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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.

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