There are many questions of importance that we face throughout our lives and experiences. There are questions about health, romance, sex, money, jobs, war and peace and politics. There are questions about God, life and death. There are so many questions to ponder. But there is one question that was asked so important that one of the inspired New Testament writers recorded it in Scripture. The question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, KJV).
The man asking that question thinking his prisoners had escaped from his jail was about to commit suicide. He understood that if his prisoners had escaped the authorities would administer a fate to him worse than death and at the end surely execute him. So he would avoid that and take his own life (Verse 27).
His prisoners were well-known Christians. The famous Christian, the Apostle Paul, had been converted to Christianity after hearing a fiery sermon by an early church deacon, Stephen (Acts 7). Before his conversion, Paul had been one of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem charged with the responsibility of arresting Christians and putting many of them to death. Now he was not only a believer, but a leading proponent for Christ.
This jailer had heard Paul and Silas singing in the night. No doubt he mused over their plight. Here were two men who had been arrested, beaten with many stripes and thrown into his prison where they would soon appear before the authorities for trial. He had been charged with the task of keeping them safe. To make sure they were secure he took them to the inner prison-the most secure area of confinement. Since he was certain there was no way for them to escape he drifted off to sleep.
But Paul and Silas didn’t feel like sleeping. Instead, at midnight, they sang songs, spiritual songs and prayed to God. In answer to their prayers there was a great earthquake. The very foundations of the prison were shaken. All of the doors to the prison were opened and every prisoner’s chains were loosened. No doubt these men could have escaped, but they did not choose to do so.
This calamity woke the jailer from his sleep and immediately he thought the worst. Surely his prisoners had escaped and the logical thing for him to do was kill himself. He couldn’t dare face his superiors with this massive failure to keep safely the men in his charge.
When Paul saw what the jailer was about to do, he shouted for him to stop, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” (Acts 16:28).
Here is where one must read between the lines of Scripture. And I have no problem doing this. The jailer, no doubt, was familiar with Paul’s background. He knew why Paul was beaten and why he was in jail. He knew that sooner or later Paul would be tried and most likely put to death. He had heard the two men singing and praying and praising God. All of this impressed him, made him consider his own spiritual condition.
It was then he fell down before Paul and Silas and formed that most important question, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
That question lives on today. It has survived all the earthquakes, floods and wars and political divisions of all stripes. If the Bible is true (and I believe it to be so) the answer to this question is vital-a matter of spiritual life, or spiritual death.
Paul did not hesitate to tell the jailer what he must do. It was a simple answer. He did not suggest the man enroll in a study of sacred Scripture. He did not suggest he seek out a minister of his own faith. He simply said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31, KJV).
Jesus does the saving. The individual does the believing. You must know something of Jesus-who He is, what He did and what He will do in the future. All of this is clearly recorded in Scripture. The jailer would have already known this background through the news of the day and through the singing and testimony of Paul and Silas. He had some knowledge. Then Paul and Silas shared with him the Word of the Lord (Verse 32). Now he knew about the death and resurrection of Jesus. He had experienced the moving of God through the earthquake and the timely attention of Paul and Silas that saved his life.
He gladly believed on the Lord that night. Later, apparently his entire household believed and was baptized (Acts 16:33, KJV).
Have you considered this great question? Have you joined the jailer and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? I hope so. If not, there will never be a better time than today. I am certain that the word of the Lord Paul shared with the Philippian jailer included the following: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:14-17 KJV).
This article first published in Ezine Articles
Salvation Link: Titus 2:11
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,