What Must I Do To Be Saved?
This question from the Philippian jailer is one that many ask. And that all should ask. What must we do?
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”Acts 16:29-34 NIV
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.
Paul and Silas had been beaten and thrown into prison and the stocks because they had healed a girl. Yet instead of bemoaning the unfairness of their treatment, they had sung and praised God well into the night. After an earthquake had freed them from their bonds, they chose to remain in prison, probably continuing in song. And that prompted the exchange in the passage above.
Acknowledging Your Need
“What must I do to be saved?” What would prompt such a question from a Roman jailer? Salvation was likely the furthest thing from his mind when he had gone to bed that evening. But during the night, listening to the singing and praise, and seeing the witness of Paul and Silas’ lives, something happened. This jailer realized something was missing from his life. And not just that something was missing. But that something was wrong. The Holy Spirit spoke to him through the witness of Paul and Silas. And he recognized his lostness and need of a savior. That is the first step to salvation. Acknowledging that you are lost and need a savior.
Cry Out To the One Who Can Save You
The second step of the jailer was to cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” He knew it was not within himself. So he cried out for help. And God used Paul and Silas to answer that cry. You may well acknowledge your need for a savior. But that in itself does nothing for you. You must take the next step and call out for God’s help.
Believe In the Lord Jesus, and You Will Be Saved
Paul and Silas’s response to the jailer was short and to the point. But it has profound implications. Believe means “to believe, put one’s faith in, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow.” It is much more than intellectual acknowledgment. The jailer had put his trust in Rome and Caesar as lord. He was being challenged to put his trust in Jesus as Lord. The challenge was to leave behind the old life and live a new life.
What must you do to be saved? Die to your old way of life and live a new life. A life of surrender to Jesus as Lord.
The Proper Response
The jailer believed, as apparently did all those in his house. Immediately they were baptized, making a public declaration of their new allegiance. And then the jailer, who had earlier put these two beaten men into the stocks, apparently without tending to their wounds first, ministered to them. He bound up their wounds. And he set a meal before them.
Believing in Jesus as Lord demands a change in a person’s life. Not to obtain salvation, but as a reflection of the change of allegiance. If Jesus truly is Lord, rather than Rome, or self, you will be different.
The Sinner’s Prayer
Nowhere in the Scripture is anyone instructed to say anything like a sinner’s prayer of confession and acceptance of Jesus. It is not a requirement for your salvation. Romans 10:9-10 does add an element to this passage, though. Paul again expresses the need to believe. But also includes an admonition to confess Jesus as Lord. Tell people what has happened in your life. Don’t keep it a secret.
But spending regular time in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers is essential to your growth and development. If you have made Jesus Lord, read his instruction to you in the Bible. Spend time with him in prayer. And join together with other believers in fellowship, encouragement, and worship.
If you have recently come to accept Jesus as Lord, please leave a comment below. Or if you have questions about this decision, I would love to help you with it.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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