Dear church,

I wonder what the Philippian jailer meant when he asked Paul and Silas, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” I didn’t always wonder about this. I was certain what he meant – “How can I receive eternal life?”

This makes total sense. After all, he’d just awakened to an earthquake in which all the doors of the jail popped open and all the chains and stocks that had bound the prisoners were released. Earlier, the jailer probably fell asleep to the sound of Paul and Silas singing the words of the gospel.

And then the prisoners didn’t escape. In fact, they stayed in the jail and didn’t allow the jailer to commit suicide. If a prisoner escaped, the jailer often was executed in the prisoner’s place. Remember Acts 12:19.

So surely, the jailer was so taken with the Paul and Silas – their devotion, the miracles, their kind act toward him – that he wanted what they had. He wanted eternal life and the gift of the Holy Spirit!

I’m pretty sure there is nothing wrong with this explanation.

But maybe the jailer was simply worried about his own skin. Maybe, even though the prisoners were still in place, he was worried about what might happen to him. Maybe he was worried an escape by at least one of those prisoners was still possible, or even likely. Maybe he was concerned that he still might be punished for the chaos in the jail that night.

Maybe he was asking Paul and Silas how he could save his own skin. I think this is possible.

Of course, it doesn’t matter. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” The answer is the same either way – “Believe in the Lord Jesus.”

This is all that matters in life. Jesus is the answer to every significant question. Without Christ, life loses its meaning. And so we can answer those questions with the gospel.

Think about our country today – all the chaos. Some people say the very foundation of our nation has been ruptured and its future is in dire jeopardy. Some people claim our country was built on a system of racism designed to maintain white superiority and wealth. Others say this is false.

The conflict that has ensued has been verbally abusive at some times and physically violent at others.

But even in these complex and rancorous times in our country, the answer remains simple: Jesus Christ. “Believe in the Lord Jesus.”

A person with faith in Jesus Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit is a person of peace. Typically, this person brings peace into difficult situations. But even when that’s not possible – after all, some people hate religion and hate the idea of the good news – Jesus Christ is still the answer.

Even if we suffer persecution and lose our lives, Jesus is still the answer. The apostle Paul would write to the Christians in Corinth, “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16-17). Paul said we shouldn’t put our hope in things that are “seen,” which are temporary, but on things that are “unseen,” which are eternal.

This same truth holds when we talk about COVID-19. We don’t worry about it. We try to be safe. We respect the concerns of others. But these troubles are “light and momentary.” We can only say that because of Jesus Christ. And even if the coronavirus drags us down to our graves, we win – because Jesus won. He defeated the grave, and he carries us through our own graves into eternal life.

So what must we do to be saved? Believe in Jesus Christ. He is THE answer.


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