11 - What the Apostles Practiced
We should test our theology against examples of what the apostles actually practiced. From the historical book of Acts we learn that the one baptism was:
- COMMANDED TO believers “FOR REMISSION OF SINS” - Acts 2:38.
- INCLUDED IN “PREACHING THE GOSPEL” - Acts 8:5,12.
- INCLUDED IN “PREACHING JESUS” - Acts 8:35-39.
- WHEN AND WHERE THE LORD ADDED ONE “TO THE CHURCH” - Acts 2:47.
THE CONVERSION OF SAUL: One of the clearest examples of conversion in the NT is that of the apostle Paul (Acts 9; 22). He had been persecuting and killing Christians with a clear conscience that he was doing the will of God. While traveling, Christ appeared to Paul in a vision and directed him to go to Damascus “where you will be told what you must do.” Observe several key elements to Paul‘s repentance:
- He believed and confessed— “What must I do Lord?”
- He obeyed— “Get up and go into Damascus”
- He fasted for three days — “and neither ate nor drank.”
- He prayed for three days — “for he is praying.”
Ananias, who had been instructed by God to go to Paul, miraculously healed his blindness and then commanded him, “Now why do you delay, arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord,” Acts 22:16. After all of Paul‘s acts of repentance he had not yet died with Christ and still needed to have his sins “washed away” in baptism. Repentance alone does not unite us with Christ‘s death.
A Gift. Salvation is a gift of God‘s grace and mercy. If someone gives me a birthday check, I did not earn the gift because I endorsed the check and cashed it at the bank — I merely accepted the gift. Likewise, we accept God‘s gift of grace and mercy when we respond by faith to what Christ did for us (Romans 6:23, Titus 3:5). Baptism is not a righteous work that earns anything!