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Acts 2:38   Satan’s Favorite Bible Verse!  By James L. Melton

“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)

The above verse of scripture is a favorite among many religious groups. One can hear it several times on Sunday morning radio programs, as well as from the pulpits of numerous groups, and it can be found in much religious literature. The verse is a favorite because, on the surface, it seemingly states that one must be baptized in order to be saved, and without baptism one is not saved. So, those who believe that water baptism is essential for salvation make it a regular habit of using Acts 2:38 as scriptural support.

The problem is that Acts 2:38 isn’t the only verse in the Bible which deals with salvation. While many claim to “speak where the scriptures speak and remain silent where the scriptures are silent,” they practically ignore most of the New Testament teaching on salvation. The only verses that such false teachers quote and reference are the ones they feel they can use to promote their “water gospel.” The fact is that most of what the New Testament says about salvation doesn’t include baptism at all! (John 5:24, John 11:25-26, John 14:6, Romans 4:5, Romans 10:9-13, Eph. 2:8-9, etc.), and the few places that do mention water baptism do not include it as part of one’s salvation. Water baptism follows salvation as one of the first steps of obedience for the new believer.

In spite of this obvious truth, the cultists remain steadfast in their heresy, insisting that Acts 2:38 sets forth water baptism as a requirement for salvation. Thus, this verse of scripture has become Satan’s favorite Bible verse. In fact, many are trusting water baptism alone for the salvation of their souls! Indeed, Satan has deceived multitudes by his perversion of Acts 2:38.

Rather than ignore Acts 2:38 by quoting “our favorite verses” instead, it is more appropriate to face this popular verse of scripture and see if the cultists are right in what they claim it teaches.

The Truth about Acts 2:38

First, please notice that verse 38 isn’t the only verse in Acts 2. In Peter’s message, a great deal was said before verse 38 came out of his mouth. In fact, he even told his listeners how to be saved before verse 38! In Acts 2:21, Peter quotes from Joel 2 and says, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” His words preceding verse 38 were so convicting that his listeners were “pricked in their heart” in verse 37. So, to use verse 38 out of its context causes a misrepresentation of God’s word. The verse does not stand alone, and, in fact, a totally different meaning is conveyed when one makes it stand alone.

Another error that many make with Acts 2:38 is the error of assumption. It is assumed that the word “for” must mean “in order to get.” That is, being baptized “for” the remission of sins supposedly means to be baptized “in order to get” remission of sins. However, a closer look at the scriptures will reveal that this isn’t the case at all.

Notice Luke 5:12-14: “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on his face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean. And he put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him. And he charged him to tell no man: but go, and shew thyself to the priest, and offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded, for a testimony unto them.” Jesus made this man clean in verse 13, yet in the next verse, verse 14, Jesus tells him to go offer a sacrifice “for thy cleansing” as a “testimony.” Here the word “for” cannot mean “in order to get” because he had already gotten his cleansing in verse 13! It obviously meant “because of” his cleansing. If a man goes to jail “for stealing,” then he goes there “because of” the stealing that he’s already done, not “in order to get” a chance to steal again.

Some like to argue that the Greek word “eis” means “in order to,” but this isn’t always the case. Jesus said in Matthew 12:41, “The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at (eis) the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” The Greek word for “at” is “eis.” Does this mean that the men of Nineveh repented “in order to get” the preaching of Jonah? No, they repented “because of” the preaching of Jonah. So, even “the Greek” doesn’t demand the popular interpretation of Acts 2:38. The word “for” can be used different ways, not just one, so it is wrong to assume that it must mean “in order to get” in Acts 2:38.

Another factor which is commonly ignored is the JEWISH factor. Every person in Acts 2 is a Mosaic law observing Old Testament Jew. In fact, they are all gathered together to observe a JEWISH FEAST called Pentecost (verse 1). A fair reading of the whole chapter (especially verses 4, 14, and 36) will clearly reveal that no Gentiles (non Jews) are present. Since this involves Jews, it involves a NATION (verse 36!!), not individuals. No one asked, “What must I do to be saved?” The question asked concerned the NATION of Israel: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (verse 37) Not, “What shall I do,” but rather, “What shall WE do?” Acts 2 presents a NATION of people who come to realize that they have murdered their blessed Messiah and they’re asking what THEY must do. It’s a question concerning NATIONAL salvation. Isaiah 66:8 says, “. . . shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.” The “nation” is Israel! Romans 11:26 says, “And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.” Acts 2:38 is dealing with NATIONAL salvation. The Messianic Kingdom is still available to the Jews (until Acts 7:60 when they kill Stephen), so national salvation remains an issue until then.

This is clear from what follows Acts 7. In Acts 8, an individual from Africa is saved (before baptism). In Acts 9, an individual from Asia is saved (before baptism). In Acts 10, an individual from Europe is saved (before baptism). Why didn’t these individual conversions occur before Acts 7? Because the first seven chapter of Acts deal with Israel (1:6-8; 2:36; 3:12; 4:8-10; 5:31; 6:7-14; 7:1-60). The question of INDIVIDUAL salvation is asked and answered in Acts 16:30-31: “. . . Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” Those who fail to make this distinction are guilty of violating II Timothy 2:15 where we are told to RIGHTLY DIVIDE the word of truth.

The Bible says the gospel is to go to the Jew FIRST (Rom. 1:16), so they are the FIRST to receive the gospel in the book of Acts (chapter 2), but they are not the last to receive it. Acts doesn’t end with chapter 2, so we should be cautious of anyone who develops their doctrine in Acts 2 while practically ignoring the next 26 chapters! If God didn’t stop in Acts 2, then why does anyone else? Could it be that the later chapters in Acts contain information which the cultists want hidden from us? Could it be that there are other scriptures in Acts which do not agree with the wording of Acts 2:38? Could it be that Peter himself, the one preaching in Acts 2:38, says something different when speaking to individual Gentiles like you and me? One only has to read Acts chapter 10 to get the answer. Peter is preaching again in Acts 10, except only to individual Gentiles, and something very interesting occurs. In Acts 2:38, the Holy Ghost was promised to be given to the converts AFTER they were baptized, yet in Acts 10:44 the Holy Ghost falls upon the Gentiles BEFORE they are baptized! Now, Paul tells us in Romans 8:9, ” . . .if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Having God’s Spirit is synonymous with belonging to God or being saved (John 3:6-8), so the Gentiles in Acts 10 were saved BEFORE they were baptized in water. Why don’t the Acts 2:38 cultists ever point this out? Answer: It destroys their perverted doctrine that water baptism is essential for salvation.

The fact is that Acts 2:38 is NOT the “model” plan of salvation, nor are any of the other “water verses” which the cultists use. Only by taking such verses out of their context can one teach such heresy. All of the Bible is true, not just the favorite “proof texts” of the cults. Baptism saves no one. It only serves as a testimonial picture of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ AFTER one has believed on Christ (Acts 8:36-38). Paul said in I Corinthians 1:17 that “. . . Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.” This “gospel” is defined by Paul in I Corinthians 15:1-4, and it does NOT include water baptism. The dying thief was not baptized, yet Jesus saved him (Luke 23:42-43), and John wrote that we are washed in the BLOOD of Christ (Rev. 1:5), not in the water. In fact, the saints in Heaven claim to have gotten there by the blood of Jesus (Rev. 5:9), not by water. By faith in the blood of Jesus Christ one is saved (Rom. 3:25). Water baptism only follows this faith as an outward step of obedience.

Friend, if you have fallen for the water gospel, why not repent of your sin and trust Jesus Christ alone? Acts 10:43 says, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Why not believe on Christ 100% right now and quit trusting something you DO for salvation? “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 5:1) Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Romans 10:9-13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Why not right now?

Copyright © 2000 James L. Melton

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http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Doctrines/Baptismal%20Regeneration/acts_2-38.htm

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The Plain Truth about the Jehovah’s Witnesses

In 1870, at the age of eighteen, an ex- Congregationalist by the name of Charles Taze Russell started a Bible class in Pittsburgh. In 1876, the class elected Russell as their Pastor.

He founded the “Herald of the Morning” in 1879, which eventually developed into what is known today as “The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom.” Today this publication has grown to over seventeen million copies per month in over one hundred languages.

In 1884, Russell incorporated the “Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society” at Pittsburgh. Today this organization has branches in over one hundred countries, and it has missionary works in over two hundred and fifty. With over one-half million volunteer workers, the Jehovah’s Witnesses have become a serious threat to Bible believers throughout the world.

Russell died in 1916, and Judge J.F. Rutherford took over the Society’s leadership. It was under Rutherford’s leadership that the group took the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” and Society headquarters moved to Brooklyn. Rutherford died in 1942, and Nathan Knorr took control and boosted the membership to over two million. In 1961, the Society published its own “translation” of the scriptures, called “The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures.” Knorr died in 1977. As of 1996, the president of the Watchtower Society was Milton Henschel.

The Trinity Doctrine Denied

According the Bible, God is a Trinity. As all humans are a trinity (soul, body, and spirit–1 Ths. 5:23), God is also a Trinity. In Genesis 1:26, God said, “Let us make man in our image. . .” In Genesis 11:7, God said, “. . . .let us go down, and there confound their language. . .” The terms “us” and “our” obviously refer to the Holy Trinity. So the Trinity is found in the very early chapters of the Bible.

In the New Testament, we can see all three Members of the Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus in Matthew chapter three. God the Father is speaking from Heaven. God the Son is being baptized, and God the Holy Ghost is descending like a dove. When Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, He said in verse 19, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

So one can clearly see that God’s word testifies to the fact that He is a Trinity. However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny this altogether. The book, “Let God Be True”, (Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc., 1952) says the following on page 92: “The trinity doctrine was not conceived by Jesus or the early Christians.” Then on page 93, this book says: “…the plain truth is that this is another of Satan’s attempts to keep the God-fearing person from learning the truth of Jehovah and His Son Jesus Christ.”

The JW’s cannot UNDERSTAND the Trinity, so they CONDEMN the Trinity. They fail to realize that it is not our job to tell God WHAT HE IS or to even FULLY UNDERSTAND how He can exist. Our responsibility is to BELIEVE WHAT HE SAYS, AS HE SAYS IT, WHERE HE SAYS IT, WITHOUT CHANGING A SINGLE WORD!

I John 5:7 says, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Who are we to believe, the Jehovah’s Witnesses or God’s word?

The Deity of Christ Denied

As the Second Member of the Trinity, Jesus Christ stands co-existent in Eternity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. There are many proofs in the Scriptures for the Deity of Christ. Some are as follows:

(1) In Zechariah 12:10, Jehovah speaks of the future return of Christ and says, “. . . They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourne for him, as one mourneth for his only son . . . .” This is spoken again in Revelation 1:7, which is clearly a reference to Christ Himself, but in Zechariah 12:10 GOD said, “. . . They shall look upon me whom they have pierced . . . .” The One that they pierced was Jesus Christ! So, in Zechariah 12:10, God is saying that He is Jesus Christ.

(2) In John 1:1, John 1:14, 1 John 1:1, and in 1 John 5:7, Jesus is called “the Word,” and John 1:1 says that”the Word was God.”

(3) Thomas referred to Jesus as “My Lord and my God” in John 20:28, and Jesus did not see the need to correct him.

(4) Isaiah 7:14 gives us the prophecy of the Virgin Birth of Christ and states that His name would be “Immanuel.” Matthew 1:23 tells us that this word means “God with us.”

(5) In Isaiah 9:6, Jesus is called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” The Bible certainly would not say this about anyone less than God.

(6) In John 10:30, Jesus says, “I and my Father are one.” Jesus is not a lesser god; He is ONE with the Father.

(7) Micah 5:2 tells us that Jesus is “from everlasting.”

(8) In John 8:58, Jesus tells the Pharisees,”Before Abraham was, I am.” He claimed to be the “I AM”of Exodus 3:14, which is God Almighty.

(9) Jesus allowed others to worship Him (John 9:38; Matt. 14:33; and Luke 24:52), which was forbidden, unless He was God (Rev. 22:9).

(10) Jesus forgave sins (Mark 2:5), which only God can do (Mark 2:7).

(11) The Lord Jesus Christ is omnipresent (Matt. 18:20; 28:20; II Cor. 13:14; I John 5:7). We know He is God because He is capable of being everywhere at once.

(12) Jesus is omniscient (Mark 11:2-6; Matt. 12:40). He is God because He knows all things.

(13) The Lord Jesus is also omnipotent (Rev. 19:6; Matt. 28:18). He has all power.

(14) According to John 1, 1 John 1, Colossians 1, and Hebrews 1, Jesus Christ is the Creator of Genesis 1!

(15) Jesus never sinned! Romans 3:23 says that ALL HAVE SINNED and come short of the glory of God, but Jesus did not sin (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). So Jesus had to be God.

The Scriptures are clear that Jesus Christ is Deity, yet the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny this truth. Here are a few blasphemous remarks made by the JW’s over the years concerning the Lord Jesus Christ:

“. . . he was the first and direct creation of Jehovah God” (The Kingdom is at Hand, p. 46, 47, 49).
“If Jesus were God, then during Jesus’ death, God was dead in the grave” (Let God Be True, p. 91).
“. . . the true Scriptures speak of God’s Son, the Word, as ‘a god’.” He is a “mighty god,” but not the Almighty God, who is Jehovah” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, p. 47).

Again, who are we to believe, the Jehovah’s Witnesses or God’s word?

Literal Resurrection Denied

The Bible speaks of a literal and physical resurrection, but the Watchtower Society teaches that Jesus only rose from the grave spiritually. Their literature speaks for itself:

“Therefore the bodies in which Jesus manifested himself to his disciples after his return to life were not the body in which he was nailed to a tree. They were merely materialized for the occasion, resembling on one or two occasions the body in which he died . . . .” (The Kingdom Is At Hand, pg. 259)

“Our Lord’s human body . . . did not decay or corrupt . . . whether it was dissolved into gasses or whether it is still preserved somewhere . . . no one knows.” (Studies In The Scriptures, Vol. 2, pg. 129)

According to the words of Jesus Christ Himself, He is NOT merely a spirit being. He is a literal and physical risen Savior. In Luke chapter twenty-four, beginning at verse thirty-six, the disciples see the risen Christ and they supposed they had seen a spirit (vs. 37). Then Jesus cleared the matter up for everyone when He said, “. . . Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luk. 24:38-39)

When Jesus appeared to Thomas He said, “. . . Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” (Jhn. 20:27) The risen Christ had the crucifixion scars in His body to PROVE that He had been physically resurrected from the dead. If Jesus didn’t rise physically then He lied in John 2:18-22 when He said that His “body” would rise in three days. He didn’t say His spirit would rise. He said that His BODY would rise. When He arose His disciples actually REMEMBERED this prophecy and believed. The bodily resurrection of Christ is a fundamental Bible doctrine. The salvation of a person’s soul rests upon this doctrine, because if Jesus didn’t physically rise from the dead AS HE SAID HE WOULD, then we’re all lost and going to Hell according to 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 (JW’s included).

Literal Second Coming Denied

If the Lord Jesus Christ was resurrected literally and physically from the dead, and if He appeared physically to His disciples, then His Second Coming must also be literal and physical.

Acts 1:11 tells us that Jesus will return “in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Jesus ascended into Heaven literally, physically, and visibly, so He will return “in like manner.”

The JW’s deny this. They insist that the Second Coming of Christ will be SPIRITUAL, rather than literal and physical:

“Christ Jesus comes, not again as a human, but as a glorious spirit person.” (Let God Be True, pg. 196)
“Since no earthly men have ever seen or can see the Father, they will be unable to see the glorified Son.” (Let God Be True, pg. 197)
“It is a settled Scriptural truth, therefore, that human eyes will not see him at his second coming, neither will he come in a fleshy body.” (The Truth Shall Make You Free, pg. 295)

The word of God says otherwise. Paul says in Titus 2:13 that we should be LOOKING for that blessed hope and the glorious APPEARING of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ. If the JW’s are right in saying that we will not be able to see Christ, then why did Paul tell us to be LOOKING for His APPEARING?

Revelation 1:7 says, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” In Matthew 24:30, Jesus Himself says, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

There’s nothing spiritual or invisible about the Second Coming of Christ. The “clouds” will be literal (Rev. 1:7), as will the “fire” (2 Ths. 1:8), the “saints” (1 Ths. 3:13), the “mountains and rocks” (Rev. 6:16), and the thousand- year reign (Rev. 20:1-7). A “spiritual” or “invisible” Second Coming is totally foreign to the written revelation of God.

Literal Burning Hell Denied

The JW’s have traditionally believed and taught that there is no eternal punishment for the wicked:

“. . . the Bible hell is mankind’s common grave…” (Let God Be True, pg. 92. )
“The doctrine of a burning hell where the wicked are tortured eternally after death cannot be true . . . .” (Let God Be True, pg. 99)

We call it to the reader’s attention that it was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ who first used the term “hell fire” (Mat. 5:22), and it was Jesus Christ who said in Matthew 25:41, “. . . Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”

A JW believes that Hell is only the grave that everyone goes to at death. He believes that the saved ones in the graves will be given eternal life on earth after the White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, while the unsaved in the graves will be annihilated once and for all in the Lake of Fire. JW’s refuse to believe that God will punish the wicked forever in the Lake of Fire. Of course, the Scriptures say something entirely different:

(1) There is no FIRE in the grave, but there certainly is fire in the “hell” of the Bible (Luk. 16:23; Deu. 32:22; Mat. 5:22; 18:9; Jas. 3:6).

(2) No one PRAYS from the grave, but they certainly do in Hell (Luk. 16:24; Jon. 2:2).

(3) Hell was originally made for the Devil and his angels (Mat. 25:41), but the grave was not.

(4) A Christian’s SOUL does not go to the grave at death (Phi. 1:21-23; 2 Cor. 5:1-10; 1 Ths. 5:10). Only the BODY goes to the grave. An unsaved man’s body also goes to the grave at death, but his SOUL goes to a place of TORMENT and FLAMES (Luk. 16:22-23).

(5) The grave cannot possibly be Hell because Jesus said it would be better to enter into life (eternal life) without a hand, a foot, or an eye, than to go to Hell (Mat. 18:8-9). How could it be “better” if Hell is only the grave where there is no suffering at all? According to Jesus Christ, Hell is a lot WORSE than losing a hand, a foot, or an eye forever.

(6) Annihilation cannot be true because the Bible uses such terms as “shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:2) and “torment . . . forever” (Rev. 14:11). Shame and torment are sufferings that are experienced by a LIVING BEING, not an annihilated corpse.

God is an ETERNAL Being; therefore, an eternal payment is required for sin (Mar. 9:44-48; Isa. 66:22-23). You can have a FAIR TRIAL, or you can have a FREE PARDON. In a fair trial before God, you will be eternally damned to Hell because you are a sinner against a Holy God. God will have no choice but to sentence you to Hell forever.

Friend, be not deceived by the Jehovah’s Witnesses! They are false teachers and their doctrines are dangerous. For more information about other false teachers, order The Bible Believer’s Handbook of Heresiesfrom the address below.

If you’ve never received Jesus Christ as your Saviour, please read Understanding God’s Salvation Plan You can have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Copyright © 1998 James L. Melton

http://www.biblebelievers.com/jmelton/JehovahsWitnesses.html

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