Snapshots From Acts Number 4: Cases of Conversion
Snapshots from Acts - Number 4: The Cases of Conversion.
In keeping with the stated commission by Jesus, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:19,20 -NIV translation), the Book of Acts records how the church spread into the world.
Luke records how this happened as the various messengers spread the message of the Good News into the world of their time. He concentrates on Peter and Paul who played an important part in this commission. There are at least 9 detailed accounts of how believers reacted to the message about Jesus, and the salvation that was offered in his name. Here are seven.
1. Day of Pentecost: Acts 2:37-47. Here the Jews who were responsible for the death of Jesus and the rejection of the Messiah, are convicted of this by Peter. In a powerful sermon that proves their guilt they respond with the vital question; What must we do? The answer is simple; "repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (NIV). 3000 were added to the number of believers. In verse 46 Luke records that those who accepted the message and were baptised, were added to their number.
2. The Ethiopian Eunuch: Acts 8:26-39. The Holy Spirit sends Phillip out to preach the Good News to the Ethiopian Eunuch on the road to Gaza. Starting in the book of Isaiah, Phillip tells him "the good news about Jesus" (8:35). They approach some water and on his request the Ethiopian and Phillip go down into the water and Phillip baptizes the believer.
3. Paul's Conversion: Acts 9:1-19. Paul, at this stage known as Saul, is on his way to persecute believers in Damascus. Along the road he is confronted by Jesus and told to go to the house of Ananias who reluctantly tells him about Jesus. Luke records in verse 18 that Saul was baptised. Paul describes his baptism in Acts 22:16 as follows: Ananias told him, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name".
4. Cornelius: Acts 10:1-48. The first Gentile convert. Luke records how Peter tells him about Jesus and after receiving the Holy Spirit as the disciples had on Pentecost, Peter commands him to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ. This has been referred to as the Gentile Pentecost.
5. Lydia: Acts 16:11-15. A group of women are praying at the river in Philippi. Here Paul and his group teach them the Gospel. God opened their hearts and they responded by being baptised.
6. The Jailor and his family: Acts 16:16-34. After being arrested and thrown into prison, Paul and Silas sing and pray and at about midnight an earthquake opens the doors of the prison and the prisoners are released. The jailor wants to kill himself but is told that all the prisoners are there and so he responds with an important question; "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" The answer is recorded by Luke "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." So all the believers were immediately baptised.
7. The Corinthians: Acts 18:1-8. After visiting Athens, Paul travelled to Corinth where he devoted himself "to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ". After moving from the synagogue to the house of Titius Justus, Crispus the ruler of the synagogue and his whole family and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptised.
There are some basic facts that are apparent as we look at these accounts together with the Great Commission as recorded in Matthew 28:19,20 and Mark 16:16:-
1. All who became followers of Jesus believed when they heard the "Good News". "Faith comes by hearing". See Romans 10:17
2. They were moved by the message and decided to follow Jesus. They repented of their previous life and now became a part of those who followed Jesus. See Acts 2:37-47
3. They were baptized into Christ for forgiveness of sin. Compare Acts 2:38; 22:16 Romans 6:1-6 and 1 Peter 3:21
4. Baptism was a believers baptism by immersion. Compare Acts 8:36 and Romans 6:1-6
In a confused Christian world of today, many different methods of becoming a Christian are proclaimed. If this was the way people were saved in the first century, when and why did it change? A study of Church History will answer that question as various Councils decided to amend the plain Bible teaching for the sake of convenience and political power grouping. Let's continue the message and follow the example of Jesus and the early disciples. If we do what they did we become just Christians.
Scriptures taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, Copyright 1973,1978,1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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