Sirs, what must I do to be saved?
What a question! Oh for someone to ask me that question. Is that our first response? Wonderful if it is but is there perhaps a feeling that says ‘I would love to be asked that question but how would I answer it?
The account of what led to the Philippian Jailer asking the question is recorded for us in this chapter of Acts. A slave girl with a spirit of divination ( a spirit that was bad for her, hence the apostles casting it out in the name of Jesus) but at the same time (a spirit that made her slave masters a good living) is freed from bondage both spiritual and physical. This results in Paul and Silas being arrested and incarcerated in the ‘inner prison’ with their feet in the stocks.
Were they miserable and downcast? No! For at midnight they were praying and singing hymns in spite of their situation and their wounds from the beating they had been given. They were like those in Acts 5.41 who rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the name.
In this situation God stepped in through the means of an earthquake. The prison doors were opened and stocks and shackles undone – miraculous intervention! Fearing the wrath of the authorities the Jailer was about to kill himself but Paul intervened v.28 ‘do not harm yourself we are all here’. The Jailer, refocussed, called for lights and falling before Paul and Silas asked THE question ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’
It is just possible that he meant salvation from the wrath of his Roman masters but far more likely, having seen the slave girl freed, having observed the behaviour of Paul and Silas and having seen the earthquake and its consequences he realised that he needed to be right with God so he asked the question.
We are very unlikely to experience similar circumstances but if we are displaying the Fruit of the Spirit in our lives in a troubled and uncertain world we are inviting the world to move from fear and anxiety, hopelessness and misery etc. to the peace and beauty that deep down they are searching for and which only Christ can give.
So challenge number one is for us so to live that people ask the question.
Challenge number two is to have the answer ready when the question is asked and is is very simple ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’.
Clearly that will need some unpacking for those who know nothing of the Bible although in God’s goodness we may experience something similar to that event in Philippi. So we need to have the answer ready and be ready to field the questions that are generated by our Spirit filled lives.
Hone your answers with a fellow Christian. Immerse yourself in the word. See how Jesus answered enquirers. See how the apostles did it. Read helpful books but above all be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in you with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3.15)so that when the question is asked you will be able to point someone to the Saviour.
The result will be rejoicing in the one who has thus met Jesus and rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who has repented.
Remember this great blessing was not the result of an evangelistic meeting, or a church service or any other planned event but simply of two Spirit filled believers living faithfully and giving God the glory.