They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” – Acts 16: 31 (NLT) Today we will see yet another reason why context is so vital in reading the Bible and deciding doctrine (what it is we believe). Let me start by saying I understand the desire to believe that everyone we love will be in heaven with us. As someone with multiple family members who are outside of salvation, certainly I understand. Remember, God Himself does not want anyone to go unsaved: The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2Peter 3: 9 (NIV) So the good news is that God wants everyone saved but the more difficult news is we all must make the choice to believe or not believe. Yet despite this there remains this strain of false belief that says that either our loved ones are saved through our salvation or will be granted some second chance at a revealed Jesus before the final judgment. The key verse today is one that if taken out of context can lead to such confusion. This is the culmination of the story of Paul and Silas in prison. They were singing hymns to God chained in the inner dungeon, when God delivered them through a powerful earthquake that loosened all the chains of every prisoner. The Roman guard, fearing he had lost his prisoners and would thus be executed, decides to kill himself when Paul and Silas stay his hand by revealing that all of the prisoners were in fact still there. Having experienced the power and mercy of God the jailer asks these men – “What must I do to be saved? Their answer is the key verse for today. Believe and you will be saved – along with everyone in your household. Taken on face value the implication would be that the act of the jailer accepting Christ would somehow transfer automatically to his family. Now, we would know this as being untrue simply from the remaining Bible as context which shows no other such instance of salvation through osmosis. God however is never vague in His Word. The immediate context of the story provides the clarification if we just keep reading: And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household. Even at that hour of the night, the jailer cared for them and washed their wounds. Then he and everyone in his household were immediately baptized. He brought them into his house and set a meal before them, and he and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God. – Acts 16: 32-34 (NLT) Did Paul and Silas only share the Word of the Lord with the jailer? No! They shared it with his family as well. If all that was needed was for the jailer to believe then why would they share the Word with all of them? Further clarifying however, we see that the entire household rejoiced because they ALL believed in God. We all must believe. We all must make our choice to freely accept what God so graciously offers us. I wish my salvation was enough to guarantee salvation for my family but I know it is not. In my research and devotion time when this topic was brought up to me however, I came across a disturbing notion from grace preacher Joseph Prince. In a devotional he shares on his website from 2011, Prince claims that when we were saved this opened a door for God to move in a bigger way in the lives of our families. Now, Prince openly admits that salvation is not automatic for our unsaved family members but in the middle of his devotional he states, “So don’t worry about your unsaved parents or grandparents. God knows how to reach out to them.” Beloved, this is what happens when you compromise the Gospel for the sake of religious expediency. When you are trying to constantly put on a happy face emoticon onto a God that is multifaceted. First of all, God knew how to reach everyone regardless of our state of salvation. A great many times that vehicle for reaching the lost is in fact us. You might be the only representation of Christ your family ever truly sees. So do not think for a second you should stop worrying about your unsaved loved ones. Until they are securely in the hand of Almighty God we should be constantly worried. There are in fact several things we ought to be doing within our worry: 1) Travail – we should be in constant prayer for our unsaved family. We should be praying that God softens their hearts and provides us with the opportunity to bring the Gospel to them in a manner in which they will receive it. The Bible says that the fervent prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. I know that I had people praying for me before I was saved and for all you know you did too. The salvation of our families begins in our willingness to fast, pray and prostrate ourselves before God for them. 2) Share – sometimes it is all too easy to shy away from our beliefs when we are dealing with the very people who need to hear it the most. Jesus said that prophet has no honor in his hometown and I have felt that with my own family. Because they know who we were. They saw us at our worst. Now we come back and claim this regeneration and to be born again. Well, that might take some convincing to the people who have seen us at our worst. Regardless of how hard it is, we must press the issue. Not to be overwhelming but to not change who we are when we are around our family. We need to still openly pray. We need to still openly read the Bible. We need to still openly talk about God in the day to day machinations of our lives. Remember, you cannot offend them into hell number two. There is only one. 3) Walk the talk – there can be nothing more damaging I think then to claim the mantle of Jesus Christ in front of your unsaved family and then behave the opposite of what that should mean. That means we have to show the grace and mercy God has shown us with that difficult brother or sister – even the one who tormented us growing up. It means we have to show deference and respect to our parents. Beloved they have to SEE Jesus in us if you expect them to believe in the Jesus we speak of. Otherwise, we will sound like nothing more than a hypocrite. I have seen the damage to the witness of Christ personally with people who wear Jesus on their sleeve while talking down to people, or being unkind, or cursing, or simply behaving like the world. Realize that when the Bible says that your household will be saved it is because they should be from being around you. It is Christ in you they should see. They should see the peace that surpasses all understanding within you. They should see the loving-kindness of our Savior inside us. They should see it and want it. Maybe not immediately. Maybe not today. But when all hell breaks loose in their life they are going to want to come to the one person they see as having rose above it and want to know – what must I do to be saved? Rev. Anthony.