Of all the important questions of a lifetime, this one is the most important. My happiness here below and my eternal welfare depend on a correct answer to the
question. It seems strange that the vast majority of mankind goes rushing madly through life giving little or no thought to the salvation of their souls.
Let us not be like the majority, but let us search the Scriptures for God's answer to our soul's need.
Let us notice some basic considerations:
Let us hear the words of our Savior. After His resurrection, and just before His ascension, Jesus gave command to the apostles that they must preach the Good News concerning salvation to the whole world. Here are the three gospel records:
If we summarize these accounts, here is what Jesus requires:
Placing these in their logical order, we see that as sinners hear the Gospel preached, they are required to:
At Christ's ascension, He commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem until they received heavenly power. This occurred shortly as the Holy Spirit came upon them
at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Peter and the eleven were enabled to speak in tongues (foreign languages), and so amazed a great crowd that had gathered. After showing
that the coming of the Holy Spirit was in fulfillment of Joel's ancient prophecy (Joel 2:28-30), Peter then proceeded to speak to the people about their own needs.
Now read Acts 2:22-47.
Peter began by proving the divine Sonship of Jesus. His main proof was the resurrection of Christ, and this he showed by quoting the prophecies of David as found
in the Psalms. Peter declared that Jesus had now ascended to the right hand of God, having received great authority, and was made both Lord and Christ.
The climax was reached when Peter's audience, pricked in their hearts, said to the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Here is the inspired reply:
"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" (2:38). Note that Peter faithfully required the same things Jesus had commanded in His commission. Those seeking forgiveness must: Repent and be
Baptized to receive remission of sins.
Some people say that there is nothing man can do to save himself, that God must do everything. But Peter, through the Holy Spirit, exhorted the people:
"Save yourselves from this untoward generation." Verse 41 shows how this was accomplished: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized."
Acts 8 has two examples of conversion. The first, found in verses 1-12, tells how the Samaritans hearing Philip preach Christ unto them, believed and were baptized.
The latter case is found beginning with verse 26. You are asked to begin with verse 26 and read to the end of the chapter.
In this interesting account we find our subject an unusual man: "An eunuch of great authority" (he would be equivalent to our Secretary of the Treasury) and yet a
religious man, he "had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning and sitting in his chariot reading Isaiah the prophet." A great man, a religious man;
this was a man God wanted to save. An angel called Philip from his labors in Samaria and sent him out to a deserted spot where he saw a chariot coming along.
The Holy Spirit told Philip to go join the chariot, the eunuch invited him up and Philip began to explain the Scriptures to this seeking individual.
The eunuch was reading from the prophet Isaiah in the section now designated chapter 53. Though writing over 700 years before Christ's birth, Isaiah was inspired to
graphically picture His suffering and death. As the eunuch read, however, he was puzzled. His question to Philip was, "of whom speaketh the prophet this; of
himself, or of some other man?" Philip began here "and preached unto him Jesus."
Though we do not have Phillip's sermon, its results are clearly stated.
As they rode along, they came in sight of water. The eunuch had been sufficiently taught to know what he must do to obtain forgiveness of sins. At his request for
baptism, he had first to confess his faith in Christ (see also Romans 10:9, 10). Then, the chariot was stopped, both the preacher and the eunuch went down into the
water and he was baptized. His work done, Philip was caught away by the Spirit and the eunuch went on his way rejoicing. What a wonderful experience he had to
relate when he reached Ethiopia. Perhaps this is the way the Gospel first came to be preached in East Africa.
One of the most noteworthy accounts of conversion is recorded in three chapters of Acts: chapter 9, 22, 26. All three accounts should
be studied. In Acts 22, Paul gives a personal account of how he became a Christian, and it is this chapter we now refer to. Dealing with the chapter
by sections, we find:
VERSES 3-5 -- Paul's statement of how he was zealous for Moses' law and persecuted Christians even unto death. With this purpose in mind, he set out for
VERSES 6-11 -- tell of the Lord's appearance and its effect on Saul. Just before they reached Damascus, about noon, a great Light shone around him and a
voice from heaven spoke to him. Saul's questions are two: "Who art Thou, Lord?" and "What shall I do, Lord?" To the latter he is told,
"Go into Damascus and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do." Being now blind, and led by the hand, Saul is
brought to Damascus, where we are told (Acts 9:9) he spent three days fasting and in prayer (9:11).
VERSES 12-15 -- now tell us of the appearance of Ananias, who is sent by the Lord to tell Saul what he must do. First of all, Ananias restores his sight,
then he tells him that he must be a witness of Christ to all men.
VERSE 16 -- contains the command to be baptized: "and now why tarriest thou? arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord."
Saul did not hesitate to obey (9:18) and thus this great persecutor found the forgiven of sins.
Since so many say, "I want to be saved just as Paul was," it will be wise to ask ourselves just what Paul had to do to be saved. There was, first of all, the
miraculous over which Paul had no control: the appearing of Christ, his blindness, God's appearing to Ananias. These were "one time only" events and are not
found in conversions today. But, let us notice some things over which Paul did have control and see how he reacted.
1) He turned from unbelief to belief. Some might say, "well, he had no choice in the matter," but in reality he did. He could have denied the vision, as many
Pharisees before him had denied strong proofs of Christ's Sonship. Instead, he said, "I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19).
2) He repented. This is seen both in his fasting and prayer and also in his change of life after baptism. The primary meaning of repentanpce is "a change of mind."
Truly no one ever had "a change of mind" more radical than did Paul.
3) He was baptized. The words of Ananias are, "arise and be baptized and wash away thy sins" (22:16). This he did immediately (9:18).
Years after his conversion, Paul found himself persecuted for the cause of Christ. Acts 16 tells how he and Silas were put into-prison for doing good (vss. 16-24).
Though cruelly beaten, they were not discouraged. About midnight as they were praying and singing hymns to God, a great earthquake shook the prison and they were
set free. The jailer, supposing his prisoners had escaped, drew a sword to kill himself. But, Paul called out, "Do thyself no harm; for we are all here."
The jailer, trembling with fear, went in to them and brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" Vss. 31-34 record his conversion:
1) He is told to believe in the Lord Jesus -- vs. 31.
2) The word of the Lord is preached to him and his family that they might know what to believe -- vs. 32.
3) He and his family were baptized immediately -- vs. 33.
4) They rejoice -- vs. 34.
The jailer was not saved by faith alone. He had to obey all the commands of the Great Commission. When Paul told him to believe (vs. 31), he was
pointing out that faith is essential to salvation. But faith alone will not save anyone (James 2:20, 24). It must be faith that will obey, as the
jailer and his family did.
The book of Acts was written to show how people became Christians. It is the Great Commission in action. As we study these sermons of inspired preachers we find
exactly what they told sinners to do:
1) Believe in Christ -- Acts 16:31.
2) Repent of sins -- Acts 2:38.
3) Confess faith in Christ -- Acts 8:37, Romans 10:10.
4) Be baptized to wash away sins -- Acts 22:16.
As you study this lesson, has the conviction grown within you that your "conversion" does not match the ones in Acts? Possibly you need to
take the first step in believing. Maybe you were not informed concerning the importance of baptism. Whatever your need, we stand ready to assist you in
becoming a New Testament Christian. This is too important a matter to delay. Please, let us hear from you now.
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