1. Who here has received some good news this past week?
2. Some news is simply too good to keep to oneself and must be shared. What is the typical kind of news that people just can’t wait to share with each other? (New job. Engagement. Expecting a baby. Won the lottery!—Ha! Ha!)
3. Can you think of a time when you have directly influenced someone for good or for bad? (Could be a fashion trend you set; a time you got someone else in trouble; a person you mentored. Etc.)
4. While we are on the subject: Do you think a family or a culture has more influence on a person’s life? (A Christian family goes to church together, but there is so much more. A Christian family strives to live out the teachings of Jesus in their home as an everyday lifestyle. And yet, we all know of situations where a person was raised in a Christian family and went astray—the Prodigal Son. Some return and some don’t.)
When a person’s life is changed by the good news of Jesus Christ they are a new person. As a result, they desire to share with others, especially family members, the difference that Jesus has made in their lives!
Last week we left Paul and Silas in Derbe and Lystra where they had enlisted Timothy to go with them. They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia and found themselves in Troy. There a Macedonian man appeared to Paul in a vision pleading with him to come over to Macedonia and help them. They went there and the first convert in Europe was a lady named Lydia at Philippi. They stayed there for some time and were harassed by a girl who had an evil spirit in her. Paul had finally had enough of her badgering and commanded the spirit to leave her, which it did. Because her owners had lost their source of income they incited a mob against Paul and Silas. They were arrested, beaten and thrown in prison. We will study verses 16-19 in greater detail two weeks from now.
Read Acts 16:19-24
1. Who was responsible for what happened to Paul and Silas?
2. What actions were taken against Paul and Silas?
3. What was the charge against them? (They were seriously disturbing our city! See verse 21!)
4. What was the number one job of the local authorities in Roman occupied cities? (Keep the peace! Any type of unrest was snuffed out promptly.)
Then the “mob” joined in and the magistrates acted quickly! As was the case most of the time, the charges were false!
5. What are some concerns that keep people from accepting Jesus Christ as Lord today? (Some of the reasons people don’t accept Jesus include pride, doubt, shame, or feelings of unworthiness. Unbelievers can also be hostile to Christians when they perceive that the message of the gospel threatens their economic livelihood. Many also don’t want to give up their sinful lifestyle.)
The Opportunity! Read Acts 16:25-28
1. How did Paul and Silas respond to their imprisonment? (They maintained a positive attitude. Although they were in a physical prison, they were spiritually free to worship God. Instead of wallowing in misery, they prayed and sang hymns of praise to God!)
2. We are told only that the other prisoners were listening to them not their reaction to them. What do you think they were thinking at this point?
Paul and Silas’s worship of God became a witness to the other prisoners. When other people see believers praising God in spite of their difficult circumstances, our worship becomes a witness!
3. Ask yourself: If I was in the same circumstances as Paul and Silas, how would I be responding?
4. What can we learn from Paul’s example of peace and joy in the midst of hardship? (God is in control at all times!)
5. How did Paul and Silas demonstrate confidence in God?
There is nothing quite like suffering to teach us what true joy is all about. While we don’t long to experience suffering, God will use our circumstances for His good (Rom. 8:28; Jas. 1:2-4).
6. I imagine the earthquake woke the jailer. Why would he kill himself?
7. Why weren’t all the prisoners gone? (They were most likely in shock at what had just happened.)
The Conversion! Read Acts 16:29-32
Note that Paul stopped the Jailer from killing himself.
1. How do you think Paul and Silas’s response to being imprisoned and not leaving when the opportunity presented itself, opened the door to reach the Jailer with the Gospel? (A jailer’s life was at stake if his prisoners escaped. After a violent earthquake shook the prison’s doors open, the jailer took desperate measures.)
2. Why do you think the Jailer came in before Paul and Silas trembling?
3. What prompted the Jailer to ask about receiving salvation? (Because Paul and Silas demonstrated their faith in God through worship, the jailer wanted to know more about this God they served.)
As we live out our faith in Christ, life’s problems can create opportunities to witness to unbelievers.
4. What is your answer to the question asked by the jailer? (Discuss how you would answer his questions in groups of 4 or 5 briefly.)
Notice Paul included the jailer’s entire family in the good news!
The Transformation! Read Acts 16:33-34
1. What tangible difference can be seen in the jailer as a result of his belief in Jesus? (The jailer and his family washed the wounds of Paul and Silas. Also, they were all baptized, the jailer provided a meal for them in his own home. The jailer was filled with joy because he and his household believed in Jesus.)
2. What evidence can be pointed to today that indicates a person is a follower of Jesus? (When people come to know Christ, there will be evidence of good works because of their belief in Jesus. The transformation in people’s lives because of their belief in Jesus produces evidence observable to others.)
Read Acts 16:35-40
Summarize and Challenge!
Conversion is the first step in a process of lifelong transformation.
1. If transformation leads to observable demonstrations of faith, how do we explain the lack of ministry by such a large number of people who claim to be Christians? (There are two possibilities that present themselves immediately: 1—The individual never believed in the first place. 2—Those who are believers failed to disciple the new believer effectively!)
2. With whom in your family can you share the gospel of Jesus?
3. What kind of example are you setting before others who need to hear the gospel of Jesus?
4. Does your life make others “thirsty” for Jesus?
Pray asking God to provide opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus and the boldness to do so!