By Timothy C. Mitchell
The First Step is “To Believe On the Lord Jesus Christ.”
- What does it mean when someone is asked to believe on the Lord?
- Is salvation joining a Church or accepting Christ?
- What does the Bible say we must do in order to be saved?
- What was the Original Plan of Salvation given by Jesus and the Apostles?
- Believing Results in the New Birth
- The Scripture teaches that believing is not complete salvation but rather the first step of the process.
Romans 10:8-13 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
There is a very important truth contained in these verses. Everywhere in the Bible where it says to believe on the Lord Jesus, it always says that you shall be saved.’ Notice that it does not say you are saved. A verb indicating future action is always used with the word “believe” in the Scriptures. Why? Belief alone does not save; it must be followed by action. James says, “Faith without works is dead.” He goes on to explain, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only (James 2:14-26.) For example, what would you do if I said, “This house is on fire!” If you replied, “I believe” and did nothing, you would burn to death! Action always follows and confirms our belief. Therefore, simply repeating a statement or confession of faith does not constitute salvation. Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ does not make you a Christian any more than believing you are a doctor instantly turns you into a heart specialist. Believing is faith that you are going to become. Belief must be followed through and confirmed by action. If believing alone saves, then all the devils are saved because they “also believe (in one God) and tremble” (James 2:19)!
- Jesus taught that if one is a believer then he should seek God until he receives the
John 7:37-39 “Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)”
See Mark 16: 16. After telling people to call on the name of the Lord and be saved in Acts 2:21, Peter did not end his message there because belief alone does not save. He continued to preach until conviction came upon his hearers and they asked, “Sirs, what must we do to be saved?” These people knew that there was something more to do. Peter then gave them the rest of the plan of salvation in verse 38.
- a) Jesus said that if we believe on Him as the Bible tells us to, we should receive the Holy
Ghost. If we are born-again believers, then we should have received the Holy Ghost!
What is the Holy Ghost? First, a ghost is the spirit of one who has died. The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God which indwelled Jesus that would be made available to dwell inside of us after His death. Just as a person can be demon-possessed, God’s people are Spirit- possessed.
- b) When a person receives the Holy Ghost, it is like an artesian well springing up. Some have said it felt like a flock of butterflies wanting to come out of their stomach.
- Jesus discusses the New Birth with Nicodemus in John 3:1-8 .
Verses 1-2 “There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him.”
Nicodemus a well-known and respected religious leader, meets with Jesus at night to avoid unfavorable public opinion. He was a Pharisee, which means he was very educated in his religion and practiced it with extreme devotion. He could be compared to a prominent degreed minister pastoring a large church in your city who went to a traveling, unschooled, and poor evangelist to seek counsel because he realized there was more anointing and power to be had.
Verse 3″Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. ”
What a shock it must have been when Jesus boldly announced that he needed to be born again! Nicodemus had a teachable spirit and was not offended
Verse 4″Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?”
Nicodemus thought Jesus was referring to natural birth.
Verses 5-7 “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.”
a.) Jesus again emphasized the necessity of being born again and explained it with more clarity. There are two parts to new birth: water and spirit. We must do both in order to be in the kingdom of God.
b.) Spiritual birth and natural birth are very similar. The natural birth begins with blood, pain and struggle. Next, the water is broken. When the baby emerges, the first thing everyone -wants to hear is that unintelligible, loud cry which signals a live birth. Spiritual birth begins with the blood of Jesus covering our sins when we repentance. Then we go through water baptism. The wind of His Spirit comes and you receive the Holy Ghost with the cry of life coming forth as you begin speaking in an unknown tongue.
It is unique that in the Bible the Greek word “pneuma” is used to describe both air and spirit. Man’s natural life began when God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). When Jesus appeared to his disciples on the day of His resurrection, He symbolically prophesied of their spiritual birth when “he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4, it sounded like a rushing mighty wind when God breathed the life-giving Holy Ghost into all that were present.
Verse 8″The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is everyone that is born of the Spirit.”
Jesus compared being Spirit-filled to the wind and how it affects something when it blows upon it. For example, you cannot see the wind blowing through the trees but you can see the branches moving and hear the sound made by the wind passing through the leaves. Sometimes the wind is strong. At other times it is gentle. Sometimes you cannot even feel it, yet we know that the wind (air) is always present. So it is with people who are Spirit-filled. You cannot see the Spirit but one can see and feel the effect the Spirit has upon their body when their upraised arms shake and sway like branches on a tree and their lips tremble like a leaf. As the Spirit passes through them you can see their stammering lips and hear the sound as they speak in an unknown tongue. We must be careful that we do not resist the wind of the Spirit when it comes but yield automatically and spontaneously. Apostle Paul said, “Quench not the Spirit” and “despise not prophesyings” Self-pride will cause us to be unresponsive and stiff like a concrete pillar. To receive the Holy Spirit, we should yield like a piece of paper when fanned and not be afraid for God to take control of our body, His temple. We receive the Holy Ghost only when we completely surrender.
Verses 16-17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
God the Father did not tell the Son to go down and save the world. That would have been avoiding responsibility. God made Himself a body and came to visit us in human form. We call His fleshly manifestation, Jesus. We could not go to Him so He came to us. He became what we are (a son of man) so we can become like Him (a son of God). What a wonderful Savior! To further understand the Godhead, substitute the word flesh in the place of Jesus and Spirit in the place of Father God as you read the Bible.
- What is the Original Plan of Salvation?
- The Great Commission
The Great Commission is the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples before He ascended. Just as a dying person’s last words are very important, so we must be careful to fully understand and obey what Jesus said. Jesus’ final instructions are given with increasing detail as we study each gospel.
I Thessalonians 5: 19-21. Someone asked, “When does a person commit the unpardonable sin of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost?” This is when someone continually resists the Spirit who leads and guides us into all truth (John 16:7-13), until they frustrate the grace of God. Religious people are the most susceptible to this horrible sin because of their pride, self-righteousness and inability to accept truth, which would force them to part with their man-made traditions. (See Matthew 15:1- 14.) Jesus reserved his harshest words for these who fought against truth the hardest and eventually crucified him. In Matthew 12, as they continuously criticized and debated his every move and doctrine, He warned them of committing blasphemy.
- Matthew 28: 19 “Go ye therefore, and teach al/ nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Here are some important points to be considered about this widely misused and misinterpreted scripture concerning baptism.
a.) This is the only scripture reference in the Bible that says we should baptize “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”. Should we build a major doctrine on just one scripture? The Bible teaches us that it is better to have two or preferably three scriptures when establishing a particular truth. (See Deuteronomy 17:6, Matthew 18:16, II Corinthians 13:1.) If these are the literal words a preacher should use when baptizing, why is there no other record in the Bible where anyone used this phrase when baptizing new converts?
b.) Some say that we should use the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19 rather than the words of Peter in Acts 2:38. If we do this, then we support the idea that the Bible contradicts itself. Peter did not disobey Jesus’ command but clearly understood. Besides, the other disciples would have corrected Peter if he had been in error.
c.) Notice that the word “name” is singular and not plural. What name is to be used? Colossians 3:17 gives us the answer, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
d.) “Of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” are all prepositional phrases. Prepositional phrases are used to give more information about the subject, which in this case is “name.” A preposition can be removed from the sentence without doing damage to the main thought. Example, “Go baptize in the name.”
e.) “Father”, “Son”, and “Holy Ghost” are nouns. These are not proper names. If I were to ask, “How many fathers are in this room?”, have I identified anyone? No. I must use a specific name to single out a certain person.
f.) What is the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?
- The name of the Father
John 5:43″I am come in my Father’s name … ”
Example: How do you know what my last name is? It is the name of my father. I inherited it from him. The name of God used in the Old Testament, Yashau’a (Joshua), means “God is become my salvation.” The name of God used in the New Testament, Jesus, has the exact same meaning. The unique thing about these two words is that Joshua and Jesus are spelled exactly alike in the Hebrew!
- The name of the Son
Matthew 1:21 “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” When you see something in the Bible spelled in all capitals, it usually refers to the Supreme Being.
- The name of the Holy Ghost
John 14:26″But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”
Jesus said the Holy Ghost would be sent in His name.
g.) Some may argue that it does not matter what is said. Baptism is a very important step of our salvation. If it is not legally correct, then it is invalid. In order for something to be legally valid, a bona fide signature must witness and attest to the fact presented. Here are some illustrations that emphasize the importance of using a proper name (Jesus) instead of prepositional phrases with nouns (of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost).
- When you sign a check, do you sign: father, son, and carpenter? No. All legal documents need a signatory’s name to validate them. Someone said, “Does it matter if the name is called over them or not?” Does it matter if a check is signed or not?
- If the Church is the bride of Christ, where does she take on her Bridegroom’s name? It occurs when the baptizer calls aloud the Name of Jesus just before he submerges the person under the water.
- If we are His adopted children, we must take on His name. Only then are we legally entitled to His protection, His possessions, and His inheritance (Romans 8: 16-17).
Therefore, when a person is baptized “in the name of Jesus”, he is baptized in the Name that represents the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This is where one receives the “family name” (Ephesians 3: 14-15).
h.) Why do people use the phrase “of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost” when baptizing someone? This is a continuation of an error originated by the early Church fathers in the second century, implemented by the Roman Catholic Church and perpetuated by most of her “daughter” reformation churches. In fact, the word “trinity” is not found in the Bible!
* Britannica Encyclopedia,11th Edition, Vol. 3, page 365-366. The baptismal formula was changed from the Name of Jesus Christ to the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost in the 2nd Century.
* Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 2, page 263. Here the authors acknowledged that their church changed the baptism formula.
* Hastings Encyclopedia of Religion, Volume 2, page 377-378. It is acknowledged that the three-fold name of Matthew 28:19 was not used by the primitive church, but rather in the name of Jesus Christ or Lord Jesus.
* Canney Encyclopedia of Religion, page 53. The early church always baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ until development of the trinity doctrine.
* International Encyclopedia, Volume 22, page 477. The term ‘trinity” was originated by
Tertullian, a Roman Catholic Church Father.
The use of the word “Trinity” is rejected by orthodox Church of Christ believers and is substituted by other words in the song, Holy, Holy, Holy in their denominational hymnal, Songs of Faith and Praise.
- Mark 16: 15-18″ And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”
There are two important points in this account of the Great Commission:
- a) He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. It does not say, “He that believeth and is saved shall be baptized.” Believing alone does not save us.
- b) If one is a believer, then he has the ability to do the following things through using the power of the name of Jesus:
* You can cast out devils.
* You will speak with new tongues. When you receive the Holy Ghost, you will speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance.
* You can take up serpents, and if you drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt you. This is not talking about literally handling snakes or drinking poison to prove your spirituality.
We are not to tempt God. ‘Who is the serpent? He is first found in Genesis 3:1 and later identified in Rev. 12:9 as “that old serpent, called the Devil.” In Luke 10: 19, Jesus gave us “power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” Paul accidentally had a poisonous viper to bite him and was not hurt (Acts 28:3-6).
This true incident illustrates the experience a believer had concerning poison.
Their toddler innocently drank a small bottle of concentrated carpet cleaner.
Several people gathered around the child and prayed using the Name of Jesus.
The child did not get sick nor was any medical attention needed.
- You will pray for the sick and they shall recover.
If we are not seeing or doing these things, can we really say that we are true believers?
You will witness these signs if you are in the true church Christ founded.
- Luke 24:45-51 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. ”
The disciples had been with Jesus for 3 years, yet they still needed Him to help them understand all the truth. No matter how long one may have been a Christian, there are areas of truth we do not fully understand. Even Israel was blinded and crucified Christ in ignorance. An open mind, open heart, and open Bible are necessary to understand God’s word. Let’s stop to pray and ask God to open our understanding that we may fully see the original plan of salvation, which Jesus is about to reveal to His disciples.
Verse 46-51 “And 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. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”
These are the last words spoken by Jesus to His followers. Just as the final words of a dying person is important, so were Jesus’ last instructions to His disciples. Notice three things the apostles were instructed to do:
- Preach repentance.
- Preach remission of sins in His name.
- Go to Jerusalem and wait for the promised power.
Luke ends his gospel with Jesus’ ascension and the return of the disciples to Jerusalem.
- Obediently Waiting For the Promise
In the book of Luke, we have the most detailed account of Christ’s life. Instead of simply saying that Jesus healed someone, Luke would often be more specific and describe the symptoms, duration, and manner by which the person became whole. The beloved physician continued his narrative in the book of Acts. Doctor Luke had a higher than average education and was trained to accurately record facts in detail. Generations to come will use his record to compare their beliefs with that of the original church in Acts.
Acts is perhaps the most important book of the Bible. It contains the verbatim preaching of the Apostles, their actions, and the only recorded plan of salvation given to mankind.
Acts 1:4-5,8 “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you … ”
Acts 1: 12-15 “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from
Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas,
Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren … (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty}.”
- The disciples obeyed the final command of Jesus and returned to Jerusalem. They went back (history indicates) to the upper room where they had the Last Supper. It would be interesting to know how many heard Jesus’ final command to go and tarry in Jerusalem. Yet out of that multitude, only 120 obeyed and patiently waited those 7 days between His ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Ghost.
- The same thing has happened today in Christianity. Most churches only preach Communion, the Cross, and the resurrected Christ. Few go on to preach about receiving the promised power of the Pentecostal experience. They have not obeyed the last commandment of Jesus. If you are hungry for more than an Old Testament, dead, ritualistic experience with God, obey Jesus’ final command. Find yourself a prayer closet and seek God for the promised power of the Holy Ghost! Jesus died to give us this gift. Don’t be shortchanged!
- The Church is Born on the Day of Pentecost and New Testament Plan of
Salvation is Revealed.
Acts 2: 1″And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.’
The day of Pentecost was an important feast day to Israel. There were two Old Testament events that were directly connected to this very significant day.
- The word “pente” means “50”. On the so” day after the Passover, which marked the blood-bought deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the people came to Mount Sinai. (See Exodus 19.) It was there that God came down with fire, smoke, and the mountain quaking, to give Moses the 10 Commandments. The Law was written by the finger of God on tablets of stone for man to live by. During Apostolic times, the night before Pentecost was designated to thank God for this gift of the Law. Now it was time for God to write His laws upon people’s hearts permanently. (See” Corinthians 3:3, Hebrews 8:10- 11.) Watch out for the fire and shaking that will start a new Pentecostal celebration!
- The 50-day period starting with the Passover and ending with the day of Pentecost was the joyous time of the grain harvest. On the last day, two loaves were offered up and waved before the Lord thanking Him for his bountiful blessings. This one- day-a-year observance was a time of festivity, hospitality, and liberality.” It was on this same day that the New (2nd) Testament came into effect, the Testator (Jesus Christ) having died and a new will was being written.
- On this 50th day after the death of the Lamb of God who was our Passover, a new plan of salvation was inaugurated. This same day in the New Testament is about to become the joyous, wonderful birthday of the Church!
Someone may ask, “If the thief on the cross next to Jesus was received into Paradise after simply repenting, can we be saved by doing what he did?” No. He lived in the Old Testament under a different plan of salvation called the Law. The plan of salvation changes when we enter into the New Testament after the Day of Pentecost.
Let’s follow the sequence of events that now take place:
Verse 1 – Notice that they were “all with one accord in one place.”
Unity and singleness of heart are important prerequisites that bring revival.
Verse 2 “And suddenly”
Salvation does not come by the will of man but by Divine timing, invitation and the will of
God. We do not choose when. Nor is it a matter of us choosing Him-s-it’s a matter of Him choosing us. When we receive a visit from God, it will be where He chooses and when He knows we are truly repentant and ready for Him to indwell us. (See John 1: 12-13; John
“There came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. ”
Notice two key words: “sound” and “wind”. Jesus used the movement of wind upon an object to illustrate how a Spirit-filled person would be. Now everyone remembered and recognized instantly what Jesus had been trying to tell them. All they needed to do was yield to the Spirit just like the leaves of a tree yields to the wind while allowing it to take control of its body and make a rustling sound.
Verse 3“And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
The fire that descended upon Mt. Sinai is now descending upon in individuals! Have you ever seen someone talking in tongues? Their tongue acts as if it was split (cloven) like a snake’s tongue and flickers like a flame of fire!
Verse 4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Notice the word “all” in verses 1, 2 and 4. Every person there was filled with the Holy Ghost without exception and each one was miraculously speaking in a tongue other than his native language! This experience is for all.
- Verses 5-8 “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 marveled, 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?”
Notice this double miracle:
- When they received the Holy Ghost, they individually spoke in a tongue unknown and foreign to them. This always happens when one receives the Holy Spirit and is the initial evidence that a person has received the promised power. In almost every place in Acts where people received the Holy Ghost, it is also recorded that they spoke in tongues. We will study these passages later.
- One of the Gifts of the Spirit was also in operation: Divers kinds of tongues. The 12 who were receiving the Holy Ghost were speaking in at least 17 languages representing the different nationalities of Jews present for the Feast of Pentecost. This was God’s way of getting the crowd’s attention.
a.) Many people who do not have the Spirit have difficulty understanding the difference between receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and possessing one of the Gifts of the Spirit. When a person first receives the large “gift-box” of the Holy Ghost, he will automatically speak in other tongues. Inside of the large “gift-box” of the Holy Ghost are smaller “gift-boxes” called Gifts of the Spirit. After a person has received the Holy Ghost, they may then be given one of the nine spiritual Gifts. (See I Corinthians 12:1-11.)
verses 12-13 “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.”
The unusual actions of the Spirit-filled disciples caught the attention of devout men who did not understand and thought they were drunk. It is amazing how non Spirit-filled religious people are so skeptical of Spirit-filled happenings! To hide their ignorance, they sometimes make fun. When a person really gets saved, everybody will know it. Was our experience of salvation radical enough for people to think we were drunk? If we are truly saved, there will some emotional and physical evidence!
Verse 14 “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my
Why was Peter the spokesman? He was the man Jesus chose to give us the Original Plan of Salvation. “I will give to thee the keys … “(Matthew 16:10).
Verses 15-20 “For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day (9 AM). But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy.”
Peter used Joel 2:28 as his text and explained that in the last days God would pour out of his Spirit upon all flesh. We are still living in those last days! How do we know? He is still pouring the Holy Ghost out! If the church we are involved in today is not like that first, old- time religion—then what is this and what was that?
Verse 21 “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall
If we call on his name, we shall be saved. It does not say we are saved. If this was all there was to salvation, why did not Peter stop right then and there and give an altar call? The reason is because there is more to salvation than just calling on the name of Jesus or accepting Christ. There are three other steps to complete salvation.
In verses 22-23, Peter preached Christ to the people until conviction gripped their hearts.
We need more preachers today who have the backbone, courage, and fervency to preach with enough conviction that people will be ashamed of their sins.
Verse 37 “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?”
They wanted what the Apostles had and were asking how to get it.
This is the most important question a person can ask, “What is the Plan of Salvation?”
In Acts 2:38, Peter Uses Three Keys to Open the Door So We Can Enter Into the Kingdom of God. This is the Original Plan of Salvation!
If you ask a minister today how to be saved, he should tell you the same thing that Peter said on the day of Pentecost. Anything else is falsehood and man-made religion. Paul told the Galatians in chapter 1, verse 8 that if he “or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel … let him be accursed.” A revival song from the past says it well, “Give me that old-time religion. It was good for Paul and Silas and it’s good enough for me!”
a.) Repentance is being sorry for our sins and turning away from them. True repentance involves a change on the inside, which will reflect on the outside. When a person repents, he stops sinning. For some, repentance takes time as they cleanse themselves of sin’s habits. When one finishes repenting, the load of guilt is removed and there is great joy. Do not mistake this for complete salvation. There is a greater joy, which is unspeakable and fully of glory, that comes to reward your faith and is part of your salvation experience when you receive the Holy Ghost.
(See I Peter 1 :8-12.)
b.) It is amazing how most churches today have eliminated their altars. What happened to prayer time after the preaching where people could seek God for their needs? Has modern salvation been reduced to just repeating a sentence or a profession of faith? Perhaps the reason we see so many problems in modern churches today is because their members have never truly repented of their sins to begin with.
- “And be baptized everyone of you … ”
Water baptism is not optional but required. Everyone must submit to baptism by immersion.
-I Peter 3:20-21 tells us that the water that saved those who were in Noah’s ark destroyed those who would not obey his message. The writer compared that experience to “baptism (that) doth also now save us.” Baptism is part of our salvation!
-ln Acts 16:30-34, Paul told the jailer to believe on the Lord Jesus. Then Paul “spake unto him the word of the Lord.” There is no record of what was said but Paul must have told him to be baptized because the next thing Paul did, even though his back was beaten and bloody, was to go and baptize that jailer immediately!
“In the name of Jesus Christ”
Why must the name of Jesus be called over one when he/she is baptized?
a.) The name of Jesus provides the authority to remove sin. A legal document is not valid without the signatory name of an approved authority. Jesus is the only authorized and revealed name of God! When Peter and John healed the lame man, they were asked, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?’ They replied, “By the name of Jesus Christ. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:7-12).
b.) Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” This name gives us the authority to pray for the sick, cast out devils and baptize with God-provided results. (See also James 5:14 and Luke 10:17.) Have you ever heard of someone casting out devils in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost? No. The authority and power is in the name of Jesus!
c.) In Acts 22: 16, Ananias baptized Paul “calling on the name of the Lord.” It was a common New Testament practice for the baptizer, the one being baptized, and those standing around to literally call out the name of Jesus as the convert was being immersed.”
d.) There is no record in the Bible where anyone was baptized with the minister using the phrase “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost”.
“For the remission of sins,”
What does this phrase mean? Here is an example. Let us pretend that I spill ink on your floor and ask for your forgiveness. You graciously grant it. This is repentance. But if you look on the floor, the evidence of my wrongdoing is still there. To remove the ink, I must take water with some cleaners and scrub until it is gone. That is water baptism does—it removes all the evidence of our sins.
- “And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
What a positive statement! If you repent and are baptized in Jesus’ name you are promised to receive the Holy Ghost. You do not have to beg—it is free! Just begin to worship and praise God! It will not be long until you feel His presence. At that point, yield your emotions and body to the Spirit. Raise your hands in surrender to Him. As your physical body begins to tremble under the power of God, let go. Mount up in the wind of the Spirit! Let God take control and soon your tongue will begin to stammer and you will be speaking in other tongues as prophesied in Isaiah 28: 11-12! There is no greater joy in this world! That empty, incomplete feeling that lingered after you accepted Christ will be gone. After receiving the Holy Ghost, you will know without a doubt that you are saved!
Verse 39″For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”
Everyone is welcome to receive this wonderful gift! It does not matter who you are or where you live, the Lord is still calling people to full Bible salvation today. The Holy Spirit was not just for those in the beginning of the Church. Join the millions of people today who have received this glorious promise. It is for you!
Some may ask, “How did Peter arrive at the plan of salvation found in Acts 2:38?” The answer is simple. He quoted Jesus’ words.
- Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” One is born of the water when he is baptized. One is born of the Spirit when he receives the gift of the Holy Ghost.
- He remembered Jesus’ famous last words to his disciples in Luke 24:47 & 49. ”And that
(1) repentance and (2) remission of sins should be preached in his name … ” I send the (3) promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
There are other Old Testament typologies that Peter could have used.
- Noah’s Ark in Genesis 6 had one door and three floors. This represents Jesus as the one door of the Church that has one Lord, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5). There are three steps to salvation.
a.) Repentance-God instructed Noah to “take in” [Hebrew: accept, drawn, win, bring] animals of every species into the ark (vs. 7). Although God instinctively drew those animals to board the ark there was a selective process. Today we are still preaching the gospel to every creature
(Mark 16: 15). Yet no man can come to Christ except the Father draws him (John 6:44).
b.) Baptism-The water saved those in the ark and today will save us (I Peter 3:20).
c.) Holy Ghost-There are several typologies to be considered.
The raven was first sent out and represented the Old Testament law and ministry of death. In the Old Testament, the Dove went forth and moved on people but did not permanently reside in them. It descended upon Jesus at His baptism. The third time was the day of Pentecost when the Dove went out to permanently indwell the Church.
Another type can be found in the rainbow, which represented a promise and a “token of the covenant” (Genesis 9:11-14).
Pitch, which was used within and without to seal the ark, is representative of two baptisms. “John baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost” (Acts 1:5). Ephesians 1:13 says “Ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
- Israel Coming Out of Egypt
a.) Repentance-The blood of a lamb applied to their doorposts caused the death angel to pass over them and freed them from the bondage of Egypt, a type of sin (Exodus 12:21-23). Jesus’ blood is our propitiation (I John 2:2).
- b) Baptism-When Israel finished crossing the Red Sea, the waters returned and all the Egyptians who were pursuing them drowned (Exodus 14:23-31). Our sins cannot pass through the water of baptism. Paul used this comparison in I Corinthians 10: 1-3 to illustrate the two baptisms of water and spirit. (See also Acts 1:5.)
- c) Holy Ghost-Israel followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21). True Christians allow the Spirit to guide them (John 16:13, Romans 8:14). Both fire and wind cloud) are symbols of the Holy Ghost.
- The Tabernacle. A priest had to complete three steps in the outer courtyard before ministering inside the physical building, which is a type of the Church.
a.) Repentance-The priest had to offer a sacrificial animal upon the brazen- altar to atone for sin
(Leviticus 8:14-16). We must repent at an altar of prayer .
b ) Baptism-The priest then went to the brazen laver to wash himself “that they die not” (Exodus 30: 18-21, Leviticus 8:6). We must be baptized to remove our sins.
c.) Holy Ghost-Finally, the priest had to be sanctified by being anointed with oil (Leviticus
8:12, Psalms 133:2). Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Acts 10:38). As the Old
Testament kings and priests, we must be anointed with the oil of the Holy Ghost before we can minister (Psalms 23:5, Revelation 1 :5-6).
- The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus gave us an example to follow.
a.) Repentance-We must die out to the flesh. “Old things are passed away” (II Corinthians
5:17) because we have “crucified the flesh” (Galatians 5:24).
b.) Baptism-“We are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:5-6).
c.) Holy Ghost-“Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, [which is Jesus’ Holy Ghost] he is none of his. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:9,11). “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins … hath he quickened together with him” (Colossians 2:12-13) .
Verses 41-42 ‘Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there
were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”
- The Church Continues to Grow While Preaching the Apostles’ Doctrine
- Samaria Receives the Gospel in Acts 8.
North of Jerusalem lived a mixed breed of people the Jews especially disliked. Those people were the descendants of Jews who were left behind during the Babylonian captivity. They then inter-married with the heathen Gentiles around them .
Verses 5-8 “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.”
Obedience to the Word produced miracles, healings, and unclean spirits being cast out of people. This produced great joy but not complete salvation.
Verse12 “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of
God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”
Verses 14-17 “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent 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.”
Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to pray for the Samaritans because they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. When Peter (the man with the plan) arrived, he and John laid their hands upon them and they immediately received the Holy Ghost!
- Cornelius, A Devout Gentile, Enters into the Kingdom in Acts 10 .
Verses 1-6 “There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
a.) Even though this Italian centurion was devout, feared God with his entire house, gave liberally, and even prayed an angel down from heaven—he needed salvation. If a person is sincere and hungry, God will see that the whole truth is brought to him, even if there is not a church preaching it in his town. The angel told Cornelius to send for Peter who was approximately 35 miles away in Joppa and “He shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do.”
b.) Why could not an “angel of God” tell Cornelius how to be saved? This is the job of a
God-called preacher. Peter was the man to whom the keys of salvation were originally given. That is why the angel said to send for Peter, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11: 14).
Verse 33 “Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee
These people had fasted several days while they waited on Peter to arrive. Oh, for someone who is hungry for God! They will not argue or debate scripture but are ready to receive and obey what a God-sent preacher tells them.
Verses 34-43 – Peter preached Christ to these eager listeners.
Verse 44″While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard
The Holy Ghost was poured out on them just like on the Day of Pentecost as they waited on God. This Divine interruption to their “church service” was a direct result of their hunger and thirst after God. God is ready when you are!
Verses 45-46 “And they of the circumcision 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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. ”
a.) Certain Jews who came with Peter were very prejudiced against people who were not of their race or religion. They did not believe that God would give the Holy Ghost to “heathen” Gentiles. To them, the convincing and indisputable proof was the fact that they “heard them speak with tongues.”
b.) There are those who feel they have received the Holy Ghost without speaking in tongues. This is not possible. In almost every incident where someone received the Holy Ghost, it is recorded that they spoke in tongues. Instead of arguing against something we do not have or know about, why not just do it? It is better to do it and not need to, than to not do it and be lost.
c.) Some people consider tongues as a “prayer language.” This terminology is not Biblical. Speaking in tongues is the initial sign that one has received the Holy Ghost. While it is true that later on one may pray or worship in tongues that is not the original purpose of tongues. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign [Greek definition: token, evidence] not to them that believe, but to them that believe not” (1 Corinthians 14:22) .
Verses 47-48 Then answered Peter, Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”
a.) Even though they had received the Holy Ghost, they still lacked one step in the plan of salvation: baptism in Jesus Name. Notice that Peter commanded Cornelius to be baptized. In the original Greek, the word command means, “to give an order.” As a soldier, he knew that a command had to be obeyed! Peter made these believers conform to the original plan of salvation given in Acts 2:38.
b.) It is possible to receive the Holy Ghost before one is baptized. If this is the case, you should immediately be baptized in Jesus’ name to complete your salvation.
Question: What about those who have never heard this truth? How will they be judged?
First of all, Matthew 7:1 says, “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” We may not know the condition of a person’s heart at the moment of death. Only God is qualified to judge an individual’s eternal destiny. Abraham stated concerning the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah in
Genesis 18:25, “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? We should commit the souls of people to a righteous God who will judge with mercy and compassion. He will do what is right for each individual.
Secondly, we do know that people will be judged by their obedience to the Word of God.
Jesus said in John 3:3-5 that unless a person is born again of the water and the Spirit, he cannot see nor enter into the kingdom of God. If a person expects to be saved they must obey the plan of salvation in Acts 2:38. God is not willing that any should perish and has provided a means of escape. People judge themselves according to whether or not they believe, obey and do it.
Finally, if a person hungers and thirsts after righteousness, the Bible promises that they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6). As in the case of Cornelius, God will see that truth finds them and they are given an opportunity to be saved. The rich man in hell tried to strike a bargain to keep his unsaved brothers from joining him. He pleaded that God would do something extraordinary, like sending someone from the grave to his lost kinfolk, then they would be saved. Abraham replied back to the rich man that they had ‘a Bible and God-anointed preachers to show them the way. In other words, if they were not motivated enough to study their Bible and seek out the truth, then they would not be saved even if God did something miraculous. (See Luke 16:27-31. How many people have actually take the time to hunt through the maze of religions until they found the truth? Did not Jesus say, “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:14)? Most go to a church because of convenience, programs, kinfolk or business advantage. If a person will seek God with all their heart, He will be found of them (I Chronicles 28:9; Jeremiah 29:11-14). God will make truth available but it is up to us to take the initiative. People go to heaven not by default’ but by seeking, finding, and obeying the true plan of salvation.
- Believers of Other Religions Conform to the Apostles’ Doctrine
- The Ethiopian Eunuch, a Jewish proselyte, Discovers More Truth in Acts 8
Verses 26-34 “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.
Returning from church with Bible in hand, this “devoutly religious man” read something
they did not teach in his church. He needed someone to lead and guide him into all truth.
With humility and a teachable spirit, he asked Philip to instruct him
Verses 35-39 “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 belie vest 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. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.”
a.) Although it is not recorded what Philip preached, it had to be the same apostles’ doctrine he shared with the Samaritans. How do we know? The actions of the eunuch confirmed it. He believed, was baptized and went home rejoicinq!”
b.) Real salvation involves rejoicing! It is more than a good feeling; there is an exuberant, overwhelming excitement that comes from receiving the Holy Ghost! Some jump, some clap, some cry and all speak in tongues as the Spirit gives the utterance. When Jesus “rejoiced in spirit” (Luke 10:21), the actual original Greek meaning of the word “rejoice” is “to jump for joy”.
- Followers of John the Baptist Accept More Truth in Acts 19
Verses 1-4″And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. ”
The founding of the Church at Ephesus begins with Paul meeting twelve believers of John the Baptist “faith”. He accepts them as believers where they were in their religious experience. He then probes to find if they had completed their salvation journey by obeying Acts 2:38. As a believer, we should ask ourselves the same questions.
(1) Did I receive the Holy Ghost after I became a believer?
(2) Have I been baptized the correct way, in Jesus Name?
Verses 5-7 “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.”
a.) Notice the open-minded and ready-to-obey attitude they had. They could have argued, “I was baptized the same way Jesus was. Why should I be re-baptized?” Instead, “when they heard this”, they were baptized again and this time in the name of Jesus. Afterward, they prayed until they received the Holy Ghost.
b.) What we need today is less defending denominational creeds, and more obeying the apostles’ doctrine. A “when they heard this” attitude quickly obeys truth as it is revealed. Even these who were years removed from the day of Pentecost had to conform to “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1 :3). Paul was still preaching the Acts 2:38 plan of salvation just like Peter originally gave it! Is your preacher still preaching the same plan of salvation today?
c.) Some teach that a person receives the Holy Spirit when a church elder lays his hands on them and conveys the gift without them having to speak in tongues. They imply that the “laying on of hands” is the proof and method of receiving the Spirit. This doctrine is false. No human being has the power to do this. God alone has this ability and makes the choice of whom He will indwell. God promised to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh (Joel 2:28) and on the day of Pentecost, it fell freely upon all who were eagerly awaiting the promise (Acts 2:4). Yet, no one laid hands on them and no one has to lay hands upon you to receive the Holy Ghost. The laying on of hands by another Spirit-filled person is simply an aid of faith to help you receive it, not a transfer of spiritual power from one person to another. Speaking in tongues is the sign of having received the Holy Ghost-not the laying on of hands, someone blowing/breathing over you or any other man-made, man-induced phenomenon.
”The Codex A says that the eunuch received the Holy Ghost, or rather that it fell upon him.” M.D. Treece, The Literal Word
Acts I, (Shippenburg, Pa.: Treasure House, 1993) 305
“Seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1), let’s join those in the New Testament Church who have experienced New Birth. Only when you obey Acts 2:38, will you feel completeness and fulfillment in your search for salvation.
- Acts’ 17:11 – Berean Believers. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Receive this Bible Study and search out if Acts 2:38 is the plan of salvation. Open your mind and obey the Word!
- Acts 9:17, 22:16 – Paul’s Conversion. “And Ananias … putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord … hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy Sight, and be filled with the Holv Ghost.”And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.”
Even though Ananias was not an Apostle, he as a believer possessed miraculous power to heal and helped Paul receive the Holy Ghost. (See Mark 16:17-20.)
- Acts 18:25-26 – Apollos. “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the wav of God more perfectlv. “
No matter how involved or learned we may be in Christianity, are we willing to be taught the way of God more perfectly? If there is more truth available, are we humble and sincere enough to receive and obey it? Let us be like Apollos and receive all that Christ died to give us! We cannot afford to allow our personal pride to stand in the way of complete salvation.
- 1 Peter 1 :8-10 – Obedient Christians “Ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you.”
The happiest people on earth are the ones who have fully obeyed Acts 2:38; they have repented, been baptized in Jesus Name and are filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in other tongues! We are fortunate. Moses and Elijah would have The happiest person on earth is the one who has fully obeyed Acts 2:38; they have repented, been baptized in Jesus Name and are filled with the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking loved to exchange places with us. This experience was not available in their day. Let’s rejoice together in our own personal New Testament Day of Pentecost!
- Does believing alone save a person?
- If we believe according to the Bible, what should we receive?
- What are the steps of salvation?
- How did Peter arrive at the plan of salvation?
- What are some Old Testament types of our plan of salvation today?
- Did other religious people latter change and conform to the plan of salvation preached by
Peter in Acts 2:38? Who were they?
- Paul asked the believers in Acts 19 two important questions. What were they?
When you complete this, may we encourage you to continue with a Home Bible Study that will cover the entire Bible in 12 lessons. We will be glad to come to your home and teach it free of charge! Or you may order a Bible Study directly from:
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The above article, “The Original Plan of Salvation” was written by Timothy C. Mitchell. The article was excerpted from Mitchell’s book, The Way More Perfectly.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.