A few years ago I was listening to the radio and a powerful preacher was proclaiming this idea:
"Accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour, and let him come into your heart, and you will BE SAVED."
This sounded good, so—
I listened attentively to his sermon, then changed stations, and another well-known preacher was vigorously expounding the same general teaching:
"Accept the Lord Jesus as your own personal Saviour, and He will at that moment forgive your sins and save you."
I turned on the television and heard still another preacher say, "Jesus turns no one away."
Then he called attention to the much quoted Revelation 3:20 where Jesus said:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock: If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
I had heard this teaching all my life, and had never questioned the sincerity of decidated people, so I decided to do some careful reading of books, pamphlets, and hundreds of assorted tracts.
I found that 99 out of 100 of these writings concluded with the same proclamation:
"Jesus will save you if you will just let him, by accepting him as your personal Saviour."
After hearing so many teach this from the pulpit, radio, and television, I was convinced that this was indeed the Gospel Truth, ... especially after all the printed material I had read.
BUT in order to be doubly sure, I decided to check this popular teaching out with the BIBLE, and see just what the BIBLE had to say about it. I felt that the surest way to do this would be to review the "actual conversions" in the New Testament and see if theyhad been saved by "accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour." I opened the New Testament and started the search.
I want to tell you what I found.....
I turned to the book of ACTS (referred to as the book of conversions) where the scriptural account of thousands who were savedis recorded.
TO MY COMPLETE SURPRISE and ASTONISHMENT, I was not long in discovering that not a single New Testament conversionwas brought about by anyone "accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour"!
IN FACT, I could not even find that phrase in the New Testament! This seemed INCREDIBLE because of what I had been taught all my life.
I decided to make a list of those saved in the book of Acts, and study how "God" had actually saved these people.
The list and what they did follows:
1.The Pentecostians - Acts 2:14-41, heard, repented, and were baptized.
2.The Samaritans - Acts 8:5-13, heard, believed, and were baptized.
3.The Eunuch - Acts 8:35-39, heard, believed, confessed, and was baptized.
4.Cornelius - Acts 10:34-48, heard, believed, and was baptized.
5.Lydia - Acts 16:13-15, heard, believed, and was baptized.
6.The Jailer - Acts 16:3-34, heard, believed, and was baptized.
7.Saul (later called the apostle Paul) - Acts 9:17-18 and Acts 22:16, heard, and was baptized.
THERE THEY WERE!
Thousands of Bible examples of people who had been saved. I turned the pages and re-read it all over again. I was shocked to find that NOT ONEof them was saved by simply "accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour" . . . nor were they instructed to do so!
On the contrary, the sum total of what these people did to be saved, the Bibleway, was to HEAR, BELIEVE, REPENT, CONFESS, and be BAPTIZED!
I stared at the verses.
After what I had believed all my life, it was hard for me to accept what I was reading. No one had ever really preached "baptism" to me, yet every one of those who had been saved under God's direct supervision had been baptized—and for the remission of their sins! Acts 2:37-39.
I also concluded, after rightly dividing the Scriptures, that I "open the door" and Christ "comes in and sups with me" at precisely the same time that I go "into him" by putting Him on in baptism (Galatians 3:27).
Actually—instead of my "accepting Jesus," it is more a matter of Jesus accepting me.
I discovered some other things also.
I found out that "all spiritual blessings are inChrist" (Eph. 1:3) and that there are only two verses in the entire New Testament that tell me how I get "into" Christ. Did you know that? They are Romans 6:3 and Galatians 3:27. Both clearly say that I must be baptized "into" Christ, thus, "into" His death where His cleansing blood is! Revelation 1:5.
I also found out that Jesus is the Saviour of His Church (Eph. 5:23), and that I cannot get "into" the church of Christ by "accepting Jesus as my personal Saviour."
I must (by faith) be baptized "into His church" just as all these other Bible people were. I Cor. 12:13, Col. 1:18, Eph. 5:25, and Acts 2:47
Faith, then, does not put me into Christ or into the Church, but is a work of righteousness which draws me in the right direction, so that I CAN become a child of God (John 1:12; 6:28-29; James 2:24).
As I studied the inspired Book, I turned again to Acts 2:37, and noted that these people almost 2,000 years ago had asked the same questionthat I have been asking: "What shall we do?"
If Peter had answered that question like many preachers do today, he would have said:
Accept Jesus christ as your personal Saviour, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
But—he did not say that, did he?
Instead he said: "Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).
WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
Peter preached one thing, and men today preach another. I decided to study another verse that is used a lot today. It is Colossians 2:6, and says: "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him."
Now, how did those Colossians "receive" Christ? Look at the 12th verse, beloved. It says: "buried with him in baptism" (Col. 2:12)
None of the preachers I have been hearing say anything about that 12th verse, or that I must be baptized in "water" (Acts 2:38) to "wash away" my sins (Acts 22:16) in Christ's "blood" (I John 1:7), then be faithful until "death" (Rev. 2:10).
I still wanted more proof so I decided to read what Christ Himself had to say about what should be taught, so, I turned to Mark 16:15-16 and was amazed at what I found.
"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."
This was the Lord himself talking just before he left the earth. Jesus said that baptism is a part of the Gospel and should be preached to "every creature." But I have never been tuaght this by the preachers of this generation.
Here is the way THEYpreach it:
"Go into all the world and preach to every creature. He that accepts Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour shall be saved: but he that does not accept Jesus as his personal Saviour shall be danmed."
I MUST CONCLUDE that both cannot be the "Gospel of Christ," therefore, one is rightand the other is wrong.
I know that having a "personal, heart-felt feeling of acceptance toward Christ" is good, but this "feeling" (according to Jesus himself) was never designed to save me from my past sins, or bring about a condition of reconciliation with God, or put me "into" the Saviour, where salvation is (Gal. 3:26-27, I Peter 3:21).
I take no satisfaction in saying it, but I just cannot find this modern concept of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.
SO, I asked myself this important question: "Can I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour and still be lost?"
My answer is a scriptural YES, and the rest of the answer is that I must obey the "whole gospel" of Jesus our Lord.
I now know that all who do not preach baptism for the "remission of sins" are false preachers, and are not to be heard, because they do not preach the same Gospel that Peter and the other apostles preached (Gal. 1:8-9; also Acts 2).
I must (if I am to be saved by God's grace) rightly divide the "Word of Truth" found in the New Testament, obey the Gospel precisely as they did in the book of Acts—for they were all saved by grace through faith. Then I must serve God every day of my life.
Jesus Christ, our Saviour, gives a lasting warning in Ephesians 5:17: "Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is."
Beloved, I have determined that, with God's help, I am going to believe only what the Bible teaches, and obey it to the best of my ability.
I HOPE YOU WILL, TOO.
The Bible says that I must first "obey the gospel" of Christ as scripturally outlined in this Bible tract, then I will be added to the church of Christ by the Lord (Acts 2:42-47). Then, with other faithful Christians I must:
ASSEMBLE together weekly (Heb. 10:25)
SING praise to God (Eph. 5:19)
STUDY God's Holy Word (II Tim. 2:15)
EAT the Lord's Supper (Acts 20:7)
GIVE on the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:1-2)
PRAY and do "all things" in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:42; Col. 3:17)
BE FAITHFUL until death (Rev. 2:10)
by Clare Annis