"What must I do to be saved?" is a question of no small importance.
This Jailer, who only a few hours before had scorned the message Paul and Silas preached, now invites them to speak to him about the way of salvation. Their songs of praise had tendered his heart and the earthquake had put a fear of their God into his soul. Trembling, Luke records, he fell down before those men of God, brought them out of the prison, and asked, "What must I do to be saved?"
How that question is answered can mean the difference between heaven and hell.
It would be hard to find a statement in the Bible that more clearly presents the way of salvation than Paul and Silas' response.
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."
I want you to see three fundamental facts from verses thirty-one and thirty-two about the way of salvation.
I. Salvation is By Faith Alone
A. Believing is the one requirement of salvation; and unbelief is the one reason why men are lost.
(John 3:18) "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
1. Believing makes a person not condemned.
2. Not believing makes a person condemned already.
3. It is very plain that what makes a man lost is unbelief.
(John 3:36) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
4. What causes a person to have eternal life? Believing.
5. What keeps a person from seeing life? Not believing.
6. What makes the wrath of God abide on a person? Not believing.
a. A man is not lost because he is a sinner, but because he is an unbelieving sinner.
b. Sin is not the real problem; that has been taken care of at Calvary.
c. Therefore, he is not called upon to commit, change, clean up his life, or consecrate himself through religious works.
d. He is called upon to believe in the saving work that God has done for him through the death of His Son.
7. All the confusion about how a man is saved would be avoided if we simply remembered what it is that makes a man lost.
a. He is NOT lost because he is away from God.
b. He is NOT lost because he rebels against God.
c. He is NOT lost because he lives in sin.
d. He is lost because he has never believed in Jesus Christ for salvation.
B. What does it mean to believe? Cf. 1 John 5:9-13
1. According to John, believing is simply taking God at His Word. v9-11
a. If we believe the record God has given us about His Son, we have life.
b. If we don't believe what God has said about His Son, we make God a liar and we don't have life.
c. Saving faith is believing on the Son because we know that what God has said of Him is true.
2. According to verse 13, if we have believed in the name of Christ, we can KNOW that you have eternal life.
a. Believing is made the sole condition of assurance.
b. We are not to look for "fruit," or change, or anything else as evidence of salvation.
c. The sole issue is have we, or have we not, believed what God has said concerning His Son?
II. Salvation is in Christ Alone
A. Faith is always directed towards an object.
1. In this, all faith is identical.
a. The object of faith for an atheist is his humanist philosophy of a godless universe.
b. The object of faith for a Muslim is the writings of Mohammed.
c. Some people believe in their goodness, some in a religion, some in a philosophy, but everyone believes something!
2. The object of faith makes all the difference.
a. The Bible is consistent in affirming that the faith that saves is centered on the person of Christ alone.
b. It is not faith that saves, but faith in Christ.
c. The jailer was not told to believe in himself, in a religion, or even in God.
d. He was told to believe in Christ, and that belief would result in his salvation.
B. Christ alone is the object of saving faith.
1. This means a man has no faith in himself to be saved.
a. He must admit that he is a sinner in need of a Savior.
b. He must accept that he can do nothing to contribute to his salvation.
2. It means that Christ's death at Calvary was sufficient to satisfy the demands of God.
a. This is why the Scripture states that Christ, after He had offered Himself upon Calvary, one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.
b. Christ paid the full penalty for sin.
c. Nothing more is required.
d. That is why the Scripture doesn't ask for our commitment, our reformation, our life, or anything else.
e. The only thing God wants to know is will we, or will we not, believe in His Son for our salvation.
III. Salvation is Defined by Scripture Alone
A. Salvation rests upon the truth of what we believe.
1. People believe in many things that are not true.
a. Many are sincere, but God will not accept sincerity as a substitute for truth.
b. Many people are deceived, but God will not excuse them because they believe in error.
2. People can put their faith in the wrong truth.
a. A person can believe that God loves him, but that belief will not save him.
b. A person can believe that he is a terrible sinner, but that will not save him.
c. A person can believe he needs God, read his Bible and pray, but that will not save him.
B. Saving faith is that which is related to what Jesus Christ did for me upon Calvary.
1. A person cannot believe and be saved until they hear a clear and accurate account of the Gospel.
a. That Jesus was God who left heaven and came to live with us as a man by means of the Virgin Birth.
b. That He lived a sinless life, and offered Himself a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
c. That He rose again the third day in victory over death and the grave.
2. It is not the QUALITY of our faith that saves, but the CONTENT of the message in which we put our faith. cf. 1 Co. 15:1-4
a. Paul related assurance, not to the fact that they had believed in the right way, but in the right message.
b. Their faith was "according to the Scriptures."
c. When a person has God's Word on it, they have no need to look elsewhere for assurance.