But Paul cried with a loud voice, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here." And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. Acts 16:28-34.
You know very well that there was a time when you were not saved. Someone well knows even now that his heart has not been transformed by the Saviour – the Lord Jesus Christ. The question that is worthy more than a trillion dollars is, “What must I do to be saved?” He is no fool who asks this question. He is not ignorant – because the power of God by His Spirit must be at work in one’s heart for this question to come genuinely from someone. This is the question that we will be considering today. We will see from the Word of God how an unconverted person, without God , without hope is made a new creature. How his life is completely transformed so that the old is gone – sinner saved!
So then we will pursue the whole process of conversion from when one is a sinner to when the work is began to how it is effected and the sort of a person he is after conversion.
In this story we meet a good number of people who had not met the great saving work of Christ. This explains why after the conversion of Lydia and her household, Paul and company did not leave the city. They continued to preach the gospel because they believed that there are more sinners to be saved. They believed that the Lord who is the Saviour will honour His Word and will save more and so they kept on preaching the gospel both privately and publically. In the process, they meet with master who owned a very lucrative slave – a little girl who had the power of divination – the spirit of python according to Greek.
i. Every sinner is an enemy of God
The devil possessed her more than her masters but because they all belonged to the camp opposed to God – because those who are without Christ enemies of God, they collaborated together to attack the servants of God. The girl could not help shouting the identity of the enemies of the devil because they were they were "…servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." (17).
What a slavery of the devil and of sin this poor girl was! She was under the bondage of Satan and she needed a stronger man who could bind the demon that possessed her as well as Satan the master and release her. This is what Christ Himself said and is what He always did to them who were under such slavery. This is what Paul did – he cast out the demon, “And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour. “Act 16:18. With the authority of His Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul ejected out the enemy and set the captive girl free.
The masters realized that they had lost their hope of getting their livelihood and were enraged. They seized Paul and castigated others to beat them. This proves the fact all those who sit idly without any outward opposition to God are indeed vowed enemies of God when the opportunity presents itself.
Why would you be called to beat up anybody when he has not done anything that you personally know? Look at what is popularly called ‘mob justice’ – why would anyone take law in his own hands to lynch someone? For it is clear that the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Rom 8:7.
We meet the Prison Superintendent in Philippi a man who had not known the grace of God. The jailor was careless about God – he did not care that he was an enemy of God – in fact he was happy to jail Paul and his companions. He was glad that he had more prisoners especially those who think that they are the one’s who had God in their side so that he can come and rescue them – these are the thoughts of a carnal mind. No wonder he had them chained and their feet shackled. He had not considered his sinfulness – the corruption that is within everyone who has not been transformed by Christ.
Do you want to eternally remain an enemy of God? Then what awaits you is judgment in hell. But you can do something now – you can plead with Him to reconcile you with Himself. You can plead with Him now to give you Christ lest you die. You can plead for the forgiveness of your sins and He is just and faithful to forgive you.
For those of us who have known His grace how much shall we rejoice because there is now no condemnation because we are in Christ Jesus! How grateful shall we be to the Lord who graciously shown us His mercy and appointed us to be His children? How blessed we are!
ii. All sinners are careless about their own souls
Do you think a person who has not been converted by his own natural mind would give a damn about his soul? No! They all think that everything is okay it is only the preachers do not understand the world. They say that the Bible is mistaken about them. Many say they love themselves, but this is only in reference to their flesh – not their soul. They will do everything to satisfy their bodies – expensive food, clothing, schools etc. They will do nothing to profit their souls. At best they go to church but do not pay attention to the sermon – they are happy with churches that will excite their ego and pamper their flesh. Simply they do not care about their souls.
When you see a person becoming more attentive in listening to sermons, reading the Bible, prayer, fellowship etc – then know for sure that the Spirit of God is at work in the person. This is why we read of Lydia that the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul (14.). When her heart was opened she believed in Christ Jesus and her life was never to be the same again.
The proof that sinners do not care about their souls is that they do not given a damn think about eternity. they are neither excited about heaven, nor are they scared about hell – to them nothing matters as long as they eat and drink because tomorrow they die and death is nothing but darkness when everything is forgotten and disappears! This is what goes on in the mind of an unregenerate person.
My friend – God the Creator Himself has said that there is life after death. The Bible records that those who die go somewhere and there will be judgment for those who will not be found to be in Christ. They will be taken to hell like the rich man while those who are in Christ will be in glory with God and all who have trusted in Him like Lazarus. There is a big difference between the two that is eternal no one who can pass from one place to the other.
Now what is required of you is to hear the Word of Christ and believes Him who sent Him (The Father) and have eternal life. Then you will not come into judgment, but will pass from death to life. John 5:24.
iii. Sinners do not care about others
Sinners do not care about others and especially the Christians. It is for this reason that history repeated itself because a few years back Peter and John in Jerusalem were also thrown into prison. This is why the girl was so opposed to what she called “the servant of the Most High God.”
This is why the masters of the girl were happy to keep her under their slavery to use her to get more money for themselves. This is why they were not happy for her to be healed of her terrible condition. Thos is why when their hope of getting money was taken away they became furious and wanted to harm these brethren. This explains why so many others were willing to join up with them to beat up Paul and company. This is why they were more than happy to have them jailed and so they dragged them into courts. This is why they accused them falsely. This is the reason why the magistrates were so corrupt and unjust. This explains why even the jailor did not question what crime Paul and Silas had committed. This is why the world hates all genuine Christians.
Does the world hate you? Your neighbor is a thorn in the flesh for one reason or another? You are told – Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1Peter 4:12) and again, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” (1John 3:13)
i. One becomes convicted of his sins
For one to be converted, he has to see his sin. He has to acknowledge that he is a sinner. There is no one who has ever been converted without discovering how much he was opposed to God, how much he angered God and others as a result of his wickedness. The sinner who has sinner his sin is an advantage if he will seek to have the Saviour deal with them. The jailor knew that he had committed sin that was why all what had befallen him had taken place. He was convinced that he was God’s enemy but all the others – the girl’s masters, the magistrates, the prisoners had not come to this point and so remain without salvation.
There are numerous examples of those who were genuinely convicted of their sins – the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14); Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). This is what happened with the dying thief. He told the blaspheming thief, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."(Luke 23:41-42). Paul himself described himself as, formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent… the foremost of sinners! (1Timothy 1:13, 15).
You will remain with your sins and they will take you to hell if you do not hate them and forsake them by repenting to Christ and asking of his forgiveness. You must because sin is serious.
ii. The sinner becomes aware of his danger
It is evident that when the earthquake occurred, the prison was shaken, the prison doors, chains and shackles were torn apart and the jailor was awoken from his slumber, he became aware of the danger in which he were. He was not prepared to witness the great work of God whom he hated. Circumstances are just means to awaken one’s conscience and can never produce salvation – in fact they may produce the reverse result. Therefore, he wanted to commit suicide.
What a shame that when God works extra-ordinary works of providence unregenerate sinners go in the opposite direction rather than looking up to God for their salvation? This means we should never expect that miracles can be source of anyone’s salvation. It is only the gospel which is the power of God for salvation to those who believe. Therefore, we should shun all the dramas that many who purport to preach the gospel want us to believe will cause salvation. In most of the times Jesus Himself did not perform miracles to cause people to be saved – it was to relieve them of their suffering and then He would point to them that they needed salvation.
Thankfully, Paul and Silas were there to tell him not to harm himself (and condemn himself to hell). This made him to see the danger was not so much before his superiors that he feared, but with God and so the Holy Spirit of God worked in his heart to cause him to know that what he needed was to be saved. And so he asked the question, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"
iii. Sinner become convinced of their need for salvation
This man knew that he was not saved from the question he asked. You only ask how can be saved when you jolly well know that you are not. But even more interesting was the fact that he quiet understood that salvation could not come from himself. Hey, he also knew that the people before him could not save otherwise he could have requested them to save him.
Clearly, the Lord helped him to see what he needed is salvation because who can tell the relationship between the prisoners escaping (the worst scenario for a prison warder) and the need for salvation? He asked how he can be saved, didn’t he? This is what is needed for everyone who is not – to be saved. You all need to be saved whether young or old whether men or women, whether boys or girls – we all need to be saved from our sins and from the wrath to come.
Those who think that salvation will come from themselves postpone it to a convenient time when they are ‘ready’. They say that it is not easy to keep salvation when you are in school or not married and so they shelve to a day when they will be ready to save themselves. Those who know that it is the work of the Lord ask for it when they not it. Why are you not saved? Is it not because you think that you are not ready for it? Is not because you think you can contribute something to your salvation?
How reassuring to know that there is such a thing as salvation for sinners! What a joy it is for us who have been found by Christ! What a joy to know that the Lord Jesus has born the wrath of God for us and that we passed over from death to life! This could be true of everyone who believes in Christ. This could be true of anyone no matter what sort of life of sin he has lived, no matter how long he has lived it – all can be saved if they would request the Lord to save them.
So then what is salvation? Salvation is described metaphorically in the Bible (and so by God) in so many different pictures. It is called resurrection for one passes from death to life. It is called new birth for one is born a new from above – not of the flesh or by the will of man but by God – of water and spirit. It is called enlightening for one who was blind can now see, the one who was in darkness is conveyed into the marvellous light. It is called transformation – because this is what it is: a sinner is totally transformed in his mind and heart to become a new creature. It is renewal because the person is made the new creation of God has his mind is renewed and a new heart is transplanted and an absolute cure wrought when a dead soul is awakened.
This is only produced through faith in Christ Jesus, not in doing something yourself as this jailor asked, put putting one’s trust in Christ – the able and willing Saviour. Faith in Christ is the only means to salvation - "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” One has to stop relying on his own effort and totally depend on Christ to save him. One has to stop looking for salvation within himself.
This means that we must acknowledge Christ as the one and only Saviour, place our personal faith and trust in Him and completely rely on His grace to save us. This faith in Christ, once began in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, must be the living faith that is fruitful. This is because the saving faith, though alone in salvation is always trailed by good works.
To fully comprehend this we need to find out the result of conversion. What is the result of conversion? We will still look at the result produced in the life of this Philippian jailor. Let us take stock of his faith:
a) When he believed, he thirsted and hungered for more instruction from the Word of God. He requested that they may take more time to instruct him in his house. This was despite the time – it was very late in the night!
b) He was concerned about the souls of others – so he took them to his house and must have woken up every member of his household. There is no indication that there were children! That it was so late in the night rules out the possibility of the children for those who argue for infant baptism from this household baptism.
c) He attended to Paul and Silas who were beaten up and had many wounds. He washed their wounds personally! What a transformed man he had become! What a new creature he had become! More than that he gave them food and because they had fed his soul he fed their weak bodies!
d) He made his faith public – he was willing to be baptized. This was endangering his own life and those of his family. Those who believe must without unnecessary delay public announce what has happened inside for everyone to see the grace of the Lord in their lives. They are to be baptized into Christ and identify with him and be part of his church. You ought to be baptized if you have not.
e) Notice the fruit of the Holy Spirit that were already ripe in him and his family! They had great joy and peace! That now they were in Christ and so there is therefore now no condemnation! All the dangers were removed. All his fears were taken away, all his worries and anxiety were over. The storm indeed was over!
In view of this let us not give up on our spouses who have not yet believed in Christ. Let us keep on praying for them and faithfully living a holy life for them to see the Christ in us. Let us share the gospel. To our children and trust the Lord to bring them to a saving faith. Let us not give up on prayer for our relatives, friends and neighbours. Our God is a great and mighty Saviour. He is willing to save them seek to invite them to come and hear the Word of God every Sunday. Invite us to your home to bring them the Word of God and God will indeed save them at His appointed time.
Praise the Lord who is such a gracious God saving wicked and terrible people. Transforming malicious infidels into the servants and sons of the Most High God!