Piney Christian Research: Paul, The Gospel and Baptism

In Acts 2:38 Peter obeyed Jesus Who told the apostles in Mark 16:16: "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."

Paul's Association of John's Baptism and Christ's Baptis

Paul and his company came to Antioch of Pisidia where Paul exhorted the Jews and proselytes or God-fearers. He began, like Peter and Stephen by putting the gospel into the context of God's total plan for humanity. Like Stephen, Paul mentioned the bad news that Israel demanded a king whom God permitted to carry out the sentence of the captivity of Israel. However, a new seed of David would arise to build God a "house" or family and not an earthly temple:

Of this man's seed hath God, according to his promise, raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: Acts 13:23

When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. Acts 13:24

Remember that Mark called this:

THE beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; Mark 1:1

Look again to see that by rejecting baptism, they rejected the command of God:

But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him. Luke 7:30

John's baptism looked forward. However,

And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. Acts 13:25

John's priestly course was to prepare the way or to find those sincere seekers who would believe the truth when they heard the truth. Like the sincere Gentiles, these Jews were "by nature" in tune with righteousness and justice.

Now, Paul takes up the same message in Antioch of Pisidia within the context of John's baptism which many Jews did not believe was important:

Men and brethren, children of

1. the stock of Abraham,

2. and whosoever among you feareth God,

3. to you is the word of this salvation sent. Acts 13:26

Notice that Paul addresses the seed of Abraham but not all of his seed were spiritual Israelites. Some Jews among his audience would be spiritually in tune with the naturally-revealed and generationally-taught principles of God.

To understand this better, let's take a detour to Galatians:

To the Galatians, Paul connected what the Spirit promised to Abraham with baptism which, after John's baptism and the resurrection of Christ, was available to both Jew and Gentile: d by faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3:27

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28

And if ye be Christs, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:29

What was the word of salvation sent out after the baptism of John had run its course? Jesus sent them out to preach and baptize both Jew and Gentile:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Mark 16:16

Rather than obeying Jesus, they murdered Him:

For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. Acts 13:27

They killed Jesus but He was resurrected and witnessed by the Apostles:

And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. Acts 13:31

Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: Acts 13:38

And by him all that believe (fully trust) are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39

Those who believed John's forward-looking baptism were baptized. Those who were not baptized justified not God and were lost.

The Jews left the Synagogue but the Gentiles wanted to hear more about the gospel.

Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46

For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. Acts 13:47

And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48

When these Gentiles believed to receive eternal life, believed is the Greek: <

Pisteuo (g4100) pist-yoo'-o; from 4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by impl. to entrust (espec. one's spiritual well-being to Christ): - believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

To understand what believing really meant, look at the example of Lydia who was considered to be a believer or faithful after her baptism

The Gospel in Philippi - Lydia the Gentile

The "gospel" means remission of sins by grace: it is the gift of God. Remember, however, that food, clothing and even wealth is the free gift of God because we cannot make the creative process work. Can a person cause a wheat seed to germinate and produce life? Of course not, it is the gift of God. Can any person remove sins from their soul which they cannot even see? Of course not. It is the gift of God.

And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. Acts 16:12

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. Acts 16:13

And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God,

heard us:

whose heart the Lord opened (figurative: to expound),

that she attended

unto the things which were spoken of Paul. Acts 16:14

Preaching the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus does not call for any action whatsoever: it is just the statement of facts.

God opened Lydia's heart by having Paul preach the gospel to her.
Lydia applied herself to or adhered to what Paul told her to do.
What did Lydia do? "And
when she was baptized"
applying herself to the teaching shows that Paul preached baptism.
What was Lydia's first question? "If you have judged me

How had she been faithful? She was trustworthy because of her obedience to what Paul told her to do!

Did she earn her salvation? Absolutely not. Did the water save her? Absolutely not. However, if she had rejected water baptism she would not have fully responded to the "word of the Lord" which Paul preached. And, like those who rejected "the counsel of God" or the "word of the Lord" for them, she would have rejected the end-point of the gospel. Would she have been faithful? It is hard to see how she could be faithful or have faith without responding to her belief.

Conclusion: When Paul preached the gospel HE was obedient to Jesus in Mark 16:16 and commanded her to be baptized. She was faithful because she attended to what Paul told her to do and she "did not reject the counsel of God for her life."

To attend to Paul's preaching means more than just listening: it means to become an adherent to his gospel teaching. Attend is:

Prosecho (g4337) pros-ekh'-o; from 4314 and 2192; (fig.) to hold the mind (3563 impl.) towards, i.e. pay attention to, be cautious about, apply oneself to, adhere to: - (give) attend (-ance, - ance at, -ance to, unto), beware, be given to, give (take) heed (to, unto) have regard.

And said unto them, Ye men of Israel,

take heed to yourselves

what ye intend to do as touching these men. Acts 5:35

Lydia took heed to what Paul told her to do and she was baptized.

And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. Acts 16:15

Only then could Paul judge Lydia as faithful to the command of the Great Commission by being baptized.

The Philippian Jailer

Because Paul was an apostle with supernatural power, he cast out the power of soothsaying (madness or insanity as in Corinth) from a girl used as a tool of pagan religion. This cut into the profits, and the mercinaries charged Paul with preaching more than simple facts:

And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. Acts 16:21

Paul was cast into prison but was released by an earthquake. The jailer had already heard Paul singing hymns and understood what he had been preaching and why he was in prison.

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. Acts16:25

There is no hint that the jailer's family or children were present. His household which he guarded and fed consisted of adult prisoners.

The jailer would have to suffer death if Paul go away. The jailor wanted to know what he could do to be saved from the situation.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. Acts 16:31

No. The jailer is not yet saved because he has not heard the gospel.

Belief is the fundamental wall which stands between a person and salvation. Belief is like the soil which takes in the seed, the seed sprouts but then dies because the soil saw the life but couldn't provide the soil. Or faith is like a drowning man grasping a life preserver: he has moved into a "safe" zone but still not saved until the ground hits his feet.

So, Paul knew that he had to preach the word of the Lord to the man because he still did not believe:

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. Acts 16:32

Something funny happened: when Paul preached the word of the Lord, the jailer repented and wanted to be baptized. Where, oh, where did he get any hint of baptism if Paul was not sent to baptize? Well, you see, Paul could still preach the word of the Lord and let someone else do the baptizing:

And he (jailer) took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. Acts 16:33

I still don't know who baptized the jailer and his prisoners. However, the word of the Lord prompted him to believe and be baptized. And when that was over:

And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. Acts 16:34

You see, the jailer, like those at Pentecost and Lydia, are not called believers or faithful until they have been baptized and added to Christ along with the others saved.

Like Lydia in Philippi, the jailer repented by washing the stripes and along with the prisoners was baptized. He understood baptism only because Paul preached the gospel to him and according to Jesus, the gospel has an end point: the baptism of the believer where belief is accepting the initial facts.

The Jailer could rejoice because his actions made him a believer in God. He had not rejected God's counsel for his life through Paul's preaching.

The Gospel in Thessalonica

NOW when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: Acts 17:1

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Acts 17:2

Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. Acts 17:3

And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. Acts 17:4

But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. Acts 17:5

Things got dangerous and Paul left. There were already "brethren" in Thessalonica and it is resonable that new believers were baptized because the sermon is much like that preached by Peter which caused some to believe, repent and be baptized.

What is the Gospel in First Timothy?

It is good news that Jesus paid the price but the good news has an end or a purpose:

Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: 1 Timothy 1:5

From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling; 1 Timothy 1:6

Desiring to be teachers of the law; understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm. 1 Timothy 1:7

But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 1 Timothy 1:8

Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 1 Timothy 1:9

For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons,

and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 1 Timothy 1:10

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 1 Timothy 1:11

[According to the glorious Gospel] The sound doctrine mentioned above - a dispensation which exhibits the glory of all his attributes; and, by saving man in such a way as is consistent with the glory of all the Divine perfections, while it brings peace and good will among men, brings glory to God in the highest. Sin has dishonored God, and robbed him of his glory; the Gospel provides for the total destruction of sin, even in this world, and thus brings back to God his glory. Adam Clarke

The gospel includes "sound doctrine" and therefore the gospel demands teaching against everything which does not fit the good news.

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; 1 Timothy 1:12

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief 1 Timothy 1:13

And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 1:14

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15

Jesus, as Spirit, personally appeared to Paul. However, Jesus told him to go and someone would tell him what he must do. After that preaching:

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Acts 22:16

According to 1 Peter 3:21, baptism is the time and place where the external body is washed with water and internally one calls on the Lord for a clear conscience.

To make the "gospel" into the bare facts that Christ came to save sinners leaves the gospel without an end, authority or purpose.

The Gospel in Corinth

Those who accept that Jesus was the expected Messiah (even among the nations) had lived in relationship with the True God by living right and treating others with justice. The missing ingredient is the announcement which Paul made as he left the obedience of the gospel to them.

Paul made it clear that the effective gospel involved facts believed and commands obeyed:

MOREOVER, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 1 Corinthians 15:1

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:2

They would believe in vain if their belief produced no fruit as the free gift of God. This agrees with James' statement that "faith without works" is dead. "Works" here are not deeds of merit, but are doing whatever their faith called upon them to do:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 1 Corinthians 15: 3

And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 1 Corinthians 15: 4

And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 1 Corinthians 15: 5

After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15: 6

After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. 1 Corinthians 15: 7

And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time. 1 Corinthians 15: 8

What had Paul preached to the Corinthians?

AFTER these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; Acts 18:1

And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla, (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. Acts 18:2

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. Acts 18:3

The good news was that when the people worked, Paul worked; when they had free time, he taught them about Christ. Paul would spend a year and six months in Achaea and prepared the way before he presented the "gospel." As a result of this "gospel" message, some who had understood from the Old Testament believed and were baptized.

And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4

And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. Acts 18:5

And when they opposed themselves (lined up against), and blasphemed (spke evil of), he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. Acts 18:6

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue,

believed on the Lord with all his house;

and many of the Corinthians

hearing believed, and were baptized. Acts 18:8

These people had not believed in vain: they acted upon what their faith led them to believe and they were baptizeed.

The preaching of the good news that Jesus is the visible presence of God always calls for being baptized to "accept the will of Christ for themselves."

The Gospel to the Romans

Can allowing ourselves to be planted alongside Jesus obligate God to forgive our sins and give us life? Of course not, it is the gift of God and gifts are not forced. However, Paul said that the germination into new life is based upon a planting:

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Romans 6:3

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Romans 6:5

Now, there simply is no likeness which fits this but water baptism. A "spiritual" death, burial and resurrection is not a likeness because it cannot be seen. This new life is not just in God's mind but we walk in a likeness of the walk of Jesus: it is the free gift of God but don't expect carrots as God's free gift without following His will for growing carrots. But isn't God prevented from adding conditions if it is the gift of God? No. You cannot restrict God and demand grace on your own terms. Lostness isn't because we didn't get wet in water: lostness is because we "refuse the counsel of God for our lives." And if we refuse God's counsel for growing food or gaining wealth we will die hungry and poor.

The Gospel Means that Christ Continually Cleanses us from Sin

Remember that just after Simon was baptized he tried to buy God's power with money. Wow! That is serious. However, Peter told him:

Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. Ac.8:22

The good news is that one does not have to go before one or a hundred people as the confessor: we have immediate access to the throne of God. Nor do we have to buy a crippled lamb at a high exchange rate and offer it for our sins and have the priest eat the best parts.

The blood of Christ cleanses in a perfect present sense:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The good news is that we can live in a close relationship with God and not be fearful of our salvation. We can "come away" and commune with Him without the crowd, the noise and the legal attempt to control Him with rituals.

Kenneth Sublett

The Free Gift of God By Faith
Living Waters
What is the Gospel
What is the Gospel - Baptized For the Dead
Beginning of the Gospel
The New Birth
First Command of the Gospel
The Gospel at Pentecost
Paul, the Gospel and Baptism

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