November 28, 2019

What Must I Do to be Saved?

Acts 16:22-34

The jailer . . . brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

—  Acts 16:29-30

In Philippi, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into jail after some angry slaveowners brought false charges against them (Acts 16:16-21). Despite such treatment, they took the opportunity to pray and sing to the Lord, and the other prisoners listened to them.

Then a sudden earthquake opened all the cells and loosened all the prisoners’ chains. The jailer thought everyone had escaped—and if they had, he would have been executed. Panicking, he drew his sword to kill himself—but Paul stopped him.

In desperation the jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Never missing an opportunity to share the good news, Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” And that night, as Paul and Silas shared “the word of the Lord,” salvation came to that jailer’s household.

What a stunning turnaround! That prison guard went from a quiet night’s duty to a hair-raising emergency to the amazing security and serenity of new life in Christ. No wonder “he and his whole household” were “filled with joy” upon hearing the good news.

Some people grow up hearing the good news and experiencing God’s love in their home and family life. Others come to believe in God through other experiences—and even in the midst of crises, like the jailer. No matter how it happens, faith in Christ is God’s gift. What must we do? Believe!

Jesus, help us to believe in you and enjoy new life forever in your name! Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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