Chapter 46 The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer by O.S. Hawkins.
This week’s question: “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16.30).
As Hawkins reminds us this is “arguably the most pointed question in the entire Bible.” The question was asked by a jailer in the city of Philippi.
To fully understand why a pagan jailer would ask such a question, we need to look at the passage in context.
Paul and Silas had been arrested for preaching and for casting a demon out of a slave girl. Acts 16:
22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.
They had just been beaten and now were put into stocks, a device intended to cause great pain and cramping in the muscles. But instead of focusing on their own pain and discomfort, Paul and Silas began singing praises to God. Can you imagine what the guards and the other prisoners were thinking?
25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 27 And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”
I don’t know who said it first, but there is no time in life when we have a greater opportunity to witness to the power of God in us than we do when life is hard. It’s easy to proclaim our faith when everything is going well, but when times are tough, people start to wonder what really is different about us!
How do you and I respond during the midnight times in our lives? Do we respond with singing and praises to God or do we respond with “why me” and “it’s not fair”? Possibly something of a mixture, but why should we learn to respond like Paul and Silas?
As Hawkins explains, praising Him in the midst of trouble, singing a song in the night, affects three areas of our lives:
- A song in the night alters our perspective. Often our hardships are worsened by our attitudes, but praise often causes God’s hope to break through.
- A song in the night activates God’s power. God always responds to the praises of His people. Sometimes He provides peace and comfort and, other times, as He did here, God does something more dramatic!
- A song in the night helps to alleviate prejudices. The same jailer who had beaten them and put them in stocks was now drawn to them.
I recently heard the testimony of a woman named Rosaria Butterfield. Rosaria was a liberal lesbian university professor. She was not merely living a lesbian lifestyle she was an activist, speaking and writing about LGBT causes. After one of her pieces appeared in the New York times, rather than attack and criticize, a conservative pastor and his wife reached out to her and invited her to dinner. Over a two-year period, they built a friendship with her, talking instead of pointing fingers. They allowed her to see what a life of worship looked like in such a winsome way that she was drawn to them. As a result, like this Philippian jailer, she became what she calls “a unlikely convert.”
(I have just begun a series of posts on homosexuality and transgender issues and how the church should respond. I’ll share more about Rosaria’s testimony in some of them. I hope you’ll prayerfully consider following along and adding your input. There’s a link at the bottom if you would like to read the first post.)
Back to our story and Hawkins comments:
The jailer felt convicted by God’s Spirit. Shaking and kneeling, he wondered what he had to do to be saved. But the jailer could not do anything. It had already been done: Christ’s death on the cross is what saves. So when the jailer asked about how to be saved, the disciples’ immediate reply was “Believe!” Put your trust in Christ alone, they said, “and you will be saved!” (Acts 16: 31). The jailer learned late that night that salvation is not spelled D-O, but D-O-N-E!
Then look at the turn of events in Acts 16:
33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 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.
Only God can change a heart!
As I write this, the news is filled with pictures and reports of the terrorist attacks in Paris. A night or two ago, it was pictures of screaming students on university campuses. Other nights are filled with reports of racial tensions, attacks on police, beheadings, and suicide bombings. Even social media is full of attacks on former friends, spouses, and other family members.
We can decry it all we want, but without heart change, it will only get worse.
We should beef up our military. We should be making wiser decisions in many areas. We should keep up the hard work our police, FBI, Homeland Security, Coast Guard, Military, TSA, ICE and others are doing.
But make no mistake about it, one of the greatest ways we can impact our world is one heart at a time as we reflect the love of Christ and show the world that we believe what we preach whether things are sunny or it’s midnight.
Next week’s question: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8.31).
Last week’s question: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” (Acts 9.6). Read it here.
You can get a copy of The Jesus Code and follow along with these 52 vital questions. The chapters are short and can easily be read in one sitting. If you do, I’d love your feedback. Click HERE to get the book or HERE for Kindle.
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