What Shall We Do?

Shortly after Jesus had ascended back into heaven, the disciples were gathered in Jerusalem. Being the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1), a Jewish feast day, there were many Jews from different regions who had come to Jerusalem (Acts 2:5, 9-11). It is at this time that Peter delivered what we often refer to as the first gospel sermon. In a sense, the gospel had been preached before. It was preached in promise to Abraham (Galatians 3:8). When Jesus began His public teaching, He taught the “gospel of God” (Mark 1:15). But this was the first time the gospel was preached in its fullness. The gospel was the good news of salvation from God made available by Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead which gave us hope of eternal life. Before, this was said to be coming. By the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, it was a reality. This was the first time the gospel was preached since all these things were fulfilled.
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What About the Thief on the Cross?

Three Crosses

When talking to others from various denominations about the subject of salvation, we can see that man has many different ideas as to how one is saved. Some will tell you that in order to be saved, you just need to receive Jesus into your heart and accept Him as your personal Savior. Some will say you need to pray the “sinner’s prayer” and ask God to forgive you of your sins. Others will tell you that as long as you believe in God, then that is all that is necessary to receive salvation. Usually no passage is cited to prove their assertion. When one is, it has been taken out of context and misapplied. When we study the New Testament, we see one consistent message showing what man must do in order to be saved. We must believe in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized in water, and live faithfully in service to God from that point forward (John 8:24; Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Revelation 2:10).

When pointing out these things to others, a question will often come up – “What about the thief on the cross?” Notice what Luke recorded:
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Baptism – A Requirement of God or Man?


Recently on the radio I heard a Baptist preacher talking about legalism – the binding of man’s requirements instead of, or in addition to, God’s requirements. We are warned in the New Testament not to do this. Jesus told His apostles they were to bind things that had already been bound in heaven (Matthew 16:19). They were not at liberty to bind anything else. On the other hand, He also commanded them to teach those who obeyed the gospel to “observe all that [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:20). So those who teach are to instruct others of their responsibility to do everything required of them in God’s word. But they go too far and become guilty of legalism when they place additional requirements on others that are not required by our Lord.
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