|Vol. 12 No. 11 November 2010||
Extending the Plan of Salvation
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Can you please share with me your thoughts (in accordance to scripture) when it comes to some who preach and sometimes don’t mention the Plan of Salvation (H,B,R,C,B) at the end of their sermons? I notice some preachers don’t do it often, or only mention a few steps (which do include Baptism), though I know they believe in all the steps of salvation.
The apostle Peter extended an invitation in the first recorded Gospel sermon (Acts 2:38). Note, though, that the audience to whom he spoke on that occasion was comprised mostly of Jewish, non-Christians, and still Peter did not give the complete plan of salvation discernible from the New Testament. We can say, however, that the apostle gave his audience that day the information about salvation that they specifically needed; Peter took his audience from where they were in their journey to salvation to where they needed to go. It was obvious that those on that Pentecost day who inquired, “…Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) following the affirmation by Peter that they had crucified the Son of God (Acts 2:36) already believed Jesus to be the Son of God (John 8:24). In addition, the question posed by the audience was itself a public acknowledgement of their confidence that Jesus was the Christ (Romans 10:9-10). Hence, Peter told the audience what they lacked yet: “…Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38). So, in the very first recorded occasion of Gospel preaching on the birthday of the church, a partial explanation of the biblical plan of salvation was uttered rather than the complete plan of salvation.
On another occasion, the apostle Peter spoke to Gentiles, and after preaching Jesus, he commanded them to be baptized (Acts 10:48). Just as on the birthday of the church in Acts 2, the context implies that the auditors of the Gospel message accepted the other parts of the plan of salvation (e.g., faith, repentance, etc.), and they needed to be compelled to render their obedience to the Gospel (Hebrews 5:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) respecting what they lacked yet. Still other occasions on which in the New Testament the plan of salvation is given, it was spoken to individuals rather than to an assembly. Yet, in each instance, the plan of salvation uttered was what the person or persons needed to hear in their journey to salvation (e.g., Acts 8:22, erring Christian).
Accordingly, the 3,000 of Acts 2 were instructed to repent and to be baptized. The Ethiopian treasurer was told to believe, profess Jesus Christ as the Son of God and be baptized (Acts 8:35-39). Saul of Tarsus was commanded to be baptized (Acts 9:17-18; 22:6-16). Cornelius and those with him were told to believe (Acts 10:43), repent (Acts 11:18) and be baptized (Acts 10:48). The Jailer was instructed to believe and be baptized (Acts 16:27-34), whereas Lydia was told to be baptized (Acts 16:13-15). In each case, the candidates for conversion were told what they needed to hear to lead them to be baptized, since Bible baptism (which is immersion or a burial, Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12) is for the remission or forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), and it is the point in the New Testament’s plan of salvation where a soul passes from being lost in sins to being saved from his or her sins (1 Peter 3:21).
The purpose of preaching is to inform and convince listeners respecting the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:8). As such, usually sermons ought to call upon the audience to act upon the information presented from God, and for non-Christians and erring Christians, there is no more important action than obeying the Gospel of Christ. Still, what the speaker presents by way of invitation on any particular occasion is a personal judgment call based perhaps on his knowledge of those gathered. Personally, few would be the instances in which I would not offer an invitation at the conclusion of a sermon, because since I do not have omniscience, I could not know for sure who needed to obey the Gospel and who was in a saved relationship at that very moment with God. I fear that some preachers do not extend the Lord’s invitation because they are ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16).
What does the Bible teach on nature of human souls? Do people have never-dying/immortal souls?
Certainly, people do have eternal souls. Hebrews 9:27 states that it is appointed unto man to die once, but after this the judgment. That implies that death is not the end of all things, but only the end of life here on the earth. Jesus states in Matthew 25:46 that the unrighteous will go away to everlasting punishment and the righteous to eternal life. The words “everlasting” and “eternal” are from the same Greek word. Therefore, punishment is just as long as life is. If you believe in an eternal heaven, then you also have to believe in an eternal punishment.
Jerry Bates & Louis Rushmore
Is Sunday really the Christian Sabbath? On whose authority or honor do most Christians worship on Sunday? Is the seventh day Sabbath no longer binding as commanded in the 4th Commandment?
Sunday is not the Christian Sabbath. Nowhere in the Bible is Sunday called the Christian Sabbath. This language has been used by those who still believe the Ten Commandments are still in force, yet do not keep the real Sabbath day. Sabbath means seventh. Thus, the Sabbath day is the seventh day. We worship on the first day of the week based on the authority of Jesus. The first day was the day on which He was resurrected. It was the day on which the first Gospel sermon was preached in Acts 2. It is the day on which we remember Jesus’ sacrifice and accompanying resurrection, which is the basis of our justification. It is called the Lord's Day in Revelation 1:10. It is the day on which the early church worshipped from the very beginning (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1). We also know from the writings of the early Christians that the church worshipped God on the first day of the week from the very beginning.
The Sabbath day is no longer binding on us today for the very simple reason that the Old Testament law was taken away and nailed to the cross. Many verses could be mentioned in the New Testament pointing out that the Old Law including the Ten Commandments was fulfilled by Christ and taken away. Let me just mention a few, and you can probably think of others. See Deuteronomy 5:1-3; 4:13; 9:9, 11; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 7 & 8; 13:8; Colossians 2:14; Galatians 3:22-25. It is stated in Matthew 5:17 that Christ came to fulfill the law. When something is fulfilled, there is no longer a need for it. ~ Jerry Bates
In addition, the following articles from the Archive of Gospel Gazette Online specifically treat questions about worshipping on the Sabbath versus the first day of the week today. ~ Louis Rushmore