When we open the New Testament, we have the blessing of reading two invaluable things:
1. The inspired record of the things Jesus did and taught.
2. The inspired record of the things Jesus’ chosen apostles did and taught. In no other place can one find these treasures.
In no other place on planet Earth can either of these treasures be found. Therefore, we ought to take great pains to note the things we find in the New Testament Scriptures, as well as those things we do NOT find. The latter—common practices or traditions that are not found in the NT—is what we will consider for a moment here.
Take, for instance, the question of how to be saved. There is a sad state of affairs in our day: many things today are said and taught in response to this all-important, eternity-altering question which are simply not in the New Testament. The question we should ask ourselves is this: “What did the Lord and/or His apostles tell people when they were asked this question?” The answer to that question will be the most valuable information one could ever hope to obtain on the subject. Everything else is completely irrelevant, and utterly worthless.
…we ought to take great pains to note the things we find in the New Testament Scriptures, as well as those things we do NOT find.
Here are some examples of things neither the Lord, nor His apostles, nor any other inspired man, ever told anyone to do to be saved:
- Drink two 12 oz. cans of your favorite soft drink.
- Bathe three hours in 95º lemon juice.
- Read any four of Shakespeare’s classics.
- Acknowledge your sinfulness, “Believe in” Jesus, and “Call upon His name.”
- “Believe in” Jesus and pray the Sinner’s Prayer.
None of these things were ever spoken by the Lord or His inspired apostles. Therefore, as absurd as #2 most certainly is, it is no more absurd than number #5—for their absurdities are both due to the simple fact that they are not from God and will thus not result in salvation!
In truth, the only way one can know how to be saved is to look to the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) on the subject, in the New Testament. When one does that, this is the pattern one finds:
HEAR the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:17)
BELIEVE the Truth/Gospel (Rom. 10:10)
REPENT of Your Sins (Lk. 13:3,5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 26:20)
CONFESS JESUS [i.e., as the Son of God in truth] (Rom. 10:17; cf. Acts 8:34)
BE IMMERSED, IN WATER, UNTO [“in order to“—i.e., “for the purpose of”] THE REMISSION OF SINS (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:36; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:27; Jn. 3:3-5; 1 Pet. 3:20,21)
In no other way can man be saved, but in the way which God has prescribed; and this is what God has said. Will you believe God (cf. Rom. 4:3; Isa. 43:10; Jn. 8:46; Deut. 1:32)?
“ALL THESE CURSES SHALL COME UPON YOU AND PURSUE YOU AND OVERTAKE YOU TILL YOU ARE DESTROYED, BECAUSE YOU DID NOT OBEY THE VOICE OF THE LORD YOUR GOD, TO KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS AND HIS STATUTES THAT HE COMMANDED YOU.”
— D E U T E R O N O M Y 2 8 : 4 5 —