Lord's Day Evening Meditations January
Joy In Our Salvation
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always
obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence,
work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Phil. 2: 12.
The salvation spoken of here is the salvation of
our lives, not of our souls. Paul chose the Philippians as the
ones to write this to because of the way they were saved. We have
the story of how they were saved in the Book of Acts, chapter
16. Philippi was "the chief city of that part of Macedonia,
and a colony." v. 12. The fact that the city was a
colony means that the people of that city enjoyed the privilege
of Roman citizenship.
Lydia was living in Philippi at the time that Paul
first visited there. She was not a worshipper of idols; we read
in verse 14: "And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller
of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped
God, heard us." Paul spoke to her and to the other
women that gathered "by a river side, where prayer was
wont to be made," and we read of her: "Whose
heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which
were spoken of Paul." v. 14. She was saved and baptized,
and then she said to Paul, "If ye have judged me to be
faithful to the Lord, come into my house and abide there."
v. 15. Paul and Silas lived at her house during the time that
they were in Philippi.
"And it came to pass, as we went to prayer,
a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us,
which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying."
v. 16. This "spirit of divination" was, according
to the French and also the New Translation, a spirit of Python.
This was similar to the "familiar spirit"
that Saul consulted in 1 Samuel 28. Read verses 6 - 14. Saul visited
this woman that had "a familiar spirit," and
asked her, "Bring me up Samuel. And when the woman saw
Samuel, she cried with a loud voice … And the king said unto her,
Be not afraid: for what sawest thou? … And she said, An old man
cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle." We see
here what these evil spirits could do. This power that the girl
had, in the story in Acts 16, to foretell the future, was of the
Then the servant girl started to follow Paul and
Silas, "and cried, saying, These man are the servants
of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation."
v. 17. We get the name, "most high God," in
Genesis 14. Read verses 16 - 23. Abram had just delivered Lot
and the people of Sodom and brought back the spoils of the enemy.
He was met by Melchizedek who was "the priest of the
most high God." Melchizedek "blessed him and
said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven
and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered
thine enemies into thy hand." Abram rejected the offers
of the king of Sodom with the words, "I have lift up
mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven
and earth, etc."
This scene is a picture of a future time when the
day of grace will be passed. The title "most high God"
presents Him as the "possessor of heaven and earth,"
not as a Saviour God. The Apostle Paul was a servant of the Lord
Jesus Christ, a rejected Saviour. The slave girl with the spirit
of Python was a servant of the devil.
She "followed Paul and us … many days,"
but when Paul commanded the evil spirit to come out of her, what
a change took place! When Paul refused the testimony of the evil
spirit, he had to take a place of rejection, like the Lord. He
and Silas were brought to the magistrates and accused, "These
men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs,
which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being
Romans." They were beaten and thrown into prison where
the jailor "thrust them into the inner prison, and made
their feet fast in the stocks."
"And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed,
and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them."
In the other translation this reads, "and the prisoners
listened to them." v. 25. As we read this story we
can see the meaning of some portions of the Epistle to the Philippians.
Paul and Silas had been unjustly accused, whipped, and put into
prison with their feet in the stocks, but they were not complaining.
They were singing praises to God! In Phil. 4:4 Paul wrote, "Rejoice
in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice." That
is just what he and Silas did in the prison in Philippi. They
felt very near to God in the prison, and even though they had
been whipped and their feet were in the stocks, still they prayed
and praised God! "The prisoners listened to them,"
and what a blessing that was for them to hear Paul and Silas praying
and praising God!
"And suddenly there was a great earthquake,
so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately
all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed."
But even though "the doors were opened, and every one's
bands were loosed," yet no one escaped. The custom
was that if a jailer lost a prisoner, he had to pay with his life.
Here the jailer was prepared to take his own life: "He
drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that
the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice,
saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here."
This reminds me of when Paul was in the ship in
the storm in Acts 27. "For there stood by me this night
the angel of God, Whose I am, and Whom I serve, saying, Fear not,
Paul: thou must be brought before Cæsar: and, lo, God hath given
thee all them that sail with thee." Though the ship
was tossed about in the storm, and all thought that they must
certainly perish, Paul told them, "There shall not an
hair fall from the head of any of you." God had given
to Paul the souls of all them that sailed with him. "Rejoice
in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice." They
saw Paul's joy in the Lord, and it affected them.
That is the way it was in the prison at Philippi.
The others saw the joy of Paul and Silas. The jailer saw them
in their suffering, yet so happy in the Lord, that he wanted the
same thing. He asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
The answer was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved, and thy house." He got the salvation,
and he got the joy that went with it, for, that night, "when
he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and
rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."
What joy we see in this story: Paul and Silas rejoicing
even though beaten and in prison, and the jailer rejoicing in
his new-found salvation. As we read the book of Philippians, we
find that it is full of this same joy. If we were as full of joy
in our salvation, surely others would want to have it also. E.B.