the FREE WILL of man will not be infringed

the MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 5

the FREE WILL of man will not be infringed.

Some would have you believe that grace is Irresistible, and that grace is Limited to only those that the Holy Spirit saves.

Another way of saying this is; God has predetermined (predestined) those individuals who will be saved and those who will be lost.

Yet another way of saying the same thing; A person chosen to be saved by God cannot reject Him, and a person chosen to be lost by God cannot so act as to be saved.

Any rational thinking person can see that this is error to extreme proportions.

While it is true that God Calls [Acts 2:39], it is also true that the calling is done by the gospel. “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2Thess 2:14].

Does God’s call go against a person’s FREE WILL? We shall show that God will never infringe upon a person’s FREE WILL to follow or reject Him.

We have been given the

Freedom to choose. Throughout scripture are examples of God presenting man with a choice, to follow or not. “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,” [Josh 24:15]. “therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” [Deut 30:15-19]

It is possible to

Resisting the Holy Spirit is possible. Scripture teaches that it’s possible for a person to “resist the Holy Spirit.” Error says the His grace is irresistible.

“You always resist the Holy Spirit;” [Acts 7:51-55]

There has always been an

Expectation of God that all men repent. God does not will that any perish but all be saved. If it’s not possible to choose to walk away from God, then universalism (all saved) must be true.

Tit 2:11; 1 Tim 2:4; 2Pet 3:9

this idea of Irresistible Grace renders

EVANGELISM unnecessary. He that is drawn automatically by the Holy Spirit working directly on their mind against their will shall be saved. Why waste our time evangelizing if all is predestined. How can we know who to preach to? “Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” [2Thess 2:14; cf. Mat 28:18-20]

Irresistible Grace makes God a respecter of persons.

We’ve covered this in the last lesson, God is NOT a respecter of persons. [Acts 10:34; Rom 2:11-12; 1Pe 1:17] If He chooses SOME to be saved and the REST to be lost, then God is unjust.

“Why do you call me Lord & don’t do what I say?”  [Luke 6:46] This saying from Jesus will be spoken to some on the judgment day. If we are saved or lost against our will, this question makes zero sense.

Lose free will and God is responsible for my actions.

The devil made me do it? Nay, Nay; God made me do it!!!

“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” [James 1:13-15]. “We must all appear before the judgment that each may be repaid for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” [2 Cor 5:10]

We have free will and we are to

Learn of Jesus. Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;” [Mat 11:29; cf. John 6:45]. We are drawn to God by HEARING (understanding through learning) the word of God. [Rom 10:17; John 20:30-31], we are called through gospel [1Thess 2:14] which some will accept, while others will reject!

Jesus & the Holy Spirit had opportunity to teach the Gospel to Paul personally, yet he had to hear the good news through the agency of the word through a person. [cf. Acts 8, 9, 10 et al.]

Scriptural Predestination is that God has predetermined HOW mankind will be saved. The method is predetermined, and all those that obey the Gospel shall be saved. [2Thess 1:8-9]

Inspiration and Miracles have CEASED

the MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 4

Inspiration and Miracles have CEASED.

There are three components to this subject that the mainstream denominational world still believes.

That God is still revealing His will to all through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

That man still has the ability to perform the miraculous through the direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

That the Holy Spirit resides personally inside of the believer.

None of these are true. The serious bible student knows that God is still active, but His work of revelation, confirmation of His word through miracles, and the direct operation of the Holy Spirit have CEASED.s

Miracles were there to

CONFIRM the word.

Heb 2:3-4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.

Mark 16:20 And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word by the signs that followed. Amen.

The letters, or

EPISTLES are written for belief.

John 20:29-31 Many other signs therefore did Jesus in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book: but these are written, that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;

Eph 3:3-4; when you read you may understand. 2Tim 3:14-17; Rom 10:17

Jesus has all authority and He delegated

AUTHORITY to the Apostles and the written word.

John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself;

1Cor 4:6; not to go beyond the things which are written;

1Cor 14:37 let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord.

The written

SCRIPTURES are COMPLETE.

2Tim 3:16-17 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness. That the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work. 2Peter 3:16

1Cor 13:8-10 whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

Partial vs Perfect (Complete) The word is complete.

The text cannot be referring to Jesus, for it says ‘THAT’ not “HE WHO” will come. This would make the text say that we only have Christ in part, but scripture states we have His fullness. We have the fullness of Christ:

Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.;

John 1:16 of His fullness we all received;

Col 2:10 ye are made full.

Wouldn’t it also mean that when Christ comes, we won’t know anything? Morons in Heaven?

The word (written miracles) can accomplish belief, John 20:30-31

Miracles were for

EDIFICATION & Verification until the completion of the New Testament scriptures.

1Cor 14:5 that the church may receive edifying. 3,4,5,12,17,26

Eph 4:12-13 unto the building up of the body of Christ:

John 20:28-31; Mark 16:20

Heb 2:3-4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will.

This also includes the fact that

DEMON Possession is impossible today.

Jude 1:6 he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Lu 10:18 And he said unto them, I beheld Satan fallen as lightning from heaven. Rev 20:10; 19:20

If inspiration of the Word is complete, and we are living in the last days, what new revelation could God give? What does John 20:30-31 mean?

God is… NO Respecter of Persons

MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 3

God is…

NOT a Respecter of Persons.

NOT a Sinner.

NOT a Failure.

A Popular trend among antagonists of God and His Word is to accuse Him of sin, weakness & prejudice.

The Bible Student needs to be ready to give a defense, for their own faith, and to effectively preach the gospel.

These errors abound in denominational error, not just among unbelievers. The Calvinist doctrine of Limited Atonement is prejudicial. Saying, “God could have failed,” is saying God is weak.

Claiming Jesus had a sexual relationship with Mary Magdalene is charging God with sin.

These are grave errors.

Instead of using my own reasoning, here’s what the Bible Says…

GOD IS NO RESPECTER OF PERSON.

Ac 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:

De 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

Pr 24:23b It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.

Pr 28:21a To have respect of persons is not good:

Rom 2:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.

Eph 6:9 And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him.

Col 3:25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

1Pet 1:17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Jas 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

GOD DOES NOT SIN.

Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

1John 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

De 32:4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

1Pet 2:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

Heb 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

2Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

1John 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

GOD IS NOT WEAK.

Job 40:2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it.

1Cor 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Isa 40:28 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding.

Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

Rev 19:6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Jer 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? 17

Job 42:2 I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Dan 4:35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

GOD WILL NOT FAIL.

Some denominations teach that Jesus failed in establishing His kingdom when He came to earth. The Jews of the day thwarted His plans, so He had to punt and move to plan B, the church. This is utter nonsense!

Isa 42:4 He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law.

Mt 3:9 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.

Why this is so important?

Mt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

1Cor 6:14 And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power. What all this means is that God has provided the way of salvation to the whole world. [Mat 28:18-20] He has not withheld it from any. Jesus is the sinless and innocent Lamb of God. God is able. “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” [Mat 10:28]

All AUTHORITY is in Christ

The

MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 2

All AUTHORITY is in Christ, and His commands are written in the New Testament.

[Mat 28:18; Luke 6:46; 1Cor 14:37].

This single subject is actually the KEY subject on how to answer every question, objection and error you will face. A firm understanding of how to determine Scriptural Authority will arm you against all the fiery darts of the devil. [Eph 6:10-17]

There are two fundamental differences that separate truth from error.

ERROR: “We are at liberty to do anything not specifically forbidden.” This is the approach liberals and modernists use towards the Bible that leads to death.

TRUTH: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” [Deut 4:2; 12:32; Jos 1:7; Pr 30:6; Ec 12:13; Re 22:18-19]

As you can see, God limits our actions to what is contained in the scriptures. We cannot go beyond the word of the Lord. This is easily understood in our everyday communication. The easiest example is seen when one places an ORDER for a pizza.

We communicate our wishes when we place an ORDER, by Telling, Showing or Implying. If you can communicate your wishes without Telling, Showing or Implying, please explain it to me without Telling, Showing or Implying. [Luke 6:46; Col 3:17]

It is understood by our specific request that no REPLACEMENTS or alterations are allowed. If one orders a pizza, chicken wings would not be acceptable. If you wanted wings you would have Ordered them. [1Sam 15:22-23; Acts 15]

The person receiving our order understands they may only DELIVER what is Specifically requested, Shown or Implied. To add or remove any item is to go beyond the permission (authority) given. To say, “you didn’t say I couldn’t add black olives;” would be unacceptable to any logical thinking person. [2Sam 7:7; Heb 7:11-17]

It matters not what the server ENJOYS, likes, or otherwise wants. It’s not about them, it’s about the one placing the Order. They may say “But I really ENJOY black olives on my pizza,” or, “The majority of people ENJOY smoked oysters and pineapple.” None of these are legitimate reasons to alter the order. They are limited to the specific request.

The following words from Jesus should make it plain.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” [Matthew 7:21-23]

Any alteration to the given command under specific authority is to be REJECTED regardless of how good it may feel, what good we think it may do, or how popular it may be.

[Matt 7:13-14; Luke 13:24; Acts 26:9]

How do we use this? “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” [Col 3:16; Eph 5:19] Instrumental music is an addition because it is not commanded nor is it necessary to complete the command. Song books (or other scriptural source material) are accepted under GENERIC AUTHORITY because we need something from which we could all sing. Generic authority is the liberty given to us to choose the means by which we complete a specific command. ie. Noah was commanded to build an ark, under generic authority he had liberty to choose the necessary tools. “Let all things be done decently and in order.” [1Cor 14:40]

To say that instrumental music makes things better, or more enjoyable is irrelevant. It’s not in the command. To say David used instruments is also irrelevant because he lived under the Law of Moses (more about that in Lesson 6). David also used incense and sacrificed bulls; would you suggest we do those too? [Gal 5:1-4]

All MUST Obey the Gospel

MANIFOLD wisdom of God pt 1

All MUST obey the Gospel.

The first and foremost truth that will answer many objections is the fact that everyone MUST obey the gospel to be saved.

This is easily shown by looking at the New Testament Scriptures.

2Thess 1:8 …rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus:

Heb 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

see also; Rom 1:5; 10:16; 16:26; [emph mine seb]

Denominational people will come to you saying

  • “Baptism is not essential to salvation.”
  • “No works of man can save you.”
  • “Ask Jesus into your heart and you’ll be saved.”
  • “What about the thief on the cross?”
  • “By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.”

They will especially appeal to emotionalism

  • “Do you mean to tell me my mother, that godly woman, who was a (insert denomination here) all her life is lost?”
  • “What if you’re on the way to be baptized and you die?”

They may even quote a few scriptures out of context

  • Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
  • Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
  • Acts 16:31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

I believe all these passages, and I hope you do as well. However, I believe them in their context as well as in context with everything else Jesus said about salvation including baptism.

WHAT SAVES US?

Let’s answer one of the main objections to baptism. It is stated this way; “No work of man or from God can save you. If you get baptized, you’re working for & trying to earn your salvation.”

Colossians 2:11-14.

When you’re accused of salvation by ‘WORKS’ reply, “Yes, but it’s not me doing the work. Let’s look at Col 2:11-14.”

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

“…the working of God,” [ASV]

First, It’s God who is WORKING when we are baptized. It is God’s work, [Isa 29:14; Hab 1:5; Acts 13:41]

“…raised with him through faith…”

Obedience to God’s command is never considered earning anything. He’s working through OUR faith, our trust in His working. Our obedience is part of faith. James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” [Jas 2:17]

wherein also ye are risen with Him…”

When we are baptized, we are being buried as dead sinners, then God’s working allows us to be RAISED with Christ being made alive, being forgiven of all our trespasses. [v13; Rom 6:3-4]

“…he make alive together with him;” [v13]

This scripture lets us KNOW what we’re doing in baptism, understanding that it is God working through our faith. It is not a blind faith, nor just a feeling. We may KNOW that we have eternal life. [2Tim 1:12; 1Jo 5:13]

“…having forgiven us all our trespasses;” [v13]

Lastly, because it’s God WORKING through OUR faith and that we are being RAISED with Christ, KNOWING we’ve obeyed the commands of God, we can be certain that we’ve worked out our SALVATION with fear and trembling. [Php 2:12; Acts 2:40] “Save yourselves from this untoward generation.”

The MANIFOLD wisdom of God

The MANIFOLD wisdom of God.

One thing that keeps us from talking to others about the Gospel of Christ is the fear someone will challenge us with something we don’t know how to answer. We are also afraid of steering anyone in the wrong direction, so we do nothing.

What if I told you that the vast majority of challenges you will encounter could be traced back to just a few simple principles? What if I told you that if you learned these handful of principles you could answer most OBJECTIONS to the gospel? How would that affect your confidence?

We need not study the teachings of denominations. If we study these few truths, we will be equipped.

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” [John 8:32] 

How would you like to learn just a few biblical truths and be able answer all these errors…?

COMMON ERRORS taught by denominations.

Saved by Faith only, Grace alone, Eph 2:8-9 only, There’s Nothing man can do to be saved, Baptism does not save, John 3:1-5 is physical birth, The Jailor was told to just believe, What if you’re in a desert without water, Infant Baptism, What if you’re on the way to be baptized and die, What’s in the water, It’s a good idea to be baptized but not necessary, The Bible Doesn’t say we can’t do ___, We have liberty to do whatever is not spoken against directly, We don’t have to be accurate with the word of God, You’re a Legalist, The End justifies the means, We draw people in with Bands, brews & burgers, varying Worship activities & practices, varying days of corporate worship, Tithing v giving, Rapture, TULIP (Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the saints), Racial Prejudice, Men & women roles, women preachers / pastors, Popes, Cardinals & Priests, “God spoke to me,” Predestination, “I’m too sinful to be saved,” Marriage Divorce & Remarriage, Marriage perversions, Holy Spirit gifts, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mormons, Speaking in tongues, “God called me,” Seeing visions & dreams, Premonitions, mediums etc, Hardening pharaoh’s heart, Why does God allow evil, God is not good because of evil & pain, God isn’t good if He doesn’t end evil, God is not good if He can’t stop the evil, God has a plan for you, Demon possession, Direct operation of the Holy Spirit, Instrumental music in worship, David used instruments, Sabbath keeping, Feast days of the Old Testament, the 10 commandments, “What about the Thief on the cross,” “John 3:16 is all I need,” It’s just love, Love not Legalism, “You hate people because you judge them,” “there are Many ways to Christ,” God’s Love is so big that He has Many drawers (one for every denomination), Denominationalism, division in Religion, “God called you to your church and He called me to my church, Many churches, There are many ways to Christ, “many ships headed to one destination,” Institutionalism, Herald of Truth, In Search of the Lord’s way, Missionary Societies, church sponsored institutions, the sponsoring church, clothing rooms, general benevolence, “Christians aren’t supposed to debate,” “Let’s agree to disagree,” Once Saved always saved, Emotionalism, Gnosticism, “you think you’re the only ones going to heaven,” “You’re closed minded,” and more.

Yes, you can. By thoroughly learning a few foundational biblical truths, you can answer all of the above errors.

8 Foundational Truths

  1. Everyone MUST obey the Gospel to be saved.

[2Thess 1:8-9; Heb 5:8-9]

  • All AUTHORITY is in Christ, and His commands are written in the New Testament.

[Mat 28:18; Luke 6:46; 1Cor 14:37]

  • God is NO RESPECTER of persons.

[Acts 10:34; James 2:1-12]

  • The INSPIRATION of the Holy Spirit is complete.

[John 20:30-31; Eph 3:3-4; 1Cor 13:8-13; 2Tim 3:15-17]

  • The FREE WILL of man is never infringed.

[Deut 30:19; Josh 24:15; Mat 15:14; Philemon]

  • The Old Testament Law has ended.

[Hebrews 7,8,9,10; Col 2:14]

  • LOVE does not mean the acceptance of sin or that repentance is not required of us.

[John 13:35; 14:15; 15:14; Luke 6:46; 1John 5:3; 1Cor 13]

  • There is only one DOCTRINE of CHRIST and we are not to change it by adding to it or taking from it.

[2John 9; Rev 22:18; De 4:2; 12:32; Pr 30:6]

These 8 truths, if learned well, will aid you in facing nearly all of the challenges you will face in your personal evangelism.

May God Bless you all.

What Must Happen BEFORE Baptism?

Because I have no ability to read a person’s heart, I’m very careful to ascertain what a person understands before baptizing them.

It would be a tragedy to baptize someone who doesn’t understand it properly and they go through life, and possibly death, without having truly obeyed the gospel.

We know that it is important from an account found in Acts 19. There were some disciples of John the baptizer who didn’t know about Jesus and needed to be ‘re-baptized.’ (there’s really no such thing as ‘re-baptized.’ You either were or you weren’t.)

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” [19:5] 

We know that denominationalism practices baptism incorrectly; they utilize the wrong mode & often the wrong reason. Even when they do practice it by immersion, it’s usually NOT for the reason God commanded it. It’s a tragedy that some are walking around with a false hope of Salvation. It’s for this reason we ask the question…What happens BEFORE baptism?

Paul asks a few questions about obeying the gospel in Romans 10. He writes, “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not BELIEVED?” [Romans 10:14a; cr. Acts 22:16 calling on the name of the Lord is connected to baptism]. Before anyone can obey the gospel, there must be BELIEF. This simple concept eliminates babies & young children from being eligible for baptism.  

He writes in the same verse about something that precedes belief, “and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? We see then that the candidate for true baptism must have EARS TO HEAR. [cf. Mr 7:16] This is describing understanding the word of God. Mockers accuse us of baptism only salvation. There’s nothing of the sort. A person must HEAR & BELIEVE, but are those the only requirements?

In the first gospel sermon at Pentecost, Peter said, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” [Acts 2:38a]. “FOR the remission of sins must be understood that baptism is the moment our sins are washed away. Some would try to confuse you by saying, ‘you’re baptized BECAUSE your sins are remitted.’ This false doctrine is easily proven by the Apostle Paul’s own retelling of his conversion. “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Peter would later write about baptism, “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of

the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]. The eligible candidate is baptized to remove their sins, ‘FOR the remission of sins.’

While we’re on this subject, what if you’re immersed when there’s no sin being imputed toward the person? Babies & young children are NOT being charged with sin by God [Mark 10:13-16]. Youth baptisms need to be done with great care. If God is NOT imputing sin toward them, then they are not being baptized FOR the remission of sin.

The eligible candidate must obey the gospel in its proper ORDER. As we’ve already seen, HEARING comes first, which brings about BELIEF about Jesus. Some would say that one is saved at the moment of belief, placing salvation in the wrong ORDER. Belief is essential, but salvation is NOT BY FAITH ALONE. [James 2:24] Being saved comes after baptism [Acts 2:40]

There are 4 essentials that precede true baptism. They are in order; HEARING, BELIEVING, REPENTING & CONFESSION. Jesus commanded, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3]. Peter preached REPENTANCE at Pentecost [Acts 2:38]. Likewise, one must CONFESS that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. We see the Ethiopian confessing just prior to being baptized by Philip. [Acts 8:37-38; cf. Mat 10:32]

Lastly, some teach that you can never lose your salvation. This too is false. Therefore, the eligible candidate for true baptism must sit down and count the cost of being Christ’s disciple. [Luke 14:25-33]. The eligible candidate must know that Christ EXPECTS him to remain faithful until death, that he can so sin as to lose his salvation. [Rev 3:10; Jas 2:24; Luke 6:46]

MIRACLES in Acts?

A problem with many denominations today is the belief that God still uses Holy Spirit gifts [9 HS Gifts, 1Cor 12:7-11] through men today. The belief includes thinking that God is still speaking directly to individuals. They say things like, “God spoke to me,” “I’ve been called by God.”

While God is all powerful and can do whatever He wants, He is not still revealing His will and is not using men to do miracles today. Remember this verse:

And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [John 20:30-31]

The miracles & the revelations to the Apostles recorded in Scripture are sufficient for us to believe, repent & obey [Eph 3:3-4]. The miracles in Acts will bolster this assertion.

The MiracleLocationVersePurpose & Result
Baptism of the Holy Spirit #1Jerusalem2:1-21to confirm the teaching at beginning of the church. John 20:30-31; Heb 2:3-4; Mark 16:17-20
Peter heals a lame manJerusalem3:1-11Teaching. 11-26; Belief John 20:30-31; Heb 2:3-4; Mark 16:17-20
Ananias & Sapphira struck deadJerusalem5:1-10Teaching at the beginning of the New Covenant. Cr. Lev 10:1-3
Apostles perform many wondersJerusalem5:12-1620 “go stand & teach”
PhilipSamaria8:4-13 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching
Paul convertedRoad to Damascus9:1-9To call an Apostle out of due season. 1Cor 15:8
Peter heals Eneas of a palsyLydda9:33, 34Belief. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Peter raises Tabitha, or Dorcas, to lifeJoppa9:36-41Belief. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Gentiles receive Holy Spirit Baptism #2 (& last)Caesarea10; Acts 11 & 15Confirming God’s acceptance; Acts 2
Peter delivered out of prison by an angelJerusalem12:7-17Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
God smites Herod, so that he diesJerusalem12:21-23Teaching at the beginning of the new Covenant. Cr. Lev 10:1-3. 24 word of God grew.
Elymas, the sorcerer, smitten with blindnessPaphos13:6-1112 astonished at the teaching. Belief Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals a cripple Lystra 14:8-1017 witness. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul casts out a spirit of divinationPhilippi16:16-18Confirming Preaching. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul and Silas’s prison doors opened by an earthquakePhilippi16:25-34Lead to converting the Jailor
Paul communicates the Holy SpiritEphesus19:1-6Confirming the word before it was written. John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals multitudesEphesus19:11,12Belief John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul restores Eutychus to lifeTroas20:9-12Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul shakes off a viperMalta28:3-6Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
Paul heals the father of Publius and othersMalta28:7-9Joh 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4

An honest review of the above list will show the student why the miracles were needed.

  • To Confirm the preachers and the teaching were from God.
    • John 20:30-31; Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4
  • For Belief, not for them alone, but for us in our times.
    • “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [John 20:31]
    • Spiritual gifts were to edify in the absence of the written Word [1 Cor. 14:12-13,26; cf. 13:9]. The written Word is now completely sufficient to edify us [Acts 20:32; 2 Tim 3:16-17].
  • To produce Godly Reverence at the beginning of a covenant to demonstrate God’s displeasure. Not repeated for same error.
    • see Leviticus 10:1-3; Acts 5:1-10; Acts 12:21-23;

Spiritual gifts have fulfilled all three reasons for which they were given.

WHAT MORE SHOULD WE SEEK? When you review both the Old and New Testaments, considering the time frame of the writing, you’ll discover that the Miraculous is quite rare. Additionally, you’ll see that God is very patient and longsuffering [2Pet 3:15]. You don’t see God constantly striking people down. “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” [1Cor 10:6]

God has completed His revelations to us, and He confirmed them through the various signs, miracles and wonders. As you read the last chapters of Acts, you’ll see fewer and fewer miracles. Even Paul, Timothy, Trophimus & Epaphroditus did not perform miracles on each other to cure their pains. [cr. 2Tim 4:20; 1Tim 5:23; 2Cor 12:7; Phil 2:25-27].

The Miracles in Acts show us how and why miracles were done. They were done primarily to confirm the Word that was spoken through the Apostles. These signs were referred to, NOT REPEATED, in Acts 15:7-12 to show the others God’s approval of their activities. Now that the Scriptures are complete and the church has been built, what further need do we need of Miracles?

“…thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

[2Tim 3:15; cf 16-17]

Understanding what God Wants

Scriptural Authority in Acts.

One of the biggest questions of life is, What Does God Want? Along those lines comes the question, how do we find out?

Acts fifteen contains an event that will show us how God communicates, whereby we can know today what it is that God wants.

As we begin this study, we must recognize a few facts.

  • The New Testament was not yet written.
  • Miraculous gifts were to confirm what God wants. Heb 2:4; cf. Deut 18:21-22; 13:1-5.
  • Once the Written Word was completed, the signs and miracles were no longer needed. John 20:30-31; 1Cor 13:10; Eph 3:3-4; 2Tim 3:15-17.

These facts being established, we can learn how to determine what God wants by examining this passage.

God communicates in the same manner as we do with one another. We communicate our desires by TELLING, SHOWING, & IMPLYING. We also trust that our SILENCE on a matter is prohibitive. We can easily see these four concepts being utilized in Acts fifteen. The question the disciples wanted answered was, Are Gentiles candidates for the Gospel of Christ?

And certain men came down from Judaea and taught the brethren, saying, Except ye be circumcised after the custom of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” [Acts 15:1]

Some claim that this was a council to vote on the question. This is wrong. The Apostles already knew the answer, as will be shown by their looking at God’s method of communication (Telling, Showing, Implying & Silence).

FIRST, Peter rose up and reminded them about the first Gentile converts (Acts 10 & 11). How the Holy Spirit fell upon them as He had them “at the beginning.” [Acts 11:15]. Peter Necessarily Infers (inescapably concluded) that God had implied, both through a vision and the falling of the Holy Spirit upon them, that God is accepting Gentiles. He closes by saying, “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples…” [Acts 15:10] “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” [15:11]

NEXT, Paul and Barnabas “declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.” [15:12] This is God communicating through SHOWING. Another way this is stated is Approved Apostolic Example. This testimony agrees with Peter, and with what was said about miracles. (see opening statements). “God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” [Heb 2:4]

THEN, James answered. His appeal is to the revealed written word from God. He quotes from Amos nine, verses eleven and twelve. His appeal is to the DIRECT STATEMENTS of God. From this command of God, he concludes that God had already planned and authorized for Gentiles to be included in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

James connects the testimony of Peter with these verses in Amos. Who are we to fight against God? He begins by saying, “as it is written.” [15:15] We know from both Old and New Testaments not to go beyond that which is written. [1Cor 4:6; Deut 4:2; 12:32; Rev 22:18; Prov 30:6]

LASTLY, a letter is written and from it we find this statement about the prohibitive nature of SILENCE. “Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:” [Acts 15:24. emph mine seb]

From this we learn that if there is no command, there is no permission. It is to speak presumptuously, something God has already condemned. [De 18:22; 13:2; 18:20; Jer 28:9] Silence is prohibitive is logically understood and demonstrated in at least two other places. Read & Study 2Samuel 7:1-7; Hebrews 7]

In conclusion, we see that the Apostles already knew what the Lord had commanded. They were guided into all truth [John 14:17,26; 15:26; 16:13]. They then declared to those in error the truth of the matter by appealing to God’s Direct Statements, Approved Examples, Inescapable conclusions along with the prohibitive nature of Silence.

We can do the same today utilizing “the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:15-17]

Here are some questions to ask ourselves and of any who still believe that miracles are happening, revelation is still being received.

  • We know that Gentiles that obey the Gospel are accepted by God. What further evidence beyond the scriptures do we need to prove this?
  • We know that Baptism is commanded by God, what further miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know what moral behaviors are accepted and which behaviors God abhors, what further miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know that there will be a judgment day, what additional miracle do we need to show this?
  • We know that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and that we are to do whatever He commands [Luke 6:46], what additional miracle do we need to show this?

The Book of Acts, a book of conversions

Conversions in the Book of Acts

A mistake that is made in learning what we must do to be saved is by consulting only the books written to the saved without looking at what else is said in Scripture.

For example, many will quote the book to the Roman Christians; (Rom 10:9) without considering what Paul taught the Romans when he dwelt there for two whole years. [Acts 16:30]

They will quote the book written to the Ephesian Christians; (Eph 2:8-9) without considering what Paul taught the Ephesians [Acts 19:1-5].

These two examples show us why we must look into the book of Acts to see what lost people did. Those who heard the gospel and either obeyed it or rejected it. This is why it could be called the book of Conversions.

Let’s examine just a few of the conversions in this book to see how they responded to the preaching of the Gospel as commanded by Christ Jesus. [Mat 28:18-20]

Jews at PENTECOST [2:14-47] This represents the first gospel sermon after the DBR of Christ. The beginning of the church that Jesus promised to build [Mat 16:18] and the first example of those being saved. “Be saved from this perverse generation.” What happened? They HEARD the gospel [22-36]. They believed [37]. It must be inferred that they CONFESSED Jesus as the Christ the Son of God [Mt 10:32]. They were told to ‘REPENT & be baptized’ [38]. They were BAPTIZED into Christ [41] and 3,000 were added to the church. Then we see them ‘CONTINUING steadfastly in the Apostles Doctrine, which is from Christ [42; cr. John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13; 1Cor 14:37].

THE ETHIOPIAN EUNUCH [8:26-39] This man is reading from Isaiah and struggling with its meaning. Philip approaches him and is invited by the Eunuch to explain the passage. We then are told, “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.” What Happened? He HEARD the gospel of Jesus [35]. He BELIEVED [36-37] It is inferred that he REPENTED [Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30]. He CONFESSES that Jesus is the Christ [37]. He is BAPTIZED with water, by immersion, into Christ [38-39 cr. Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27]. He went away REJOICING [39].

The Apostle PAUL (Saul of Tarsus) [9:1-18; 22:6-16; 26:12-19]. While on his way to persecute the church of Christ, Saul saw Jesus risen from the dead. He HEARD & BELIEVED [9:5-6]. He was REPENTANT [9-11]. He CONFESSED [5-6]. He was BAPTIZED [18]. When retelling of this event, he states that baptism was the moment his sins were washed away [22:16].

CORNELIUS [10:1-11:18] This story tells of the first Gentile conversion. We must read chapters 10 & 11 to get the full picture. They were told to HEAR and they HEARD [6, 22, 33-43; 11:14]. It is inferred that they REPENTED & CONFESSED [Luke 13:3; Act 17:30; Mat 10:32]. They were BAPTIZED in water [47]. They received remission of sins [43].

Chapter 11:1-18 contains the retelling of this event by Peter to those of the circumcision who contended with him about being with gentiles. This retelling is necessary to show that God had made the same gospel plan of salvation available to every nation [Mat 28:18-20]. Up to this point, the preaching had been only to the Jews. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” [Rom 1:16] The “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” only occurred twice, here and at Pentecost. It was done to show God’s approval at the beginning.

As you can see, the book of Acts shows people obeying the Gospel. The same method can be applied to…

LYDIA [16:14-15]

THE JAILER [16:25-34]

THE CORINTHIANS. [18:8]

THE EPHESIANS [19:1-5]

The same Gospel requires all after Pentecost to HEAR, BELIEVE, REPENT, CONFESS, be BAPTIZED in water & have FAITHFULNESS. God shows no partiality, no bigotry. The Gospel is for all and all must obey the Gospel in the same way. God is no respecter of persons.

He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,” [Hebrews 5:9; cr 2Thess 1:8-9; 1Cor 15:1-4] –Spencer