Delivered from prison – a picture of salvation

Acts 12:5-10 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.

Even though this event involves Peter and Peter was already saved, the description of what happened to him is a good picture of what happens in salvation. Let’s look at it and compare it to salvation:

In verse 5, we see he was kept in prison. When we were lost, we were kept in bondage by our sins. We also see the church praying for him. Churches all around the world are praying for the lost to be saved.

In verse 6, we see he was sleeping between two soldiers. The lost are asleep and need to awake to righteousness. The lost have two soldiers trying to keep the person shut up in prison: the flesh and the devil.

In verse 7, we see the angel of the Lord coming to him. An angel is a messenger – someone who was sent by God to deliver a message. Christians are sent by God to deliver the message of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notice also, it says a light shined in and then the messenger smote him on the side and raised him up. The light did not awaken him: he needed to be smote on the side first. Telling a lost person the good news does not awaken him or her to his or her need of a saviour. The lost person needs to be smote on the side first – he or she needs to hear the bad news about sin first. What does that mean? We need to use the word of God, more specifically the laws of God, to show that the lost person is guilty before God. The place where the lost person is smote is significant. It wasn’t on the back or on the head or on the leg – it was on the side -probably near his heart. As in our court system, a defendant cannot plead guilty of breaking the law if he or she does not know what the law is. Once the sinner pleads guilty and begs for mercy, the chains will fall off.

In verse 8, we see the messenger telling him to gird himself, bind on his sandals, put his garment on, and follow. The saved are to have their loins girt about with truth, their feed shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, put on their robes of righteousness, and follow the Lord.

In verse 9, we see that he wasn’t sure about what had just happened. When God saved me, I didn’t understand everything about what just happened. I knew something happened. I knew I was different. I knew I had a great burden lifted – like I had just been released from bondage.

Finally, in verse 10, we see him go through the first and second ward and then the gate to the city opened on its own. When we die, our soul and spirit will travel through the first and second wards – the first and second heaven – the earth’s atmosphere and outer space – and then the gate of that city afar off will open to us and we will enter paradise.

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