“PROVE ALL THINGS; HOLD FAST THAT WHICH IS GOOD.”
1 THESSALONIANS 5:21
As we have emphasized in the last few installments, one of the keys to correct Bible interpretation is the use of valid logic and reasoning, just as we would (and do) in normal, everyday conversation.
Consider, for instance, Acts 2:38:
“And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit…'”
Many are so intimidated by this verse that they have a premeditated defense ready at all times. Their purpose is clear: to hold to what they want to believe (i.e., their tradition—cf. Mark. 7:9) as true, rather than humbly accept what Scriptures say or otherwise teach. This approach is neither scholarly nor sincere.
In regard to Acts 2:38, let us ask simply this:
WHY DID PETER SAY WHAT HE SAID IN THAT VERSE? WHAT WAS THE OCCASION? WHAT IS THE CONTEXT?
It was Pentecost, A.D. 30, and Peter had preached a hard-hitting sermon to the Jews assembled, which convicted them of crucifying the Christ. Upon experiencing this “toe-stomping,” 3,000 of the hearers were pricked in their heart” (37a). As a result of this “pricking,” they asked a simple, direct question: “Brethren, what shall we do?” (37b).
Many are so intimidated by [Acts 2:38] that they have a premeditated defense ready at all times. Their purpose is clear: to hold to what they want to believe (i.e., their tradition—cf. Mark 7:9) as true, rather than accept what the Scriptures actually say or otherwise teach.
The meaning of their question is plain: “What shall we do to be forgiven of the sin of which you have rightly convicted us?” When thus (properly) understood, all manner of twisting, dancing, and dodging can make no difference. Acts 2:38 is a direct answer to a direct question of what they must do in order to be forgiven/saved!
And what was that answer?
2. Be immersed (in water—cf. John 3:3-5; Rom. 6:3,4; Eph. 4:5; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Thus, whatever significance is attached to repentance in God’s plan, the same must be attached to water baptism—and honest students who respect God and His word will believe and obey.