So YOU don't believe in trying to scare people into heaven! Well,
God does, for He literally frightened this jailer to the point of
death to get him saved!
The background to this occasion was that Paul and Silas had been
beaten and put into prison for their witness for Christ, with "their
feet fast in the stocks" (v. 24). Paul dealt often in stocks and
bonds, his feet in stocks and his hands in bonds. It is significant
that there is little of that today and also few conversion stories
similar to that of the Philippian jailer.
"At midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God" (v.
25). It is not what happens to us that counts, but what we do with
what happens to us. What a place to practice the admonition, "In
everything give thanks" (I Thessalonians
5:18), "for unto you is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to
believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake" (Phil. 1:29). Their
prayers were not complaints you can be sure. Their praises in song
were a triumphant testimony to the other prisoners, for "the prisoners
heard them" (v. 25). The prisoners heard the oaths of others! What a
"Suddenly there was a great earthquake . . . and the keeper of the
prison awaking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open, he
drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the
prisoners had been fled" (vv. 26-27). The jailer knew it meant his
death if the prisoners had escaped and so he was going to make it
quick. This man was scared! He too heard the singing and testimony of
Paul. There surely had been conviction in his heart. The world needs
an amplifier to the still small voice and God gave it through Paul and
Silas to this man's conscience.
Paul reacted quickly and "cried with a loud voice saying, Do thyself
no harm: for we are all here" (v. 28). Seeing this reaction, he knew
these men lived what they preached and said, "Sirs, what must 1 do to
be saved?" (v. 30). He wanted what he saw they had.
Only to a person at this stage of conviction and knowledge should be
given the simple statement, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou
shalt be saved" (v. 31).