It’s wonderful for pastors and church leaders when people come to them seeking to know Jesus Christ personally. This is an open invitation to share the Gospel properly and fully so that there are no misunderstandings with regards to the message and the requirements. There are other times when after a sermon is preached or a Bible Study taught someone would come inquiring to know more of the way of salvation. As we continue in Acts 16 considering the Philippian Jailer and his conversion and that of his family, this is what happens. Remember what went before? Praying and praising by the missionaries; earthquake shaking the prison house’s foundations; locked prison doors opened; prisoners’ shackles fell off and the jailer wanting to commit suicide. Paul shouted out that all prisoners were accounted for … and the Lord’s plan starts coming together.
1) The Jailer’s desperation.
Ac 16:29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Observe a few things here about the jailer.
(a) He calls for lights. It seems to be rather dark as it is just past the middle of the night. He needs lights because he needs to talk to specific people.
(b) He rushes into the cell in the center of the prison and falls trembling before the missionaries.
(c) He removes them from the cell.
(d) He asks the most important question of his life.
Remember before he was freaking out about prisoners escaping and he being executed by the Roman Authorities. He was concerned for his life. He knew why they were jailed. He went to sleep earlier having been listening to the missionaries’ prayers and praise. Then came the effects of the earthquake … God authenticating His servants’ ministry and the jailer is struck in his heart! No it’s not a matter of his life … it’s a matter of his soul. Look at the question again … “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
(a) He is respectful. He addresses his prisoners as “Sirs”;
(b) He is convicted that he personally needs to do something about …
(c) His personal salvation.
Now we see why the missionaries were harassed because of casting out the demon from the slave girl and why the magistrates placed them into jail. The jailer needed to be saved … and his family as we will shall see! Remember he had not heard the Gospel message yet though he had heard the missionaries praying and singing. Both would have contained lots of the Gospel … and then the earthquake … God stabbed his heart, pierced his conscience and caused him to willingly seek answers to the greatest concern man can have … his soul. Many people are brought to this point, but few actually take the conviction through to asking that important question … “what must I do to be saved?” This man is earnest, serious and intentional. You see this by the manner he approached the missionaries … he rushed, he fell, he trembled and he asked. He needed peace and he did something about it. Have you done that yet or are you letting the conviction wear off each time? My friend, the clock is ticking and time is running out. Today is the day of salvation! Tomorrow might be too late.
2) The Gospel’s requirements.
Ac 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Each time Scripture declares “believe” in the Lord Jesus, the word “believe” includes depth of meaning. Many associate “believe” in an intellectual or academic way … such as I believe Nelson Mandela was the first president of the Democratic Republic of South Africa. That belief is accurate and real but it does not have saving benefits for eternity. Belief in the Lord Jesus includes understanding the full meaning of who Jesus is, why He came to earth, what He did on earth and why He went to the Cross, what was the purpose of the Cross, why He died and rose again and returned to heaven. In other words, belief in Jesus means the acknowledgement that God is good and man is sinful … desperately wicked and unable to save himself. Jesus who is God comes to earth, take on flesh, lives the perfect life, dies (sacrifice) in the place of sinners (substitution), suffers and endure wrath due to man (penal) because man cannot pay the penalty of sin. He rose victorious promising each person who repents and exercises faith a spiritual resurrection here on earth followed by a resurrection into heaven at death! This belief includes not only the forgiveness of sin but repentance from sin … that is a life lived out to honor God from the day of salvation for the rest of life. The answer included more than his personal salvation. It included that of his household. No one knows the ages of the household which would have included children. I won’t venture into infant baptism of believing parents as we have dealt with the previously. Rather the great point here is that although God chose in eternity passed, everyone is responsible as to how they respond to the Gospel message. Whole families can be saved. This is the best for when one parent is not saved or a child or two are not saved, life can be extremely challenging for those who are saved. 3) Discipleship making. 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. They did not just share the Gospel, they taught (spoke) the word of the Lord to the jailer and to all the others in his house. One of the greatest mistakes of the Church today is that discipleship is not exercised. Listen to Jesus:
Mat 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Make disciples, baptize and teach them to obey everything … the whole Bible! Right here lies the greatest reason for weak churches! This means we who are teachers in the church fall into the trap of easy believism … get them saved full stop. Sadly we will give an account for our lack of discipleship (teaching).
Dear Lord, help us as the church to put greater effort into discipling people, growing them into intentional Christians for Jesus sake. Amen.