The Simplicity of the Gospel: Perfect and Necessary for the Prepared Heart

Taken and adapted from, “The Great Concern of Salvation”
Written by, Thomas Halyburton


“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas: and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” –Acts 16: 29-31

The Gospel proposes its remedy, not to those who are well in their own eyes, but to those who see and feel their disease.

Christ is offered to those who are sensible of their need of him. Hence, ministers of the Gospel begin their work with conviction of sin; for this alone prepares the way to receive Christ. When John the Baptist was sent to prepare for the coming of Christ, he began here: “Repent,” said he, “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So it was with Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost. Our Lord employed the same method in the conversion of Paul. The same have I attempted to do in dealing with you. I have laid sin before you; and now we enter upon the plan of relief, which is suited only to convinced sinners.

When the awakened man asked Paul and Silas what he must do, they answered him directly and plainly. They did not hold him in suspense till they could capitulate with him for their own escape from prison.

They, further gave him the simplest direction possible: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” Have faith in him; receive him, and rest upon him, and thou shalt be saved.

They gave him the highest possible encouragement to comply with their direction: “Thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” The thing offered is the very thing he is seeking. Believe, and thou shalt be saved.

He might be saved, but he must believe. Belief and salvation are inseparable. He was not told, that if he would abide in faith to the end, he should be saved, for this would have left him still trembling, lest he might after all be finally lost.

He was told, that real belief rendered his salvation sure. He was farther encouraged by the promise that his family should be saved with him. Not that his faith would save them; they must believe for themselves, or they could not be saved. But this promise implied that his family would obtain some special advantages in order to their salvation. The promise was a covenant that they should be saved.

The covenanted mercies are indeed many to the children of pious parents; and were it not for the criminal neglect of parents to instruct their children in the fear of God, we should soon see a brighter day dawn upon the Church and the world.