Acts 16 records a fantastic episode in the life of the apostle Paul. He and Silas had been falsely accused of committing some type of crime, when in fact all they had done was to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Paul and Silas were severely flogged and thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. This seems like an odd instruction. Aren’t all prisoners supposed to be guarded carefully? The authorities must have been well aware that Christian apostles had a tendency to escape from jail (Acts 5:18-19 and Acts 12:1-10). The jailer took his orders seriously. He put Paul and Silas in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.
Such an unfortunate turn of events might discourage many people from worshipping God, but Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God. The other prisoners were listening to them.
Suddenly there was a violent earthquake. Now earthquakes are often signs of the presence of God, and this was just such a case. God was working miraculously to free the Christian missionaries. The prison doors opened and everyone’s chains came loose.
The jailer woke up and saw what had happened. He thought that the prisoners had escaped, so he was about to kill himself. He would rather take his own life than face the wrath of the authorities who would be quite disappointed that the prisoners had escaped.
But Paul shouted out, urging the jailer not to harm himself because the prisoners were all still there. Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and found that it was just as Paul had said. Then the jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They told him to have faith in Jesus, and then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. This might include household servants as well as relatives. They all believed the gospel message, and the repentant jailer and all of his household were immediately baptized into Christ. The jailer and his whole household were filled with joy because they had come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
From this story we see the great importance of worship. Hurting and unjustly imprisoned, Paul and Silas would not be deterred from praying and singing. Never allow your mood or your circumstances to prevent you from doing what you were created to do—worship God!
We also notice that other people are affected by our worship. Others were listening to the songs and prayers. The jailer was probably among those who heard the worshipping prisoners, and their witness would soon bear fruit.
We also see that a true encounter with God leads one to ask an extremely important question—“What must I do to be saved?” God’s saving grace offered to mankind through Jesus Christ is the whole point of the Bible! Please, don’t miss this point!
Finally, we see how a seeker of the truth is to respond to the gospel message. The jailer and his household were baptized immediately. They were not told to ask Jesus into their heart, or to pray a “sinner’s prayer” or to perform some other manmade ritual that cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. They were told to do what everyone who believes in the crucified and resurrected Jesus and wants to be saved did in the Bible—they were baptized.
So, let’s not underestimate the power of our worship. It bears testimony of God’s saving grace. When we worship, others can hear the gospel message of salvation through Jesus and respond appropriately.
“And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.”—Acts 22:16.