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(Acts 16:35–40) Amazing Grace, Part 2

(Acts 16:35–40) Amazing Grace, Part 2

by Stephen Davey
Series: Sermons in Acts
Ref: Acts 16:35–40

What must I do to be saved? Mankind is still asking that question today. Nothing's changed. And there are a myriad of different answers. What is your answer?

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Sermon Summary

In our journey through the book of Acts, we have encountered the profound question that echoes through the ages: "What must I do to be saved?" This question, asked by a hardened jailer, is the same question that resonates in the hearts of many today. The answer, as clear as it was then, remains unchanged: "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved."

Belief is not a mere intellectual assent or a passive acknowledgment of facts. To believe in Jesus Christ is to place your complete trust in His finished work on the cross, recognizing it as the sole basis for your salvation. It is to understand that there is no human remedy for sin; no concoction of good deeds, religious rituals, or moral efforts can cure the mortal wound inflicted by sin. The Israelites, bitten by fiery serpents, could not concoct an antidote; they were simply commanded to look upon the bronze serpent and live. Similarly, we must look to Christ alone for our salvation.

The world offers a myriad of answers to the question of salvation, many of which involve a process or a combination of faith and works. However, salvation is not a process but a transaction that occurs once and for all between you and the Savior. It is not Jesus plus something else; it is Jesus alone. This is the offensive nature of Christianity: if Jesus Christ is right, then every other path is wrong. If He is the way, then all other ways lead astray.

Our first birth into this world places us in the wrong family, under the condemnation of sin and death. As the apostle Paul states, through one man, sin entered the world, and death through sin, so death spread to all because all have sinned. We are born into the human family, which is the wrong family if we hope to have eternal life. Our father, Adam, was a criminal sentenced to death, and we share in that sentence. We will die, proving our relation not only to Adam's nature but also to his sentence.

To enter the kingdom of God, we must be born again into a new family—the family of God. This rebirth is not of the flesh but of the Spirit. It is not a physical birth "out of water," but a spiritual birth from above. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to condemn it, for the world was already under condemnation. He came as a Savior, for we are perishing and in desperate need of salvation.

The assurance of salvation is not a hope or a wish; it is a certainty grounded in the promises of God's Word. The apostle John wrote his gospel so that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ and, by believing, have life in His name. He wrote his epistle so that we may know we have eternal life. This assurance is not based on our performance or adherence to religious rituals but on the finished work of Christ.

As we reflect on the truth of the gospel, let us shed any self-sufficiency, ambition, or reliance on our own goodness. Let us look to Christ alone, who offers us eternal life freely. In that look, we discover the amazing grace of God and experience the new birth, becoming children of God and heirs of eternal life.

Key Takeaways:

Salvation is not a human endeavor; it is a divine gift. Just as the Israelites could not create an antidote for the serpent's bite, we cannot craft a remedy for sin. Our efforts, no matter how noble or religious, fall short. It is only through looking to Christ and His sacrifice that we find the cure for our sin-inflicted wounds. This truth challenges us to relinquish our self-reliance and place our trust solely in Jesus.

The exclusivity of Christ as the only way to salvation is a cornerstone of Christian doctrine. Jesus' claim, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me," sets Christianity apart from all other faiths. This assertion compels us to confront the reality that all other paths are false and to boldly proclaim the singular truth of the gospel.

The concept of being born into the wrong family speaks to the universal condition of sin that afflicts all humanity. Our physical birth into this world aligns us with Adam's fallen lineage. Recognizing this truth is the first step toward understanding our need for a spiritual rebirth into the family of God, where we find true life and freedom from the penalty of sin.

The assurance of salvation is a profound comfort to the believer. John's writings emphasize that we can know we have eternal life, not as a presumption but as a confidence based on the promises of God. This assurance liberates us from the fear of death and the uncertainty of our eternal destiny, anchoring our souls in the unshakeable hope found in Christ.

The act of believing is more than intellectual consent; it is a transformative trust that leads to a personal encounter with the grace of God. When we believe in Jesus, we are not merely agreeing with historical facts; we are engaging in a life-changing relationship with the living Savior. This belief reshapes our identity, our purpose, and our destiny, marking the beginning of a journey with God that lasts into eternity.

Discussion Guide

Bible Reading:

  • Acts 16:31 - "They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.'"
  • John 14:6 - "Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"
  • John 3:3 - "Jesus replied, 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.'"

Observation Questions:

  1. In Acts 16:31, what is the condition given for the jailer and his household to be saved?
  2. According to John 14:6, what does Jesus claim about the path to the Father?
  3. What does Jesus mean in John 3:3 when He talks about seeing the kingdom of God?

Interpretation Questions:

  1. How does the condition for salvation in Acts 16:31 challenge common beliefs about what is required to be saved?
  2. Reflecting on John 14:6, why might the exclusivity of Jesus as the only way to the Father be considered offensive to some?
  3. Considering John 3:3, what implications does being "born again" have for someone's identity and relationship with God?

Application Questions:

  1. Reflect on a time when you relied on your own efforts or achievements to feel secure in your faith. How does Acts 16:31 shift your perspective on salvation?
  2. Identify a belief or practice you have encountered that contradicts the truth of John 14:6. How can you lovingly and truthfully address this with someone who holds that belief?
  3. Can you think of a conversation you might have this week where you can share the concept of being "born again" as described in John 3:3? How will you explain it?
  4. What is one step you can take this week to deepen your trust in Jesus' finished work on the cross, rather than in your own actions or religious rituals?

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