What Does It Mean to “Believe”?

” ‘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).

The enemy wanted to silence the preachers’ voices and sent Paul and Silas to prison. The Lord could have prevented it, but He allowed it in order to fulfill purposes that went beyond the visible. The missionaries trusted because they knew that “all things work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28).

The jailer had orders to keep these two special prisoners under maximum surveillance, and took all necessary precautions. Paul and Silas were beaten and imprisoned in the inner dungeon, a dark place lacking ventilation, and with stocks pressing down on their feet. Suddenly the unexpected happened: the earth shook! The jailer assumed that this was the end, so he drew his sword and decided to kill himself. After all, the only reason for his role was to keep prisoners safe, which meant to keep them in custody. He was safe if the prisoners were still in prison. When Paul told him that no one had escaped and that everyone was still there, he sensed that Someone else was behind those events, and then asked what he needed to be saved.

The jailer was totally confused. He had never before seen or heard prisoners filled with peace, singing and praising God. It was not logical. More than prisoners, they looked like angels.

It was clear that the enemy wanted to discourage the preachers, but even as prisoners they were still in good spirits, praying, singing, and testifying.

“Though the body is shut in, though the flesh is confined, all things are open to the spirit… The leg does not feel the chains when the mind is in the heavens,” said Tertullian.

The enemy set prisons and guards to deter them from preaching, and yet, the prison cells were opened and their families converted and baptized. An earthquake ended in a party, in which a new life was celebrated. “The face of the jailer, no long earlier the reflection of dispair, radiated the joy of the Lord as he realized that salvation had come to his house,” wrote M. Henry.

To be saved, all that was necessary was to believe. What does that really mean? To believe is to recognize our total inadequacy and to accept and trust in God’s sufficiency. It is to acknowledge our absolute unworthiness, while we accept the Lord’s complete worthiness to save us. It is to recognize that it is our independence that leads us to death, and that it is the permanent dependence on Jesus that brings us to life.

May this be our prayer today:
“Lord, I set aside my inadequacy, my unworthyness,
and my impossibility. Help me to rely permanently on You
and, no matter what circumstances I may face, to live 
a life of prayer and study of Your Word everyday.”

God bless you, just believe!