Understanding Acts 2:38

24 10 2019

“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)

There is a lot of controversy surrounding a particular verse in Acts 2. Many false churches fixate on this verse as the main source of their doctrines. When I come across people from these churches their social media normally has this text prominently displayed, even some churches put it right out on their sign.

There is a danger in what is commonly called proof texting. The Bible is to be understood and interpreted in context. Scripture should be interpreted in light of Scripture. The Bible was never intended to be chopped up in such a way that one verse cancels out another or entire doctrine could be built on the foundation of a single verse without respect to the context the verse is in.

This is called proof texting. It’s dangerous because it always leads to error. Every denomination that calls itself Christian yet veers from orthodoxy does so because they proof text particular verses. I remember door to door witnessing with a pastor and after going to the door of one of these people he moved on and the person followed him down the street yelling “believe Acts 2:38.”

When this happens it’s easy to lose balance and to fixate and even base your entire faith on one particular verse or doctrine. So what does Acts 2:38 mean? Does it cancels out other verses?

Consider Matthew 28:19:

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

Some would say that baptizing in the name of all 3 persons is based on this one verse and yet it’s not. Salvation is a work of all 3 members of the Godhead. The Father decreed it, the Son accomplished it and the Spirit applies it. It follows that the sign and seal of our salvation would be in the authority of all 3 persons.

The Acts 2:38 proponents have one basic problem: the deny the Triune nature of God. I don’t have space to delve in here but the Scriptures teach extensively on the doctrine of the Trinity so this is not a stand alone verse but a verse that can be clearly understood in accord with other Scriptures. Notice the individuality of the persons and yet the singular use of the word “name.”

It’s not the “names” of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It says in the “name” singular of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. They are individual persons but one God, one substance, one essence, one nature.

Does Acts 2:38 change that by saying in Jesus name only? No it doesn’t because you have to understand this verse in context. In this sermon Peter is pointing out that they had rejected Jesus and had crucified Him yet God overruled their objection and raised Him from the dead.

They had rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah and King at His crucifixion. Now they must be baptized in the authority of this man whom they had rejected. He is not ignoring the words of Jesus in Matthew but speaking to the specific attitude of the crowd in front of him.

It would be like me preaching to Roman Catholics and telling them to reject the system of penance and repent of their sins. I don’t mention anything about the Trinity because they have a different issue. When I speak to a follower of the Watchtower I will address their need to recognize that Jesus is God and never mention Rome’s system of penance. It’s about speaking to the needs of the crowd.

Does this verse teach a works salvation? The answer is no because the message of the Bible is one of salvation by grace through faith. We see it in the salvation of Abraham in Romans 4, and it’s heavily emphasized in Ephesians 2 and Colossians 1. We see it also throughout the book of Acts like Acts 8, 10, and 16. We see it again in Romans 3, 5, 8 and 10.

To take this single verse and teach salvation by baptism would be to cancel out all of the passages on faith alone. So we must interpret this verse in light of the overwhelming evidence in the other passages. So what is Peter saying here? I want to use experts from my book “Understanding Believer’s Baptism” which will be available soon from this website.

“A second point pertaining to this verse is the term “for.” This word is often highlighted to demonstrate that the baptism was for or to cause the remission of sins. The problem is that there are several Greek and English uses for the word “for.” The word can also mean, “in order to get” (which is what these folks are saying) or it can mean, “because of, as the result of.

So is Peter saying they must be baptized in order to get forgiveness of sins? If he is then he is contradicting Paul who simply told the jailer in Acts 16:31 to believe.

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.

If I say “take two aspirin for a headache” am I saying to take two aspirin in order to get a headache? Of course not. I’m saying it because you already have one.

The same applies if I said I’m going to Grandma’s house for her birthday. Will she not have a birthday or even a party if I don’t go? Of course she will. My going is not to give her a birthday but because she is having a birthday. This is the clear use of the phrase in this passage.

Salvation is a free gift given by God to those who believe. We are commanded to have repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). We are saved through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Peter is not contradicting these passages. He is not saying you must be baptized in order to complete remission of your sins. He is saying to be baptized because you have remission of sins.”

We know that baptism does not contribute to salvation because Paul clearly separated the Gospel from baptism. We all agree that the Gospel is what saves us the Bible says in Romans 1:16 that the Gospel is the Power of God to salvation so anything necessary for salvation is in the Gospel and yet Paul said God sent him not to baptize but to preach the Gospel.

“For 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.” (1 Corinthians 1:17)

In that verse in Romans 1 Paul says the Gospel is the power of god to salvation for everyone who believes, once again it’s faith alone that saves. In fact the passages that mention salvation apart from baptism are numerous while the baptismal regeneration proof texts are about 3 or 4. It’s more probable that 3 or 4 verses are being misunderstood than that the hundreds of other verses are.





An Inteview with Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones

23 10 2019

Enjoy this interview with Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones. I found his calm explanation of the Gospel refreshing





Prayer Letter: August/September 2019

4 10 2019

Greetings:
We greet you in the name of the Lord and hope this letter finds you well. I apologize for getting this letter out so late but September was an extremely busy month.

Street Ministry:
We had a hot summer in our street ministry. I can’t complain I suppose because the Lord blessed us with a short summer. Our hot months typically stretch from May to October but this year they only lasted from June to August with a few warm days in September.

Our usual spots are the Courthouse, the bus station and the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. We were able to proclaim the Gospel at all of them over the summer.

Prison Ministry:
The Lord has been stirring the hearts of men in both prisons. The men in Lancaster are seeing tremendous answers to prayer including several of the brothers having life sentences reduced. A few men have been released and are serving the Lord with their families now.

The men in North Kern are being stirred with a particular desire for holiness and a desire to share the Gospel on the yard. I was able to minister to a man at our county prison over the summer as well. I hope he continues to seek the Lord.

Prayer Requests:

*Financial support
*A home repair financial need of $3,200 to be met
*Upcoming outreaches in December: PAC 12 Championship outreach; Fiesta Bowl Outreach; Christmas revival at Lancaster prison
Please consider supporting us financially as well as with your prayers. You can give a tax deductible donation.

Giving Instructions:
Give online at http://www.gospelbeacon.org

To give by check simply make the check out to Revival USA with Lighthouse Gospel Ministries in the memo section. You can mail it to us at:

Lighthouse Gospel Ministries
400 McKee Road
Bakersfield, Ca. 93307

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon





3 Pleas for Political Involvement

22 07 2019

I have grown disgusted by the political state in America. This disgust isn’t just with the world but with the way Christians have been dealing with politics. They have dealt with it largely in the same manner as those in the world.

Politics is based on division. Our side vs. their side. Our side is always right and their side is always wrong. This is not what Christians are called to be.

There is so much hypocrisy and vitriol coming from Christians. We act as though the Republican party is God’s party and the Democratic party is Satan’s party. We pretend our leaders are God’s servants while the other side is basically the Antichrist. This is not a Biblical view of politics.

We need to stop demonizing the other side and we need to stop deifying our side. We have to acknowledge when our side is wrong and praise the other side when they are right. I’m not proposing we pretend to agree but we need to talk like Christians.

I wanted to see if we can approach politics with a Biblical worldview and not a conservative or liberal worldview. How does the Bible say Christians should act? Let’s look at a passage of Scripture and draw a few conclusions.

Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” (Titus 3:1-5)

This passage really convicted me about the way I was acting as a follower of Christ when it came to my politics. Let’s go through it and see how we should behave as Christians.

1. Be subject to those in authority. (Vs. 1)

Of course when the law of man violates the law of God we are bound to obey the higher authority (Acts 5:29). We have a habit today however of only believing in submission to authority when “our guy” is in power. Christians regularly looked for reasons to disobey President Obama yet when President Trump took office they completely changed.

Obama was a tyrant and they called his administration a regime in order to liken him to an evil dictator. Once Trump took office all I heard were things like God ordained Trump and God appointed Trump. I agree with that statement, but God ordained and appointed Obama as well.

As a believer I’m not called to obey and submit myself only to Presidents I voted for but to all who are in authority (13:1). In fact by doing this we put our enemies to silence.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” (1 Peter 2:13-15)

2. Don’t trash talk the other side. (Vs. 2)

It’s okay to disagree and to make a case for those disagreements. What’s not okay is to demean, insult and name call the other side. I knew Christians who called President Obama “Emperor Obama.” I knew others ho called him “Obummer.”

Let me say that these are some of Trump’s staunchest supporters and now demand respect for the President. This is hypocrisy. The Bible allows us to disagree but not to malign other people.

We need to treat our political opponents as the image bearers of God, which they are. There is a level of human dignity that we need to uphold. Let’s face it, as Christians we are called to a higher standard.

Let’s also keep in mind that even our opponents who support evil laws (such as the murder of children through abortion) are deceived themselves. We should have some compassion for them. They are not the enemy, there are unseen spiritual forces at work behind the scenes and that is the true enemy (Ephesians 6:12).

3. Remember who you were before Christ. (Vs. 3)

The verse starts out with “For” another way to say it is “because.” So Paul is saying don’t malign these people because you were once like them. You and I were once deceived and serving the god of this world.

Why tear them down as though we were better than them? We aren’t and the reason we are different today is completely outside of us. It’s the kindness of God (vs. 4), given totally outside of anything we have done (vs. 5).

So when you approach politics, don’t run with the crowd. You and I are held to a higher standard, the Word of God. Behave like a child of God and put others to silence. We are not bound to the Republican party but to the Lord Jesus Christ.





Prayer Letter (May-June 2019)

10 07 2019

Greetings:
We greet you in the name of the Lord and hope this letter finds you well. We were blessed with a cool start to the summer this year. It usually reaches the 90’s by May and the 100’s by June but we had rain and cold through most of May and the month of June was pretty moderate with only a few hot days. This is a blessing because the temperature in the chapels can reach 105 to 110 with very little air circulation when it’s hot outside.

Street Ministry:
We are getting involved with some outreach at our local abortion clinic. I was able to be out there a few times over the last 2 months. The Lord allowed us to give out 92 tracts as well as preach to several good listening crowds.

Prison Ministry:
The Lord has been stirring the hearts of men in both prisons. The men in Lancaster are seeing tremendous answers to prayer and the men in North Kern are being stirred with a particular desire for holiness and nearness to the Lord. I find this so encouraging.

North Kern has been plagued by lock downs the warm weather tends to have more violent outbursts and problems between inmates. Pray that this subsides for the rest of the summer. I gave away 20 Bibles, 20 John/Romans, and 140 tracts. I have been able to preach to 70 men with 3 calling on the Lord for salvation. I was able to minister by letter with 8 men.

Please consider supporting us financially as well as with your prayers as we desire to serve the Lord full time in the Gospel ministry. There are so many people who need to hear the Gospel and so little time to labor and serve the Lord in this life.

You can give a tax deductible donation online by clicking the tab above or to give by check simply make the check out to Revival USA with Lighthouse Gospel Ministries in the memo section. You can mail it to us at:

Lighthouse Gospel Ministries
400 McKee Road
Bakersfield, Ca. 93307

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon





Prayer Letter March/April 2019

17 05 2019

Greetings:
We greet you in the name of the Lord and hope this letter finds you well. I mentioned in our last letter that our foster son needed surgery. We made it all the way to prep when they realized there was an error on the court paperwork. We had to postpone and are still waiting for another date.

We have seen major improvements in our foster son and even though both kids are dealing with a lot of trauma we have been able to phase him out of therapy which is a blessing. We have our yearly home inspection in a few weeks for our foster care license so please be in prayer. We have a new social worker so we don’t know what to expect.

They changed some rules which forced us to erect a fence around our above ground pool. It was about $350 we really couldn’t afford but the blessing is that it could have been $300 more. The Lord allowed us to save money by buying a used one and the seller delivered, painted and installed it. Keep praying that we can adopt the kids in the coming months.

Street Ministry:
We have been blessed with cooler weather which is a great blessing when ministering on the streets. We are getting involved with some outreach at our local abortion clinic. I am praying a door opens to do that on a regular basis. Over the last 2 months the Lord allowed us to give out 112 tracts on the streets as well as have several good conversations with people about the Gospel.

We are going to Fresno (about 2 hours away) quarterly to reach out to the large homeless population there. We were there March and gave away 40 Bibles as well as provided a meal for 111 people. We were able to engage some about their souls as well.

Prison Ministry:
I was contacted about a man in our county jail on attempted murder charges. I was able to visit and share the Gospel with him as well as send him some books to help him. Pray for Luis and I will try and keep contact with him to keep sharing the Gospel. In Lancaster we are seeing great answers to prayer among the men and a great desire among the men to share the Gospel. One yard has even arranged a weekly outreach time.

North Kern has been plagued by lock downs but in those times they have been open God has worked in the men’s hearts. I gave away 43 Bibles, 40 John/Romans, and 431 tracts. I have been able to preach to 158 men with 7 calling on the Lord for salvation. I have sent 4 Christian books to men requesting Christian materials.

Please consider supporting us financially as well as with your prayers as we desire to serve the Lord full time in the Gospel ministry. There are so many people who need to hear the Gospel and so little time to labor and serve the Lord in this life.

You can give a tax deductible donation by clicking the “donate” tab above or to give by check simply make the check out to Revival USA with Lighthouse Gospel Ministries in the memo section. You can mail it to us at:

Lighthouse Gospel Ministries
400 McKee Road
Bakersfield, Ca. 93307

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon





Garland Family Prayer Letter (Jan-Feb 2019)

5 04 2019

Greetings:
We greet you in the name of the Lord and hope this letter finds you well. Our year started off very busy which is something we are grateful for. Our family is doing well and the kids have been keeping us busy. Our foster son has a need for minor surgery which we hope to have done in late April. We are waiting for court approval.

We have had complications in the adoption process. It seems a family member has come forward for the kids. But it doesn’t seem to be good environment for them nor to our knowledge have they ever met this person. We are worried they may lose all of the progress and stability they have had over the last 6 months in our home.

Pray with us that the judge will allow us to adopt them. We have the support of the social worker and a therapist but the Lord ultimately decides these matters. It may be God’s will for us to never adopt and to only be a sort of orphanage to care for many children temporarily. If that is His will we are certainly pray for it but we love these kids and would like to make them a part of our family forever.

Street Ministry:
The year started with outreach at the College Football Championship weekend in San Jose, California. It was a great weekend with a few other evangelists. We stayed in a beautiful home in Oakland that has been around for over 100 years. We were rained out one day but the others were very fruitful. Hundreds of tracts were given out and the Word was preached.

In February I attended my 7th straight Super Bowl Outreach in Atlanta, Georgia. The crowds seemed larger than in most previous years. Good conversations were had, the Lord brought many across our path who were ready to hear and receive the Word. Our local street ministry continues. Over the last 2 months we gave out 62 tracts as well as 3 Bibles and 1 John/Romans

Prison Ministry:
In January I was able to renew my clearance at both prisons. The new system allows my clearance now to only expire every 5 years. This is a huge blessing. The men in reception at North Kern have been ready to hear the Word. I had 3 men call on the Lord and 3 others who confessed they were concerned about their souls. 20 Bibles and 20 Johns/Romans were given away and 100 tracts went to the men.

My first time back in Lancaster was also a blessing. Many of the men were sharing stories of answers to prayer. The new prison laws are allowing many of them early release and they are all finding good churches. We had another man released in February so we all laid hands on him and prayed after issuing a charge to walk in God’s path on the outside like he has on the inside.

Please consider supporting us financially as well as with your prayers as we desire to serve the Lord full time in the Gospel ministry. There are so many people who need to hear the Gospel and so little time to labor and serve the Lord in this life.

You can give a tax deductible donation online by clicking the tab at the top or to give by check simply make the check out to Revival USA with Lighthouse Gospel Ministries in the memo section. You can mail it to us at:

Lighthouse Gospel Ministries
400 McKee Road
Bakersfield, Ca. 93307

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our dead bodies. And if they perish, let them perish with our arms wrapped about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go unwarned and unprayed for.” C.H. Spurgeon








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