If any interested sinner should ask us how they would enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, we ought to talk to them of needing to be born again and about being both born of water and of the Spirit (John 3: 3 & 5-8) in the same way as our Lord taught.
If some skeptic should ask what they should do to work the mighty works of God, we might reply, this is the work of God – that you should believe on Him who He has sent into the world (John 6: 29), or with some similar instruction to start things off. If some completely untaught and religiously ignorant person should ask what he or she must do in order to be saved, we should probably take the time to tell them to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16: 31), imparting to them the simple steps of the Gospel of Christ in understandable detail just as Paul and Silas had. And if already sincere seekers should ask what they must do to be saved, to be amenable to Christ and God, we should probably repeat what Peter and the other eleven apostles said to those penitents who were not yet in Christ at that long ago Pentecost assembly: Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you, and to your descendents, and to as many as are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (Acts 2: 38, 39). Finally, if some other person one who has not yet been immersed but is nonetheless penitent and fearing God might ask what they must do to finish things off and to become acceptable to the Lord, we ought to read to them Acts 22: 16, Mark 16: 16, Matthew 28: 19, or any other of a number of passages related to relieving that condition.
The situations listed above are based upon some of the best and most complete examples found in the NT of conversions. For the safety of souls, is it even possible to offer anything better than that? Isn’t it true that the closer our conversions have come to emulating these and the others given in God’s Word – the better and safer for our souls? While the farther away from these our conversions may be – the more danger we are likely in. Have you ever thought about that?
Noting these things; I would offer a few simple questions for consideration. Why would anyone believe it is the business of mankind to pick and choose between the elements given in the examples of conversion and from what is taught and commanded within God’s Word? Why would we think it reasonable to hold to just a part of the Word of God? And why would we want to hold to some things to the exclusion of others? Where would we go to find authority for that?
Why would we feel secure in leaving any of it off or in modifying any of it? Why would we think that we might have some latitude to choose between the various elements of the given examples of conversion for any reason?
What process would tempt us to leave out parts of God’s Word or His plan? What authority would have us to add things to it? Under what authority would we be serving?
Are not all of these types of examples listed found within the Word of God? Do not all of these examples contain the same common elements? Have you ever noted a detailed example of conversion in the scriptures that leaves off any of these elements, or that appeals to some others? Where is an exception clause found concerning salvation or its particulars Â in any scriptural argument or in any letter within the OT or NT?
Does this exercise not take into consideration several of the various stages where amenable persons have found themselves, according to their own needs and by their own particular religious condition? Is God’s Word complete for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3: 16), or does it somehow lack something? Have we been left with a partial plan on how to please God and how bring ourselves to Christ? Do we need to fill in the blanks? Better yet, do we have a blank page on which we then may write the prescription?
Of the nine detailed examples of conversions found in the NT (located in Acts 2, 8, 9 and 10, 11, 16, 18 and 19 – considered along with the complementary details of Paul’s conversion found in Acts 22 and 26, and several other less detailed descriptions, some already alluded to) — do all of these not contain the same elements? Is there some reason because some point, element, or duty is not mentioned directly in every place, that we have then been granted authority to exclude or strike it out when giving instructions in righteousness and as to how to save someone today?
Why would we believe that we could leave out this duty or that element, thereby exercising control over the Word of God, and by doing so not end up being condemned for judging Christ’s precepts as arbitrary and unnecessary? Have you never read the warnings for adding to or leaving off from God’s instructions or for not doing as we have been commanded? Do you not know of places in the scriptures where persons made assumptions, presumed, acted on their own or left off altogether doing what God had instructed, and what happened to them when they did? Are we to be exempt if we do the exact same things and follow the exact same lead?
Have you ever thought about any of this? Have you ever seriously studied any part of it? Do we in fact believe what we read? Do we understand and believe that what we possess is truly the Word of God? Is it something less than that? For if it is not that, I would suggest that, to appropriate the quote of the Apostle; we are among men most miserable. We must certainly be caught up in some silly fantasy.
Can someone out there pose a scriptural argument offering a legitimate reason to support any of this? To what purpose were the scriptures left to us? Was it to do as we please?
As you read the passages below, ask yourself, “What did Jesus teach and what did the disciples teach and do every single time?” Ask yourself if God’s Word is consistent. Well, is it? Did Jesus or his Apostles teach the same things to everyone or did they modify it for this group or that one as they went along their way and from day to day?
I know that whatsoever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be put to it; and nothing taken from it. And God does it so that men should reverence Him. (Ecclesiastes 3: 14)
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”Then he consented. (Matthew 3: 13-15)
An angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. So he arose and went. And behold a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace, the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come down to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in the chariot, he was reading Isaiah the Prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake the chariot.” So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the Prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”And he said, “How can I, except someone guide me?” and he asked Philip to come and sit with him. The place in the scriptures where he read was this:
“He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; And as a lamb before its shearer is silent, So he opened not his mouth.
In his humiliation his justice is taken away, And who will declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.”
So the eunuch answered and said, “I ask you, of whom did the prophet say this, of himself or some other?”
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this scripture, preached Jesus to him.
Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptize?”Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and he baptized him.
(Acts 8: 26-38)
Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed with his entire household. And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized. (Acts 18: 9)