Archive for the Salvation Category

AN EXAMINATION OF THE LORD’S PRAYER — PART 2

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Prayer, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 31, 2011 by willnotbesilent

After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. – Matthew 6:9-13

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Welcome to the second installment of this study of the Lord’s Prayer. So far this examination has been quite exciting, and I hope you find the same interest in this topic as I have. Last post, we looked at the salutation of the prayer (“Our Father who is in Heaven”) and how we are children to an almighty God. Now we move on to the body of the prayer.

“Hallowed be Thy name”

The model prayer given to us by Jesus Christ is characterized by seven requests, of which this is the first.

That the prayer should contain seven requests is important to note. God loves numbers and gives various numbers a certain significance. In the case of seven, it is the number of divine perfection or completeness. We can learn from the occurrence of seven requests that this prayer which Jesus prayed as an example for his disciples was perfect and complete. A brief summary of the seven requests might appear as follows:

  1. May Your name be hallowed
  2. May Your kingdom come
  3. May Your will be done
  4. Provide us with our day-to-day needs
  5. Forgive our sins
  6. Do not lead us into temptation
  7. Deliver us from evil

Notice that the first three requests pertain to God Himself, and the last four pertain to us. Again, we see that we place God ahead of ourselves, seeking glorification of His name, promotion of His Kingdom, and the execution of His will before our own needs. We must place God before ourselves.

We could also make special mention of the fact that there are three requests pertaining to God, each request specific to each aspect of the Godhead. For the Father, that He his name be sacred and holy; for the Son, that His Kingdom might stand; and for the Holy Spirit, which is the will of God. These three requests address God in His completeness.

In this post we will discuss the first of the seven requests: “Hallowed be Your name”.

As previously mentioned, this request is the first, and Jesus placed this request first for a reason. He here illustrates that the foremost desire in our minds must be that God’s name be held in reverence. All we say and do should be for the glory of God, that His light might shine through us (Matthew 5:14-16, Philippians 2:15). More than any other desire we might have, we must place God’s glory above all things (I Corinthians 10:31).

When we speak of God’s name, we do not merely refer to the term we use for Him (Yaweh, Jehovah, God, etc). God’s name IS God – likewise, God IS His name. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, Moses asked who he should say sent him to the Israelites. God replied, “I AM.” (Exodus 3:14) This small phrase means everything. Essentially, I AM could be interpreted to mean, “He who was, is, and ever will be; the omnipresent, omnipotent power that exists through Himself and through which all things exist.” He is Himself, and His name is He. To honor God’s name is to honor God – to honor God is to honor His name. This honor does not come through the emptiness of Pharisaical false worship, but through the genuine obedience and heartfelt praise of His people and His own awesome works.

Next post, we will examine the second request of the prayer: “Your kingdom come”.

The Last Days: When Are They?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, End Times, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2011 by willnotbesilent

In this era of political upheaval all over the world, of constant wars, of famine, disease, earthquakes, storms, and more widespread abandonment of God’s principles, many people are proclaiming our era as “the Last Days”. There is a great deal of debate over this. The return of Jesus Christ has been predicted for countless dates for a thousand years or more. In the case of each prediction, people thought their society had reached a moral and spiritual zenith, and that surely Jesus would come to take His kingdom back. Indeed, even during the days of the apostles, people were waiting for Christ’s return, as illustrated in Paul’s Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

The question is, WHEN ARE THE LAST DAYS?

Some hold that the “Last Days” will begin once the “Rapture” has taken place, but as pointed out in my previous posts, the “Rapture” is a fallacy and a fraud. Some look for signs of the Antichrist, some mysterious individual possessed by the devil himself (We’ll go into the topic of the Antichrist in a following post). The most recent “prediction” for Christ’s return is May 21, 2011.

These folks who try to give an exact date are wasting their time. Jesus Himself said,

 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. — Mat 24:36
 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. — Mat 24:42
 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. — Mat 24:44

This is important to remember: ONLY GOD HIMSELF KNOWS WHEN JESUS WILL RETURN! Men cannot predict it through any means, whether theological, mathematical, or otherwise. God is the one and only being who knows when the Second Coming will take place. If anyone tells you Jesus is returning on a specific date, ignore them. They are mistaken, and arrogant to think they can discover what God has specifically kept secret.

But can we at least know when the Last Days are?

YES! In fact, we don’t need to speculate or wonder, because the Bible is very, very specific about exactly when the Last Days begin.

In Acts 2, when the apostles are baptized by the Holy Spirit (verses 1-4), they begin preaching to the crowds that have filled Jerusalem for the Day of Pentacost. When the people hear these uneducated Galileans preaching in various languages, they are skeptical, suggesting the apostles are drunk (verse 13). At this point, Peter speaks for all the apostles:

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, “Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ ” — Acts 2:14-21

STOP! In quoting Joel, Peter says that all THIS which the people are seeing, only days after Jesus has ascended to sit at God’s right hand, is a sign of the Last Days!

The Last Days began roughly 2000 years ago, when the Holy Spirit was poured out and the Kingdom of Christ was established through the apostles. A sign of the Last Days is the opportunity for salvation through Jesus Christ.

So why are we wondering if we are in the Last Days when the they have been in full swing for millennia? Because false prophets have been preaching lies, telling us to expect a Rapture and support a political state of Israel, to watch for a mystical Antichrist and wait for a spaceship-esque New Jerusalem to descend from the sky. In actuality, THE LAST DAYS ARE NOW, which is why we are told to be vigilant and faithful. This is why we can expect Jesus to return when we least expect it.

So with this in mind, let’s focus on spreading the truth of the Gospel and preparing ourselves as a bride prepares herself for the groom. We don’t know when He’ll knock. But when He does, let’s make sure we’re ready, rather than simply wondering when He will return.

PREPARE TO MEET THY GOD!

Jude and Eternal Security

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Eternal Security, Perseverance of the Saints, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Jude is a very short epistle, in some Bibles only occupying the space of a single page. But it is a powerful epistle, and filled with poetic analogies. In this epistle, Jude (or Judas), brother of James, writes to the church warning them about false teachers.

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. — Jude 3

By reading this verse, we know Jude was writing to people who were saved and were active in the body of Christ. This is important to remember as we continue to read. In a previous post, I pointed out the fallacy of “Once Saved Always Saved” — also known as “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Frozen Chosen”. In this post, I am about prove that, if Christians cannot lose their salvation through willful sin or being led astray by false doctrine, then the book of Jude would never have been written.

Jude continues to mention “certain persons” who had “crept in unnoticed” — he doesn’t mention names, but does make it clear that they are present and perverting the Word under the Body’s very nose. He then goes on to say something interesting:

Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as those indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. — Jude 5-7

The reference to the people saved out of Egypt is, of course, the children of Israel. We know that, once in the wilderness, the Hebrews rebelled more than once, finally culminating in refusal to enter the Land of Canaan. Out of all the adults who had left Egypt on this exodus, only Joshua and Caleb believed God would keep His promise and give them the land, despite the intimidating giants and their cities (Numbers 14:1-10). God condemned them to another forty years of wandering in the wilderness until all of them aged twenty years or older at the time of their rebellion had died (Numbers 14:27-35). Not long afterward, during the wandering, Korah started a mutiny against Moses and Aaron, only to be destroyed, he and his followers, when God opened the earth, which swallowed and destroyed them (Numbers 16).In fact, Jude later refers to Korah’s destruction in Jude 11.

The Bible refers to Christians as God’s new chosen people (I Peter 2:9). In an earlier post, I pointed out how Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea was a type, or foreshadowing, of Christian baptism and salvation. If those of Israel who rebelled against God never got to enter the Promised Land, and Jude used these rebels as a warning to those of the church, then we can conclude that Christians who turn away from God’s true doctrine and follow after falsehood are in effect rebelling against God and will not see the eternal reward of salvation. If that is not the case, then Jude was using an inaccurate comparison.

Jude then goes on to use the instance of the fallen angels, whom God at this moment has locked up until the day of judgment, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. In each case, he is referring to those who turned away from God and brought punishment down on themselves. He is using these examples as warnings to the Christians to whom he addresses this epistle. Again, if Christians cannot lose their salvation and bring condemnation upon themselves, these examples would be inaccurate. But this is the Word of God. God never uses inaccurate comparisons.

Jude spends a large portion of the epistle describing the false teachers and their fate. “They have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Jude 11) Remember that not only did Korah perish, but also those who followed him. The same can be said of those who were followers of Christ, but are led astray by false teachers. Both the leaders and those they lead will meet with the same fate.

Jude ends his epistle with this admonishment:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. — Jude 20-21

The core statement of this sentence is, “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. It is up to us to remain in God’s love. In fact, Christ himself said,

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love — John 15:10

This was said shortly after He warned,

If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. — John 15:6

The word “abide” is translated from the Greek meno, which means “remain, tarry, not to depart”. It is a command to Christians to remain in Christ’s love, or else we will meet with the same fate as Korah or the fallen angels or Sodom and Gomorrah. Jesus said in John 15:6 that the branches that wither and dry up are cast away and burned. It is because of His love, His desire that we be saved, that He commands us through Jude to keep ourselves in the love of God by building our faith and praying to God.

Christ gave us the gift of salvation. It is up to us to keep it or throw it away.

This is the whole point of the epistle of Jude: To not listen to false teachers and perverters of the Word and be led astray to destruction by their falsehoods.

What Is II Timothy 2:15 Really Saying?

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Salvation, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 10, 2010 by willnotbesilent

In II Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul gives advice to a young preacher whom he has been mentoring. Among this advice, he gives a nugget of wisdom which, due to the archaic verbiage of the King James Version, is all too often misunderstood. I take the following from the KJV:

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Most folks use the opening of this verse (“study to shew thyself approved”) to emphasize that we are to study the Bible regularly. While there is no doubt that studying the Scriptures is a good thing for a Christian’s strength and growth, they are unfortunately using the wrong verse to prove their point.

The Greek word Paul used, and has since been translated into “study” is spoudazo, which, according to Strong’s Concordance, means “hasten, make haste; exert one’s self, endeavor, give diligence”.

When the King James Version was translated in 1611, the use of the word “study” was not inaccurate. At the time “study” did not refer specifically to educating one’s self or doing homework. It was more broadly intended to mean “work” or “be diligent” or “try hard”. As time progressed into our own times, “study” came to be equated with taking classes and delving into books. Its synonymous nature with “endeavor” was lost.

Today, people insist that this verse strictly means that we should read the Bible in an effort to understand it. While there is no doubt that studying in our current sense of the word is healthy for the Christian walk, that is not all Paul meant. He was telling Timothy to work hard to live a pure life, to overcome his flesh, and to live righteously and charitably. If we achieve this end, we can, as Paul said, shew (show, present) ourselves approved (pleasing or acceptable) to God, workmen that need not be ashamed.

We can thus gather from this verse that we must work hard to be good followers of Christ. If we are lazy and complacent, we run the danger of not being “approved” or acceptable to God. And we know the fate of those who are not acceptable or pleasing to God.

Peter also says in 2 Peter 1:10:

Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.

These are admonishments to Christians to be alert, to be strong in godly labor and righteousness.

Notice the grounds for another if/then logic scenario:

IF we shall never fall if we give diligence,

THEN we shall fall if we do not give diligence.

When we fall, we, as workmen, will have cause to be ashamed, as Paul said to Timothy.

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him. — 1 John 2:28-29

John says that if we do righteousness we are born of Christ — born again. If we abide, or remain in Him, we will not be ashamed when He returns and the Day of Judgment arrives.

If we are ashamed before Christ at His return, does this still mean we will spend eternity with Him?

Jesus explains in John 15:6 that if we do not abide, or remain in Him, we will be cast away.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

It is up to us to remain in Christ, doing His work, laboring for Him, growing in spirit, bearing good fruit. Otherwise we are cast away into eternal condemnation, because we were useless to Him.

Therefore we see that not only is this verse often misused, but it is a powerful piece of evidence against the false Calvinistic doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, or eternal security. Once completely understood, this apparently innocuous verse becomes a weapon against falsehood.

Thank God for the power in His Word!

Cornelius, Baptism, and the Holy Spirit

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , on October 26, 2010 by willnotbesilent

We now return to the topic of baptism and salvation.

“Faith only” proponents often point to the story of Cornelius in their attempt to defend their mode of salvation. “Cornelius received the Holy Spirit before being baptized,” they say. “That proves he was saved before baptism.”

Does it?

THE POINT OF CORNELIUS’ STORY

For the sake of time and space, I will not reproduce the story here, but I urge you to open your own Bible to Acts 10, then Acts 11:1-18. Notice as you read that the account of Cornelius’ conversion is repeated — first told through the pen of Luke, then again as Peter tells of his experience to the brethren in Jerusalem who took issue with him going to the Gentiles with the gospel. The fact that the story is told twice in the Bible, especially in such close succession, tells us that God considers this passage important. If it is so important, then it is equally important that we understand it.

First of all, what is the main message behind this story? It begins with Peter on the rooftop and his vision of unclean animals. God tells him to “kill and eat”, but Peter, a devout man of strong Jewish background, refuses — three times — upon which God tells him, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider holy.”

Then a knock at the door. Cornelius’ messengers have arrived to take him to Caesarea and their master. At the direct order of the Holy Spirit, Peter goes with them. And when he meets Cornelius, he says, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and you God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.” (Acts 10:28) After he preaches to Cornelius and returns to Jerusalem in Acts 11, Peter encounters “those of the circumcision” — Jews — who objected to his going to the Gentiles. Upon which Peter recounts the story, including the part with his vision. Luke’s account ends with the following in Acts 11:18:

When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

So what can we conclude was the entire point of this whole story? That God’s gift of salvation is available to every man — not exclusive to the Jews, as Peter and others once thought, but to all the nations of the world.

Keep this in mind as we continue the study.

DOES THE STORY OF CORNELIUS DISPROVE BAPTISM?

Now let’s go to the parts about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius and his household.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. — Acts 10:44-48

“The Spirit told me to go with them without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” — Acts 11:12-18

Now, let’s back up a little.

The angel told Cornelius Peter would “speak words to you which you will be saved.”

Now Acts 10:44 says the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household “while Peter was still speaking”. Peter, in Acts 11:15, says, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as He did upon us at the beginning.”

Based on these two statements, Peter had only begun preaching when the Holy Spirit fell upon them. Now consider these points:

  1. This is the apostle Peter, who preached on the day of Pentacost with the words, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) The gospel never changed. Remember also that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit interrupted Peter, so when the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius, Peter had not even gotten to the part about baptism. This was God’s way of confirming to Peter immediately that He accepted Gentiles as well as Jews. Notice that Peter says in Acts 11:17, “Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as he gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” If Cornelius was saved upon receiving the Holy Spirit, then how could Peter stand in God’s way . . . unless he refused Cornelius something essential for salvation? In Acts 10:47-48, Peter exclaimed, “ ‘Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?’ And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” In other words, to refuse Cornelius baptism would be to stand in God’s way. And God’s mission is to save Gentile as well as Jew.
  2. Let us assume for the moment that Cornelius was meant to be saved through the “faith only” method. “Faith-only” proponents will say that all a person must do is believe and confess Jesus to be saved (Romans 10:9). According to the account of Acts 10 and 11, the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius before he even had a chance to confess Jesus. Remember, the Holy Spirit fell while Peter was still speaking — it interrupted him. Therefore, if the story of Cornelius disproves Acts 2:38, I Peter 3:20, Mark 16:16, Acts 22:16, and other verses linking baptism to salvation, then it also proves that one need not confess Jesus either, thus rendering Romans 10:9 ineffective. This, of course, is absurd. One passage does not disprove another. God is not a God of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). Therefore, rather than disproving the passages above, Acts 10 and 11 link together with and support the passages referenced above.

BUT WOULD THE HOLY SPIRIT FALL ON AN UNSAVED INDIVIDUAL?

As incredible as it might sound to some, yes. It can, and it has. Scripture supports this with several accounts of the Holy Spirit in relation to a person who was unsaved or displeasing to God.

— Balaam spoke through the Holy Spirit in Numbers 22-24. Balak king of Moab hired Balaam to curse the Hebrews, but Balaam, though the Holy Spirit, only blessed them. But later we learn from II Peter 2:12-16 that Balaam was a wicked man “who loved the wages of unrighteousness”. In Jude 11 we read that wicked men “have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam”. Revelation 2:14 says that though the Holy Spirit only allowed Balaam to speak blessings on Israel, he still taught Balak “to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.”  Balaam was anything but a righteous man, and yet God “the Spirit of God came upon him” (Numbers 24:2).

— In I Samuel 19:18-24, David was hiding from King Saul among Samuel and the prophets at Naioth. Saul, intending to murder David — and filled with an evil spirit (I Samuel 16:14) — sent a company of men to Naioth to capture David and bring him back. God protected David by sending His Spirit upon them. They stopped at Naioth and prophesied along with the resident prophets at Naioth. So Saul sent another company of men, and they too were overcome by the Spirit of God and began to prophesy. The third company Saul sent was also stopped in similar fashion. And so Saul went himself. Of course, we know what happened:

He proceeded there to Naioth in Ramah; and the Spirit of God came upon him also, so that he went along prophesying continually until he came to Naioth in Ramah. He also stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”

Remember, Saul was also under the influence of an evil spirit, and intended to murder David. He was not saved. He was not pleasing God with his behavior. And yet God sent His Spirit to overcome him — not because Saul was so righteous or pleasing before God, but as a method of protecting David.

— Caiphas was the High Priest when Jesus was killed. In John 11:49-53, while conspiring with the Pharisees and chief priests, he says, “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” Verses 51-52 say,

Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.

Now if you read this passage carefully, you’ll notice that Caiaphas was not speaking as a believer in Jesus, but rather in favor of killing him. They were worried that, if Jesus kept speaking and the people kept listening, the Romans would take away “both our place and our nation”. After Caiaphas speaks, John writes, “So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.” (John 11:53) Caiaphas intended to say that they needed to kill Jesus in order to protect themselves and their positions. However, Verse 51 says he did not speak of his own volition — in other words, he was speaking prophecy without intending — the Holy Spirit was guiding his tongue.

That Caiaphas was not a believer in Jesus is proven later in Matthew 26, when Jesus is brought before Caiaphas. The high priest was not Jesus’ friend, but rather one of the loudest proponents for His death, calling Him a blasphemer.

Was Caiaphas saved, or in any way pleasing in God’s eyes? No! He was an evil man who conspired with others to murder Jesus, and participated in the sham trial that ultimately sent Him to Calvary.

Based upon the above instances of Balaam, King Saul, and Caiphas, we can see that it is not necessary for a person to be saved to have the Holy Spirit fall upon them and influence their actions. (NOTE: The supernatural OUTPOURING of the Holy Spirit versus the INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit are not to be confused — a topic to be covered later.)

This proves that the Holy Spirit falling on Cornelius and his household does not prove they were saved. It did, however, cement in Peter’s mind the novel concept that Gentiles are accepted by God.

As we read all of the New Testament, we find cases in which the Holy Spirit fell on people prior to and after baptism — the Holy Spirit fell on some people as a result of the apostles laying hands on them, and on others without the laying on of hands. The Holy Spirit fell on people as God dictated. Whether they were saved or not had no bearing on the matter.

ANOTHER PIECE OF THE PUZZLE

In some places of the New Testament account, we find instances in which the Holy Spirit fell on people AFTER they were baptized. Acts 8:12-17 tells of the people of Samaria receiving the gospel, and the apostles laying hands on them so they would receive the Holy Spirit . . . . AFTER the new converts were baptized. In Acts 19:1-6, Paul met men in Ephesus who had never heard of the Holy Spirit. When he learned that they had only been baptized in the baptism of John, he rebaptized them in the name of Jesus Christ. He then laid hands on them, whereupon they received the Holy Spirit, and prophesied and spoke in tongues.

Now if some can isolate the instance of Cornelius and say that their outpouring of the Holy Spirit proves they were saved prior to baptism, then others can isolate the cases listed in the previous paragraph and say these prove that one is only saved after baptism. We now see, however, that none of those stories lends strength to either argument. The only conclusion one can logically draw is that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and its gifts can fall on anyone God so chooses, saved or otherwise.

Again, remember that there is a distinct difference between the OUTPOURING of the Holy Spirit and the INDWELLING of the Holy Spirit.

PETER PREACHED OBEDIENCE TO CORNELIUS!

We know from Acts 11:14 that Peter went to Cornelius to “speak words to you by which you will be saved”.  When Peter began preaching to Cornelius, what was one of the first things he said?

“I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and DOES WHAT IS RIGHT is welcome to Him.” [emphasis mine] — Acts 10:34-35

Now what is the definition of doing what is right? According to Paul in Romans 6:17-18,

But thanks be to God that that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

Thus, doing what it right is being sincerely obedient to God’s teaching.

No one is saved until they do what God tells them to do (i.e., are obedient).

The story of Cornelius does not prove that we are saved by “faith alone”, but by fearing God and making our faith alive through obedience. When Peter told Cornelius to “believe” in Acts 10:43, they would not have arrived at the conclusion that salvation was through faith without obedience, because Peter had been very specific in Acts 11:35 that obedience is needed for salvation. He preached the same gospel to them that he preached to the 3000 on the day of Pentacost, which was to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

PETER PREACHED WATER BAPTISM TO CORNELIUS!

Peter told them words by which they would be saved (Acts 11:14). His words, the words he told them in obedience to God’s command, included water baptism (Acts 10:47-48). When the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and his household, Peter had not yet concluded preaching. As a matter of fact, according to Acts 11:14-15, he’d just begun to speak! He’d told them to be obedient, but hadn’t yet specifically told them HOW to be obedient. Read the account carefully: He starts to speak, the Holy Spirit interrupts by falling on them, and Peter finishes preaching (telling them words by which they would be saved), by saying they must be baptized in water.

Again, he was delivering the exact same gospel message that he preached on the day of Pentacost!

CONCLUSION

And so we see that the story of  the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Cornelius does not prove that one is saved without or before water baptism, but rather lends strength to the argument that one is saved when one believes, repents, and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. History has shown that men both good and evil have experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and that the outpouring has nothing to do with salvation.

A Brief History Of Baptists & Baptism

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation on October 20, 2010 by willnotbesilent

I discovered this excellent blog entry, which details the history of the Baptist sect and its attitude toward baptism. I encourage you to read this carefully, as it is quite eye-opening!

http://calebland.org/2010/04/20/baptists-and-baptism-baptism-part-iii/#comment-367

 

 

 

 

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Scientific Proof That It Is Possible For Wind To Part The Red Sea

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation on September 24, 2010 by willnotbesilent

I subscribe to news updates from the BBC, mostly because they have an interesting angle on current events as composed to their American counterparts. Just a day or two ago, I saw the following article on the BBC site. I found it compelling, as well as pertinent in light of my recent post, “Baptism and the Red Sea Crossing”. I thought I would share it here.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11383620

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