One of the things that makes the Bible such a wonderful book is that it has clear answers to difficult questions. Where did we come from? Read the book of Genesis. What is the meaning of life? That questioned is answered in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “To fear God and keep his commandments”. The bible is not a science book, but in matters of science it is true. It is not a history book, but its historical accounts are accurate.
The Bible makes itself clear that its overall purpose is to save man (2 Tim 3:16,17, James 1:21). We should be certain that the Bible will clearly answer the question, “what must I do to be saved?”. Let’s look at a few examples of when God has offered terms of salvation from various illnesses and events.
In Numbers 21:4-9 the Hebrew people were in the midst of their wilderness wanderings. Like they often did during this period, they began to complain against God. The Bible says that because of their complaints God sent serpents among them. The serpents were biting people and those people were dying. The people realized that they had sinned and wanted these serpents to be taken away. Moses prayed and God told him to “make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole. It shall be that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it will live” (21:8). Sure enough, when they looked at the serpent they lived. God gave clear instructions on how to be saved from that venom.
In 2 Kings 5 a Syrian commander by the name of Naaman is introduced. Naaman was a mighty warrior, but he but he also suffered from leprosy. Naaman was told by an Israelite prisoner that there was a prophet in Israel that could help him. That prophets name was Elisha. Elisha gives instructions to Naaman that if he wants to have his leprosy removed, he would need to wash in the Jordan river seven times. Naaman got upset at Elisha because he thought there were better rivers to wash in. One of Naaman’s servants points out that Naaman would do great things to become clean, so why not do this simple thing that is asked. Naaman was convinced and dipped into that river seven times and his flesh was restored. When Naaman asked what he needed to do to be saved from his leprosy he was given a clear answer. Would Naaman have been saved without doing what he was told to do?
In Acts 27 the Apostle Paul is a prisoner on a ship headed to Rome. Paul had prophesied that the journey would not end well, but his warnings were ignored (27:9-12). They encountered a storm that was so intense the Bible says, “all hope that we would be saved was finally given up” (27:20). The next time Paul speaks, his words are taken more seriously. The word of God says that there were some sailors who were going to jump ship, but Paul tells the soldier in charge, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved” (27:31). Everyone followed Paul’s instructions and they were saved from that storm. It may seem like a silly question but do you think that the soldier would have been saved if he let some jump off the ship? Of course not.
The first time the Gospel was preached after Jesus ascended into heaven is found in Acts 2. Peter convinces the crowd that Jesus was the Messiah that they had been looking for… and they had killed him (2:36). Verse 37 says that those people who heard the message were “cut to the heart”. The message had cut through all the callus of sin and left them staring at the fact that they were lost. This caused the crowd to ask the greatest question ever asked, “What shall we do?”. Now they are not asking for deliverance from a sickness, infirmity, or trouble. They are asking about the salvation of their souls from eternal condemnation.
The question was clearly asked and it was clearly answered, “And Peter said to them, 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”(2:38).
If the crowd did not repent and were not baptized were their sins forgiven? If some of them said the sinner’s prayer were their sins forgiven? If some of them asked Jesus into their heart were their sins forgiven? The salvation was promised to those who repented and were baptized.
Let’s say someone was standing there and he missed what Peter said in 2:38. He looks to his buddy and asked him “what do we need to do?”. If his buddy does not say “repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins”, we would all recognize that he didn’t teach the truth.
That is exactly what is being done throughout this community. People are being convicted by the Gospel of Jesus Christ wanting to be saved. They are approaching preachers and pastors and asking, “what must I do?”. And they are not getting this answer. In fact, many people teach AGAINST the need to be baptized.
Why not just do what God says to do? Why not accept his terms and submit to his simple instructions? Why not do what those people did?
“And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about 3000 souls were added” (Acts 2:40-41).