Archive for salvation

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.

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.

Acts 2:38 — Satan’s Favorite Verse?

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by willnotbesilent

While surfing the internet for various viewpoints regarding baptism and salvation, I discovered the following link:

http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/acts2.html

Below, you will find this article again, this time with my response woven into it. I tried to send it to him in an email, but all I got was a failure notice. I was a bit disappointed, but decided to share the following here.

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“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups. One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature. The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved. So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation. (True — it certainly isn’t.) While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation. (That is hardly the case. Proponents of water baptism can find a plethora of verses, not to mention Old Testament types, that point to baptism and its relation to salvation.) The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.” (Which is every single verse in the Bible that relates to salvation.) The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all! (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), (Many verses that speak of belief and salvation don’t mention repentance — does that mean we shouldn’t repent? And there are verses that speak of confessing or repentance that do not mention belief — does this mean we don’t need to believe?) and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation (then what do you do with Mark 16:16 or I Peter 3:20-21?). Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse (SATAN’S? So if you are baptized, you’ll go to hell?). In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls!  (This is hardly the case. People who believe in water baptism rely on Jesus’ blood, to which they gained access through belief, repentance, confession, and submission to immersion. Without the blood of Jesus, none of these things would have any power.) Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38. (Well, your “Satan” has a lot more Scripture to back him than you do.)

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

The Truth about Acts 2:38

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2. In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth. In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (This is true — if one believes, they will be saved — if they don’t believe, they simply won’t. God has never saved anyone who did not believe.) His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37. (They believed and asked, “What shall we do?” This implies that they are terrified of judgment, not relieved that they were safe. “Pricked in the heart” means, terrified, horrified. Would they be feeling these emotions if they were saved? If they were, Peter would have told them they were all okay. But he didn’t. He instead told them what to do.) So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word. (True — but the context actually lends strength to the interpretation.) The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption. It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.” That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins. However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Jesus made this man clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.” Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13! It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing. If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.” Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah? No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38. The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

(Okay, let’s assume you’re right, and that “eis” in this case means “because of” rather than “to the end of”. Consider these points:

  • To command the 3000 to repent and be immersed BECAUSE their sins were already forgiven, Peter would be telling them, not only to be baptized because their sins were forgiven, but to also REPENT of sins that had already been remitted. This, of course, is absurd.
  • It contradicts an obvious fact. It makes Peter command those who asked, “What shall we do?” to be immersed because their sins were already forgiven, while it is an indisputable fact that their sins were NOT yet remitted. In actuality, those who were pierced in the heart with guilt and were asking what to do were trying to learn how to obtain the very remission this interpretation assumes they already had.)

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor. Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew. In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1). A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present. Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals. No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37) Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?” Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do. It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation. Isaiah 66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The “nation” is Israel! Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation. The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

(Okay, but surely there were more Jews in Israel than the 3000 Peter addressed. Jews killed Jesus. Peter has just convicted the Jews of killing the Son of God. They are horrified at what they have done, and also afraid of the consequences. Wouldn’t you expect something terrible from God if you learned you were guilty of killing His Son? You’d want to know what to do as well.)

This is clear from what follows Acts 7. In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism) (BEFORE? Really? Then why was the eunuch so eager to be baptized right away? Why did he wait to “go on his way rejoicing” until AFTER he’d been baptized?). In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism). (Saul believed, and Jesus told him to go into Damascus where he would be told what to do. What did Ananias tell him to do? “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” If his sins had yet to be washed away, after belief and three days of praying, then he was not yet saved. He had to do what Ananias told him what he must do.) In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism). (The whole point of Acts 10 was to point out that Gentiles had just as much access to salvation as the Jews. Peter, very much biased in favor of the Jews, needed to be shown that these people were just as acceptable to God as Jews. This is why, when the Holy Spirit descended on Cornelius and his household, Peter cried, “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Spirit just as we [the apostles] did?” In other words, if God gave them the greater baptism, we should not deny these people the way to salvation. This is also the only place in Scripture where anyone received the Holy Spirit prior to baptism. God was making a point to Peter that He is no respecter of persons.) Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7? Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60). The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . 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.” (And in verse 33, the jailer and his household were baptized “straightaway”. They lost no time! Why? Because he believed, and wanted to be saved! If he had not believed, he would never have been saved.) Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth. (Remember that.)

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it. Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters! (Ah, but proponents of water baptism actively employ the entire book of Acts!) If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else? Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us? (Pardon me, but you failed to mention a lot of verses regarding baptism — in context — could it be that there are verses and passages which the “faith-alone” cultists want hidden? Namely, James 2:24 or I Peter 3:20-21 or Romans 6?) Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38? (Not that I’ve found so far.) Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me? (Definitely not! It is one way, one salvation, for all men, Jew and Gentile.) One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer. Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! (As I explained, God was making a point to a very prejudiced Peter. This event does not EVER happen again in any of Scripture. In fact, in Acts 19:1-6, believers did not receive the Holy Spirit and its gifts until AFTER they had been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ) Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, ” . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water. Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out? Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation. (Actually, the story of Cornelius supports baptism for the remission of sins.)

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use. Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy. All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults (including the “faith-only” cult). Baptism saves no one (I Peter 3:20-21). It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38). Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism. (Ah, but Paul DID baptize converts, as proven by the previous verses, I Corinthians 1:10-16. His main duty was to preach, while others who accompanied him, such as Peter and Apollos, performed baptisms. You have just taken Scripture out of context to prove a point. A bit hypocritical, no?) The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him (Luke 23:42-43) (Jesus, being God, had the power to forgive sins while on earth — and the New Testament and its salvation had not yet been instituted), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water. In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water. By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25). (True, water has no power in itself. But the obedience of submission to baptism in water for the remission of sins is a clear prerequisite laid down in the very first preaching of the gospel and throughout the epistles. Jesus’ blood is what lends its power to belief, repentance, confession, and baptism.) Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone? Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation? (Trusting is something you DO . . . believing is something you DO . . . repenting is something you DO . . . confessing is something you DO . . .to “be baptized” is something you RECEIVE, something to which you SUBMIT! A convert does not baptize himself. He IS BAPTIZED by a Christian. Baptism is the most passive thing in the entire list. You are rejecting something received as a gift from God [through the hands of a Christian] as something which you must do yourself! Don’t you see the irony here?) “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says,”That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Why not right now?

Mark 16:16; Romans 10:9-13; Acts 10:43; II Corinthians 7:10; I Peter 3:20-21; Acts 22:16

Which of the above verses is valid, and which of these verses shall we reject? Or, shall we accept them all? Read them carefully in context, and decide.

You do not understand that against which you speak. I believe every single verse in Scripture, including those that teach the heresy of water baptism. Which ones do you believe?

Also:

Which of the following does Mark 16:16 say? Which do you believe?

  • He who does not believe and is baptized will be saved.
  • He who does not believe and is not baptized will be saved.
  • He who believes and is baptized will not be saved.
  • He who believes and is not baptized will be saved.
  • He who believes and is baptized will be saved.


Which of the above is the Word of God? Which is the truth? Which is a fabrication of man?

An Attempt To Explain Away Acts 2:38 — FAIL!

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Here’s an article I found online that I thought I would share. Notice that the author emphasizes that we must be wary of a doctrine that directly claims that a statement in the Bible is untrue. When preachers of the “faith-only” doctrine say baptism does not save, or that it is not for the remission of sins, they are taking affirmative quotes from the Bible and contradicting them. Keep this in mind at all times when you hear someone speak on the Scripture!

http://grandoldbook.com/baptismfortheremissionofsins.pdf

Baptism & The Crossing Of The Red Sea

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Previously to this, we have covered two types, or foreshadowings, of baptism in the Old Testament – The Great Deluge, and the story of Naaman. Both these types contained irrefutable connections to salvation’s inseparable role in our salvation. We now go on to another type, which is the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt across the Red Sea.

Most are familiar with the account. The Hebrew nation Israel, now numbering about 600,000, not counting the women and children, was enslaved by Egypt, forced to work for them building cities and otherwise being oppressed. Then Moses, raised up by God Himself, came announcing that God wanted His people free. Pharaoh stubbornly refused to comply, even after nine miraculous plagues God delivered through Moses. At last, after Egypt’s firstborn were struck down, Pharaoh released Israel. But as Israel approached the Red Sea, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent out his army to bring them back.

Israel, with the Red Sea before them and Pharaoh’s army behind them, despaired for the first of many, many times during their journey. But Moses declared, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.” – (Exodus 14:13-14) At this point, the pillar of cloud, which contained the archangel who led them (Christ), moved from before the children of Israel and positioned itself between them and the pursuing army. To the Egyptian army it was a cloud of blackness, preventing them from falling upon Israel while God worked His miracle.

God then sent a strong east wind to blow all that night on the sea. It blew all night, until the sea divided and the water piled on either side like a wall, with dry land where Israel could walk across. And walk across they did. The Egyptians resumed their pursuit, but while Israel reached the other side in safety, God allowed the water to fall back into place while the army was yet in the middle of the sea. They all died, man and horse – in the words of Scripture, “not even one of them remained.” (Exodus 14:28)

One of the features to notice is Moses’ wording in his reassurance to Israel: “Stand by and see the SALVATION of the Lord.” — Exodus 14:13

Immediately we see that this is a story of salvation. Afterward, in the famous Song of Moses, we read,

The Lord is my strength and song, and He has become my SALVATION [emphasis mine]. . .Exodus 15:2

In Your lovingkindness You have led the people who You have REDEEMED [emphasis mine]; in Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. – Exodus 15:13

Terror and dread fall upon them; by the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; until Your people pass over, O Lord, until the people pass over whom You have PURCHASED [emphasis mine]. – Exodus 15:16

So we see a prevalent theme of salvation and redemption in this story. These words immediately bring to mind the salvation and redemption enjoyed by God’s spiritual Israel, Christianity. How are the two connected?

First of all, keep in mind that Israel was never once considered free from Egyptian slavery until they crossed the Red Sea and their pursuers were killed. Only after the Red Sea did they mention being truly free, being saved, being redeemed. God reminds them at Mount Sinai just as He gives them the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” — Exodus 20:2. And again in Leviticus 26:13 – “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so that you would not be their slaves, and I broke the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” The Red Sea was the defining event that made the Hebrews a free nation.

In comparison, all mankind are held by another slavery – the slavery of sin. Romans 6:6 says:
. . . our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.

Moses led the Hebrews out of slavery to Egypt. Jesus leads us out of slavery to sin. Already, we see one out of many types between Moses and Jesus. Throughout the wanderings of Israel, Moses remained a foreshadowing of Jesus, as a leader and mediator.

So where does baptism come in?

Paul tells the Corinthian assembly in I Corinthians 10:1-2,

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

How were they baptized INTO Moses?

Once they crossed the Red Sea, they had only one choice for survival – to unite under Moses’ leadership. Turning back to Egypt was no longer an option, and the power of Egypt’s hold over them had been effectually destroyed. They were all now one body with Moses as the head.
Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5,

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

On the day of Pentacost, Peter told the multitude to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” — Acts 2:38
When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit of God descended as a dove and lit upon Him (Matthew 3:16).

When God made it clear that Gentiles were accepted in His kingdom by sending the Holy Spirit upon Cornelius and his household just as he had the apostles, 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 . . . – Acts 10:47-48

Baptism and the Holy Spirit are intertwined in the process of our salvation.

Israel was baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Christians are born of water and the Spirit. Do you begin to see the connection here?

The cloud that led Israel signifies the Spirit. The cloud led Israel to the Sea, then stood between them and their enemies until the Sea parted – it separated them from the Egyptian army and protected them. It set them apart, i.e., sanctified them. It led them through the wilderness. In the same way, the Holy Spirit (also referred to as the spirit of truth) leads Christians through the spiritual wasteland. John 14:17, John 15:26, John 16:13, and I John 4:6 all use the term “the spirit of truth. The truth sets us free (John 8:32). Paul says in Romans 8:21 that God hopes that we should be set free of our slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Jesus is the truth, the way, and the life (John 14:6). Jesus led the Hebrews and protected them from their enemies by means of the cloud. Romans 8:14 says,

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons of God.

Israel was led by the cloud (Jesus). Christians are led by the Holy Spirit, which is one and the same as God and/or Jesus. This settles the question of the connection between the cloud that led Israel and the spirit that renews us as Christians – the cloud and the Holy Spirit are one and the same.

The Red Sea signifies the water of baptism. Israel passed through safely, leaving their enslavers behind to die. They were at last free and fully under the leadership of God and Moses.

When we are baptized, we undergo a likeness of Jesus’ burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3). Paul goes on to say in Romans 6:4,

[Speaking of baptism] For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.

Read this verse carefully, keeping in mind several themes this passage holds in common with the crossing of the Red Sea:

  1. “We have become united with him.” Christians are united with Jesus upon their baptism, Jesus being the head (Colossians 1:18). Israel was united with Moses upon crossing the Red Sea, Moses being their head, or leader (Isaiah 63:11-14).
  2. “. . . in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin . . .” God did away with the Egyptian forces, effectually setting Israel free. Christians have put off the “old man” and his fleshly desires (Romans 6:6, Ephesians 4:22, Colossians 3:9). We are set free from the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and brought to the law of grace through Jesus (John 1:17, Romans 3:24, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 6:14).
  3. “. . . have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.” Jesus, in the form of the cloud, and through the leadership of Moses, led Israel through the Red Sea. They entered an enslaved nation, were “buried”, so to speak, in the sea, and emerged, leaving their wicked enslavers to drown behind them. They came to the eastern shore a free nation. In the same way, we are cleansed of our fleshly selves and its condemnation through baptism and the blood of Jesus, who underwent the punishment intended for us. We are buried with Him in the baptismal water and raised a new man, free, with Christ, and not the lusts of our flesh, as our head.

Moses led Israel through the Red Sea, thus undergoing the “baptism” first; Israel followed. Jesus underwent His death, burial, and resurrection first, and we follow in its likeness through baptism.

“But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished!” – Luke 12:50

Paul tells the Colossian assembly that they have been circumcised, not in a fleshly manner, but in the “removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.” — Colossians 2:11-12

But once we have been circumcised of our flesh, what then? Paul tells the Galatians,

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourself with Christ. – Galatians 3:27

Christ refers to righteousness as a garment in Revelation 3:4 and 16:15. Jesus is righteousness. With Jesus as our head and our garment, as our light and our sword, as our rock and our bread and water of life, baptized believers set out upon an exodus into the wilderness of the world, free from the burden of sin and death, to seek out the Promised Land that awaits at the end of our journey.

Baptism & Paul’s Salvation

Posted in Baptism, Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Salvation with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Saul was a Jewish fanatic (Galatians 1:13-14), a Pharisee’s Pharisee — as he described himself, “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.” (Philippians 3:5-6) If you or I were to encounter him during his heyday as a Pharisee zealot, we might have declared him hopeless. And yet, as we see in the following account, his heart changed in a moment, and he later became Paul, perhaps the greatest apostle in the propagation of Jesus’ Kingdom. We read of his conversion twice in the book of Acts — first in Acts 9 in Luke’s narrative, and then in Acts 22 when Paul himself is telling his story to a hostile mob in Jerusalem. His story goes into the details of his conversion, from the first moment of belief to his baptism. Here we can find what significance baptism held in his salvation.

Act 9:3 -5 — As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting . . .”

Act 22:6 -8 — “But it happened that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’

At noon, the light shone around him. Noon is the brightest time of day, yet a “very bright light” — bright enough to be distinguished at midday — stopped Saul in his tracks. He fell to the ground, either stunned and blinded by the brilliance, or overcome with astonishment and reverence, or both. From apparently nowhere a voice demanded why he persecuted “Me”. Since Saul was actively persecuting followers of Jesus, and on his way to Damascus to throw Christians into prison, he would instantly know that he was talking to none other than Jesus Himself. Saul asks the identity of the voice, even adding the title of “Lord” — in the Greek, kyrios, which is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master”. To which the voice replies, “I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.”

If anything would convince anyone, this incident most definitely would convince Saul. Instantly, the realization that his Pharisaical radicalism is displeasing to God sinks in. He has been working against God, and been solidly convicted! At this point, Saul undoubtedly believes. If belief is all it takes to be saved, he should be saved and rejoicing at this very moment.

Act 22:10 — “And I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.’ ”

Act 9:6 — “. . . but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

“What shall I do, Lord?” Saul does not deny that Jesus is who he claims. No doubt all his persecuting and the import of this past actions have come crashing down and he realizes how far he has fallen, that he is not only guilty of sin but also of scourging the body of Christ. He is doomed to damnation, and he wants to know what to do. This echoes the question asked by the multitude in Acts 2:27 — “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Peter told the multitude, “repent and be baptized” (Acts 2:28). Jesus tells Saul, “Get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” The answer has yet to be given to Saul. Keep this in mind as we continue reading.

Saul believes. Is he saved at this point? Let’s read on.

Act 22:11-16 — “But since I could not see because of the brightness of that light, I was led by the hand by those who were with me and came into Damascus. A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, ‘The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’ ”

Act 9:17-18 — So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized . . .

Saul, completely blind, is led by the hand, stumbling, feeling his way into Damascus. Instead of entering the city to kill Christians, as was his original plan, he enters blind and helpless, waiting for help from the very people whom he sought to destroy.

After arriving, Saul remained praying for three days. There is no doubt he believed. Still burdened by his persecution of the church, he spent those three days of prayer begging God to spare him his due judgment, to give him a second chance. Imagine the terror, the horror, the guilt! Ananias comes to Saul and upon bidding him to receive his sight, watches “something like scales” fall from Saul’s eyes.

Then, after stating the mission God has laid out for Saul, Ananias finally tells Saul what he must do, as Jesus predicted. “Why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

Obviously, though Saul has believed and been praying fervently for three days, Saul’s sins have not yet been washed away. There was something to be done. Ananias said, “Get up and be baptized.” Saul has most definitely believed, and has been praying for three days. If all one must do is believe in Jesus and pray for salvation, then Saul would not be in need of his sins being washed away — if it is true, he is already cleansed, saved! But Ananias tells him to “be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name.” Going back to Acts 2, this echoes Peter’s command to the multitude to “be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.”

Saul did not “pray the prayer” to be saved. He did not just believe to be saved. He was leaving out the thing God told him “he must do”, through the mouth of Ananias: “GET UP AND BE BAPTIZED, AND WASH AWAY YOUR SINS!”

Saul himself (then Paul) later referred to this washing as “the washing of water with the word” (Ephesians 5:26) and “the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3:5). The writer of Hebrews (presumed to be Paul) says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” — Hebrews 10:22. Peter likened it to a washing or cleansing in I Peter 3:21.

After reading this there is no doubt that Paul was baptized for the remission of sins, just as the multitude of three thousand on the day of Pentacost.

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