The book of Acts tells how the people in the first century obeyed the Gospel.
They heard the word presented, and it produced faith in Christ (Romans 10:17). Their faith led them to follow Christ.
In doing this, they realized the need to turn from their sinful ways, repenting as they were told to do (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38). This also meant some had to give up practicing religion contrary to Christianity. They were eager to confess the name of Jesus (Acts 8:37) and were willing to submit to baptism for the remission of their sins (Acts 8:38).
When it comes to the question of man’s salvation, some have been overcome by the subtlety of men. While God’s plan is simple to understand and obey, some have decided to make it even simpler. They teach that once a person has faith in God and his power to save them, they are saved.
While this idea may be full of comfort, one must search the Scriptures to see if this is what is taught by God, or just thoughts of men.
In the book of James, we find this “faith only” discussed. Notice what an inspired writer penned on this matter. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:17).
Still, there are others who believe and teach that salvation occurs before baptism and, in fact, baptism is not necessary for salvation. In God’s word, we read the following:
“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost’” (Acts 2:38).
“And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16).
“The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (I Peter 3:21).
Then there are those who believe prayer is the answer to the question of “What must I do to be saved?” Prayer is a good thing, but it does not bring salvation to the alien sinner. Saul (later Paul) was told to go into Damascus, where the preacher Ananias told him how to be saved (Acts 22:16).
Paul had been praying, yet he did not have the forgiveness of his sins until he was baptized.
As the apostle Paul was writing to the brethren at Corinth in the second letter, he wrote: “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
It is possible today, just as it was when Paul wrote, to be beguiled into having our minds corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. God has given us his book the Bible for us to learn about him and his plan for mankind.
Since God loves man (John 3:16) and desires all to be saved (2 Timothy 2:4), why would he give us a book that no one can understand?
Jesus said, “But in vain do they worship me teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). In order to be certain worship is not vain, one must make sure by studying the Bible that God’s commandments are being followed.