About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, 26 and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened. 27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptized at once, he and all his family. 34 Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. – Acts 16:25-34
When I was at Boy Scout camp one year, I took a canoeing merit badge class. One of the things I had to do was turn over the canoe, take off my shirt, and turn it into a flotation device by filling it with air. During that process, I managed to get the shirt stuck over my face. I was literally in a panic for a few seconds, afraid that I would not be able to get it off and that I would drown. Thankfully, however, I was able to extricate myself, and successfully completed the exercise. Whew! I was spared. I was saved.
Apart from close calls: auto accidents, falls, near misses, and other extreme cases we seldom feel a sense of anxiety or fear of not being saved. In fact the whole idea of being saved seems to have become rather passé over the years. Ask someone if they’re saved, and they’re likely to call you a religious freak.
Not so with the Philippian jailer. He was fearful for his life and wellbeing when he thought the prisoners had escaped. But he became even more afraid of the God who Paul praised when he discovered they were all safe. Think of it: Fear for his life at the prospect of having lost the prisoners turns to fear of God when he encounters someone who takes God so seriously that he sings hymns in prison and stays put when he could have fled. He no longer feared the hand of the king, but feared the King of kings, and sought to be saved from his wrath.
To believe in the Lord Jesus Christ is to believe that his way of faithfulness is the true way; that his gift of life through his atoning sacrifice and resurrection from the grave is the true life and gateway to eternal life; that his truth from God’s word and the counsel of God is true truth: solid, unchanging, freeing, and good.
When we discover the fullness of God’s salvation we will be led to acts of mercy, kindness, love, and honor. We will deeply desire to be saved, to live as one who is saved, and seek to bring all in our realm of influence into that same saving relationship with God.
This is a gift of God, worth celebrating. This is true whether we have been delivered from the raging waters of a flood, the terrific onslaught of a hurricane, the raging flames of a forest fire, the heavy burden of a guilty conscience, or the despair of a hopeless future. God saves us from all those things, and even more: from his own judgment against sin, having judged Jesus in our place and raised him for our salvation.