Acts 16:31 - They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."
I had a brief, unfinished discussion about the above scripture with a friend. I don't remember why it wasn't finished.
I know there are people who read this scripture and assume that it means that if they are born again believers in Jesus Christ then their whole family will be. If only that were true. How simple it would be to continue life with a peace in assuming this.
As I was saying to her, it's still about a choice each of us has to make to receive Christ. Just because someone in the household is saved doesn't mean another or others can slip in on the apron strings (or shirt tails!) of the believer who has taken the time to know Christ and strives to live a life pleasing to God. It's still a personal choice.
I did a little research and there were other scriptures related to this one that opened up the meaning a bit more:
Mark 16:16 - Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Acts 16:32 - Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.
Romans 10:9 - If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
It's all about choice. Believe and be baptized. The message must be spoken, heard and received by all to be saved. Then there is the declaration of this testimony, "Jesus is Lord." You and your household must believe, not just one person.
We so want to sugar coat God's hard words...that we might find peace in our souls now. But this is another hard truth...it still is about the choice we each have to make.
I know we all have those people in our lives who don't get it, or don't want to. Every so often the fears creep in about them and we hear the enemy whispering, "It just ain't gonna happen." Then the remembrance comes to mind that nothing is impossible with God. It's then the peace floods the soul again and the lies and deception are banished till he tries to interfere next time. He's good at that.
We should be giving up control over those people in our lives. Let God do what He needs to do. Don't try to figure out the why's or how's. Just trust the Lord. I'd heard someone say one time we cannot get between God and another person. That's like believing we can do a better job than He. Get out of His way so He can do the work.
I have also read that the word believe can be translated obey. I didn't always know when Jesus spoke the words "Believe in Me" or others said to "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ," that there was a deeper meaning than to just lightly believe. It took awhile to get it. Those who have been saved know what I mean. When we believe, there's an inner work that takes place. We realize it's not about anything we have done but all that Christ has done. It's not about our works, which are as filthy rags. It's about our coming to grips with our unworthiness, admitting our sins, turning from them and turning to Christ. I can only make that choice myself. Each one of us has to come to a point in our lives when we choose. But I can't choose for someone else.
Christ alone does the work of saving. You and your household must individually hear, believe and confess. This is all God's work. As He has done in me, He must do in others.
Here's something to wrap this all up.
Romans 10:13 - ...For whoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.