Monday, September 26, 2016

Does Acts 16:31 mean that if I am saved my whole family will become saved too?

A Bible passage without its context is a pretext to say anything you want. The Bible is full of many different types of literature. There is poetry, prophecy, narrative, discourse, letters, proverbs, and parables to name a few. Acts 16 is a narrative passage recording an event in the life of Paul and Silas. When you come to a passage, it is either prescriptive or descriptive. Prescriptive texts are instructive, and they are commands either of what to do or not to do. Confusion often sets in when we bring in the idea of modeling or examples. The Bible is filled with people who modeled great things, and we want to emulate them. But the question is how far do we take it? Should we make rash vows like Jephthah in Judges 11:30-32 or sacrifice our children to prove our faith in God like Abraham (Gen. 22)?

I believe that what we have is a descriptive passage which records an amazing event of salvation for the jailer and his household. A descriptive passage is one that is describing what happened, which may not be emulated or encouraged. Acts 20:9-11 records a young man named Eutychus falling to the ground from the third story to his death. Acts 20 records Paul bringing him back to life. This is a fantastic event for bringing life from death, but it is a unique event to the life of Paul. The story of the jailer and his family is the same. It was unique to that setting and time. While we can certainly walk away with the truth that we must preach the gospel to all households, this is not a passage that guarantees salvation to everyone in our family or household. In fact, look at these passages as well:

· Jeremiah 31:29 & Ezekiel 18 both point to the separating of the destiny of parents and children. A godly parent may have an ungodly (unsaved) child; an ungodly parent may have a believing and faithful child. The destiny of fathers and sons is independently determined.

· 1 Corinthians 7:14 – We are told that an unbelieving mate is "sanctified" by the believing mate (7:14), but please note they are still called unbelievers. A believer in the household will bring blessings to the home that all will benefit from, but that does not always mean salvation for everyone.

· Luke 12:53 – Records that Jesus will divide some families.

· Luke 14:26-27 – Perhaps one of the most difficult passages for many believers. The call is to hate our fathers, mothers, wives, children, and siblings. I believe the call is to love Jesus more than our families.

Bottom line, all are individually responsible for our eternal destiny. And we must love Jesus, obey Him and serve Him, above all others, including those closest to us!

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