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Recommend this sermon to thousands of Pastors. 

Muddy Waters

Acts 16:25-30


As Paul and Silas go to Philippi to plant the first church in Europe [Gentiles] they need to formulate their presentation.  These people are strangely different from the Jews.  They aren't locked in the grip of the law and religion, they are gripped by the chains of sin and unbelief in anything at all.  They need to hear about God and how to be saved.  They need a clear presentation.  They got it--for years later Paul is in another prison in Rome, writing them a letter, the book of Philippians, and overall they are doing great!


15 years ago my wife had the frightening experience of not knowing where Jacob was. She called out for him, and looked around, because he liked to hide. But then she saw it: the front door open and the screen door cracked! She can tell you about the panic she experienced as she ran out that door, extremely pregnant with twins, and began to search the neighborhood for the little guy. What a relief when she saw him down the street… “Hi mommy!”  And little brother Aaron is now trying to unlock doors and leave.  His new name is 'bolt' because he would like to...and also because of the keyed deadbolts we've added!

Question: If you had a child that was lost, and if you had the chance to get a message to that child, telling them what to do, and how to get home…would you make that message simple or complicated?
(simple! So it is with our souls’ salvation)

[read text]
In Acts 16, a man asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
I’m happy to report that God has made it simple.
        Simple enough for a child to understand!  Jesus said…[slide]

Matthew 18:2-6
2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.

Is. 35:8 (speaking of the King’s highway [to heaven])
the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.
This means a stranger without good sense can find his way on the gospel road.

Salvation is so simple and plain…that often times the intellectual giants stumble over it, while little children have no trouble…but oh, how we adults are guilty of churning the crystal clear stream of salvation into muddy waters of confusion and doubt! [ask Jesus into heart / say prayer / live right]


Ill.—catching crawdads on Current River in MO with dad…I had my net, and would try to snag those boys, but I would stir up the silt and mud along the bank as I aggressively tried to “make it happen”…I was making it difficult on myself, and dad told me so, and I did much better when I let all the silt settle and just looked with clarity…it was crystal clear!  And salvation is so simple we can only recognize it and “catch it” if we look thru our childhood eyes God gave to all His children!  [now I'm ready for some Hillbilly Handfishin'!]

Jesus said in Mt. 11:25
Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.

Our God does not put a premium on ignorance…nor a penalty on intelligence. But He does indeed stress the simplicity of salvation! God wants people to be saved!

I Pet. 3:9 “God is not willing that any should perish…”
God is not playing keep-away with salvation. He wants you to be saved even more than you do. (He went a million miles to make it happen…only 1 step short!)

I.      The Meaning of Salvation

…what must I do to be saved?
First of all, we have a misunderstanding of the term “saved.”
What does it mean to be saved?
sodzo - sodzo: means, “to be delivered.”  But, delivered from what?
What was this Philippian jailer wanting to be saved from?
Some say, the earthquake (no, it’s over)  Some say, saved from his superiors who would kill him since the prisoners escaped. (no, the prisoners didn’t get away)
He said, what must I do to be saved…well, saved from what? Delivered from what?
We give the invitation at the end of the message, and invite lost people to be saved…from what?
The Bible says, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved…from what?

Let’s allow an angel to answer the question…
When an angel announced the birth of Christ to Joseph and Mary, he said,
thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
To be saved is to be saved from sin!

People don’t like that word, sin, anymore! They find it offensive.
Remember when drunkenness was a sin…now “disease”
Pregnancy out of wedlock/mistake, accident
Children rebelling vs. parents/mal-adjusted
(see me after the service and I’ll show you where the adjuster is located!)
shacking up/cohabitation… abortion/freedom of choice… homosexuality/alternate lifestyle... adultery/affair [so sophisticated]… gossip/prayer request

Willie Nelson, before IRS caught him, when still had money, built his own golf course on his own land.
Someone asked him about “par” (explain)
They asked what par was on his course.
He said, it’s my golf course, par is what I want it to be. He pointed at the first hole, “That’s a par 47, yesterday I birdied it”.

That’s how a lot of people approach sin these days, they think they can just define it for themselves…never mind what God says about it…they “feel” it’s ok!
It’s secular humanism…and no matter what evil happens in this world, the talking heads are all over the TV saying, these people aren’t wicked, they’re just sick…they’re not evil, they’re just sick…
…yes, they’re sick alright, they’re sin-sick, and so are we!

The Bible points out the very root of the problem and calls it what it is: sin! We’re born with a sin nature…we aren’t born with a spark of divinity, we’re born with seeds of rebellion.
That’s the bad news…the good news is: Jesus Christ came into the world to save us from sin!

Saved from 3 things: (as it pertains to sin)
1. Penalty of sin—Rom. 6:23 (quote) The apostle Paul calls it the “body of death”
In ancient Rome, they killed criminals in several gruesome ways: crucifixion, thrown to wild animals, and another way: when convicted of a capital crime, many were executed by being attached to a cadaver, a dead body, usually of someone who died of a loathsome disease…they would tie the corpse to the back of the criminal, who was required to work, eat, sleep with that dead body tied to him…as it decayed and decompose, the disease would overtake the criminal, who would then die a slow, agonizing, humiliating death, attached to that cadaver.

The Bible says we all have a body of death that is tied to us, it’s called “sin.” But praise God, Jesus came to save us from the penalty of sin.

2. Jesus also saves us from the pollution and power of sin.
When we get saved, the Lord says, I’ll not only keep you out of hell (what most people think they’re saved from in total) but I’ll give you a new nature…I’ll clean you up from the inside out…I’ll give you power to get victory over bad habits, to learn a better way to live, how to get rid of the things that don’t belong in your life, and replace them with much better things.

Years ago a man in England was in prison, but he was pardoned by the queen…a friend delivered the message to him saying, “I’ve got great news: you’ve been pardoned! You can go free!”/his prisoner friend showed no emotion/ “don’t you understand? The queen has set you free/he unbuttoned his shirt, drew it back, revealed a large cancerous growth in his chest that was eating away his life/ “ask the queen what she can do about this?”
It’s not enough for us to be saved from just the penalty of sin, we must also be saved from the pollution and the power of sin.
Not just the sin that would send us to hell, but the sin that will continue to wreck our life right now.
Not just the sweet by and by, but the nasty now and now.

No wonder the author of “Rock of Ages” wrote:
“be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure!”

The Bible says sin shall no longer have dominion over you…there’s no sin you cannot gain victory over by the power of Christ…yet some of you continue to be led around by the nose by Satan himself, and you think you have no control over it…but I’m here to tell you that Jesus has broken the power of sin in your life, and you need to claim the victory and say, “Enough is enough, I’m claiming the victory today!”

Penalty/pollution (power)/ and…
3. One of these days, we’ll be saved from the very presence of sin.
Rev. 21:27
And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth…but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

What must I do to be saved?…saved from what? Sin!  [penalty/power/presence]

That’s the meaning of salvation…
II.    The Man of Salvation
v. 31        Believe on what? No, believe on Who!
People claim to believe in God.
Every person in hell will believe in God.  That's not how you get belief IN, but rather by belief ON someone!


And show me where the Bible says to ask Jesus into your heart?  It's not there.  It's a benefit of getting saved that He comes in, however!

People claim to believe in the plan of salvation.  You cannot be saved by the plan of salvation…you can only be saved by the MAN of salvation. (Jesus Christ)
Salvation is not in a plan/prayer…It’s not by works/a feeling/not by trying/not by baptism/good intentions/keeping 10 commandments
        It’s not by any plan…it’s by the Man…the Son of Man, the God-Man…Jesus Christ is the Man!


Jacob:  “You da man, daddy!” 


That made me laugh, and it made me proud, that he would feel that way about me…and it delights the heart of Jesus Christ when we realize that He’s the Man of Salvation…Salvation is in Jesus Christ, alone.

Forsaking All I Trust Him (faith)
Faith is only as good as it’s object…is Christ the object of your faith?
Salvation is in Jesus Christ, alone.

III.   The Method of Salvation

Believe (v. 31)
not in—mentally, intellectually (Js. 2:19)
but on—emotionally, spiritually

ill.—man who wouldn’t fly/when asked about it, said, I know intellectually it’s ok [stats say it’s safest travel I can do], but emotionally I can’t handle it/one day realized, I’m a grown man, wasting lots of time, I’m gonna do it/bought ticket, got on board, buckled himself in/made his destination/may have been white knuckles all the way, but he made it!

What was the difference?
Before he believed in airplanes [intellectually…stats]/now he believed on the airplane.

Millions believe in Jesus Christ, (head), but will split hell wide open one day because they’ve never believed on Jesus Christ (heart), they’ve missed heaven by 18 inches! [tract on rack]

Ill.—Jerome, the early church father who translated the Bible from Greek into Latin, said one night he had a dream/Jesus came to his house to visit him/he gathered all his money to give as a gift/Jesus looked at him and said, I don’t want your money/possessions…/same answer/ “Lord, what do you want?”/your sin, that’s what I came here to get!
Jerome later said, “In my dream I gave Jesus my sin, and He gave me eternal life.”
What an exchange!  But you have to believe the exchange will go down that way!

Oh the simplicity of salvation!
Jesus said in Lk. 18 and in 2 other gospels:
Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.
The children get it…we adults make such a mess out of it…how we muddy the waters with confusion. We try so hard to make it difficult.

The difficult part was done by Jesus Christ/hard part/expensive/million miles crossed…only 1 step away, the step of faith of a little child (childlike faith), to come to Jesus:


5 Facts

“I realize I need to be saved”
“I realize I can be saved”
“I ask You to save me!”

As easy as ABC
Admit you are a sinner
Believe on Jesus Christ as your only hope for salvation
Call on Him to save you