What If the Lord Were
to Come Right Now
Would You Know for Sure that
You Would be Saved
God's word says that "...all have sinned and fall short of the glory of
God" (Romans 3:23), that His "eyes are too pure to look on
evil..." and "...He cannot tolerate wrong" (Hab. 1:13).
Therefore, we all come to a point where it can truly be said that "...your
iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from
you, so that he will not hear" (Isa. 59:2). We are also faced with
problem that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness"
(Hebrews 9:22). God however, provided a solution to this problem by
sending His only Son, Jesus Christ to shed his blood and die on the cross for
our sins. He was buried in a tomb and on the third day raised from the
dead. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ that is the power of God to save
everyone who believes (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Romans 1:16). Therefore,
although "the wages of sin is death...the gift of God is eternal life in
Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). The Bible also tells us that
those who (1) DO NOT KNOW GOD and (2) DO NOT OBEY THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus
"will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the
presence of the Lord..." (2 Thess. 1:8-9). Jesus told his disciples to "go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation" (Mark 16:15).
The "Good News" is the same as the "Gospel" which we now
know is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Click Here to see The Gospel Enacted!
Now, think about what it means to get "into Christ." Think, please,
about what it means to be "in Christ." In Christ nothing "will be
able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39); we are blessed with all
spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3); "we have redemption through his blood, the
forgiveness of sins" (Ephesians 1:7); we have "eternal life" (Romans 6:23);
"we who are many form one body" (Romans 12:5); There are many similar passages
that tell us what it means to be "in Christ." Study them all, then ask yourself,
"can one be saved outside of Christ?" Is it not true that "salvation is
found in no one else" (Acts 4:12)? Now, consider how there are only two passages in
the whole of Scripture that explicitly tell us how to get "into Christ," at
least in the most popular and respected translations such as the New International
Version, the American Standard Version, and the King James Versions ("into Jesus
Christ" in one place). The same word precedes both of these phrases. God has
evidently so inspired His Word to make it clear to us exactly what event puts us
"into Christ." Especially when you consider all the possible words that could
have preceded this phrase in Scripture, such as "brought by faith into Christ,"
"by his blood into Christ," "called into Christ," among others. It is
rather ironic that these phrases are not found in Scripture. What we do find in these two
passages (Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27) is that we are "baptized into Christ."
I ask you, if one cannot be saved outside of Christ, how can one be saved without being
"baptized into Christ?"
Shortly before Jesus' death he told his disciples that his blood would be "poured
out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28). In John 19:34 we
find that this is just what happened. His blood, along with water, was poured out on the
cross when a Roman soldier pierced him in the side before he was taken off the cross.
Then, shortly after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection, Simon Peter, one of Jesus'
chosen apostles, got up before a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem at that time who had
previously lived in all different parts of the world (Acts 2:5,14). He preached the gospel
to them and showed them how they were guilty of the crucifixion of an innocent man, he
showed them how they shared the responsibility for the death of not only an innocent man,
but one who had come to save them and give them eternal life (Acts 2:14-36). Then we find
that they realized that what he was saying was true. It says that they were "cut to
the heart" (Acts 2:37 - NIV). So when they asked him "what shall we do?"
Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins" (Acts 2:38 - NIV). That same day 3000 did
just that (Acts 2:41), they got into Christ, they obeyed the gospel by being baptized into
Christ for the forgiveness of their sins. Then we are told that because they had done
that, the Lord, the Lord then added them to the church (Acts 2:41, 47). Now, recall how we
saw in 1Corinthians 15:1-4 and Romans 1:16 that the gospel saves us. Jesus' death, burial,
and resurrection made it possible for us to be saved, but his act by itself does not save
us or all mankind would be saved regardless of whether or not they believed or even if
they despised God. We do however, find a symbolic re-enactment of Jesus death and burial
when we go down into the water in baptism "into Christ." Just as Jesus said that
his blood would be poured out "for the forgiveness of sins" (eis aphesin
hamartion; Matthew 26:28) and it was, you now can be baptized "for the forgiveness
of your sins" (eis aphesin ton hamartion; Acts 2:38). We can symbolically
re-enact his death, and burial (Romans 6:3,4) by going down into the water when we are
baptized and at that time symbolically have our sins washed away by contacting that
precious blood that he shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins (Matthew 26:28;
cf. Acts 22:16). Then when we come up out of the water we symbolically re-enact Jesus'
resurrection and have "put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). We have "obeyed
from the heart that form of doctrine" (Romans 6:17).When we re-enact Jesus' death,
burial, and resurrection, we "obey the gospel" (2 Thessalonians 1:8, 1 Peter
4:17 - NIV). Click Here to see The Gospel Re-enacted!
BECAUSE OF FORGIVENESS?
Leroy Brownlow lists 24 translations of Acts 2:38, none of which translate eis as
"because of" ("Why I am a member of the CHURCH of CHRIST," Brownlow
Publishing Company, Inc., Fort Worth TX, 1973, pp. 140-142). Similarly, Jack P. Lewis
B.A., M.A., S.T.B., Ph.D., Ph.D., one of the translators of the New International Version,
surveyed 26 translations of Acts 2:38 and found that "not a one of them has any
suggestion of 'because of'-- that is that "eis" is to be understood as starting
what has already taken place" ( "EIS," "For
Forgiveness" or "Because of Forgiveness?") - See the reprint of the
article which accompanies this one). It should also be noted that both the New Revised
Standard Version and the New Century Version translate "eis" as "so
that" which should leave no doubt in the readers mind that repentance and baptism
both precede forgiveness. If "because of" is a reasonable translation of eis in
Acts 2:38, why can I not find any translations of the Bible that say this? In all
fairness, consider the Watchtower's translation of John 1:1. On what basis could you
possibly say that translating eis in Acts 2:38 as "because of" has even as much
scholarly backing as their stand that theos in John 1:1 should be translated "a
god?" At least they can cite three translations [sic] that render it according to
their interpretation ("The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek
Scriptures," Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 1985, Appendix 2A).
Furthermore, if eis in Acts 2:38 should be translated as "because of," then
Peter told the crowd that asked what they should do to make things right with God, to
"repent AND be baptized" because of the forgiveness of sins that they had
already received. I must ask you, "did they repent because their sins were already
forgiven?" Can you say that repentance in this verse was "to receive"
forgiveness and that baptism was "because of" forgiveness? Do you really think
that it's possible for a single preposition in a sentence to mean one thing for a verb and
have a different meaning for a verbal phrase joined to the verb by the coordinating
conjunction "and?" Or would you say that this verse should really be translated
"Repent to receive forgiveness of sins and then be baptized because of that
Although it is true in sense that we enter into Christ by faith, as shown above the
moment of mere cognitive belief in Him is not when one in reality enters into Christ. He
is not the source of our eternal salvation until we first OBEY HIM (cf. Hebrews
5:9). That faith must be an obedient faith. We should note that the ONLY occurrence
of the phrase "faith only" (or "faith alone") in the Bible is
immediately preceded by "NOT BY!" (James 2:24). Under the circumstances,
how does one conclude that salvation comes by faith alone -- without repentance,
confession, or baptism?
It really amazes me how people often say that Paul was "saved" on the road to
Damascus. Many times I have heard the phrase "Damascus Road conversion." The
fact is, Paul was not saved on the Damascus Road, according to Scripture. We do know that
Paul did come to believe in Christ on the Damascus Road by his question, "What shall
I do Lord?" (Acts 22:10). But notice that he was told to "get up and go into the
city, and you will be told what you MUST do!" (Acts 9:6). Jesus commissioned a
disciple in Damascus named Ananias to go to Paul, preach the gospel to him and baptize
him. Ananias told him to "get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his
name." (Acts 22:16). There are two things that we can know for certain from this
account. First, Paul could not have already been "saved" or he would have had NO
SINS TO WASH AWAY in baptism into Christ! Second, the gospel Ananias preached to Paul had
to include baptism, or he would not have been BAPTIZED.
Many who doubt that baptism is essential for one to have scriptural assurance of
salvation refer to the thief on the cross as an example of one who was promised salvation
by Jesus, without being baptized (See Luke 23:39f). But please consider this, on the
subject of the New Covenant brought to us by Christ, the inspired writer of Hebrews tells
us, "In the case of a will, it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made
it, because a will is in force only when somebody has died; IT NEVER TAKES EFFECT WHILE
THE ONE WHO MADE IT IS LIVING" (Hebrews 9:16,17 - NIV). I ask you, was Jesus dead
or was he still alive when the thief was told that he would be with Jesus in Paradise? If
he was alive, and you believe the Hebrew writer, then you must agree that this promise of
salvation was made to one who was not living under the New Covenant by Jesus who had the
power to save or condemn anyone he chose to on earth. We, however, do not have that
advantage, and must comply with the terms of salvation as given by Jesus and the apostles
for all living under the New Covenant.
"Faith only" proponents sometimes cite Acts 3:19 as an example of repentance
bringing about forgiveness of sins before baptism, and Acts 10:43-48 as an example of
belief bringing forgiveness of sins. Although Acts 3:19 does not mention baptism, in order
to be fair we must turn to a verse where forgiveness of sins and baptism are mentioned in
the same verse in order to determine their relationship. In Acts 22:16, nothing is said
about repentance but we know that repentance is necessary to have one's sins washed away,
and in Acts 10:44 only belief is mentioned as necessary but we know that repentance is
necessary also. Similarly, I know of at least one denomination that teaches that one is
saved by grace alone and that faith is not even necessary. They take Ephesians 2:5 and say
that because this verse says nothing about faith, it is unnecessary. Yet, Ephesians 2:8
says that we are "saved by grace through faith." I hope you will agree that in
order to determine if a particular command, statement or word precedes salvation, one must
examine that WORD OR PHRASE WHEREVER IT IS FOUND IN THE BIBLE!
You may find it helpful to take the following link to a page which gives examples of
how early Christians obeyed the gospel: Conversions in Acts
If you think you can accept God's offer of salvation through a prayer, see
the history of The Sinner's Prayer.
After you have studied the pages at this site, please go to Bible-Studies.net and
click on the Lesson 1 link.
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