Someone writes: “You seem to take the approach that people were initiated in different ways into the church, suggesting that Acts 2 is a pattern for the conversion of Jews and Acts 10 is a pattern for the conversion of Gentiles.”
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I am sorry if I left that impression. I am not suggesting a separate “pattern” for Jews and Gentiles — or even one pattern (in the traditional sense of a formula, or of stating “man’s part” in some do-it-yourself salvation scheme) for all of them. I am saying that Acts 2 is an account of the first gospel sermon to Jews who personally helped crucify Jesus, and that Acts 10 is an account of the first gospel sermon to Gentiles who did not.
I am also saying that Acts 2:38 speaks of baptism “for the remission of sins” and that Acts 10 promises that whoever believes in Jesus “has remission of sins.” I am also saying that God saves all believers, and that Jesus commands all believers to be baptized. I am also saying that much of the present confusion, and the arguments between Christians concerning baptism and salvation, often arise because of our unscriptural formulations about “God’s part” and “our part,” and because of unbiblical expressions such as baptism being “essential” and “necessary” for salvation — or being “non-essential” and “unnecessary.”
I am also saying that we contradict the Word of God if we treat baptism as a take-it-or-leave-it affair, or fail to baptize believers or to instruct them to be baptized as their faith-response to the gospel. Such carelessness ignores a command of Jesus Christ himself, betrays a “sloppy” attitude toward obedience, and reflects a lack of appreciation for the important role the New Testament assigns to water baptism in light of the gospel.
I am also saying that we contradict the Word of God if we deny that God will save all who truly put their trust in him, based on the finished work of Jesus Christ for sinners. Such a denial is is unbiblical, wrong and contrary to the gospel, and we should learn better, repent of it, and resolve with God’s help not to do it any more. I am also saying that if we go out preaching baptism, we might find ourselves persuading people to get in the water who haven’t the foggiest idea about trusting Jesus Christ alone for their right standing with God. However, if we focus on preaching Jesus, people whose hearts the Holy Spirit touches will not hesitate to be baptized.