The Question & Its Circumstance
Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30b). That question was not asked as a response to a stirring sermon. Rather, it was a cry of anguish that ensued a terrifying event. A prison guard in the city of Philippi uttered that question after a great earthquake had shaken the foundations of the prison under his watch, in which the prison doors were flung open and every prisoner’s chain unfastened. As soon as he realised what had happened, he panicked, thinking that the prisoners had all escaped in the midst of the pandemonium that followed the earthquake. His heart so feared the severe punishment that would be meted out to him due to the escape of the prisoners that he attempted to kill himself with the sword. (It was rather common among the Greeks and Romans in those days to commit suicide when a man was faced with inescapable dangers. History attests to the tragic reality of many who ended their lives by falling on their own swords!)
But his prisoners, the apostle Paul and Silas, did not flee from the prison. When they saw that the jailer was about to kill himself, Paul shouted out with a loud voice, saying, “Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.” At this juncture, the jailer cried out, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Though the jailer knew that his prisoners, Paul and Silas, had been preaching the Gospel of salvation, he did not bother at all to enquire about salvation until great trouble befell him. He had seen their scourging and wounds, and had even heard them singing the songs of salvation and praise all through the night in the prison. Yet, he paid no attention to them. But as soon as he realised what great deliverance he had from his life-and-death circumstance, his soul was awakened to seek salvation.
Like the jailer, many have been spiritually awakened by troubles befalling them and have asked questions that matter the most. Much as God would persuade men of His love for them with gracious and merciful things and experiences, He can also see fit to compel them through fearful events in life. “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God of our salvation” (Psalm 65:5a). God could shake the very ground under a man’s feet, or He could send great loss or terrible events into his life so as to drive him out of all his confidence to be led to Christ.
The Question & Its Significance
A simple study of the words that constitute the question will help us to see the importance of the question.
- “What”: An earnest enquiry about a matter of great significance.
- “Must”: A thing that is most necessary.
- “I”: A great personal concern of every individual. It is not about what others must do, but what I myself must do.
- “Do”: A single-minded commitment to inherit salvation.
- “To be”: A certainty that one should possess about one’s salvation.
- “Saved”: The pardon of all sins and adoption into the household of God through Christ that grants the hope of life everlasting and the bliss of eternity and heaven in the presence of God.
The Question & Its Answer
The answer given to the jailer was: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). There is only one way of salvation, and that is by faith in Jesus Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ alone acted to deliver us from the curse of our sins. He died on the cross bearing our condemnation, that by His death the wrath of God against our sins may be removed forever. Salvation is found in Christ alone, and not in any other name.
Have you trusted the Lord Jesus Christ for your salvation? Romans 10:9 tells us that “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Come and humbly trust the Lord Jesus, and joyfully confess your faith in Him.
Dear friend, make no delay in putting your trust in Jesus Christ. While Scripture assures us that “He that hath the Son hath life”, it also warns us that “he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12)! Heed the loving voice of the Lord to all: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else” (Isaiah 45:22).
The Question & Its “Answer-Bearer”
My final word in this pastoral exhortation is to those who have found Christ as their Saviour – Be ever ready to tell the troubled souls whom you meet about Christ and His salvation. Do not hesitate to proclaim Christ to souls who are weary and troubled. Our Lord Jesus Christ is most wonderful and precious to sinners who are confused and troubled. Christ is the only consolation and salvation for weary men everywhere.