On the day of Pentecost the Holy Ghost fell(Acts 2:1-4). After the men at Jerusalem heard this they gathered to see the spectacle and wondered what it meant(Acts 2:5-13). The result was the first sermon ever preached(Acts 2:14-36). When they heard the sermon they asked, “What shall we do?” Or in other words “what shall we do to be saved?”(Acts 2:37).
In response to this Peter told them to(Acts 2:38):
- Be Baptized
- ” And you shall receive the Holy Ghost”
The process of Salvation begins with the impartment of God’s Grace, which is manifest by Faith in Christ, which is exercised by obedience to Repentance and Baptism, which is rewarded with the Holy Ghost and Salvation. In this article I will demonstrate how each step of this process works.
Grace is the unmerited favor of God. This is not to be confused with Mercy which is when you spare someone their just desserts. Grace is favor. You can be Merciful without showing favor. A person who has God’s grace has his favor.
For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory days God; Being justified freely by his grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus:|Romans 3:23-24
Each one of us has Grace as Christ measured it(Eph. 4:7). The common Grace of all men is the scripture because Faith is the result of Grace(Eph. 2:8) and Faith comes by hearing the word of God(Rom. 10:17). Thus Grace is the first key component of Salvation. God initiated salvation on the cross and presents that Grace through the preaching of the word. Men are predestined to salvation by God’s foreknowledge of who will respond positively to God’s word(Rom. 8:29). What is a positive response to God’s word? Faith!
Faith as defined by scripture is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.
that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.
something that makes plain or clear; an indication or sign:
As a verb it means:
to make evident or clear; show clearly; manifest:
to support by evidence:
In Law it means:
- Law.data presented to a court or jury in proof of the facts in issue and which may include the testimony of witnesses, records, documents, or objects.
All of these show that evidence is tangible.
The word Substance means:
- that of which a thing consists; physical matter or material:
Again this word has a tangible element. So what does the word tangible mean?
a :capable of being perceived especially by the sense of touch : palpable
b : substantially real : material
Whereas the word mostly refers to touch the word especially means mostly which means that things which can be perceived by the other senses can also be considered tangible.
How is Faith tangible? You can see it in action. In every single miracle in scripture the individual was required to do something.
The servants were required to pour water into pots(Jhn. 2:7). The Centurion was asked to go his way(Jhn. 5:50). The lame man was expected to stand(Jhn. 5:8-9). The blind man was expected to bathe(Jhn. 9:7).
And I could tell you of more. Each time you will find that they were either commanded to do something or they did so themselves without a command. There is only one faith(Eph. 4:5). There isn’t one faith for miracles and another for salvation. Faith is faith. It is the same regardless of whether you are trying to get healed or trying to get saved.
The Greek word for Faith is Pistis which means faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.
If you have faith, which means trust and confidence, in God you will obey whatever he tells you. Faith isn’t merely belief. It is belief when acted upon. It isn’t enough to believe in God you must act upon that belief. Yes whoever believes God will be saved(Jhn. 3:16) but only if they act upon that belief(James 2:14-26). You must believe and obey. This is faith. Faith is the currency of heaven.
So up until now I’ve neglected why we must be saved. It is important to understand the why before we delve into the next three parts and particularly this one. In the beginning God created the world(Gen. 1-2). Mankind sinned(Gen. 3:6-7). In sinning they gained a fallen nature(Gen. 3:7-24) and thus sin entered the world by one man(Rom. 5:12). So God justified all by one through the cross(Rom. 5:18).
Several verses in scripture tell us to repent. Repentance means to change one’s mind or to turn around.
If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.|II Chronicles 7:14
Repentance has three parts: you must realize that you are a sinner who needs God, you must turn away from your sin towards God, and you must pray to God. Abraham is a good Old Testament example of this. He realized he was living in a sinful place and that he needed God. He turned away from the wickedness of Ur to the Righteousness of God. And he followed God. We too must have a prayer of repentance(Rom. 10:9-10).
The prayer might look something like:
I know that I am a sinner and am not worthy of you. I know that you died for my sins. Please forgive me of my sins oh God. I the man of unclean lips and a dirty heart. I the man of sin. I who am unworthy. Please forgive me dear Lord.
In Jesus’ name I pray,
After Repenting there is one more thing you must do.
Before we hear this old complaint of “that’s a work” go reread the part about faith. Faith is belief and action not just belief. If you have faith in someone you do what they say. Imagine this. There are two families in the store. One family’s children are well behaved the other’s are all over the place. Which one has faith that when mom and dad say “if you don’t behave yourself you’ll get it when we get home” that mom and dad will actually follow through? Well the well behaved children. Children behave when they believe their parents. You can instantly tell who the good parents are by whether their children behave as saints or heathens. Similarly those people who truly believe God will obey him. So when Peter, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, says to be baptized (Acts 2:38) you should obey that. When Jesus says that you must be born of water and spirit(Jhn. 3:5) or to believe and be baptized(Mark 16:16) you should obey. If you don’t obey you don’t have faith. If you don’t have faith you can’t be saved. Your salvation is on the basis of faith. It isn’t faith plus works. It is just faith. Baptism is an act of obedience commanded in order to bear evidence of your faith. If you don’t complete it it is evident that you don’t have faith. If you had faith you would’ve obeyed.
Baptism follows a few rules:
- Baptism always follows faith and repentance(Acts 2:37-38).
- Baptism is always in Jesus’ name(Acts 2:38).
- And baptism is always by immersion.
Baptism comes from the Greek word Baptizo which means burial or immersion. It isn’t true baptism unless it is by immersion. Also because baptism is after faith and repentance it can’t be valid for infants. Infants can’t repent or have faith nor do they have anything to repent of. You don’t go to hell for being born human. You go to hell for actively choosing the darkness over the light(Jhn. 3:19). Since infants haven’t done this they can’t go to hell.
One last thing. There is an interesting ritual in the OT(not listed in scripture but prevelant in that time period and probably practiced by Jews). When a woman would get married her in-laws would immerse her in water and speak the name of her husband over her. We are the bride of Christ.
The Holy Ghost
God gives us the Holy Ghost(Acts 2:38). The Holy Ghost is important for a few reasons:
- He is our direct link to God(Jhn. 14:16).
- He is your source of power and authority(Acts 1:8).
- He is your evidence of God’s existence (Rom. 8:16).
- He is our ticket into heaven(Rom. 8:11).
This is why blasphemy of the Holy Ghost is the only unpardonable sin(Mark 3:22-30). By denying the Holy Ghost you cut off your link to God, your power from God, your evidence of God, and your ticket to heaven. Jesus says “I can forgive anything except this”. You cut yourself off. The Holy Ghost is your reward. The Holy Ghost is evidenced with speaking in other tongues. These tongues are known only to God(I Cor. 14:2). The normative tongues of the new birth are not human tongues. What happened in Acts(speaking in languages understood by other men but unknown to the speaker) was a one time deal. The rest of the time tongues were and are these unknown prayer languages where you speak to God as the Spirit gives the utterance. This is done for a couple if reasons:
- It is like baby talk. When you are born again into the kingdom you are born as a spiritual infant. Full maturity only comes in the next life. Just as infants start out with baby speech so too do Apostolics start out by speaking in tongues.
- It is a sign to others that you have the Holy Ghost. Thus when you speak in tongues you should do so loudly and proudly. Boasting of God.
So there are always objections. These are usually the most prevelant at this point:
- What about Matt. 28:19? Well as I already explained here Jesus is God. Not God the Son but God. Notice that the word name in the verse in question is singular. Thus we are to be baptized in the NAME (singular) of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Jesus means Yahweh has become our salvation. The name of God is Yahweh. Jesus is Yahweh in the context of Salvation. Therefore Jesus is the singular name intended here. Peter was under the influence of the Holy Ghost when he said Jesus’ name. The Holy Ghost can’t lie.
- What about people who recieve the Holy Ghost before they are baptized? This doesn’t negate the necessity for baptism. There is no explanation for it however baptism must still be administered. Why? Because it was commanded.
- What about people who have never heard of Jesus? That is irrelevant. You don’t go to hell because you rejected Christ but because you sin. The Bible says that “all have fallen short of the Glory of God” (Rom. 3:23) and that the laws of God are written on the hearts of men(Rom. 2:15). Thus because they know right from wrong and because they have sinned knowledge of Christ has nothing to do with it. They will go to hell.
- What if there isn’t any water? The earth is 80% water. You can always find water somewhere. The only excuse would be if you can’t move or you’ll die. As to other extenuating circumstances such as “what if you die on the way to be baptized” only God can judge. Also any baptized believer can baptize another. Doesn’t have to be a minister.
- What if someone repents on their death bed? God would have to judge but I suspect that if they were sincere God will grant them salvation. A similar objection is “what about the man on the cross”? Outside of the whole “he died before the NT actually took effect” argument one could also say that this was a special circumstance in which an exception was granted by God. This doesn’t negate the normative method of obtaining salvation and thus can’t be an excuse to skip baptism. You can’t use the exception to reject the rule. When everyone else was saved via obedience to Acts 2:38 and one guy was saved this other way that is an exception. It isn’t how people are or should be regularly saved. That is a copout. Disobedience demonstrates a lack of faith.
Analogy for Salvation
Salvation is three parts(not including Grace and Faith). What Christ did to purchase us was in three parts. They correspond with each other as follows:
- Repentance. Christ died on the cross. In repentance we die to sin.
- Baptism. Christ was burried in the earth. We are immersed in water and buried with him(Rom. 6:4).
- The Holy Ghost. Christ was ressurected. The Holy Ghost raises us up from death and sin.