Acts 16:30-31 He then 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—you and your household.”
This incident is quoted with considerable frequency in Japan because of how many Christians are the only believers in their families. It is taken as a promise that if they believe, their whole family will be saved. I wish it meant that! As I read it, the offer of salvation by faith is being given to the man and his family, but salvation is always contingent on faith, and some people refuse to believe. I have heard some marvelous testimonies of families that did believe eventually for salvation, but I have also known of far more where that did not happen. I certainly don’t want to dash hope, but nothing in the Bible says anyone can skip over repentance and faith. At the same time, this passage brings up the whole question of just what is salvation. The jailer was probably not thinking in theological terms when he asked his question. Rather, he had been faced with being held accountable for all the prisoners whom he thought had escaped, and suicide was a better choice to him. Since none had escaped he was already saved from that, but he was in total emotional turmoil, triggered initially by the earthquake itself. (People who have been through a major earthquake can identify with that.) Whatever he was thinking, the Holy Spirit prompted Paul and Silas to give their famous answer, and the whole world has benefited.
I am faced with the question of salvation very frequently. People want to be saved from all sorts of things, and it’s not unusual for them to confuse those with the matter of eternal salvation. I have had people insist on being baptized, and then when their temporal problem wasn’t solved, they disappeared. At the same time, I have had people come to Christ precisely because of a temporal problem, but encounter Him in truth and be gloriously born again. I’ve had to come around to leaving it all in God’s hands. (Imagine that!) I am to present God’s offer of eternal life by repentance and faith to all who will listen, but how they receive it, or not, is between them and God. I am often grieved at how people fail to accept that offer, but I am not to let that tear me down. My call is to speak the truth in love, faithfully and persistently.
Father, this is a huge issue in Japan, with such a low rate of return on evangelism. Keep me from despair or apathy. Rather, help me trust You and expect great things of You, so that as many as will accept Your offer may indeed be saved, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!