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Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.  (Matthew 26: 27, 28)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.  (Ephesians 1: 7)

Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.  Acts 10: 43

And that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  (Luke 24: 47)

And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”   Acts 2: 38


Does God forgive sins in several different ways? 


Did He forgive Cornelius and his household (Acts 10) at the moment they believed and those at Pentecost (Acts 2) after they repented and were baptized?  A gentleman, with whom I was corresponding, theorized that God forgives sins of the Jews through repentance and baptism and the Gentiles through faith. (See the article on Cornelius)  Others apparently believe that God forgives sin after one believes and repents.


What should we understand about the forgiveness of God?

God does not present us with a smorgasbord of salvation plans where we pick and choose one or more  factors to be forgiven. All of the factors, grace, the blood of Christ, faith, repentance and baptism must be molded into the one conversion narrative.


What is the basis of forgiveness?

The basis of forgiveness is, generally speaking, the grace of God and particularly the blood of Christ our Lord.  For it was by the grace of God that He tasted death for everyone.  (Hebrews 2: 9) Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.  (Hebrews 9: 22)  This was true under the old covenant and it is especially true under the new.  The difference between the two is the much more excellent sacrifice.


How does faith fit into the picture?

Faith, itself is not the basis of forgiveness; as has been pointed out above; the grace of God and the blood of Christ are the basis of forgiveness.  Faith is the channel through which the grace of forgiveness is conveyed to us.  God has determined to convey forgiveness through faith and not works of the law nor works of righteousness.  Although faith is not the basis of forgiveness, it is impossible to be pleasing to God without faith.


When does faith convey the grace of forgiveness?

 Faith does have limitations.  Faith without love is nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13: 2) and faith without works of faith is dead and useless.  (James 2: 17, 20)  When faith is combined with love, it is energized to obey God’s commandments to repent and be baptized in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sin.  At that time faith is perfected (James 2: 22) as the channel and becomes effective in conveying the grace of God.  For that reason, the Scriptures say that we are forgiven by repentance and baptism.


Are there corroborating verses?

Yes, Acts 3: 19 promises that are sins are wiped away when we repent and Acts 22: 16 promises that Paul’s sins were washed away upon his baptism.  In addition 1 Peter 1: 22 assures us that our souls are purified upon our obedience.  Romans 6: 17, 18 tells us that we have been freed from our sin upon obedience to that form of teaching.  These should be sufficient to assure us that this is not a fluke, repentance and baptism are a necessary part of God’s plan of forgiveness and salvation.


Why is this so?

This is true because God sprinkles us  with the blood of Christ upon our obedience to Christ.  That is the short version.  The longer, more comprehensive version is upon our obedience, repentance and baptism, faith is perfected so that it convey the efficacy of the blood of Christ to us,


But don’t learned scholars and theologians tell us that we are baptized because our sins have been forgiven by faith alone?

Yes, they do!  A. T. Robertson comment on Acts 2:38 in Power Bible is a case in point.

“ Unto the remission of your sins (eis aphesin tôn hamartiôn hûmôn). This phrase is the subject of endless controversy as men look at it from the standpoint of sacramental or of evangelical theology. In themselves the words can express aim or purpose for that use of eis does exist as in 1Co 2:7 eis doxan hêmôn (for our glory). But then another usage exists which is just as good Greek as the use of eis for aim or purpose. It is seen in Mt 10:41 in three examples eis onoma prophêtou, dikaiou, mathêtou where it cannot be purpose or aim, but rather the basis or ground, on the basis of the name of prophet, righteous man, disciple, because one is, etc. It is seen again in Mt 12:41 about the preaching of Jonah (eis to kêrugma Iôna).  They repented because of (or at) the preaching of Jonah. The illustrations of both usages are numerous in the N.T. and the Koiné generally.”

One might get the impression from Robertson that the interpretation of eis as meaning “because of” is fairly equal in number as to eis as “for the aim or purpose.”  In reality the balance is more like 1750 against 2 if you allow, which I do not, the two questionable examples cited by Dr. Robertson.

The New American Standard Bible translates the meaning of eis in Matthew 10: 41 as “in the name of” and in John 12: 41 eis is translated as “at.”  The real meaning of the term can be seen in Matthew 26: 28 where I presume that not even Dr Robertson would hold that Jesus shed His blood because sin had already been remitted.


Dr Robertson reveals his agenda.

(Robertson, Grammar, p. 592). “One will decide the use here according as he believes that baptism is essential to the remission of sins or not. My view is decidedly against the idea that Peter, Paul, or any one in the New Testament taught baptism as essential to the remission of sins or the means of securing such remission. So I understand Peter to be urging baptism on each of them who had already turned (repented) and for it to be done in the name of Jesus Christ on the basis of the forgiveness of sins which they had already received.”

Wayne Jackson comments on the above statement as follows: “Theologically speaking, the construction of the compound verbs — “repent and be baptized” — connected with the prepositional phrase — “for the forgiveness of sins” — demonstrates that the sense of eis cannot possibly be “because of,” thus conveying the sense, “on account of the forgiveness of your sins." And why is that?

Because it would equally affirm that one is required to “repent” because of the forgiveness of his sins. Who in the world subscribes to the notion that one repents of sin because his transgressions are forgiven already? That makes no sense at all.”


How did John the Baptist prepare us to accept these realities?

John came preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  (Matthew 1: 4; Luke 3: 3; Acts 13: 24; 19: 4)

You say, “I need more.”

Good, there is more.  If you are truly interested in the truth, then look up these Scriptures.  They show us that obedience is a necessary factor in salvation.  (Matthew 21: 7; Mark 16: 16; Romans 6: 17, 18; Galatians 3: 26, 27; Colossians 2: 12, 13; 2 Thessalonians 1: 8, 9; Hebrews 5: 9; 1 Peter 1: 22)  Faith without obedience is dead and useless.  Consider  (Acts 6: 7; Romans 1: 5: 16: 26) 

Get a good concordance and look up “saved” and “salvation.”  You will find that there are approximately twenty factors that are factors in salvation.  This doesn’t support the “faith alone” doctrine.

Conclusion:  There is no conflict between Acts 10: 48 and Acts 2: 38.  Far from conflict Acts 2: 38 complements and completes Acts 10: 43.  By faith we repent and are baptized for the remission of sins.  There are at least three aspects to the remission of sins, the blood of the Savor, faith and obedience.  To select one aspect and declare it to be the entire picture misses the point.  Yes, we can say with Peter, we have in obedience to the truth purified our souls, if we remember that is not the complete story either.  (1 Peter 1: 22)


 God bless.

Arland  Pafford


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Last Update   06/02/12