“What Must I Do to Get Saved?”
“WHAT must I do to get saved?” This question was asked back in the year 50 C.E. by a jailer in Philippi, Macedonia. There had just been a great earthquake, and the doors of the prison in his charge had all broken open. Assuming that the prisoners had escaped, the jailer was about to kill himself. But one of the prisoners, the apostle Paul, called out: “Do not hurt yourself, for we are all here!”—Acts 16:25-30.
Paul and his fellow prisoner, Silas, had come to Philippi to preach a message of salvation, and they were in prison because of false accusations made against them. Grateful that the prisoners had not escaped, the jailer wanted to hear the message of Paul and Silas. What would he have to do to enjoy the salvation preached by these two Christian missionaries?
People today still need the salvation that Paul and Silas were preaching. Unhappily, though, many view the matter of being saved with deep suspicion. They are repelled by the arrogance and avarice of a number of those religionists who claim to teach them how to be saved. Others recoil from the unreasoning emotionalism characterizing many evangelical religions that stress the idea of salvation. English journalist Philip Howard said that such so-called evangelists “assault the emotions and the check-signing hands rather than the minds of their audience.”—Compare 2 Peter 2:2.
Still others are shocked by the changes that sometimes take place in individuals who believe they have had a “saving” experience. In their book Snapping, Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman discuss the many religious experiences—including being “saved”—that came into vogue in the last few decades. They write about “the dark side” of such experiences and say that people are “snapped” into sudden personality changes that fail to give the promised fulfillment and enlightenment but rather produce delusion, closed minds, and an inability to face reality. The authors add: “We can describe the process as one of shutting off the mind, of not-thinking.”
This was not the case when first-century Christians experienced salvation. The Philippian jailer did not ‘shut off his mind’ when the apostle Paul answered his question, “What must I do to get saved?” And Paul and Silas did not mount an ‘assault on his emotions’ and plead for a large financial contribution. Rather, “they spoke the word of Jehovah to him.” Reasoning with the man, they helped him to come to a clear understanding of God’s provisions for salvation.—Acts 16:32.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus”
Those Christian missionaries opened the jailer’s mind to a fundamental truth about salvation. It was the same truth that the apostle Peter explained when the Christian congregation was first established. Peter pointed to the central role of Jesus Christ in the matter of salvation, calling him “the Chief Agent of life.” That apostle also said: “There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 3:15; 4:12) Paul and Silas directed the Philippian jailer to this same Agent for salvation when they said: “Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will get saved.”—Acts 16:31.
What does it mean, though, to believe on the Lord Jesus? Why is there no other name but that of Jesus by which we can get saved? Will everyone eventually attain salvation? Did the apostles believe in the idea of “once saved, always saved”? These are important questions because, despite the fact that the words and actions of many modern religionists have tended to downgrade the term, we still need salvation. All of us need a satisfying, reasonable answer to the question: “What must I do to get saved?”