What Must I Do To Be Saved?
“Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. And he brought them out and said, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' So they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.' Then 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 stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.” (Acts 16:29-34)
The conversion of the Philippian jailer demonstrates to us that, contrary to popular belief, salvation is about engaging the mind and heart in an examination of evidence set forth by the preaching of God’s word. When a person believes the word of God and responds to the word’s instruction, they will be saved. Let us briefly consider the answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” - as it is revealed in the Scriptures.
We must hear the word of God. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) After Paul and Silas tell the jailer, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” they “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” Since faith comes by hearing, this is exactly what we would expect. It would be hard to overstate the necessity of hearing the word in order to be saved. Think about it: without the word of God, how would you know of God’s grace? How would you know that you were a sinner? How could you possibly answer the question, what must I do to be saved?
We must believe. The first words out of the mouths of Paul and Silas were, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ”. Thus, a mere belief in God will not suffice. Neither will a mere belief in Jesus suffice, for Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We must recognize the authority of Jesus as Lord and acknowledge Him as the risen Christ. Clearly, our salvation is conditioned upon our belief in Jesus.
We must repent. Granted, Paul says nothing specifically of repentance to the jailer, but the account does tell us that Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him”. Jesus taught that repentance is essential: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). In Acts 2:38, repentance is given as a condition of salvation necessary before baptism: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”. Thus, to include repentance in the conversion of the Philippian jailer is consistent with the teaching of Jesus and Peter.
We must confess. We include confession in the conversion of the Philippian jailer for the same reason that we include repentance. Though Acts 16 says nothing of confession, Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him.” In Romans 10:9, 10 Paul writes: “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
We must be baptized. Jesus said it: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16); Peter said it: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38); and that is exactly what the Philippian jailer did after Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him”. Baptism is the point at which our new life in Christ begins (Romans 6:4-6).
Of course, we do not wish to leave anyone with the impression that this is all that is involved in our salvation. Paul wrote that baptism is the point at which our new life in Christ begins (Romans 6:4-6). What we have considered in this brief study is how one becomes a Christian. Once we have become Christians, it is time for us to walk in newness of life - rejoicing in the salvation of God, as the jailer rejoiced, and putting our wills to death so that God may now be glorified in us.
We urge you to consider the plainness of these Scriptures. We have done our best to give a fair and understandable explanation of what the Philippian jailer did to be saved from his sins. We would love for you to come and be with us during our regular services times. We can also arrange for someone to study with you by way of correspondence courses, or we can arrange a study in your home. If you would like to begin your life of faithful service to Jesus Christ, we hope that you will let us help in any way that we can.
All quotations from the New King James Version, copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson, Inc.