Peter replied," Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you, and your children, and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:38,39-NIV)
Many of us are very much confused about the steps of salvation. Thousands of denominations have come up because of our sharp disagreements in this matter. Since it is complicated, we tend to follow the leadership of our own denominations blindly. There is a simple way to understand various aspects of this particular doctrine: Just keep the salvation steps together! It is very interesting to note that all denominations in general, agree with the four basic steps of salvation:
1) repent of our sins
2) Receive Jesus Christ as our Lord and master, and submit to Him as His slave,
3) be baptized 4) Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Also, we all agree that the first three steps involve action from our part, and the last step comes from God Himself, according to His grace, schedule and purpose, and we do not have any control over this step. Yet, the order of these doctrinal steps can cause frictions among us. Also, our churches become sharply divided, when some of us pull away one or more of these doctrines from these salvation steps, and try to administer it separately. When we read the Scriptures, we can see very clearly that these salvation doctrines were always kept together and offered as one total package, (as Peter’s sermon reflects above). But if we take out any of these steps, and deal with it separately, it can lead us to dangerous path of heresy, and cause us to stumble. Let us see some of those examples.
Let us look at the example of “second baptism of the Holy Spirit”. Those who promote this doctrine, believe in our four step process of salvation above. But afterwards, they separate the Holy Spirit doctrine alone from salvation process, and they want us to be anointed/baptized second time so that we may have certain spiritual gift (tongue) and power.
Even if we are truly born of the Holy Spirit, Spirit controlled, and Spirit directed, in our life, they want us to go through the second process of Baptism of the Holy Spirit until there is the manifestation of that one particular gift. But the Scripture never supports this two step process of receiving the Holy Spirit. It was always one time baptism of the Holy Spirit for the believer. But the manifestation of various gifts of the Spirit may come forth at the same time of Spirit’s arrival or at a later time of our life. The arrival and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit is one and the same! Scripture always referred the word “baptism’ to the “outpouring”, “showering”, “immersion” and “first time arrival” of the Holy Spirit and not to a particular gift manifestation. Such gifts can manifest anytime of our life. Failing to understand this point leads to confusion, spiritual arrogance, and divisions in the body of Christ.
Likewise, there are many of us who separate the baptism of waters from the salvation doctrine, and perform baptism as a stand alone ritual without any repentance or salvation experience. We call this as “infant baptism”. The justification for this action hangs in the word, “Covenant”. The scriptural basis for this covenantal theology is Acts 2:39. “The promise is for you, and your children”. But that same scripture passage continues also as “and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” It means actually that the promise of the Holy Spirit is available to all of our family members, and also to those people who are so far away from the Kingdom of God.
In other words, the Spirit is available to all of us, but we must respond, repent, and receive, as the context of Peter’s words clearly suggest. Automatic salvation to our children through infant baptism is not from the Apostles’ teaching, but from the erroneous Catholic teaching!” Many souls are heading toward hell because of their trust in this automatic salvation process through infant baptism rather than repentance unto salvation. Scripture clearly teaches us that baptism must be given after one’s true repentance and salvation. Should we not follow Peter’s advice: “Repent and be baptized”? Why do we violently separate this doctrine? Let us keep the salvation doctrine together!
Since the baptism is taken out of actual salvation steps and moved too early, now we are forced to come up with a new salvation process which is not in the Bible: Confirmation at the age of 13! Kids are pushed into the conveyer belt of salvation by the parents at this age. When I took my confirmation, I went through this motion because it was the way of my church, and it gave me the privilege to participate in Holy Communion. But it was a motion without repentance because I always felt that I was saved when I was baptized as an infant! Many have fallen on the wayside because of this false assumption. These man made procedures create a false sense of security. Our children tend to lead a life without true repentance, because salvation is virtually handed out to them by their church, without proper salvation experience. As the children grow without true repentance, many parents anguish in their souls and wonder if their children are truly saved or not. Why do we gamble and take such a big risk in misleading our children in an unscriptural fashion? Beloved, there is a simple way to correct and remedy it. Come back to Biblical doctrine of salvation. Keep the steps of Salvation intact and together. Let us not follow a disconnected, disjointed, misleading faith.
Apollos (Acts 18:24-28) was a mighty man in Scriptures, and was very eloquent. Yet, when Aquila, and Priscilla showed him the right kind of understanding of the Scriptures, he did not argue. Instead, he humbled himself, and yielded to the right kind of baptism. Will we do the same thing today? Baptism without repentance is no baptism at all. Let us humble ourselves like Apollos to replace unscriptural baptisms boldly. Even Jesus humbled Himself and submitted for baptism (Matt 3:15). If the Lord prompts you to correct it today, do it openly, and not secretively. Do not worry about what others will think. Baptism is the only true public profession of our faith. Let us not miss this opportunity of our lifetime to honor our Lord Jesus publicly by obeying His sequential command, “Believe, and be baptized.”
|Keep the Salvation doctrine together!
by Rev. Daniel Israel