On "What Must I Do To Be Saved?"

By John David Clark, Sr. - September, 1989

The jailor was not a believer. In fact, he knew nothing of the gospel of Jesus. When he heard of the two men talking of a man who came back from the dead, he assumed that they were either lunatics or inventing a religion for the sake of financial gain. Now that he had them in his maximum security prison, they could carry on their craft no more. But he couldn’t help but marvel at the attitude these two strangers demonstrated as they were being brought to prison. Bleeding heavily from the vicious flogging they had received from the rulers of the city, they had shown no animosity, no bitterness, and voiced no desire for vengeance. Rather, they seemed to be content with their condition, even joyous - to the extent that the pain would allow it. What kind of men were they? Who was the man Jesus, of whom they spoke, and for whom they so gladly suffered? What is it that drives some people to such devotion? The jailor understood nothing, nothing except these men were different, far different from the typical rabble which were brought to him by the magistrates for safe keeping.

That was what was so very queer. The magistrates had ordered him to keep these two men in the inner prison, were the most dangerous, most violent criminals were kept. And from his many years in this business, he had learned to discern those kinds of men. These two were not that kind. Maybe they were con artists. But dangerous, violent criminals? Never. But if they were con artists, they were the best he’d ever seen. All the others worried when they were caught. These two seemed to be as confident of their cause as ever. The jailor thought long and hard that evening, trying to understand the two new prisoners, but he could not. They were like none he’d ever seen. And the Spirit with which they conducted themselves spoke to him in words he could only feel, and it made him feel strange. At the supper table in his little house beside the prison, his wife noticed that his typically robust appetite was gone. He seemed distracted. “At any rate,” he thought to himself as he at last lay down and gazed at the quiet stars over Philippi’s late-night streets, “None but one of the gods could rescue them now.” And since Roman law demanded that the jailor be executed if one of his prisoners escaped while in his custody, that thought gave him some measure of relief. “If they are really sent from the gods,” he reasoned, “let the gods rescue them.” And again, the jailor felt a measure of comfort. Neither he nor anyone else he knew had actually experienced a visitation from one of the gods. But hadn’t he heard that it was one of these two men, the one called Paul, who had cast the spirit of divination out of the young slave girl? It was strange to the jailor, how the two men in his inner prison bothered him so. “If they are really from the gods....” He didn’t complete his thought this time. The possibilities were too overwhelming. He lay back on his bunk and tried to think of it no more.

Deep in the heart of the dank, pitch-dark prison, lay the two servants of Jesus, Paul and Silas. The brutal whipping given them the previous afternoon had left them bloody and exhausted, their backs had been ripped, and now were caked with dried blood. Every movement both reminded them of their ordeal and extended its painful effect. Bound hand and foot, they could do nothing but sit in the darkness and think.

Perhaps they thought of their privilege to be sent with the Word of truth. Paul, no doubt, remembered the time when he, too, persecuted those who loved and served Jesus. Maybe Silas asked Paul of his miraculous conversion, and told Paul of his own. The Bible doesn’t tell us these things. What we are told is that at midnight Paul and Silas were led of the Spirit to pray, and that, afterwards, they began to sing praises to God.

AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, SO THAT THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE PRISON WERE SHAKEN. AND IMMEDIATELY ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED, AND EVERY ONE’S BANDS WERE LOOSED. AND THE KEEPER OF THE PRISON AWAKING OUT OF HIS SLEEP, AND SEEING THE PRISON DOORS OPEN, HE DREW OUT HIS SWORD, AND WOULD HAVE KILLED HIMSELF, SUPPOSING THAT THE PRISONERS HAD BEEN FLED.

BUT PAUL CRIED WITH A LOUD VOICE, SAYING, “DO THYSELF NO HARM, FOR WE ARE ALL HERE.”

“Those two prisoners!” The jailor’s heart shook with terror. “The gods have come to save them and to destroy us!”

THEN HE CALLED FOR A LIGHT. AND SPRANG IN, AND CAME TREMBLING, AND FELL DOWN BEFORE PAUL AND SILAS, AND BROUGHT THEM OUT, AND SAID, “SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?”

Now, let’s pause to consider this frightened jailor’s question. What was he REALLY asking? He was altogether ignorant of the gospel of Christ, so HE COULD NOT HAVE BEEN ASKING HOW TO BE BORN AGAIN! When the jailor pleaded, with all sincerity and fervor, “What must I do to be saved?” he was not in the least meaning “What must I do to be converted.” His question was, “Since I have offended your God by imprisoning you, what must I do to be saved from his terrible wrath?” Paul’s answer was short and to the point:

BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND THOU SHALT BE SAVED, AND THY HOUSE.

Now, Paul was not telling the jailor to make a profession of faith in Jesus so that he could be converted. He was answering the jailor’s question. The only way anyone will escape the coming wrath of Almighty God is to be a believer in Jesus. When Paul and Silas told him to believe in Jesus, no doubt the jailor responded, with all his strength, “I will! I will! Just tell me who he is!” And sitting in the jailor’s humble house those early morning hours, that is exactly what Paul did. The jailor washed the torn and bloody backs of the men of God, and then, after Paul had spoken to him and to his house the word of the Lord, the jailor had his sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb. The jailor’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” is answered fully by Paul’s response, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” But understanding what believing on Jesus means, isn’t always easily known. One thing is absolutely certain. We need to understand what “believing on Jesus” means, for whatever it means, we must do it if we would escape the wrath of God.

I have included with the BROADCASTER a list of verses from the Bible which teach us many, but not all the things which believing in Christ includes. You will notice, every one of these verses tells of at least one thing which is demanded of every person who hopes to be saved from the lake of fire, the second death. Please consider the seriousness and truth of this. When we stand before Jesus, these are the things by which he will determine our eternal destiny. Oh, that God would impress upon our hearts the importance of knowing the truth in this matter! The second death is a place of unimaginable anguish and pain. And eternal life with Christ will be a state of unspeakable joy. Search out the matter. Don’t fall victim to the deceivers who speak of a salvation at no cost. Your soul is far too precious not to consider diligently its destiny.

God bless every one of you, is our fervent prayer in Christ.

What Must I Do To Be Saved?
References
Repent Acts 17:30; Lk.13:1-5
...and believe Mk. 1:14-15; Acts 16:29-31
...and be baptized Mk.16:15-16; 1Pet.3:21-22
...and be sanctified 2 Thess 2:13; Rom.15:16
Obey Christ Heb.5:8-9
Work Jas.2:14, 19-26; Rom.2:5-11
Have faith 1 Pet.1:7-9
Walk in the Spirit Rom.8:13; Gal.5:16-21
Call upon the name of the Lord Acts 2:21 (Zeph.3:9; Rom.10:12-14a!)
Confess Christ Mt.10:32-33; Rom.10:9-10
Have power from God 1Pet.1:3-5; Mk.10:25-27
Overcome the world Rev.2:7; 2Pet.2:20-21
Have the hope Col.1:27; Eph.2:11-13; Rom.8:24-25
Have an appointment 1Thess.5:8-9
Endure to the end Mt.24:9-13; 1Tim.4:16; 2:14-15; Heb.3:5-6,14; 10:38-39
Remember all of the above (and below) 1Cor.15:1-2

Others:
Meekness (Ps.76:9; 149:4)
Righteousness (1Pet.4:18)
Get lost (Lk.9:24)
Hear preaching (1Cor.1:21)
Be in Christ (Jn.10:9; Rom.8:9b)
Contrition (Ps.34:18)
Uprightness (Ps.7:10; Pro.28:18)
Patience (Lk.21:19; Heb.6:11-12; 10:36)
God’s mercy (Tit.3:5)
God’s Grace (Eph.2:8; Acts 15:11; Tit.2:11-13)
Jesus’s patience with us (2Pet.3:15)
Jesus himself (Rom. 5:9-10)

And there are many, many more!


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