Christ’s Blueprint for the Church
Studies in the Book of Acts
“Teach The Plan of Salvation”
We are looking at Christ’s pattern for the plan by which man can be saved, specifically what man must do or how he must respond in order to be saved. The denominational websites we looked at on Monday almost unanimously started with Acts 16. We started at the beginning, in Acts 2. But, let’s take a look at Acts 16…
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST REACHES EUROPE - Acts 16:
Now we get to the example that has been cited so frequently by these websites we’ve looked at - Acts 16. This is the first occasion when the gospel was preached on European soil. Up to this point, it has been preached, so far as Acts is concerned, in Palestine and Asia Minor. But now, we’re in Europe, in the city of Philippi.
We have two examples of people being saved in this chapter. First, in 16:11-15, there are some women in Philippi who are worshipping God. Paul goes to them and talks to them about Jesus. The message opens their hearts and they accept Paul’s gospel message and they are baptized for the forgiveness of sins (16:15).
Paul and another Christian named Silas have been thrown into jail for casting a demon out of a girl who was being exploited by some business men. God causes an earthquake which opens all the jails and the jailer starts to kill himself. That’s what the Roman authorities would have done if any of his prisoners had escaped and he assumed they had escaped.
But, Paul stops his suicide and the jailer falls at Paul’s feet and asks him what to do to be saved (16:30). Paul and Silas had been singing Gospel songs while in jail (16:25) and I’m sure the jailer has been struck by their peace of mind and serenity with which they were accepting these events. He wanted that same peace of mind so he asks about the salvation they were singing.
So, since he was a pagan, an unbeliever, Paul tells him that he must believe in Jesus Christ (16:31). Obviously, the unbeliever will not do anything until he has some knowledge and faith in Jesus Christ. So, Paul has to start there. But the jailer is not saved at verse 31 because Paul does not talk about Jesus until verse 32. But, the jailer was also not saved until verse 33 when he was baptized at their very hour of the night. How do we know he was not saved until then? Because Jesus had said, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16) and Peter had said, “be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (2:38). So, the jailer was not saved until after he had completed his obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.
For purposes of being complete, we also have an example of people responding to the question, "What must I do to be saved?" in Acts 18:8, which we find consistent with the other examples we have examined.
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST CORRECTS FALSE VIEWS ON BAPTISM - Acts 19:
The last account we have of some responding to the gospel of Christ - “What must I do to be saved?” - relates to some Jews who had been taught incorrectly, or incompletely. Apollos was a Christian but he was not teaching the gospel of Christ completely. He had obeyed the baptism of John the Baptist before the death, burial and resurrection of Christ (18:25), which had made him a follower of Christ. But he was teaching that same, incomplete message after the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Apollos was taught more accurately by two Christians, a couple named Aquila and Priscilla.
But there were other followers of Apollos who had been taught incorrectly whom Paul met in the city of Ephesus in Acts 19. Because they were taught incorrectly and you cannot be taught wrong and baptized right, Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus Christ, the risen Jesus Christ, for the forgiveness of sins (19:5). It was only then that they could receive the Holy Spirit.
From that point on, the church of Christ has continued to teach accurately the gospel plan of salvation authorized by Jesus Christ. In short, here is the rest of NT teaching, after Acts, on the role of baptism in the plan of salvation:
1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 12:13
Ephesians 4:5; 5:26-27
1 Peter 3:20-22
If we are going to be the church of Christ, we must teach the plan of salvation of Christ.