What is the importance of Christian baptism? Jesus experienced baptism; He practiced baptism during His…
Tag: Acts 2:38
What does the word “church” mean and how is it used in the New Testament?
The Bible is filled with challenging topics. It is strange to me that one of its simplest – baptism in Jesus’ name for the remission of sins – is among its most misunderstood. The Scripture’s teaching on baptism is uncomplicated and unambiguous. We need not ascend into heaven to understand this doctrine. It is accessible and straightforward. The Bible Teaches Water Immersion
In Acts 7:58 we are introduced to a “young man named Saul.” At this point in his life, Saul was diametrically opposed to “the Way.” He consented to, and played a role in, the stoning of Stephen. Chapter 8 verse 3 speaks of him saying, “As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.” Chapter 9 continues this dialogue on Saul’s persecution of the church, telling us in verse 1, “Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord…” Recalling later, Saul told king Agrippa his purpose was to, “do many things against the Jesus of Nazareth.” The purpose of his life would change. Not through some uncontrollable force, but by Saul’s willing obedience to “the Way” he once persecuted. Chapter 9 records for us this change in Saul’s life. He went from the young man “dragging off men and women” who professed a belief in Jesus to the man who penned at least 13 inspired epistles. Notice a few points about Saul’s conversion to Christianity.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” On the surface, Acts 2:38 seems to be a straightforward, simple verse. Peter commands repentance and baptism in Jesus’s name. Those who obeyed in faith would receive the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit. However, this simple interpretation contradicts what many have come to believe. Most of the evangelical world interprets Acts 2:38 thusly: “Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins so that you can repent and be baptized.”
The Protestant Reformation is rightly viewed as a reaction against the theological, doctrinal and moral abuses of the Roman Catholic Church. Many educated members of the Latin church applied reason and scripture to what they witnessed in the common European religion of the day and saw that not only was the papacy and the bishopric corrupt, but it was also unscriptural.
One of the most beautiful and encouraging passages in the Bible is Luke 23:39-43. In spite of the suffering and humiliation we see faith and humility from a repenting thief and mind-blowing love, mercy and grace from our blessed Savior. It strengthens us because if a thief may enter into paradise with our Lord there must be hope for us! It is saddening that it is misunderstood and misapplied to say baptism is a useless work and unnecessary for salvation.
From the beginning of time on this earth, the spirit has been connected with life. It was the Spirit of God breathed into man bringing him to life (Genesis 2:7). Jesus tells us plainly that it is the Spirit who gives life (John 6:63), and James further states that “the body without the spirit is dead.” (James 2:26) If it is the Spirit that gives us life and keeps us alive, what is the significance of Peter’s promise to those who would repent and be baptized in Acts 2:38, that they might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit? The Spirit already gives and sustains us physically (Job 33:4). Thus, there must be more than just physical blessings that God, through the mouth of Peter, was promising.
In Exodus 13:17 we are told that God led the Children of Israel in such a direction, as they were leaving Egyptian bondage, so as to avoid the Philistine army. God tells us why in the same verse, “Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war.” The word “repent,” as we see here in Exodus, carries with it a three part meaning. Firstly, the Children of Israel would recognize a problem or danger.
49 days after Jesus’s resurrection, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples as they assembled together on the Lord’s day. (Acts 2) The tremendous sound of a great, rushing wind sparked public curiosity: as they gathered to investigate, they heard the disciples speaking in 15 or more languages. Accused of drunkenness, Peter declares this display a fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32. Included in this prophecy was a promise God extended to Israel first and the Gentiles second: “‘AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS THAT WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.'” (Act 2:21)