Here is a picture of God’s sovereign power setting a captive free. She didn’t come to seek salvation, but rather to hinder Paul and annoy him. Instead, she is set free from Paul’s declaration of the name of Jesus. No declaration, no deliverance. Again, God is Sovereignly delivering this girl from bondage. Sovereign grace delivering!!!

Acts 16:25-31 (25) About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,(26) and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened.(27) When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped.(28) But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.”(29) And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas.(30) Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”(31) And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and Silas are Sovereignly sent to prison because God has more people yet to save. Does God really send people to prison? Yes. Paul and Silas are praising in prison and God sends down an earthquake, setting the prisoners free. As Paul and Silas are walking around, they see the guard seconds away from suicide. Paul cried out with a loud voice just before the sword pierced into the guard’s body. The guard trembles and falls down asking what he must do to be saved. He and his household were saved. No Paul and Silas in prison, no God-sent earthquake, then no salvation for this jailer. A jailer but seconds away from perdition is instead saved through Paul’s interceding cry. Sovereign grace leading and saving once again!!!

I am a so-called “Calvinist” quite simply because I see it everywhere in the text of Scripture. As I meditate upon the providence of God more and more, I am assured that God indeed loved me in a specially peculiar way…so much so that he sent modern day Paul and Silas’ into my very own life to lead me to salvation. God opened up my hard heart so that I might delight in the gospel, which is Jesus Himself as infinite treasure. I was in bondage to darkness and the name of Jesus set me free. I was on my way to perdition and a modern day Paul cried out with a loud voice to intercept me from the path of destruction and lead me to salvation. It is sovereign amazing grace that saved a wretch like me!!!


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