Temple Baptist Church - 9-15-2010
Ephesians 3:1; Acts 16:16-31
A. In chapter 2, we found out where we were; what the Lord did for us; what the Lord is doing in us. In chapter 3, the Apostle Paul uses a phrase, “the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.” Five times in the Pauline Epistles, Paul refers to himself as a “prisoner.”
B. One of the best examples of what Paul is expressing in verse 1 is found in the story of Paul and Silas imprisoned in Acts 16. They have been placed in stocks in the inner prison for preaching the Word of God. At midnight, as they sing the high praises of God, there is an earthquake and the doors to the prison are opened. They remain self-imprisoned and the guard is astounded. He asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved,” and they lead him and his family to the Lord.
C. The prisoners were loosed and yet voluntarily remained in prison. I preached on the subject some years ago, “A Prison Without Bars.” When the Lord saves the believer, He makes them free. They are eternally saved! Free from sin; free from judgment; free from condemnation; free from the fear of death and hell; free to live.
D. Some children of God choose a life of rebellion and self-gratification. They have been set at liberty through the grace and mercy of Christ and then become friends and followers of the world. This is not what the Lord saved them to. Chapter 2:10 says that we are created unto good works.
E. The grateful believer becomes a bond slave and serves his Master out of love and gratitude. This is referred to in verse one of this chapter: a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ for you Gentiles. A prison without bars!
WHAT IS A PRISON? WHAT IS A PRISON WITHOUT BARS?
1. A Prison Is A Place Of Choice
a. Human Prisons – Commission of a crime.
b. Spiritual Prisons – Consecration of a life.
Philippians 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and [my] hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but [that] with all boldness, as always, [so] now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether [it be] by life, or by death. 21 For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.
Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
2. A Prison Is A Place Of Detention
a. Human Prisons – Locked in by Security guards.
b. Spiritual Prisons – Locked in by self.
Ephesians 6:19-20 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Philemon 10-13 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds: 11 Which in time past was to thee unprofitable, but now profitable to thee and to me: 12 Whom I have sent again: thou therefore receive him, that is, mine own bowels: 13 Whom I would have retained with me, that in thy stead he might have ministered unto me in the bonds of the gospel:
3. A Prison Is A Place Of Depriving Of Personal Freedoms
a. Human Prison – Limited by Locks.
b. Spiritual Prisons – Limited by Love.
1 Corinthians 8:13 Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.
2 Corinthians 12:15 And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
4. A Prison Is A Place Of Protection
a. Human Prisons - The Protection of Society
b. Spiritual Prisons – The Protection of Self
Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome.
2 Timothy 4:17 Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
5. A Prison Is A Place Of Controlled Surroundings
a. Human Prisons – Nothing gets in or out Unnoticed
b. Spiritual Prisons – Nothing gets in or out Unnoticed
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.
6. A Prison Is A Place Of Restitution
a. Human Prisons – A debt is paid to Society
b. Spiritual Prisons – A debt is paid to Society
Romans 1:14 I am debtor both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise.
2 Corinthians 5:18 And all things [are] of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;