Acts 16:16-40 Man’s Need for Salvation

The hearts of natural men are exceedingly full of sin. If they had but one sin in their hearts, it would be sufficient to render their condition very dreadful. But they have not only one sin, but all manner of sin. There is every kind of lust. The heart is a mere sink of sin, a fountain of corruption, whence issue all manner of filthy streams.

Men have not only every kind of lust, and wicked and perverse dispositions in their hearts, but they have them to a dreadful degree. There is not only pride, but an amazing degree of it: pride, whereby a man is disposed to set himself even above the throne of God itself. The hearts of natural men are mere sinks of sensuality. Man is become like a beast in placing his happiness in sensual enjoyments. The heart is full of the most loathsome lusts. There is not only malice in the hearts of natural men, but a fountain of it. Every natural man, if he reflects, may see enough to show him how exceedingly sinful he is. Sin flows from the heart as constantly as water flows from a fountain.

[And] the relative state of those who are in an unconverted condition is dreadful because they are without God in the world. They have no interest or part in God. He is not their God. He hath declared he will not be their God (Hos. 1:9). There is a great alienation and estrangement between God and the wicked.

They are not only without God, but the wrath of God abides upon them. John 3:36, “He that believeth not the Son, shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him.” There is no peace between God and them, but God is angry with them every day. He is not only angry with them, but that to a dreadful degree. They eat, and drink, and sleep under wrath. How dreadful a condition therefore are they in! It is the most awful thing for the creature to have the wrath of his Creator abiding on him. How dreadful is it to be under the wrath of the First Being, the Being of beings, the great Creator and mighty possessor of heaven and earth!

[In this jailer], we may observe the objects of his concern: he is anxious about his salvation. He is terrified by his guilt, especially by his guilt in his ill treatment of these ministers of Christ. He is concerned to escape from that guilty state, the miserable state he was in by reason of sin. Second, the sense which he has of the dreadfulness of his present state. This he manifests in several ways: by his great haste to escape from that state and by his behavior and gesture before Paul and Silas. He fell down. It shows some great distress, that makes such an alteration in him, that brings him to this. He was broken down, as it were, by the distress of his mind, in a sense of the dreadfulness of his condition. And third, by his earnest manner of inquiring of them what he shall do to escape from this miserable condition; “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So distressed, that he is brought to be willing to do anything; to have salvation on any terms, and by any means, however difficult; brought, as it were, to write a blank, and give it in to God, that God may prescribe his own terms.

Jonathan Edwards

Heart Preparation
Read Acts 16:16-40. Consider the state and need to the jailer that Jonathan Edwards describes above and the response he is given in verse 31. How does this affect the way you relate to God? How does this affect the way you relate to others?

Posted on: January 9, 2014 - 10:00PM

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