«Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Is Baptism Necessary for Salvation? Even though baptism is one of the fundamental building blocks of ...»
This means that Peter had just barely begun speaking when the Holy Spirit fell on them. If Holy Spirit baptism saved them, it did so before they heard the words they needed to hear to be saved. At the Jerusalem meeting in Acts 15, Peter mentioned this event and said: “So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith” (Acts 15:8-9). If Holy Spirit baptism saved them, then we have a problem because Peter said their hearts were purified by faith, which includes obeying the Word of God (1 Pet. 1:22). How could they have this kind of faith when they had just barely heard a small part of Peter’s lesson? The Bible makes it clear that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), which proves that they were not saved by Holy Spirit baptism.
So, why was the Holy Spirit poured out at this time? It was done to prove to Peter and all those present that God accepted the Gentiles as being His people, and they needed to hear the gospel. To prove this further, notice what Peter said in his defense to the Jews in Jerusalem who did not like what Peter did (Acts 11:2-3).
“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, 'John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.' If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.” (Acts 11:15-18) When this event happened, Peter remembered the words of John the Baptist and how Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Since Jesus would administer Holy Spirit baptism, which was a promise, it proves that the baptism He commanded His disciples in The Great Commission was not Holy Spirit baptism. Joel prophesied that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh (Joel 2:28ff), which would include both Jews and Gentiles. It was poured out on the apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4, 16ff,) and now it had been poured out on the Gentiles, which fulfilled Joel’s prophecy.
We can see that Holy Spirit baptism was not a common occurrence because Peter had to remember all the way back to the day of Pentecost for an example of Holy Spirit baptism. If Holy Spirit baptism is what saves, then Peter could have recalled any conversion to compare it to instead of having to go all the way back to the day of Pentecost. This fact proves that Holy Spirit baptism was not a common occurrence.
Once these Jews heard the truth on this matter it was settled.
If God was willing to give the Gentiles the Holy Spirit directly from heaven like He did for the apostles on the day of Pentecost, then no one was going stand in the way of God’s truth. This is the reason they rejoiced that God had given the Gentiles access to repentance of life.
When the Holy Spirit fell upon Cornelius’s household, they all began to speak in different languages just like the apostles did on the day of Pentecost, which made Peter and his companions amazed. Now that Peter knows without a doubt that
the Gentiles have been accepted by God, he finished speaking the words they needed to hear to be saved. Peter asked:
"Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” (Acts 10:47). After they witnessed God’s approval for the Gentiles, no one would object to these Gentiles being saved. So Peter “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48).
Just as Peter commanded the Jews on the day of Pentecost:
“Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), he commanded the Gentiles to do the same. We can know that he is talking about water baptism because he asked if anyone could forbid water. Since this was a command that could be followed, it confirms that the one baptism that saves (Eph. 4:5) is water baptism.
One last point needs to be made from Acts 11.
Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God (Acts 1:11).
This verse means that the Gentiles heard the same basic message the Jews heard on the day of Pentecost, and notice what
happened to those that received that message:
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized;
and that day about three thousand souls were added to them (Acts 2:41).
When they heard the words they needed to hear to be saved, they received them and they were baptized, which proves that receiving God’s Word includes baptism for both Jews and Gentiles.
Even though Cornelius’s conversion is often misunderstood, it is easy to understand that it does not contradict the other conversions in the book of Acts. Instead, it agrees with them and the other Scriptures that teach what we must do to be saved. Those who are looking for a way to divorce water baptism from the plan of salvation will not find what they are looking for in this conversion or anywhere else in the New Testament.
1. Discuss Cornelius’s background and devotion to God.
2. Was Cornelius’s prayers heard?
3. Name some of the ways people used their flat roofs.
4. Why did Peter tell Cornelius to stand up when he tried to worship him?
5. Does Acts 10:43 prove that we are saved by faith alone?
6. Did Holy Spirit baptism save Cornelius and those in his house? Why or why not?
7. Why did Cornelius and those in his house receive Holy Spirit baptism?
CONVERSIONS BY PAUL
Paul was one of the hardest working apostles (1 Cor. 15:10), and he established many churches. He was responsible for many conversions, but only a few of them are mentioned in the Bible. We will examine three of these conversions beginning with the conversion of Lydia and her household.
In Acts 16, Silas joined Paul on his second missionary journey, and they traveled to Derbe and Lystra. While they were there, Timothy joined them as they revisited the congregations in that area (Acts 16:1-5). They continued their journey to the west and considered going into Asia and to Bithynia, but the Holy Spirit told them not to go that way (Acts 16:6So, they traveled to Troas where Paul had a vision of a man saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (Acts 16:8-9).
Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them (Acts 16:10).
Since Luke wrote “we sought” and “called us to preach,” shows us that he joined this three-man team. It also suggests that he was a preacher and was possibly preaching at the Troas church (Acts 20:6; 2 Cor. 2:12). These four men boarded a boat and made their way to Philippi (Acts 16:11Philippi was a city built on a plain surrounded by mountains.
It was located in the eastern part of Macedonia and it was named after Philip II, which was the father of Alexander the Great, in 356 B.C.
In 42 B.C., Mark Antony and Octavian (later Augustus Caesar) combined forces to defeat the armies of Brutus and Cassius, assassins of Julius Caesar, at Philippi. In celebration of the victory, Philippi was made into a Roman colony; this entitled its inhabitants to the rights and privileges usually granted those who lived in Italy” (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible 984).
Since Philippi was honored as a Roman colony, that is probably what is meant by Philippi being “the foremost city of that part of Macedonia” (Acts 16:12).
And on the Sabbath day we went out of the city to the riverside, where prayer was customarily made; and we sat down and spoke to the women who met there (Acts 16:13).
On Saturday, these men made their way to the river one mile west of town, which is believed to be the Gangites River. According to the Rabbis, it took ten Jewish men to have a synagogue. Apparently, there were not enough Jewish men in Philippi to have a synagogue. One possible reason for this shortage of Jewish men was because Claudius had banned the Jews from Rome, which would have included their colonies like Philippi (Acts 18:2). When there was not a Synagogue, the Jews would customarily meet by a river or a source of water so there would be plenty of water available for their ceremonial washings.
Archeology offers another possible reason these Jews met at the river outside the city.
French excavations at Philippi between 1914 and 1938 unearthed a Roman arch that lay about one mile west of the city. This arch may have served as a zoning marker to restrict undesirable religious sects from meeting in the city (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible 984).
Next, we learn that these four men sat down and spoke to these women.
Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14).
Lydia was either a Jew or a proselyte. Since she was a seller of purple, she was probably well-off because this color was sought after by the rich, and it was expensive.
The dye itself was derived from the murex shellfish found in the Mediterranean Sea. A total of 250,000 mollusks were required to make one ounce of the dye, which partly accounts for its great price (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible 288).
It is interesting that Paul and his companions were not allowed to go into Asia, yet Lydia was from Asia. “Thyatira was a wealthy town in the northern part of Lydia of the Roman province of Asia, on the river Lycus” (ISBE). It was also the home of one of the seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation (Rev. 2:18). Thyatira was known for having guilds, and one of those guilds was selling purple dye. Lydia would have belonged to this guild because a person had to be a member of it to get the dye and be allowed to sell it.
Those who teach the false doctrine of Calvinism will use this verse to teach that the Holy Spirit must directly operate on the sinner before the Word of God will have any power or influence on them. Therefore, they would say the only reason Lydia listened to the Word of God and became saved was because God directly opened her heart with the Holy Spirit and made His grace irresistible.
However, there is nothing in the Scriptures that justifies this teaching. I have already pointed out in the eunuch’s and Cornelius’s conversion that the Holy Spirit does not directly teach or involve Himself with the conversion of a sinner. Instead, He would direct a preacher to that sinner so they could hear the words that would save them (Acts 11:14). After all, God’s Word is the power of God to salvation (Rom. 1:16), and when we receive it, it will save our soul (Jam. 1:21). God draws us and calls us through His Word (Jn. 6:44-45; 2 Thes.
2:14). As Paul said: “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Then Paul said: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).
Since we have to have faith to be pleasing to God (Heb.
11:6), and faith comes from hearing the Word of God; this proves the Holy Spirit does not directly cause us to have faith. Instead, the Holy Spirit instructs us indirectly through the Word of God because it is the sword of the Spirit (Eph.
6:17), which means we have to choose to allow it to open up our heart.
In Saul’s conversion, Jesus instructed him to be a witness for Him so he could open the eyes of the people (Acts 26:16-18), which is equivalent to opening up their hearts, and it was done by preaching the truth. That is how the Lord opened Lydia’s heart. Lydia was already seeking after God because she worshipped Him and prayed to Him. Lydia would have been receptive to hearing things about God, so she listened to what these men had to say, and it was through their message that God opened her heart and drew her in.
And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us (Acts 16:15).
We are not specifically told what Paul and these other men taught these women, but we can know they taught them about Jesus and what they needed to do to be saved. We can also know their teaching included baptism because she and her household were baptized. Most likely they were baptized in the river that was there. This conversion marks the beginning of a new congregation in Philippi. These Christians at Philippi would become a constant source of joy for Paul as we learn from the book of Philippians. Since Lydia is not mentioned in the book of Philippians, it is possible that she either died or was no longer in Philippi when Paul wrote that letter. Lydia showed her hospitality and persuaded these men to stay at her house for awhile.
Those who teach infant baptism will appeal to verses like these. They will claim there could have been an infant in her household, and it would have been baptized as well. However, there is nothing in the Scriptures that supports this doctrine. There is no need for an infant to be baptized because he is innocent of sin (Mt. 18:1-4); he also cannot believe or obey the commands of God. A person’s household would include his slaves and his family, but there is nothing in our text that hints at Lydia being married or having children. Since her household could hear the message being taught, believe it, and obey it by being baptized, the evidence is that there were no infants in her household.