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«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»

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Those who oppose the necessity of baptism also claim that calling on the name of the Lord is what washes away a person’s sins and not baptism. They believe that calling on the name of the Lord is done by a person asking Jesus to come into his heart, but this is not true as we will see. I will admit that it is grammatically possible for calling on the name of the Lord to precede both baptism and wash away your sins. However, it also grammatically possible that calling on the name of the Lord occurs at the same time as baptism and wash away your sins. So, which is the correct one? To find our answer, we must examine the whole counsel of God, but first, notice what Wayne Jackson


In submitting to immersion, one is actually by that act “calling on” the Lord’s name. Lenski observes that the aorist participle, “calling on his name,” is “either simultaneous with that of the aorist imperatives [get yourself immersed and washed] or immediately precedes it, the difference being merely formal” (1934, 909) (The Acts of the Apostles 286).

So, be baptized and wash away your sins are both aorist imperatives. Whenever the aorist tense is used together with the imperative mood, it indicates a great urgency for this command to be carried out. So the emphasis is on being baptized. As Wayne Jackson pointed out, calling on the name of the Lord is an aorist participle, and it is closely associated with the aorist imperatives be baptized and wash away your sins. So, it is grammatically possible that submitting yourself to baptism is to call on the name of the Lord.

Now, let’s dig a little deeper and find out what else God’s Word says about calling on the name of the Lord. On the day of Pentecost, Peter quotes Joel and said: “And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved” (Acts 2:21). First, when the people heard this saying, they did not get the idea that all they had to do was ask Jesus into their heart. Instead, they asked Peter what they must do (Acts 2:37). Peter let them know that calling on the name of the Lord included repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38). Once again, this shows calling on the name of the Lord is associated with being baptized, and it is more than just invoking His name or asking Him into the heart to be saved. Jesus made it clear that it takes more than a verbal plea such as, “Lord, Lord,” to be saved because a person must obey the Father’s will (Mt. 7:21; Lk. 6:46). So, calling on the name of the Lord includes obeying the gospel (Rom.10:13 -16). Since calling on the name of the Lord, which includes baptism, is necessary to be saved, it proves that Saul was not saved at this point in his conversion because Ananias told him to call on the name of the Lord. Of course there are other verses that teach that baptism is necessary to be saved as well (Mk.16:16; 1 Pet.3:21).

Finally, notice what Paul tells the Corinthians:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God (1 Cor.


Paul used the same word washed as Ananias did in Acts 22:16.

He had just finished naming many sins that would keep a person from going to heaven. Then he lets the Corinthians know that they used to be guilty of those sins, but they had been washed, sanctified, and justified. In other words, their sins had been washed away, just like Saul’s would be washed away when he submitted himself to baptism.

The word wash means to “wash off or away” (Thayer). When we think about washing off, we think about water and soap.

Understanding this simple word should make us think about the water that we are baptized in and how Jesus’ blood is the cleansing soap that removes the stain of sin from our souls (Rev. 1:5). There is nothing magical about the water; it is simply the place that God has designated where we will come in contact with the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood. We know this is true by our faith in the working of God (Col. 2:12). It is difficult to understand how anyone could associate a verbal plea, or saying “the sinner’s prayer” with the word wash. Both 1 Corinthians 6:11 and Acts 22:16 are talking about the same thing, which means our sins are washed away when we are baptized in water in the name of Jesus for the remission of our sins.

It is also interesting that this washing was done “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” because it fits perfectly with The Great Commission (Mt. 28:19) and with what Peter taught on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). We can see this idea of washing in several other passages as well (Heb. 10:22; Eph. 5:26; Titus 3:5). Notice what Thayer says

about our two verses:

… 1 Cor. 6:11 … Acts 22:16. For the sinner is unclean, polluted as it were by the filth of his sins. Whoever obtains remission of sins has his sins put, so to speak, out of God's sight is cleansed from them in the sight of God. Remission is (represented as) obtained by undergoing baptism; hence, those who have gone down into the baptismal bath (lavacrum, cf.

Titus 3:5; Eph. 5:26) are said to have washed themselves, or to have washed away their sins, i. e. to have been cleansed from their sins.

There should be no doubt for those who examine Saul’s conversion with an honest heart that baptism is essential for salvation and it is the point at which a person’s sins are washed away.

Not only does Saul’s conversion teach us what is necessary to be saved, it offers strong proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. If I can prove that Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, then I can prove that Jesus was raised from the dead. First, consider the following points about

Saul’s character before he went to Damascus:

He was a fanatic, he persecuted the church beyond • measure, and he advanced in the Jewish religion beyond those of his own age (Gal. 1:13-14).

He consented to Stephen’s death (Acts 7:58 –8:1).

• He drug both men and women to prison (Acts 8:1-3).

• He even went outside Jerusalem to take down Chris tianity (Acts 9:1-2).

He said he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews and a • Pharisee (Phi. 3:5).

He told King Agrippa that he was exceedingly en raged against Christians (Acts 26:9-11).

Saul was at the top of his game. He was a local hero among his people, and he had power, wealth, and fame. The question becomes, “Who could have possibly changed Saul’s mind about Christianity?” Could it have been some of his fellow men? No, they admired him. Could it have been another Christian? No, he would not have listened to them because he wanted them all dead or locked up. Maybe there was an ulterior motive for Saul to convert to Christianity. What could it have been? It was not wealth because we know he had to

work with his own hands and went hungry at times (Acts 20:

33-34, 1 Cor. 4:11-12.) It was not for a better reputation or more power because he already had all that as a Pharisee.

There is only one logical conclusion: only Jesus could have changed a man like this, just as the Bible records for us (Acts 9, 22, 26), which is why Saul’s conversion offers strong proof that Jesus was raised from the dead.

In conclusion, we have learned many wonderful things from the conversion of Saul, including what it takes to be saved.

We have seen strong proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. Now that you know what is required for the forgiveness of your sins, why are you waiting?


1. What did Jesus mean when He told Saul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads?”

2. Explain the difference between what Saul and his companions heard and saw.

3. Did Ananias have the same ability as the apostles to impart miraculous gifts?

4. Discuss why Paul was not saved before he was baptized.

5. What do we learn from Saul being told to arise and be baptized?

6. How do we call on the name of the Lord?

7. What is the significance of the word wash?

8. How does Saul’s conversion offer proof that Jesus was raised from the dead?


Acts 10 - 11

The conversion of Cornelius is one of the most misunderstood conversions in the Bible. Those who teach that water baptism is a sign that a person has already been saved believe this conversion proves their argument. However, as we examine Cornelius’s conversion, we will discover that his conversion will agree with all the other conversions in the book of Acts, which teach that water baptism is necessary for salvation.

Acts 10 teaches us what happened at the conversion of Cornelius, but Acts 11 records the chronological order of the events that happened. Cornelius’s conversion is similar to the conversion of the eunuch in that an angel and the Holy Spirit were involved in arranging a meeting between the lost and the preacher. Some estimate that around eight years have past since the day of Pentecost, and the gospel had not been preached to the Gentiles yet.

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, "Cornelius!" And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, "What is it, lord?" So he said to him, "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do." And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually. So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa (Acts 10:1-8).

Caesarea was an important seaport. It was a city built by Herod the Great between 25 and 13 B.C., and it was named in honor of Caesar Augustus (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary 235). Cornelius was a centurion of the Italian Regiment. The regiment consisted of about 600 men, and each Centurion was over 100 men. Cornelius was a devout man, which meant he was pious or reverent toward God. He and his household, including his slaves, feared God, which means he respected God, and he did not worship idols associated with paganism. We can also know that he was not a proselyte because he had not been circumcised (Acts 11:3).

Those who became proselytes would become like Jews by being circumcised; then they would be baptized, and an animal would be sacrificed for them. Even though Cornelius was not a proselyte, he was seeking after God, gave alms to the people, and he prayed to God always. He had a good reputation among the Jews (Acts 10:22), which implies that he gave part of his alms to the Jews, and he followed their tradition of prayer. The Jews prayed three times a day: 9 A.M., 12 P.M., and 3 P.M.

At 3 P.M., Cornelius had a vision of angel in his home. The angel spoke his name, and as he observed the angel it made him afraid. Even though this man was in charge of 100 men, this encounter humbled him and caused him to be afraid.

Cornelius had never seen such a sight, and I suspect that anyone who saw this would experience a similar fear. Cornelius wanted to know the reason this angel was appearing before him so he asked, “What is it, Lord?” The angel replied: "Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do." We learn from Acts 11:14 that the angel also said that Peter “will tell you words by which you and your household will be saved.” Even though Cornelius was a just man who feared God, this angel made it clear that he was lost because he had to hear the words of Peter to be saved.

This example proves that a person can be a kind moral person who respects God yet can still be lost if he has not heard and obeyed the Word of God. This example also shows that salvation does not come from praying to God.

Some people might see a contradiction here because the blind man that Jesus healed said: “Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (Jn. 9:31). Even though this is recording the words of an uninspired man, this idea is taught throughout the Old Testament (Ps. 34:15; Prov. 1:28-31, 15:29, 28:9; Mic. 3:4; Zech. 7:12-13). When we examine these verses, we will find that God does not hear the prayer of those who are not willing to hear or obey the Law of God.

However, if a person is seeking after God, and he is trying to obey God’s Word, God will hear his prayer, just like he heard Cornelius’s prayer. Even the blind man in John 9 said: “If anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him” (Jn. 9:31). Many other passages imply this truth as well (Prov. 8:17; Acts 10:4; Jas. 4:8).

In the conversion of the eunuch, the angel told Philip where to go, but in Cornelius’s conversion, the angel is telling the sinner whom to send for so he can hear the words that will save him. If it was God’s plan for angels to preach the gospel to the sinner, this angel could have done it. However, as we have already learned from the previous conversions, this responsibility was given to humans. After hearing the instructions from the angel, Cornelius sent two of his servants and one of his soldiers to Joppa to bring back Peter.

Joppa was a seaport city located about 30 miles northwest of Jerusalem and 30 miles south of Caesarea. Peter was staying with a tanner. A tanner worked with animal skins making them into leather and other useful items. They usually lived

close to the sea for two reasons:

a) There was a terrible smell associated with their work; the sea breezes would help to diffuse the noxious fumes, and b) Sea water was used in processing the hides (Jackson, The Acts of the Apostles 123).

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