Sermon Title- What Must I do to be saved? 

Preached in Markethill F.PC by Rev. James Porter

Bible reading Acts 16 v16-34, Text Acts 16 v30


I want  you to consider one of the most dramatic conversions to Christ that we read of in the New Testament, this conversion is none other than that of the Phillipian Jailor. Its record is one that has great instruction for us all. This chapter tells us about Paul and Silias who were missionaries for God in the city of Phillipii. And because of their faithful testimony in the gospel, they were beaten and put in prison.


In the midst of such adversity they were able to pray and praise God V25 says, "And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Now in response to their prayers God  steps into the situation is a most remarkable way. V26 says, "And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one's bands were loosed. God answers their prayers suddenly and powerfully by sending an earthquake the prison house is opened. This shows every Christian that prayer is powerful & no vain thing.


The prison keeper awakes from his sleep and thinking that the prisoners have fled he is on the verge of taking his own life. Then that Paul cries out with a aloud voice in v28 and says, "Do thyself no harm."

Such was Paul's love for this mans, he did not want him to come to any harm. In v29 we read of how the prison keeper falls down trembling before Paul & Silas and this shows how God is able to break the hardest of men. In v30 he asks the most important question that he ever was to ask in his whole life. That question was , "…What must I do to be saved."  The answer he received was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."



There and then in a moment of time this man is gloriously saved by the grace of God and just as the words of v30 was the most important question that this Jailor ever asked. So this same question, " What must I do to be saved." is the most important question that you could ever ask yourself. It is the question of all questions, because it concern your relationship with God. Also it is a question, which will determine whether you shall spend eternity in heaven or in hell.


As  you think then  about this  great question " what must I do to be saved," there are two  thoughts that I want you to consider regarding it.

1.      The meaning of the jailers question "What must I do to be saved."

Its meaning can be seen in its importance.

This question was important because it concerned the salvation of this jailer's soul. We don’t know if this Jailor had any concern about his soul's salvation  before he went to sleep that night, but  once he was awakened out of his sleep by Gods earth quake, he was a man in deep distress and concern about his need to be saved. He was now convinced that he was a lost sinner before God and that he needed to be saved.

Hence  he asks this question "what must I do to be saved" because he realised he was in great danger & peril.


This  peril was  that he is under the sentence of Gods wrath & condemnation for his sin. In John 3 v18 & 36 it says, " …but he that believeth not is condemned already,… and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." This is how it was with this Jailor- he was a condemned sinner before God,  he was under the sentence of Gods wrath. As a result of this, the  jailer now realised that unless he was saved from his sin then he would be lost in hell forever without hope and without God.


 Likewise if you are still not saved then please understand that your plight is just like this jailer, because of your sin  you're under the sentence of divine judgement. If you die in your sin, your soul will be forever lost in hell. The Bible says in Psalms 9 v17, " The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God." These same words will apply to you if you leave this world unsaved.

There is children's chorus which says, " I've a soul to be saved, let this truth be engraved, on my and on my mind while I am young.  O how awful the cost if my soul should be lost  and in hell if I die as I Am.."  This was a truth that was engraved upon the heart of this Jailor many years ago in Philippi and my prayer is that this same truth will be engraved on your heat & mind also.


Its meaning  can also be seen in the fact that it was a personal question.

When this jailer  asked " …what must I do to be saved?," he is telling us that he realised that salvation was a personal thing. He knew that he personally needed to be saved from his sin. To hear the gospel and hear about others being saved was not enough.  He knew that a personal transaction had to take place between him and God if ever he was to be saved.


The dying thief upon the cross was a man with a similar concern for he cried out to Christ, " Lord remember me".  He knew that he personally needed to be saved. Likewise you need to understand that salvation is a personal thing between you & God. If you are to be saved there must be personal dealings with  the Lord in your own heart. To go to a church that preaches the gospel is not enough. To know about Gods salvation is not enough. To have friends and relatives who are saved is not enough to save you. You must be personally saved yourself  if your are to be right with God & ready for heaven.


During the times of election we hear of people voting by proxy. Someone can vote for you or you can vote on the behalf of someone else. Well there is no such thing as a salvation by proxy. If you are to be saved you must have a personal encounter with Christ. If not then on the judgement day Christ will disown you and you will hear that awful sentence in Matthew 7v24 " I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."


Its meaning can also be seen in its urgency.

When this jailer asks this question? What must I do to be saved, " he was speaking in the present tense.

He wanted to be saved there & then, there was danger & death in delay. If the prisoners were to escape from the prison under his authority, then under Roam law he would be killed himself in an instant.

If he was to die in his sin then he would have no hope of heaven, all hope of ever being saved would be lost. The Bible makes it very clear  that when ever a person dies in their sin, then all hope for that person ever being in heaven is gone. They are beyond the pale of God's mercy. They are gone out of the reach of Gods salvation. Ps 36 v12 says, " There are the workers of iniquity fallen: they are cast down, and shall not be able to rise."  None can help the ungodly when they leave this scene of time.


 Please understand that no one will be able to help you if you leave this world unsaved, in your sin and without Gods so great salvation. Therefore this question "what must I do to be saved."  is a question for you to consider now this very moment. This  is not a question for you to put of until tomorrow for you may never see the light of another day. The Bible says in Proverbs 27v1, "Boast not thyself of tomorrow for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. "Think of the many that are killed on the road daily, in the prime of life. The sad reality is that you could be the next statistic on that list. Therefore now is the time for you to prepare to meet God. Now is the time for you to be saved.

Indeed the Bible counsels you to do so by saying  in Isaiah 55 v6,"seek ye the Lord while he may be found… ."

2.      The Answer to this Question

Look at Acts 16 v31 the answer this Jailor received was, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house." In one sentence Paul & Silas preach the most remarkable of sermons.  It was a message that was short & pointed. It was the very message this Jailor needed to hear.


 Notice the simplicity of this answer. 

Paul simply said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ & thou shalt be saved… ."

This Jailer was told that all that he needed for to be saved form his sin, was to trust in Christ as a repentant sinner. He is told to trust in no one else but Jesus Christ.  He is not told to trust in his works or the ordinances of the church. He was not told to trust in anything of self, money  or man. No the message to this Jailor was put your faith in Christ alone for salvation.

As he spoke this answer Paul knew what he was talking about for many years before as a hell-deserving sinner on the road to Damascus, he repented of his sin and trusted in Christ for salvation and was gloriously saved. Such was the reality of the Lords saving power in his life that he could say in 2 Timothy1 v12, "… for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Likewise if you are to be saved from the ruin of your sin then you can only be saved by faith alone in Christ alone.   Ephesians  2 v8&9 says, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."


It is  only by faith in Christ alone that you can be saved. Christ is the only saviour. Acts 4 v12 says, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved."  Being the eternal Son of God, Christ  left heavens glory. He came to this world and died an atoning death upon the cross for the sins of all his people. Hebrews 10 v12 says" But this man,… offered one sacrifice for sins for ever,…." By His perfect sacrifice Christ appeased the wrath of God that was against us for our sin. A way was opened up  for all to be saved who confess their sin to Christ and trust in Him and in His finished work for salvation.


Are you longing to be saved ? then look by faith to Christ. Trust in him  who is the Lamb of God. In Isaiah 45 v22 the Lord says, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. "The message of the hymn writer is  "Look & live, Look to Jesus now and live."  May you do so now today 


Notice  the certainty  of this answer .

Paul & Silas said, " Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved,"

The promise to this Jailor was that if he looked by faith there & then to Christ he would be saved in a moment of time, He would have his sins forgiven and be set on the road to heaven. He would not have to wait until he died if he was to know that he was saved.


This certainty of  being saved applies to all who come to saving faith in Christ. There salvation is sure & certain. In  John 5 v24,  Christ says" Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.


The moment you trust in Christ for salvation you will have everlasting life and be delivered from the condemnation and ruin of your sin. Whenever you go to  a cash machine at the bank you go in faith. You type in your pin number  and you  trust the bank to give the money that you have requested. Well the moment you go to Christ, and trust him for salvation. You shall be saved and saved forever. You will not be disappointed or turned away. ROM 10 v13 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."



This is how it was with the dying thief. He came in faith to Christ and was gloriously saved, for Christ said there & then to him  in Luke 23v43 "…Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise." Christ is one who can save you in a moment of time and then keep you for an eternity of time.

This was the case with this Jailor. Proof of his salvation is seen in what you read about him in Acts 16 v33&&34 which says,  "And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house."


There was now an evident change in his life, he now shows compassion to his prisoners Paul & Silas,  he bathes theirs wounds and sets meat before them. 2cor 5 v17 says, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. In trusting Christ for salvation this man this man was made a new creature by the grace of God.

Also we read of him being baptised, now his baptism did not save rather  it shows his obedience to Gods Word in his life It was an open confession before all that his sins were washed away through the blood of Christ.


Like wise if you look to Christ to be saved he will do the same for you,  He will pardon your sin, He will give you grace to live for God . He will change your life and break the chains of sin that bind your life.

 He will give you something worth living for.


 Note the sufficiency of this answer.

Note in Acts 16 v31 the words, "…and thy house… ." Paul & Silas told this Jailor that not only could Christ save him but that he could also save  his household such is the sufficiency of His grace and power.

This is what the Lord did, not only did he save this Jailor but he saved the whole house. Read Acts 16 V's 33&34,  note the words, "…he all his house, & believing with all his house…." This shows the sufficiency of Christ to save all who will trust in him.


 Friend no matter what your past sin may be the lord is sufficient to save you as well. His blood is still able to cleanse away your sin for Christ has lost none of his power. The Bible says in  Hebrews 13v8,  " Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today and forever…."


Over in Isaiah  63 v1 the Lord says, "…I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save…".

In light of the sufficiency of Christ power to save, will you not come and trust Him, whom to know is life eternal. Our text says "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved… "-

May you do so today Amen.