Aug 27

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Is the plan of salvation really a subject of debate? Most all members of the Lord’s church are aware of this plan and can give it. True, the words “plan of salvation” are not a New Testament phrase, but it identifies something that is true in the simplest terms. Brethren may give it differently, as some will give the five points as follows: 1) believe, 2) repent, 3) confess, 4) be baptized, and 5) live faithfully; others my say it is: 1) hear, 2) believe, 3) repent, 4) confess, and 5) be baptized; while still others may say: 1) hear, 2) believe, 3) repent, 4) confess, 5) be baptized, and 6) live faithfully. There may be others who express it a little differently, but it all comes out just about the same and when not expressed in the correct terms, when someone gives it in any way, if it is generally agreed upon. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to hear that someone really disagrees with the whole subject!
True the words, “plan of salvation,” are not in the New Testament and we are big on “speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent;” but there are areas that need a means of identification, such as “the five acts of worship,” which the same people do not like. There are some who just do not like anything that is organized. For instance, no one has come up with six acts of worship, of course, we can leave one off, but we would be short is expressing the worship. There are some “highly intellectuals” who are “born in the negative mood” and they have a dislike for anyone to disagree with them!
If someone were honestly asking you, “What must I do to be saved?” what would you tell them? You might say, “Well, you have to believe, in other words, you to have faith.” Would you be wrong? No, not as far as you went. When you teach them and are sure they now believe, you then, tell them the next “step” is to repent of your sins. This could go on through the whole plan itself was given. If I recall correctly, it was Walter Scott who was the first one to hold up five figures and give the plan as he had come to understand it. However, it was not as given today and there are reasons for this. If you have studied history of the churches of Christ in America, who are fully aware that those first preachers were working their way out of denominationalism, and they did so one “step” at a time. They had to change what they taught from time to time. Remember, they were coming out “the darkness of false teaching” and had to study their way out. Earl West said it best, “It was a search for the ancient order of things.” Those who object to the word “order” also object to West’s use of the word “order.” But God is an organized being! With these few words before us, we are now ready to dive into our subject.
It is always best to see how the apostles answered or addressed a question or subject. So, here was the question coming from those who were lost: “Men and brethren, what shall we do? “(Acts 2:37). This is the first time such a question had been asked and the first time an answer had been given; therefore, it is the best place to start our subject: “Is there really a plan of salvation?” As we look at Acts two, and hear the words of Acts two, verse thirty-seven, let us understand they were believing lost people! Therefore, Peter was addressing, he was answering a question, coming from the lips of those who believed what he had just preached. This is seen in Luke’s words, “Now when they heard this….”. Peter was to answer their question as directed by the Holy Spirit which had just been given him and the other apostles as recorded in Acts two, verses one through four. All we must do is let Peter answer ours and their question, which he did in verse thirty-eight: “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 Spirit.” This is the first time after Jesus had given them, the apostles, orders to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). Then, Jesus addressed the responsibility of those who heard the gospel: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (verse 16). Was there order to Jesus words? Yes, of course, Jesus had order to his words; he gave a plan, if you will, “he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” and no others! Peter gives the same plan in Acts two, though in different words as he was dealing with the reality of the lost; therefore, “repent and be baptized.” It must not go without noting, that Peter said, “repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for (unto) the remission of sins.” The subject was the forgiveness of sins, as they understood, that they were lost! If, we should so find that other words are given in answer to the same question, asked or unasked, does it mean that Peter was wrong in Acts two, verse thirty-eight? Of course, not!
With the above in mind, we shall let Peter answer for himself. In Acts three, verse eighteen, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.” Did Peter make a mistake? No, not in any way! Once more he was addressing those who understood that believeth came first; therefore, he starts with “repent” and then he threw us a curve. He uses the word “convert.” This is the Greek “epistrepho” and means: “to revert” to a former state, and “turn (about, again) (Strong). Some people have in their mind that “repentance” is a turning but this is not the case! Repent means: “to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider” and is the Greek, ‘metanoeo.“ So no, repentance is not a turning but the determination to turn seeing we have been wrong! Once more we ask, was Peter wrong in giving this answer? No, and no, again! In the case of Saul, he was told by the inspired Ananias to “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Here baptism stood by itself! There was no belief, repentance, or confession! Does this mean that Saul did not have to believe, repent, or confess? No, not in any way! He already believed and had repented and would make the good confession. I can just hear some saying, ,”Oh Frank, you have started putting things into the text that are not there!” To which I say, Once there, always there! God did not play with us about the “plan of salvation!” We must not over look Lydia, as she: “And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul:” And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized,…” (Acts 16:14-15). She was “baptized” and not one word is said about her believing, repenting, or confessing! Did she do these things? Of course, she did! One more case! He is referred to simply as the jailer: “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Here it is! Just “believe” and you are saved! No, this is no different than the other cases and if we should read of a hundred more cases, they would all be of the same kind!
Let the “intellectuals” spew forth their wild venom but it will not change what the inspired preachers said in the first century and what faithful gospel preachers say today! Just think of this way. What greater question is there, than the one about the salvation of our souls? Preachers today sure do not stand above those inspired preachers of the first century! What is the answer to the simple question: “What must I do in order to be saved?” Will the “intellectuals” speak where the New Testament speaks or not, that is the question!
No, in the above we did not cover the confession! Let Paul handle this problem, that is if it be, a problem! Paul addressed this subject: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). Please, notice that “confession” is made “unto salvation!” This is not a confession of our sins, but that Jesus is Lord, Lord of my life! With this I am prepared to put on the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism! Confession is an announcement to all the world, “Jesus is Lord of my life and I bow before him, and his will is supreme in my life!
So, is there a “Plan of salvation” given in the New Testament? Yes! Can it be found? Yes! It is if binding on us today? Yes! Get yourself in a place so you can hear the gospel!

Frank R. Williams

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