What Must I Do (Acts 16:26—34)

And brought them out, and said, 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, AV)

While I was attending a church in Savannah Georgia, something unusual happened. it was during a Wednesday evening prayer meeting. as people were entering the meeting a man walked up to one of the women of the church who was just getting out of her car. She was startled at first, and then the man asked, “What must I do to be saved?” I do not have the background story as to what prompted the man to ask such a question. Apparently, God had worked in this man’s heart in some way to reveal his need for salvation. The woman shared the gospel with the man and he became a believer and an active member of the church. God moves in the hearts of people to cause them to seek for an answer to this question.

In this passage, we see a Philippian jailer who asks Paul and Silas this very question. The Lord was all over the events that led to the jailer’s question and conversion. The situation was that Paul and Silas were incarcerated in the Philippian jail. It was about midnight and they were praying and singing praises to God. All of a sudden there was a violent earthquake and the doors to the prison were opened and everyone’s shackles were loosed. When the jailer realized what happened and presuming that the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. “But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here” (Acts 16:28, AV). Then the Jailer goes to Paul and Silas and asks, “what must I do to be saved?” Then Paul and Silas respond with, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Following this, Paul and Silas spoke the word of God to the jailer and all who were in his household. The jailer and his household believe and then they all were baptized immediately. The jailer cared for the wounds Paul and Silas had received. He fed them and he and his family greatly rejoiced.

The point here is that God superintended the jailer’s and his household’s salvation. It was no accident that caused Paul and Silas to be in that Philippian jail. The prayers and singing of Paul and Silas were to give glory to God. The earth quake and the opening of the doors, and Paul and Silas’ response to the open doors were also in God’s providence. The result was that the jailer’s heart was opened to receive the gospel.

When you think about it, what happened to the jailer was exactly what was necessary to open his heart to the gospel. This is the way it works for everyone who believes. There is a series of events which lead to a person having his or her heart opened to the gospel. In some cases, it can be a specific event. However, in many cases, it is in a series of events that happen throughout one’s life leading up to a major trigger just before the person believes. In either case, we should give God the glory, for He works providentially to soften the hardened hearts so that we would come to faith in Christ.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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