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Jews and Gentiles
Were the Jews and the Gentiles saved in different ways? In their zeal to save the beloved “salvation by faith alone doctrine” and uphold the principles of the Reformation, many commentators are proposing unique, creative and imaginative interpretations of Acts 2: 38 such as “the transitional interpretation,” outlined by Lanny Thomas Tanton on line. Another which I came across recently claimed that the baptism of John the Baptist was the only legitimate water baptism and that the water baptism in Acts 2: 38 was only transitional to be superseded by the baptism with the Holy Spirit. His support for this position was that he holds a PhD in the classical languages and that he had been a Captain in the Marine Corps. Apparently his credentials allowed him to retranslate the Scriptures when necessary to support his views. I am not sure how the Marine Corps entered into the fray but I salute him for his service to his country. Perhaps it gave him the spirit of sticking-with-it against great odds.
How were the Jews saved?
(1) Heard the word. (Acts 2: 22- 37, 40, 41) Presumably this was the same word that the Gentiles would hear as the great commission was “to all the nations.” (Matthew 28: 18-20)
(2) They received the word. (Acts 2: 41)
(3) The demonstrated a godly sorrow as “they were pierced to the heart.” (2 Corinthians 7: 9, 10)
(4) They repented (Acts 2: 38) as all men everywhere are commanded to do for the remission of sins. (Luke 24: 47; Acts 3: 19; 17: 30)
(5) They were baptized in the name Christ for the forgiveness of sins. (Acts 2: 38, 41) This reminds me of the great commission in which Jesus authorized baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit except that our Captain tells us that this is speaking of the baptism with the Holy Spirit. I always thought it was Jesus who baptized with he Holy Spirit. (John 1: 33) When Jesus authorizes a baptism it is immediately legitimate.
This baptism was different from John’s baptism in that it was for all men and was connected with receiving the Spirit. (Acts 2: 38, 39)
The Jews were calling on the name of the Lord for salvation (Acts 2: 21) as they were asking God to wash away their sins (Acts 22: 16) so that they might have a good conscience. (1 Peter 3: 21) That “washing away” sins sounds a lot like water baptism despite the comment of the Captain. (Ephesians 5: 26)
(6) They received the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2: 38, 39)
At that time the Lord poured out the Spirit upon them (Acts 2: 17) But this promise was not just for the Jew , it was for all men, as many as the Lord shall call to Himself.
The apostles were baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 1: 5)
The multitude of Jews were promised the baptism with the Spirit by John the Baptist. (Matthew 3: 11; Mark 1: 8); Luke 3: 16) It is my belief that the Jews were immersed in the Holy Spirit when it was poured out upon them
(7) They were saved. (Acts 2: 47)
As they came forth from this experience they were born again, born of the water in which they had been immersed and born of the Spirit which was poured out on them.
How was Cornelius (the Gentile) and his household saved?
(1) They heard the word. (Acts 10: 34- 43)
(2) They believe the Word. (Acts 11: 17)
(3) The gift of the Spirit was poured out on them. (Acts 10: 44)
The were baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Acts 11: 16)
Some suppose that Cornelius was regenerated and thus saved when they received
Spirit but Jesus tells us that we are born again, regenerated, when we are born of
both the water and the Spirit. (John 3: 3, 5)
(4) They spoke in tongues, exalting God. (Acts 10: 46)
(5) They repented. (Acts 11: 18)
(6) They were baptized in water in the name of Jesus. (Acts 10: 47, 48) I get the feeling that Peter thought there was some urgency and some significance in being baptized in water in the name of Christ for he said, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized.” And I don’t get the impression that baptism with the Spirit had superseded water baptism; rather they seem to complement one another and indeed the baptism in water and the baptism in the Spirit, together, are the one baptism of Ephesians 4: 5. Water and Spirit are the elements of the one birth. (John 3: 3, 5)
Plain Talk suggest that when they were baptized in water, they too, were calling on the name of the Lord for salvation.
(7) They were told words whereby they would be saved. (Acts 11: 14)
Consider the following verses:
And it will be in the last days, God says, that I will pour forth of my Spirit upon all mankind. (Acts 2: 17)
And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the lord shall be saved. (Acts 2: 21)
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men
that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed. (Acts 17: 30, 31)
All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28: 18- 20)
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jew or Greeks, whether slaves of free,, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. (1 Corinthians 12: 13)
And opening his mouth, Peter said; “ I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right , is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10: 34, 35)
For the Scripture says, “whosoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for “Whoever will call upon the name of the lord will be saved.” (Romans 10: 11- 13)
And God who knows the heart, bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our father now we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are all saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are. (Acts 15: 8- 11)
Please notice the universality in these verses!
Friends we are all, Jews and Gentiles, saved in the same way. Do not be deceived by the credentials or reputations of men. Do not be deceived by the timing of the gift of the Spirit to Cornelius; that is God’s prerogative; He had a special purpose in convincing the Jewish Christians that the Gentiles were acceptable to Him also. That is all; there were no great changes; except that with Cornelius the door is open to the Gentiles and the Gentiles receive the baptism with the Spirit; He is Lord of all.
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