In the many different Christian denominations there are varying interpretations as to how a person becomes saved from their sins. Some Evangelicals teach that a penitent convert has to pray “The Sinner’s Prayer,” which is to confess that one is a sinner and wants to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and asking Him to come into their heart and save them right now.
A few churches teach that you are saved when a manifestation of the gift of the Holy Spirit results in the speaking in tongues. And lastly, the more traditional view among most Protestant Churches is baptism in water after repentance and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Perhaps the best place to determine what is the right approach is to start from the beginning of the Christian Church.
Acts 2: 37-38
Now when they heard this [the gospel], they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do [to be saved]?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins (Cp. 3: 16); and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
8: 5, 12
And Philip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them. But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ they were being baptized, men and women alike.
8: 35-36, 38-39
And Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from the same Scripture he preached Jesus to him. And as they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched away Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, but went on his way rejoicing.
And Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he arose and was baptized.
While Peter was still speaking these words; the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the message. And all the circumcised were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also (Cp. 2: 38-39). For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and his household.
NOTE: There are some Churches today who postpone “baptism” until a special Sunday ceremonial services or after several months of studying, but in Acts 22: 16, Ananias tells a penitent Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord (Cp. Joel 2: 32??)
And a certain woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshipper of God, was listening ; and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household had been baptized. . .
18: 24-26; 19: 1-6
Now a certain Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Prisca and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.
And it came about while Apollos was at Corinth [GREECE], Paul having passed through the upper country came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. And he said unto them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said unto him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And He said, “Into what were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus. And when they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
NOTE: There are several points that need attention in these most important passages. Apollos, though gifted as he most certainly was, did not have a complete understanding or full knowledge of God’s Way, and yet was humble enough and teachable to be instructed more perfectly by others.
Pertaining to today, there are many very skillful preachers with extraordinary skills of oratory and wisdom, but yet they fall short in comprehending the surpassing knowledge of God’s Plan of Salvation. When it comes to the rite of “baptism,” many will suggest that it is merely the outward sign of inward grace; and this is essentially true if one were baptized after the manner of baptism that John preached (19: 4).
Romans 6: 3-7, 17-18
Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became the servants of righteousness.
Romans 10: 8-11
But what does it [the Scripture] say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART;” that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you will confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, and with the mouth, he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
I Peter 3: 21
There is also an antitype [form] which now saves us; baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh [not a ritual bath for Jewish/pagan ceremonial impurity or uncleanness], but the answer [interrogation] of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Psalmist (26: 2)” said, “Vindicate me, O Lord, for I have walked in my integrity; And I have trusted in the Lord without wavering. Examine me, O Lord, and try me; Test my mind and my heart.” Lastly, the Apostle Paul writes, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith, examine yourselves. . . “(Cp. II Corinthians 13: 5a)