Then he 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, along with everyone in your household." Acts 16:30-31
If we claim to be followers of Christ, people are watching us. They are watching how we treat other people. They are watching as we respond to trials as well as triumphs. They are watching to see if we live with integrity. They are watching to see if we love people the way that Jesus loved and if we really live out what we believe. Believe it or not, because of the way we live our lives, we may might impact a person's life for eternity. The apostle Paul understood this truth and lived his life in such a way that people were impacted by his influence.
In Acts 16, Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison for proclaiming their faith in Christ. Let's pause here for a second. Imagine you are Paul and Silas. You have committed to proclaiming Christ, you have been beaten brutally for your faith, and now you are in prison. What would you be doing in that prison at midnight? Perhaps you would be weary, feeling discouraged and a little bit sorry for yourself because of what has happened to you. Maybe you would be angry at those who have beaten and imprisoned you. Perhaps you would be questioning God for allowing you to face such a terrible circumstance. Maybe you would be simply sleeping, partly from exhaustion and partly to escape your reality through sleep. Paul and Silas did none of those things. They were wide awake at midnight, praying and singing to God. Can you imagine what the other prisoners and prison guards thought of these two men praising God in prison? They probably thought they were out of their minds!
What happens next in this story of Paul and Silas is incredible. Suddenly, as if the praises of Paul and Silas shook the earth, an earthquake occurred. All of the prison doors were opened, and the chains of the prisoners fell off. I'm not sure how, but the jailer woke up only after the earthquake. He saw what had happened and assumed all of the prisoners had escaped. He drew his sword to kill himself because he knew he would likely be brutally punished, or even killed, for losing all of the prisoners. Remember, it was evening so the jailer could not see very well in the dark. As he drew his sword, Paul called him to stop because all of the prisoners were still there. It can only be assumed that Paul and Silas had convinced all of the prisoners to stay put instead of escaping from their prison. While many would have seen this as an opportunity to run, Paul and Silas stayed, most likely hoping to minister to the jailer. The jailer offers a beautiful response to finding all of the prisoners still in place: He fell to his knees and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved." Because of their actions, Paul and Silas led the jailer and his entire family to Christ that day.
What if Paul and Silas had fled the prison? What if they had grumbled the entire time they were in prison? This jailer and his entire family may not have come to faith that evening. Paul and Silas never had to ask "what if?" They lived lives of integrity and trusted God even while they were in prison.
What about you? Are you living your life in such a way that others watch how you respond to all situations, the good, bad, and everything in between, with peace, joy, and integrity, and can only respond by saying, "What must I do to be saved?" You never know how your lifestyle may lead another to Christ.
Throughout this series, you have been challenged to really learn the Bridge Diagram. Today, let's put your knowledge to the test! Find a friend from church and practice the Bridge Diagram for them. Give them the opportunity to practice for you, too! The more you practice, the more prepared you will be to share it with someone you encounter who is lost.
Read Acts 16:16-34 (NLT)
One day as we were going down to the place of prayer, we met a slave girl who had a spirit that enabled her to tell the future. She earned a lot of money for her masters by telling fortunes. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”
This went on day after day until Paul got so exasperated that he turned and said to the demon within her, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And instantly it left her.
Her masters’ hopes of wealth were now shattered, so they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them before the authorities at the marketplace. “The whole city is in an uproar because of these Jews!” they shouted to the city officials. “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice.”
A mob quickly formed against Paul and Silas, and the city officials ordered them stripped and beaten with wooden rods. They were severely beaten, and then they were thrown into prison. The jailer was ordered to make sure they didn’t escape. So the jailer put them into the inner dungeon and clamped their feet in the stocks.
Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening. Suddenly, there was a massive earthquake, and the prison was shaken to its foundations. All the doors immediately flew open, and the chains of every prisoner fell off! The jailer woke up to see the prison doors wide open. He assumed the prisoners had escaped, so he drew his sword to kill himself. But Paul shouted to him, “Stop! Don’t kill yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he 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, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.