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The Lord Who Saves

Acts 16:29-32
The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.' Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. (NIVUK)

In the middle of the night in Philippi, the earthquake released all the prisoners from their shackles (Acts 16:25-26). The jailer trusted Paul, as he took command of his fellow inmates. None of them escaped. When lights were brought, the jailer, who was about to fall on his sword, could see that everybody was there. Coming on his knees to Paul and Silas he asked them the key question about his future.

According to some, "What must I do to be saved?" may have reflected on the jailer's career prospects; but it is most likely to reflect on the slave girl's chant that "These men are servants of the Most High God who are telling you the way to be saved" (Acts 16:16-18). The jailer was in a major crisis and knew that Paul and Silas were clearly in command of the prisoners and that their God had real power.

The missionaries simply told him to believe in the Lord Jesus, and God would save. The jailer's theology was probably sketchy at best: there was a lot he did not know, but he knew that Jesus gave the missionaries confident and joyful hope in trouble, and that they cared about him also. Now released from the prison cell, Paul and Silas were invited into the jailer's house where he listened to a fuller explanation of the gospel. The message was not just for him but all his family and servants heard as well; later they believed and were baptised (Acts 16:33-34).

The God who watches over His friends is the same God who loves His enemies – desiring their salvation too. In an amazing way the Lord wove together the self interest of the slave owners, the demonization of the slave girl, the conversion of Lydia with the suffering of Paul and Silas … so that He could win the heart of the jailer and his household. That is typical of God who works everything together for the good of those who love Him (1 Peter 5:10). He uses whoever He chooses to win whoever He has chosen. God's ability to use some enemies so that other enemies might become His friends, is truly remarkable. So do not despair. Be ready to tell how anyone can be saved (www.crosscheck.org.uk).

Saving Lord. Thank You that You know how to save sinners. Forgive me for often forgetting that You love my enemies as well as my friends and long that they shall be saved. Help me to be Your servant, whatever situation I am in, to be ready to explain how others can be saved. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams