What must I do?

Sometimes we learn a great deal from what isn’t said in Scripture.

When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philppi, there was a great earthquake and the chains of the prisoners fell open. The jailer, who was responsible for the prisoners, had been sleeping and woke to see that the prisoners were free. He prepared to kill himself for his neglect, but Paul told him that all the prisoners were still there. Apparently, he had been listening to the message of the gospel before he fell asleep and he asked Paul a simple, but profound, question: “What must I do to be saved?”

So there it is. The question. It almost seems incredible that we would still be asking it when it is answered so simply.

In some churches today you have to become members to be saved. Or be baptized. Or obey some list of rules. Or live a good life. Or give time or money. Or pray a certain prayer. In some you have to be good enough before you can be saved. In some you have to become good enough after you are saved in order to stay saved. In some you can never be sure. And in some, you have to be among the “elect,” the chosen ones.

But the jailer didn’t hear any of that in answer to his question. He just heard:

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

That’s it! Nothing about obedience or personal righteousness. Nothing about joining anything. The man wasn’t even a Jew!

Just believe. Just trust Jesus. That’s it.

Of course, some have a vested interest in complicating the simple gospel message. They can control those who come to them if they set up the right requirements and structure. And others just think it seems right to expect certain lifestyle changes and behaviors when giving such an important privilege. But anything more than “believe” is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, I have to add that Paul also did not tell the man he was already saved, like some would say today. He did not tell the man that all people were saved but they just don’t know it and that nothing is required. Paul had the opportunity to do that, if he believed it. No, he said that the man simply had to open his mind and heart and believe.

You see, the gift of salvation is already paid for and available to anyone who is willing to receive it. Jesus doesn’t force anyone to be saved. He offers the gift. If you believe Him enough to receive it, it’s yours. He wants you to have it.

Yes, everything changes from that point, but the changes are good. The jailer “rejoiced” because he had believed. No doubt the Spirit led him to a much different life, but that was after he believed and was saved.

The gospel is really that simple. Beware of those who add to the simple message. The lies are everywhere. The truth is found in Jesus.

2 Comments

Filed under Church, grace, Relationship, Theology and mystery

2 responses to “What must I do?

  1. prairiemom

    This is perfect. I will be reading this to my kids tonight at dinner. There has been a lot of talk lately in our church and youth group about producing fruit (in this case, the “fruit” being how many people we can “lead” to Christ, as if it was a contest). I really believe the leadership’s hearts are mostly in the right place, but it has been presented lately almost as if we must produce the fruit to prove or to keep our salvation. Thank you for presenting the simple message of the gospel in such a simple and straightforward way. It is faith alone in Christ alone.

  2. Valerie

    While I do not believe scripture teaches a works based gospel, I believe we are taught a works evidence gospel- that we will do good for the kingdom and desire to lead others to Christ as a result of being saved. By their fruit you will know them (Matt 7:20). Faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 24). Jesus commanded on many occasions repent and believe. Even the demons believe in God (James 2:19).
    God knows our hearts (1 John 3:20). Jesus taught that some who would do good works and even in Christ’s name would be proved to be not of the kingdom (Matt 7:20). We must be born again to see the kingdom of God (John 3:3) and we show that we are born again when we have turned from who we were and desire to live as Christ did. If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9)

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