And 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—NKJV

These verses are embedded in the story of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. They had been beaten, their feet clapped in stocks, and they were locked away in the inner prison for preaching and causing a disruption in the town of Philippi. The jailer dozed in his sleep as Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises to God. There followed such an earthquake that the jail doors where shaken ajar and all the prisoners were freed. Were it not for Paul’s assurance that not one prisoner had run off the jailer would have taken his own life because he thought he had failed in his charge, and that required a horrible penalty in the Roman world.

The strange circumstances and the close call worked terror upon the heart of the jailer and he hurried to the room of Paul and Silas. Bursting from his lips and pouring from his heart is the searching question that we read in verse 30, “What must I do to be saved?” I wish more people would dare to vocalize such a question and not be satisfied until they gain an assuring answer from God.

Paul’s response is a study in simplicity but rich in meaning. “Believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” Belief or “faith” is placing all your confidence, hope, and welfare in an object you deem dependable and worthy of such unquestioning trust (in fact, you wed your success with the success of the object of your faith). The same kind of faith is displayed by someone being rescued by a lifeguard or a hostage rescue team. It is displayed when someone makes a tandem parachute jump. The outcome must be fully entrusted to someone else or catastrophic disaster is assured.

The text leaves no room for faith-by-proxy, “easy-believism”, fire-escape theology, or hocus-pocus ritual. The simplicity of saving belief is based upon a full knowledge of the worthiness of the object of faith and a full reckoning of exactly what is entrusted. In verse 32 the Bible records that Paul and Silas communicated the Word of God to the whole family and that the whole family believed the promises of God (“faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God”). Another description of this saving faith placed upon Jesus Christ is found in Acts 10:38–43 where Peter states that Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, He is the Judge of the living and the dead and “to Him all the prophets witness that, through His Name, whoever believes upon Him will receive remission of sins.”

Looking at the story of the Philippian jailer four aspects of real, saving faith are on display. You must: 1) Consider the Lord Jesus Christ worthy of trust in His character and in His motives, 2) Place your confidence in the Lord’s ability to do just what He says He will do, 3) Entrust the salvation of your soul into the hands of Christ alone, 4) Commit the work of saving your soul to the care of Christ.

Is it any wonder that the Bible says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9) Have you cried out for rescue from sin and its consequences to the resurrected Savior? Do you display a life of implicit trust in the might and the will of Christ to do exactly what He says He will do? Trust and obey.