Servants of God

Bible Book: Acts  16 : 17
Subject: Christian Living; Discipleship; Faithfulness; Servants of God
[The Substance Of A Message Preached By The Rev. Francis W. Dixon At Lansdowne Baptist Church, Bournemouth, England, On 18 August 1968. - PastorLife expresses gratitude to David and Mary Tucker, son-in-law and daughter of the late Francis Dixon, for making the Lansdowne sermons available. For more information go to]

Acts 16:17, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17)

These words of my text were spoken by a demon-possessed girl, but in spite of her condition she  did actually speak the truth. This is very significant. She was under the control of an evil spirit, for it was the demon who was speaking through her. We know this because in verse 18 we read that Paul "turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." The point for us to notice is that the demon knew full well that Paul, Silas and Luke were servants of God who were preaching the gospel, and it is very challenging for us to observe the fact that in these days, when many deny the deity of Christ and the authority and uniqueness of the Christian gospel,          the Devil and his legions do nothing of the sort. In the gospel record of our Lord delivering the  maniac of Gadara from demon-possession we are told that when the demon within the man saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before Him and said with a loud voice, "What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high?" Thus, the evil spirit testified to the deity of our Lord; just as the evil spirit which possessed this fortune-teller testified to the fact that Paul and Silas were servants of God who were engaged in making known the way of salvation.

What does this short text tell us, and how do the truths contained in it apply to and prove helpful to ourselves?

I. God Uses Men As His Servants

The first thing we learn surely is that God uses men, and not angels, as His servants. Notice what  the damsel said - "These men are the servants of the most high God..." I want quite legitimately to place the emphasis upon this word "men", for it is men, like Paul, Silas and Luke (and women too), whom the Lord uses for the extension of His kingdom and for the salvation of souls. D.L. Moody once said, "I believe that if an angel were to wing his way from earth to heaven and were to say that there was one poor soul needing a Saviour, and if God were to ask who among the angels were willing to come down to this earth and live here for fifty years and lead that one to Jesus Christ, every angel in heaven would volunteer to go!"

God does have a ministry for angels; they serve Him in His immediate presence and wait to do His bidding, and this frequently includes caring for and protecting God's children. But concerning the matter of salvation, of making known the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, God does not ask the angels to do this. He asks men and women like our selves to do it. We have been saved that we may serve Him in this way. He has chosen us for this purpose. His plan is that through us the whole  world shall be evangelized and that all men shall hear the way of salvation and know how to be saved. The angels could do this job most effectively, but in actual fact they are not qualified in the way that saved sinners are qualified, for "they have never known a fallen world like this" and cannot speak from personal experience of the amazing and wonderful grace of God in salvation.

How challenging this is! The Lord's plan and purpose is that you and I, who have been redeemed by His precious blood, may be the ones to lead our loved ones, our friends, our neighbors and all those within our reach to know Him as their Lord and Savior. How slow we are to do it! How preoccupied we can become with other good things, but less important things!

II. God's Servants Are Privileged And Responsible

A second lesson which shines out of our text is that to be God's servant is a great privilege and a great responsibility. The exact wording of the text signifies this, because the damsel did not say, "These men are the servants of God"; she said, "These men are the servants of the most high God." This immediately emphasizes the privilege of our high calling, and also the responsibility of it. As a matter of fact, it is very hard for us to take it in, that God, our God, who is the most high God, has selected us and caught us up into His eternal purpose for the redemption of mankind. What an immense privilege it is for anyone to be a servant of the most high God, and what a great responsibility rests upon such a one!

There is one verse in the epistles which emphasizes this, and it is 2 Corinthians 5:20 - "Now then  we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God." In simple terms this means that we are representatives of the King in a foreign land, for that is what an ambassador is. We are here in the foreign land of this world, and we are here "in Christ's stead".

Did you ever think of it like this in relation to your own home and loved ones, that the Lord has placed you there "in Christ's stead", in order that He might live His life in you and speak His word through you? What a privilege, and what a responsibility!

Did you ever think of it like this in relation to the place where you work, whether it is in hospital, or office, or shop, or factory, or in the home? You are a Christian, and God has placed you there, and you are there "in Christ's stead", so that He may manifest His life in your body and through your actions and so that He may speak His word through your lips. What a privilege, and what a responsibility!

Did you ever think of it like this in relation to the mission field? I wonder whether you have seriously faced up to the question as to where God really wants you to live and labor for Him? You may live in Birmingham, but He may want you in Bolivia; you may live in Liverpool, but He may want you in Liberia; you may live in Cardiff, but He may want you in Congo. To be in the place of God's choice, doing God's work, living day by day "in Christ's stead" - what a privilege, and what a responsibility!

III. God's Servants Are To Show God's Way To Salvation

We also learn from our text that the servant's task is to show men and women God's way of salvation. The damsel was quite right when she spoke about "the way of salvation" - notice the definite       article here. The girl did not say "a way of salvation" or "some way of salvation"; she said, "the way    of salvation", and she was right, for there is only one way of salvation. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." He also said, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved"; and in Acts 4:12 we read, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved." Our job, then, is to show men and women the way of salvation, and to do this effectively involves three things, all of which are absolutely necessary.

If we are to show men and women God's way of salvation we must begin by finding the needy soul. I like the word "us" in our text: "These men are the servants of the most high God, which show unto us the way of salvation." Before we can preach the gospel effectively we must have someone to whom we can preach; just as Paul had his audience on this occasion.


Some time ago I came across a book entitled "How to Make a Rabbit Pie", and the author's first point as we began to outline the method which one should adopt was this. He said, "First, get your rabbit."

This seemed to make good sense, for it is surely not much use to start to make a rabbit pie unless you have a rabbit! If you want to catch a fish you must go and fish where the fish are; and if you want to win a soul you must go to where the soul is waiting to be won. In actual fact this presents no problem at all, for there are men and women everywhere who need to hear the message of God's salvation, and many of these people are longing for someone to go to them to communicate the gospel to them. They are lost, helpless and needing the Savior.

Are we doing anything about them? The new generation of young people, for instance? Some of us who are older and who would be regarded as very 'square' are inclined to look down at these youngsters and even to write them off as a bad lot. How wrong this is! They are souls for whom Christ died. So are our unsaved loved ones, and so are all those overseas who have never heard about the Savior. Before we can preach the gospel, and in order that we may do so effectively, we must find the needy soul.