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Return to the Old Paths

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Location: Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States

Monday, July 03, 2006

What Must I Do To Be Saved

I have had a difficult time posting new material on a regular basis. I am going to try a new approach. When I am unable to post regular articles of my own, I will feature guest writers. I am posting an article by Thomas E. Broadbent. Thomas is the editor of Footprints In Time.
At his website, he has an archive of numerous articles. The articles are Biblical, and timely. Take out your Bible and prepare to "search the scriptures"!

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

(The Philippian Jailor, Acts 16:30)

Copyright 2006 by Thomas E. Broadbent

“I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself, nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps,” (Jeremiah 10:23). “Man's steps are ordained by the Lord, how then can man understand his way?” (Proverbs 20:24).

If we, as God’s creatures, can neither direct our steps nor understand our way, how can we possibly understand the way of salvation unless it is explained to us by God? It is God against whom we sin; and yet, very ironically, we ask the question, What must I do to be saved?, and then we attempt to answer the question from our own lack of understanding and knowledge, (Matthew 22:29).

The answer to the question, What must I do to be saved?, must come from God; and yet, there are as many ways to be “saved” as there are denominations, cults and religions in the world. All of them cannot possibly be right because “God is not a God of confusion but of peace...” (1 Corinthians 14:33). There is also the mistaken belief that it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you believe something. But “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death,” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25).

Mankind has devised a seemingly unlimited number of ways by which he thinks he can be saved; and our imagination toward this end simply knows no bounds. We would expect that any revelation that God might make to us regarding our eternal salvation would be crystal clear. And yet, as stated above, every denomination, cult and religion in the world has its own particular way of obtaining salvation.

However, the confusion that reigns in the answer to the question does not originate with the Creator. It comes from our fertile imagination and its assault on God’s word. We take our ideas to the Bible of what we are willing to do to be saved, and we use them to reinterpret God’s word in order to tell God what He said. But it is impossible to get around His words in Isaiah 43:13: “Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand...”

No one can deliver us from God’s hand but God Himself. We should therefore expect that the wise thing for us to do would be to listen to what God has to say about our salvation and to obey Him, and not man’s foolish ideas. When God tells us in Isaiah 45:22 that we should “turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other,” we must expect that He means exactly what He says. We must, therefore, turn to the Bible for God’s answer to our question, What must I do to be saved?.

In Ephesians 1:3 Paul wrote that God “...has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” He also wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that “...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature....” (Emphasis added.) The question that must be asked and answered, therefore, is how does one get into Christ?.

The popular belief is that one is saved by merely believing in Christ. And we have certainly been commanded to believe in Him, just as 1 John 3:23 tells us: “This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ....” But although we are commanded to believe in Christ, nowhere in Scripture are we commanded (or told how) to believe into Christ. And this fact tells us that it is impossible for us to do so.

John 1:12 tells us that to those who believe in Christ, “...He gave the right to become children of God...” But this verse does not say that He makes those who believe in Him to become His children, He only gives them the right to become His children. Believers become His children through obedience, not through belief. Jesus obeyed His Father because He is His Son. We, however, must become His children, (obtain our salvation), through our obedience and His blood. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” (Hebrews 5:8-9, emphasis added).

The question we are studying occurs three times in the book of Acts. Each time it varies in form but not in meaning. The question appears as: (1) What shall we do? in Acts 2:37; (2) What must I do to be saved? in Acts 16:30; and (3) What shall I do? in Acts 22:10. The answers are given as follows: (1) “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” in Acts 2:38; (2) “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” in Acts 16:31; and (3) “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name,” in Acts 22:16. But if the questions are similar, why do the answers seem so diverse?

If we follow Scripture honestly, we can readily see that the answers, instead of being diverse, are really quite similar. The group of people who asked the first question on the day of Pentecost were in a different state of readiness for the gospel than either the Philippian Jailer or the apostle Paul. The group of people on Pentecost became believers after they heard the first gospel sermon from Peter and “they were pierced to the heart” in Acts 2:37. Because they had already believed, they were told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.

The Philippian jailer had never heard the gospel, so he was told to believe in Jesus as the first step to being saved in Acts 16:31. In the following verse Paul and Silas then “spoke the word of the Lord to him” and to his household. This “word of the Lord” obviously included the gospel of Christ, along with instructions that each of them needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins. The evidence of this is that the jailer and all his household were immediately baptized in Acts 16:33.

Paul became a believer on the road to Damascus when he heard Jesus speak to him, prompting Paul to ask the Lord, “What shall I do?” in Acts 22:10. Afterward, Paul was in penitent prayer for three days and nights until Ananias came to him and restored his sight, in Acts 9:9-12 and 22:13. At that time, because Paul had already believed and repented of his sins, Ananias only needed to tell Paul to “get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name,” in Acts 22:16, (see also Acts 9:18).

In the three answers to these similar questions we see the three steps to salvation that are very plainly stated. All people must (1) Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, Acts 16:31 and 2:37; (2) Repent of their sins and transgressions, Acts 2:38; and (3) Be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, Acts 2:38; 16:33; 22:16; Matthew 28:19-20, Mark 16:16.

From Paul’s experience it is evident that faith alone does not save, for Paul certainly became a believer when Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. Why would he have followed Jesus’ instructions otherwise? But if Paul had been saved by his belief alone, why did Ananias tell him later to “get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins”? The answer is obvious: Paul was not saved by his faith alone, and nether are we.

In Romans 6:3-4 Paul later wrote “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 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.” Nowhere does Paul or any other New Testament writer ever write that we are buried with Him into His death through belief. This is accomplished only through the washing away of our sins by being buried into His death through baptism into Christ. We must be buried with Jesus through baptism into His death in order to for us to rise and walk in newness of life.

Paul then sets the condition for eternal life in Romans 6:5, “For IF we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection,” (emphasis added). Paul wrote that we must be united with Jesus in the likeness of His death in order to be raised with Him in the likeness of His resurrection. This is accomplished not by belief alone but through faith working with obedience to the gospel by being “baptized into His death.”

Finally, in Galatians 3:27 Paul writes: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” We cannot clothe ourselves with Christ through our belief alone. We can only be clothed with Christ by being baptized into Christ, as the inspired apostle has written. Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” This is also not accomplished by faith alone.

What must I do to be saved? We must believe, repent and be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Our salvation rests on nothing less than Jesus’ blood, our faith, and our obedience to His commands.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Doing God's Will

Mat 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Mat 7:24 Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
Mat 7:25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
Mat 7:26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
Mat 7:27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.

Many things in our world are done and taught in the name of religion that are not authorized by God. The passage found in Matthew 7:21-27 clearly teaches us that merely claiming to serve God does not make us God's servants. What I claim must match what I do. And what I do must match what the Bible teaches. Many come claiming to be servants of God. They even do a lot of good things. But they oppose the teachings of Christ. They change the Word of God to match their personal opinion or belief. Many religious leaders of today seek to teach what pleases the people. If it appeals to the masses and draws a crowd, somehow it becomes acceptable. They are building on sand. What they build will not survive for eternity.

Our foundation in spiritual matters must be the eternal truths of God's Word. We must not add to nor take away from the teachings of the New Testament. We are not authorized to "change" the pattern of the church. We are not authorized to "change" the pattern of worship found in the New Testament. We are not authorized to "change " the plan of salvation that was established by Christ, taught by the apostles and first century christians, and recorded in the New Testament by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
In every age, men come forth doing good things in the name of Jesus, but teaching the wrong things. They look good and sound good but what they teach is not good. Paul said,"13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." (II Corinthians 11:13-15) We must prove teachers and preachers by how their message compares to the Word of God. If they teach us that we need to "change" the gospel for our modern age, then we need to mark them as false teachers. Changing the teachings of the Word of God leads to apostasy. It always has and always will. We need to be like the Bereans of Acts 17:10-12. We must search the scriptures daily to make sure we are being taught the truth. Then we must take the attitude of the apostle Paul in Romans 1:16, "16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

Thursday, March 31, 2005

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

The book of Acts in the New Testament is a history of the early church. This is a good place to begin to find an answer to the question "What must I do to be saved?". In Acts chapter 2, Peter and the other 11 apostles are in Jerusalem preaching the first gospel sermon. In Peter's sermon, he preaches regarding the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In verses 36-38, we read "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 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." They heard the Word preached and had the compelling desire to ask one question, "What shall we do?". Realizing their obvious faith, Peter did not hesitate to instruct them to repent of (turn away from) their sins and be baptized (baptizo-immersed) for the forgiveness of their sins. The greek word translated for points forward never backward. Peter had preached the gospel to them, resulting in a saving faith.(So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17) He told them to turn from their sins and be immersed according to the command of God and their salvation would occur after their obedience.
In Acts chapter 8 verses 25-38, Luke records the story of the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch was a man who believed in God, read his Scriptures, and was on his way home from worship. He did not understand what he was reading (v30-31) . To help him, an angel sent Philip to have a Bible study with him (v26). The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53(v32-33) . We are told that Philip began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus (v35). After hearing Philip's sermon, the eunuch asked if he too could be baptized
(v 36). Philip told him if he believed he could (v37). We are told they both went down into the water both Philip and the eunuch and Philip baptized him (v38). The preaching of Jesus obviously included the preaching of immersion. In each example of conversion in the book of Acts, the subjects arrived at a saving faith after hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ. They turned from their sinful ways to serve Christ. They acknowledged Jesus as the son of God. Then they obeyed the command to be immersed for the forgiveness of sins. Can we require any more or teach any less than was practiced in the first century church? We dare not find ourselves adding to or taking away from the Biblical teachings. We must be obedient children of God, not children in rebellion.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Friendship, Love, and Obedience

We live in a time in history when many people want everything their way. They would prefer to ignore or bend the rules. The phrase "rules were made to be broken is frequently heard". Even in the church, some have arrived to a level of understanding where they do not believe God meant what He said. They have agreed to compromise with error for the sake of fellowship with a larger number of people. They challenge those who teach "obedience to God and His word" by calling them legalists or Pharisees. Yet if we ignore the Bible in one area, isn't it possible to ignore in any area to the point of apostasy.
In the gospel of John, Jesus makes the following three statements:
  1. John 14:15
    If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  2. John 15:14
    Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
  3. John 15:13
    Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus never said " I love you so much that you can do what you think is best and I will save you anyway." He said "If ye love me, keep my commandments." I guess if we don't love Him we won't "keep His commandments." He also said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." Then if we don't obey his commandments, we must not be His friends. In the third passage, He says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Jesus did indeed "lay down His life for His friends" at the cross of Calvary. His definition of friends would be those who obey His will.
The Bible is the authority in spiritual matters. What I think, feel, or believe is not the authority. What you think, feel, or believe is not the authority. God's word is the authority. If I want to know what God expects of me, I need to go to the Bible for instruction. The book of Acts is a record of the early church. It gives us a record of the plan of salvation, the pattern of worship, and the pattern for church government. In my next posting, we will seek to learn how the Bible answers the question, "What must I do to be saved?"

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Seek The Old Paths

The Old Testament contains a history of God's people and a record of their relationship with him. In Romans 15:4, Paul tells us "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." We only have to read the Book of Jeremiah to realize the reputation that the children of Israel had in their religion.(Jeremiah 6:16-21; 8:7,9; 13:10; 16:11-12; 18:15; 22:21; 23:22-23; 25:8-9) They did not listen. They did not obey. The result was the destruction of their nation and the captivity that followed.
God gave the following message through Jeremiah. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk ye therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein." (Jeremiah 6:16) The directive given here would be good for us to heed today. But too many "religious" people are giving the same response that the people of Israel gave. "We will not walk therein." Man's attitude of rebellion against God still exists. Religious people practice things of their own invention with no regard for what God desires. God never gave us the liberty to do as we please without consequences. In matters of faith, He established His way. My way is not acceptable. We learn this in
Leviticus 10:1-2. "And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the Lord, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord." God expects obedience.
God sent His son Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. With Jesus death on the cross, He established the church, and provided the atonement for our sins. The New Testament (written by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) is the authority in matters of faith. It tells us the plan of salvation, what God expects in worship, the pattern for church government and organization of the church, and provides many other practical and doctrinal teachings. The church in the 21st century should be identical to the church of the 1st century if it is to be the church we read about in the New Testament.
Modern man needs to return to the teaching of the Bible. We need to listen to the will of God and we need to be obedient to God. Anything less is not enough and anything more is too much. "Because my people hath forgotten me, they have burned incense to vanity, and they have caused them to stumble in their ways from the ancient paths, to walk in paths, in a way not cast up." We need to make a choice and take a stand. We need to return to the ancient paths or the old paths. Compromise in matters of faith is not pleasing to God. God expects obedience in matters of faith. In matters of faith, we need to have unity, in matters of opinion let there be liberty, in all things, love. Let's go back to the Bible and begin to seek the old paths.