|Vol. 16 No. 2 February 2014||
Mark N. Posey
QUESTION: Will you please explain what is meant by Peter’s statement in Acts 2:38?
ANSWER: Acts 2:38 is Peter’s response to an audience of Jews whose rejection of their Messiah had put them into a lost state and who thus needed salvation (vs. 22-24). Their question to Peter (v.37) was “What shall we do?” That is, what shall we do to be saved? Peter named two things they must do: repent and be baptized. He also listed two things they would receive as a result: forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This verse specifically says that baptism is “for the forgiveness of sins.” Forgiveness (or remission) is equivalent to justification; it is the cancellation of all guilt by the power of the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:7; Acts 22:16; Revelation 1:5). A key word in this verse is “for,” which translates the Greek preposition eis. This word signifies purpose, intention or result. In other words, Peter said to be baptized for the purpose of bringing about the forgiveness of sins. It is used exactly the same way in Matthew 26:28.
Acts 2:38 also says that those who are baptized “will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” This is that which Jesus promised in John 7:37-39; the direct result of this gift is the new birth promised in John 3:3-5. The Spirit’s presence raises the spiritually dead sinner to a state of spiritual life (Romans 6:4). Thus, Acts 2:38 makes the meaning of baptism crystal clear. It is the time God has appointed for removing the sinner’s guilt and for bestowing upon him the regenerating effects (i.e., new birth – John 3:3-5) of the Holy Spirit.
Mark N. Posey
QUESTION: “What attitude should the Christian have toward racism?”
ANSWER: Christianity was born into a world filled with racial prejudice. It occurred many times, but the most obvious was the attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles. Godliness abhors any assumed racial superiority! The Bible provides us with an “equalization factor” found in Romans 3:9-12, 23, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” This biblical principle is true regardless of race. The element of sin in our lives cuts across economic, racial and intellectual boundaries.
Christ brought equality, the basis of which is obedience, not skin coloration! Christ has broken down the wall between us (Ephesians 2:14-16), drawing mankind into one body by His death on the cross (Acts 17:26). God is no “respecter of persons,” but He examines man on the basis of his righteousness (Acts 10:34-35). God makes no distinction on the basis of race and forbids the same in us. In fact, He made a connection between every human being at creation, as proclaimed in Acts 17:26, “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” James taught, “Hold not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons” (2:1). In v. 9, he labeled discrimination as sin!
The blood of Christ is contacted in baptism, wherein all barriers are destroyed, being made one in Christ (Galatians 3:26-28). Peter violated this principle and was reprimanded by Paul (Galatians 2:11). Observe how Jesus responded to all people (Luke 10:30) and be motivated to activate the “Golden Rule” by treating others as we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). Humility will not allow us to treat any human being as inferior (Philippians 2:3). We must assume the disposition of Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-25). The matter could cost us our eternal salvation!
Mark N. Posey
QUESTION: “What does it mean to be a ‘living sacrifice,’ according to what Paul says in Romans 12:1?”
ANSWER: Living under the Law of Moses, the worshiper brought a living animal to be killed; it was a dead sacrifice (Leviticus 1:2). However, under the Law of Christ, Christians are living sacrifices, able to serve the Lord and glorify Him each day (cf. 1 Peter 2:5, 9-10).
Two men in the Bible illustrate what it means to be a living sacrifice – Isaac and Jesus Christ. Isaac was young when he went with his father Abraham to Mount Moriah and there was offered as a sacrifice (Genesis 22). Isaac was willing to die so that he and his father might be obedient to the Lord. He did not die, however, because God’s purpose was to test Abraham’s faith and love, not to take his son (Genesis 22:11-18). When Isaac was unbound and taken from the altar, it was like a resurrection from the dead (cf. Hebrews 11:17-19). Isaac was from that moment on a living sacrifice.
However, Jesus Christ actually died and arose from the dead. There was no substitute provided for Him as there was for Isaac, because He was the substitute (2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24). When He came forth from the tomb, He still bore on His body the marks of the nails and spear (John 20:27). He became a living sacrifice, and He remains a living sacrifice in glory today (Hebrews 12:2; 7:25). His sacrifice for sin was completed (Hebrews 9:28); now, He lives to minister (Hebrews 2:18) to His people and perfect them in holiness (Hebrews 13:20, 21).
Therefore, Christians should, according to Luke 9:23, (1) Deny themselves, (2) Take up the cross [cause] of Christ each day, and (3) Follow Jesus. Christians must “hold forth the word of life [Bible]” (Philippians 2:16). As Christians strive to be more like Christ, they become a “sweet smelling fragrance” of Christ to God (2 Corinthians 2:14-16). Therefore, a living sacrifice is one that lives each day of his or her life to serve the One Who died and arose for him or her. Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.