A few years ago, a man came to me and said he wanted to ask me just one question. He then asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
In Acts chapter 16 Paul and Silas have been put in prison. Around midnight there was a great earthquake. The foundation of the prison was shaken and the doors of the prison were opened. The jailer saw the doors all open and feared the prisoners had escaped. He drew his sword and was prepared to take his own life. Paul called out, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here” (Acts 16:28). The jailer called for lights to see for himself. It was true and he trembled with fear before Paul and Silas. Now, watch this: “he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So, they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31). Did you take note of the question the jailer asked? It is our question of consideration is it not?
Some years ago, I received a tract written by a preacher. It was called “What Must I Do to Be Saved?” It was based upon the account of the jailer in Acts 16. He printed out Acts 16:30-31 and then, in bold print, the tract stated, “STOP READING RIGHT THERE, THERE IS NO NEED TO READ ANY FURTHER.” The tract then ended abruptly, saying that all you must do to be saved is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the message of multiplied thousands of preachers all across the world. Why did the tract say “stop reading” there?
Perhaps we can find a clue in the very next verse: “Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house” (Acts 16:32). We know that faith comes by hearing the word of the Lord (Rom. 10:17). That “word” certainly included teaching about God (Acts 16:34). That “word” had to include knowledge of Christ and Him crucified, plus a “word” about the controversial subject of New Testament baptism. How can we know that?
Instead of stopping our study at verse 31, lets take a look at verse 33: “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his were baptized.” If Acts 16:31 teaches that one is saved by belief only or faith only, then I want to ask only one question: “Why were the Philippian jailer and his household baptized?” The jailer’s question of Acts 16:30 has been called “The Greatest Question of All Time.”
Have you ever wondered why the jailer rejoiced that night? He had asked the question, “What must I do to be saved?” He had received the correct answer from an inspired apostle. His entire household had been baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:38). Thus, they were rejoicing! What must you do to be saved? Precisely what the jailer did. “And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16).