You must be baptised to be savedThe above list summarizes our focus of discussion. There are many things in the book of Acts that are an absolute joy and a blessing to discuss, but for necessity, our focus will be narrowed to only four topics. Before we begin however, let me briefly introduce the fifth book of the New Testament.
Acts, written by Luke, tells of the continued work and teaching of Jesus Christ that had begun in the gospel accounts. Jesus said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:46-49 shows the apostles were to wait for the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and then preach the gospel to all nations. Acts 1:1 shows even more support, The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach. Even consider how the four gospels end with how Acts begins. Matthew closes with the resurrection account and the missionary call. Mark closes with the ascension and missionary call, and Luke with the promise of the Holy Ghost and missionary call. Acts opens with all of this combined information and proceeds to give the acts of the Holy Ghost through the believers. The account gives an understanding of what God would do in the believers and how He would do it. The accounts given in their entirety are not exhaustive however, because the epistles that follow give further information. Galatians tells of the acts in Arabia, Peter tells of the acts in Egypt and Babylon, Romans tells of the acts in Rome, and 1 Corinthians tells of the ship wrecks of Paul.
1. Starting the earthly kingdom
What is true regarding establishment of the earthly kingdom by the Messiah is how every Israelite thought this was supposed to happen when Jesus Christ was on this earth. The Pharisees thought so in Luke 17:20-21: And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. The multitudes thought so in Luke 19:11: And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear. The two men on the road to Emmaus after Jesus’ resurrection thought so in Luke 24:17-18,21: And he [Jesus] said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel. Even the disciples thought it was so after Jesus’ resurrection in Acts 1:6: When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Establishing the earthly “kingdom of heaven” at Christ’s first coming was never the case. He came to establish the “kingdom of God,” which are the men and women who have believed the word of God and put their faith and trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This undeniably shows that if the kingdom of God was supposed to be set up by Christ, He had to die on the cross. Notice the words He uses with Pilate before His death in John 18:36: Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Jesus himself said that His kingdom is not right now from hence. However, one day the kingdom will be here because He’s coming back in like manner as so many witnessed Him leave into heaven (Acts 1:11) and He’ll rule and reign from a throne at Jerusalem for 1000 glorious years (Revelation 20). Amen and Hallelujah!
As far as the book of Acts is concerned, Peter and the other eleven apostles started and continued to speak of the wonderful works of God, (Acts 1:11) and how whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 1:21). An earthly kingdom was NEVER preached. In Peter’s first public preaching from Acts 2:22-36 he sums up what the apostolic church believes about Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. for David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy one to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he said himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. That sermon showed how David spoke of Jesus’ coming, death, and resurrection, and putting that with v.41, Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls, and v.21 from above shows how the gospel of salvation was preached in Jesus name, not the establishment of an earthly kingdom. This theme continues throughout the book of Acts.
If you were to conduct a word study on the word tongue or tongues throughout the bible, you would realize this word refers to either a language or the physical body part. Each and every time this is true, and Acts 2 proves to be no different. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? (Acts 2:1-8) What we have just witnessed is the reversal of the tower of Babel account from Genesis 11. There God confounded their language where not a single person could understand another. Now everyone, no matter their native tongue, are able to understand these Galileans. The apostles were simply speaking the languages of the other nations.
3A. Receiving the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands
There are two things that need to be understood about the bible. Every verse has to be read in its context, and considerations might have to be given to biblical facts found elsewhere in the bible that relate to a particular verse of interest. For instance, Acts 1:8 tells us that the apostles were to stay in Jerusalem until after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. By the time you reach Acts 8, the apostles (Philip specifically) have reached Samaria on their quests. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them (Acts 8:5).
Now that we have the context, what are the biblical facts about Samaria? From the gospels we see a few things. First, we know that the “Jews have no dealings with the Sarmaritans.” John 4:7-9,27: There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. once Jesus was finished speaking with this woman, in came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman. Secondly, we can see that the Jew and Samaritans did not get along. For over three years the disciples preached unto the people, and time after time the large numbers would reject their message. only one account testifies of disciples desiring to destroy the ones who rejected – Samaritans. And it came to pass, when the time was come that he [Jesus] should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, And sent messengers before his face: and they went, and entered into a village of the Samaritans, to make ready for him. And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did? (Luke 9:51-54) Why such a distasteful attitude toward these people? It’s because hundreds of years prior when the king of Assyria invaded Judah, he carried away people captive into Babylon. However, he left many poor and afflicted people to work the land while also bringing in men from Babylon to possess the land. This was the land of Samaria, and what resulted from these events were intermarrying between the Jews and Babylonians/Assyrians. Therefore, the people born from this “bad blooded race” were naturally disliked by the more “pure blooded” Jews. This information is vital to our understanding of the events in Acts 8.
Acts 8:8-17 reads And there was great joy in that city. But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: To whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, (earthly kingdom not preached) and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they went unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. Here we have one account where individuals received the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands. Nothing significant has ever happened from the result of laying on of hands, neither before or after this event (search your bible for variations of the phrase “laying on of hands.”) Laying on of hands throughout the bible was a way of identifying or drawing attention to someone, usually for the purpose of fulfilling some charge committed unto them (see 1 Tim. 1:3,18, 4:14 for an example). So, why such a one time dramatic event by God? 1 Corinthians 1:22 says For the Jews require a sign. What Jew would believe that God has been gracious and merciful enough to provide salvation to a bunch of “half-breeds” making them all one in Christ (Ephesians 4:4-6)?” Probably not a single one considering what we’ve seen from scripture. Therefore, God provided this event where the two apostle leaders, Peter and John, came and by them through the power of God the Jews could physically see first hand that indeed salvation has come to the unliked Samaritans.
3B. Tongues as evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit
Here again is another example in Acts so similar to the event just covered involving the Samaritans. The only difference is the apostles through the power of God have now directed their attention to the Gentiles. Two things we have to consider is how the Jews require a sign and that the Gentiles were not a people (1 Peter 2:10) without the touch of God. Acts 10:34-45 reads Then Peter opened his mouth, and said Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him (so God accepts you, you don’t accept God). The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) (so the kingdom is still not being preached). That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Notice Peter is preaching the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Then he says, “whosoever” believeth in him shall receive remission of sins; therefore, no matter who you are or what you have done, if you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ you can and will be saved! While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision (Jews) which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (v.46)
The Jews just witnessed with their very own eyes that repentence unto life was granted to the Gentiles. Such a miraculous event had to happen for the Jews to believe the Gentiles could indeed be saved because they require a sign. The evidence of how God was indeed saving Gentiles as well as Jews was signified through the very same events that happened to these Jews in the upper room in Acts 2. They witnessed the Holy Ghost fall on these Gentiles just as the Holy Ghost did with them. See Acts 11:15-18: And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they (Jews) heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. With all this evidence, the bible shows that these signs were not meant to be misused as a representation of someone receiving the Holy Ghost, but EVIDENCE TO THE JEWS that salvation has indeed gone out to the entire world! Thanks be to God because that means you and me my friend.
4. Baptism required for salvation
With a desire to keep this writing from becoming any more in length than is necessary, we’ll focus our time on two sections of scripture from the book of Acts. The reason for only two sections is simple: these are the sections most people go to in order to support their belief that “water baptism is required to be saved.” If that were true, how did the thief on the cross make it to paradise? Did God just show respect unto him, and grant him permission because he didn’t have the opportunity to be baptised? Sounds like a good thought, but such an idea goes completely against scripture because God is no respector of persons (Acts 10:34, with 2 Chronicles 19:7, Romans 2:11, Ephesians 6:9, Colossians 3:25, and 1 Peter 1:17). God himself said that salvation is in the name Jesus Christ for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
First let’s go to Acts 8:35-38. Philip has come upon a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, (v. 27) and Philip was lead by the Spirit to speak to this man who had been reading from the prophet Esaias (Isaiah). Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. What you will notice every time someone is baptized in Acts, repentence/belief in the Lord Jesus Christ always preceeds baptism. That’s why you find countless verses throughout the bible telling you to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved. This is the only way to be saved, and baptism is a testimony as to what you believe: the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The reason so many people go to these verses is because if you are not reading the King James Version, then most likely v.37 doesn’t exist in your bible (see the writing titled: Which Bible?). You’ll find the verse number, but the words have been removed. This verse is when Philip stated in order to be baptized, you have to believe with all your heart that Jesus is the Son of God. So, these verses do not support anything other than the fact that there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Lastly we’ll turn our attention to Acts 2:36-38. Here Peter has just finished preaching his sermon to the Jews and then says, Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins. Many people read this statement and expound upon it by saying “be baptized to have the remission of sins,” substituting the words “to have” in place of “for,” making it far from the truth. Think about this statement and try to apply the same logic: “I got a ticket for speeding.” When you get such a ticket it is not “to have” the permission to speed. Speeding is the reason you got the ticket. The same thing applies to this verse. Being baptised doesn’t give you remission of sins. The remission of sins is the reason you’re being baptised. Baptism is simply a testimony as to what you believe.
*All bible text comes from the Authorized King James Version and has been placed in this writing in bolded font. Where the text has been underlined, it is strictly for emphasis upon the writer’s discretion and is not intended to represent a change in the bible.*