I Feel Like Singing

Attitude is essential.

Acts 16:23–30

And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 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 chains were loosed. And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

Everyone sings when they’ve been beaten and thrown into prison, right?

Not. Imagine you’ve been arrested and thrown into prison. What would you be thinking?

Why have I been arrested? How can I get out of here? Those are the questions any normal person would be asking.

But that’s not what’s on Paul’s and Silas’s minds. The amazing thing isn’t that they’re singing; it’s that they feel like singing. It’s as if they had already taken Romans 8:28 to heart long before Paul wrote it.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

They aren’t afraid because they know that everything’s under control. The great epiphany of the born-again experience is realizing that the universe isn’t random. To the untrained eye, everything looks random and out of control. Christian eyes perceive all things working together.

Extraordinary events are extraordinary opportunities to witness for the kingdom and its king.

The end of today’s passage shows that principle playing out.

Many people have memorized Romans 8:28 and are heartened by it, but some make a mistake. It doesn’t say, “all things work together for good for our agenda.” Things work together for the good of the kingdom. The word translated as love here is agapé. Loving God means prioritizing Him over ourselves.

One could translate the first half of Romans 8:28 as, “And we know that all things work together for good to those for whom ‘good’ means ‘good for God.’” Notice how that fits perfectly with the second half.

The martyrdom of many great saints does not contradict Romans 8:28.

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.