(Article for publication week of 1-2-AD 2012)
“… ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house’ “ (Acts 16:30-31).
Here we have an account of the conversion of the Philippian jailer. Paul and Silas had been put in jail for their gospel witness, and at midnight as they sang hymns of praise, the Lord sent an earthquake to shake the prison, and sent His Holy Spirit to shake a poor sinner down to the depths of his soul. Under deep conviction, the poor sinner cried out, “What must I do to be saved?”
Perhaps some poor sinner is reading the Narrow Way this week, and like the jailer, crying out in his soul, “what must I do to be saved?” The answer is very simple, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”
Note well that Paul and Silas did not go through the city of Philippi saying this to every “Tom, Dick, and Harry.” The fact is that very few in Philippi were concerned about the state of their souls, as very few in Simpson county are concerned about the state of their souls. Paul and Silas waited until the Holy Spirit brought folks under Holy Spirit conviction. Dear reader, are you acquainted with Holy Spirit conviction? Have you ever had your self-righteousness stripped away and been made to see you are loathsome wretch before a thrice Holy God? Have you been made to fear God and the wrath to come? Has the Holy Spirit convinced you that you are a hell deserving sinner? Do you understand that if thy soul were sent to hell, God’s righteous law approves it well? (Watts).
Next, note well what Paul and Silas did NOT tell this poor sinner. They did not tell him to “accept Jesus.” You won’t find that language anywhere in the Bible. As dear old Rolfe Barnard used to say, “you don’t accept a Lord- you bow down to Him”! Nor did they advise him to “give his heart to Jesus.” You won’t find that in the Bible either. There are many of you who “accepted Jesus”, or “gave your heart to Jesus” who are still unsaved and you will go to hell so fast you’ll kick up dust in the devil’s face. Paul and Silas used none of the man-centered techniques that are filling our churches up with lost people.
Here is what they told him to do, as I tell you, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” In reality believing is not doing, but rather trusting in the One Who did everything necessary for a poor sinner’s salvation. Faith involves action, but implies no merit on the part of the believer. This is the difference in the gospel and man centered evangelism. What you must do my poor sinner friend is give up all hope of self salvation and trust in the Saviour Alone. Believe in the LORD Jesus Christ. That is acknowledge Him as your Master and become His slave. Believing in Christ for salvation is a reception of Christ in all His glory and all His offices. You cannot have Christ as saviour without bowing to His Lordship.
Now be sure you understand this. Faith is the only channel that brings the grace of Christ to a poor sinner. Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace are ye saved, through faith.” God has fixed it so that Christ is the only saviour of sinners, and the only way His grace flows is in the channel of faith. That is the reason we say, “believe.” It is not in your efforts, works or merits. It is not through rites, rituals, ceremonies, ordinances, or pretended sacraments. It is through faith alone, which is another way of saying it is all of grace (Romans 4:16, please look it up). It is like an old boy I heard tell of from south Louisiana said when he got saved, “it ain’t dis and it ain’t dat- it’s Christ!
Will you be saved? Simply believe in Christ alone, and thou shalt be saved. And if your family there with you will believe in Christ, He will save them too!