Today’s reading in The Story begins on page 412 with the words, “On the Sabbath we went outside the city…” and ends on page 415 with the words, “On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue” Acts 16:13-40; Acts 17:1-10
It is the eternal question: “What must I DO to be saved?” Unfortunately, the question begins with the wrong premise. I CAN’T DO ANYTHING to be saved! There, we’ve said it. The elephant is in the room. Thankfully, Paul addresses from a jail cell the matter quickly and completely in a single thought:
Acts 16:31 (NIV) They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.”
It doesn’t get any more clear than that!
Salvation is not about what I do. Even my faith is not something I “do”: it is a gift I receive. The same man who offered the definitive word about salvation, at a jail in Philippi, taught the Christians at Ephesus:
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Break down the words and expressions and the richness and promise of these words just keeps growing.
“saved” – is an action in past. It has been completed. But not by you, or me, but by Christ.
Romans 6:10 (NIV) The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.
Hebrews 7:27 (NIV) Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 9:12 (NIV) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
ONCE for ALL. Christ’s work did it for all mankind, for all times, forever. And no sinner’s sin, can undo what Christ has done for us.
“saved through faith…not by works” You can stop holding your breath, wondering, “Have I done enough?” “Have I offset my sins with good works, enough good works that God will pay me the wage of eternal life?” You can stop wondering and worrying. It has always been faith, even from the beginning. Adam broke faith with God when He listened to his wife instead of the LORD of all creation. But God’s love broke through Adam’s sins. The LORD came looking for Adam and found him hiding. Offered Adam and Eve coverings for their sin so that they could stand before God again. Which is where we now stand:
Romans 5:2 (NIV) “…we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
What must I do to be saved? Wrong question! But I’m glad the jailer asked it, for now we have the answer, NO, we believe the truth. I am saved by believing in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Father, I don’t know where to start. Do I begin by praising You for what Christ has done for me, or thank YOU for loving me, for loving the world so much that You willingly offered Christ to DO what I couldn’t, so that I can be Your child, a part of Your family forever? By a gift of grace I now believe! Help me, Holy Spirit neither to take for granted what my Savior has done for me, nor to let the evil one lead me to question my salvation by what I do or fail to do. Increase my faith that I may never doubt, but always believe and trust in my Savior, in Jesus’ name. Amen.