What must one do to be saved?
The "Iglesia Ni Cristo" teaches that we must regularly attend worship services among other things in order to be saved. What did Paul and Silas tell the jailer in Acts 16 that he needed to do to be saved?
When we examine the passage in Acts 16, we see it teaches that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone.
God saved Paul and Silas.
Paul and Silas were in prison, yet God released them from their bonds and saved them from their incarceration.
Acts 16:25-30 25 (ESV) - 25 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.
The jailer knew he needed to be saved.
However, the freedom of Paul and Silas meant the opposite for the jailer.
Acts 16:27 (ESV) - 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.
The jailor realized his grave wrongdoing: he had fallen asleep on the job and now (he thought) the prisoners had escaped. He knew the consequences would be severe, so severe that he'd rather die than face them.
The jailer realized he had ultimately offended God.
Notice the jailer's response after Paul and Silas assure him that no prisoner had escaped:
Acts 16:29-30 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?"
Although his fears of his employer had been assuaged, he still asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved. Upon seeing the miracle of God, he must have realized the grandeur of God and his own sinfulness and inadequacy. He knew that he needed a Savior to save him from sin.
The jailer was told to believe.
Acts 16:31-32 (ESV) - 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.
The first thing that Paul and Silas told him is that he must believe. Then they gave him the message of salvation he needed to believe. They didn't say he had to go to church, be good from now on, witness to people, etc. They simply told him to believe upon the Lord.
The jailer's baptism was an outward sign of his salvation.
The INC would object and point to the next two verses which show the man was baptised, as though this was a requirement for his salvation.
Acts 16:33-34 (ESV) - 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. (ESV)
However, baptism was not given as a requirement for salvation. Baptism is an outward sign of salvation. Baptism symbolizes the inward washing of our souls that Jesus does with His own blood. It represents the washing away of our sins, which has already happened before one's baptism! As Paul said, the jailer was saved by believing on Christ alone.
Saving faith manifests itself in a desire to be obedient to God's commands. We are commanded to be baptised, and someone who has been saved should be baptised. However, if someone rejects this command, then we have reason to question whether that person has saving faith at all - because baptism is an outward sign of the inward reality.
We see that the jailer recognized his sin and need for a Savior, heard the message of the Gospel, and placed his faith in Christ for salvation. He was saved through his faith alone, not baptism or good works. His baptism merely reflected the internal transformation that already took place. His obedience to Christ's command was evidence of his salvation, not a prerequisite for it.
Salvation by faith is difficult for many to accept because we like being in control and want to retain trust in our own selves and our own works. However, we are fallen and sinful and can never save ourselves. Nothing we can do can pay the price for our trespasses. Jesus is God, the Master and Creator of the universe, the Ruler of all things. You can be certain that what God promises, he can and will do.
John 6:39-40 (ESV) 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.