Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"What must I do to be Saved?"

"What must I do to be saved?"  

Surely there are few greater inquires that any believer would ask of God!

Many would likely disagree with this assertion and some might point out that there are actually a number of variations to this all-important question are asked in the Bible.  In at least 4 different instances, there would appear to be no less than 4 different answers...

1.  The Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-19  

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”

So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”

In this particular instance Jesus Himself told the Young Ruler to basically just keep the Law of Moses.

Why was he not told to obey the Gospel?

2.  The Jews on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:36-38

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

\Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

This time Peter told the Jews that they needed to repent and be baptized.

Why were the Jews not told to believe?

3.  Paul in Acts 22:10, 16

So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’

And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’

Paul recounted that he was told in a vision that he should "arise and be baptized".

Why was Paul not told to believe or repent?

4.  The Philippian Jailer and his Household in Acts 16:26-30

Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.  And the keeper of the prison, awaking from sleep and seeing the prison doors open, supposing the prisoners had fled, drew his sword and was about to kill himself.  But Paul called with a loud voice, saying, “Do yourself no harm, for we are all here.”

Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas.  And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Paul and Silas told the Philipian Jailer that he and his household need only believe in Jesus to be saved.

Why did Paul and Silas leave out baptism and repentance?


At first glance, three different answers to the same question would appear to be a major inconsistency  in the Scriptures when it comes to salvation.  An incongruence such as this would justifiably cause some to wonder about the validity of the Word of God as a whole!

But, rather than be satisfied with these Biblical "sound-bytes", let us dig a little deeper and examine context of each of these instances.  Let us see if we can't make sense of these apparently different responses and find a definitive answer once and for all.


1.  The Young Ruler 

Looking back at the instance involving the Young Ruler, we must look at the historical context in relation to the Scriptures.  During this time in which Jesus was still on Earth in the flesh, the New Covenant was not yet in effect.  Jesus was right to tell the Young Ruler to follow the Old Law since the New Covenant was yet to arrive.  Only after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection was the Old Law done away with to make way for the New.

Colossians 2:14  ...Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 

Ephesians 2:14-16  For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,  having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.

Hebrews 8:13  In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.

At the time when the Young Ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told him to obey the Law of Moses because that law was still in effect.

2.  The Jews on the Day of Pentecost

Reexamining the answer that Peter gave to the Jews, it is again important to examine the historical context.  As previously discussed, we have already established that the New Law did not come into effect until after Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection.  Notice that the 2nd chapter of Acts takes place after these events.  The Day of Pentecost is famously remembered as being the occasion of the first Gospel sermon.

Toward the conclusion of Peter's message, the Jews were charged with bringing about the death of Christ.  As we read, we know that they were "cut to the heart" and they subsequently asked what they should do about it.  Remembering that the New Law was now in effect following Christ's death, the Jews were rightly told to repent and be baptized. 

One might ask why they were not told to believe.  The answer is simple:  We can infer that the Jews were aware of who Jesus was at this point.  They would have known Him in the flesh and witnessed His teachings.  They now knew that He was the Son of God and that they were responsible for His death.  If they did not believe why would they ask what they needed to do to avoid condemnation?  It is apparent that the Jews already believed, and that being the case, they need not be told to do so once again.

3.  Paul

Once again, context is very important to consider.  Remember that prior to becoming the Apostle Paul, he was known as Saul, a man who was definitely not a believer in Jesus.

Acts 8:3  As for Saul, he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.

When Saul was on his way to Damascus, "still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord", he had a vision of the Lord that caused him to have a change of heart.

Acts 9:4-6  Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”

And he said, “Who are You, Lord?”

Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?”

Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Annanias met Saul in the city and baptized him.

It is evident, that following the vision, Saul believed.  His actions proved his working faith that would lead him to become the Apostle Paul, as he would soon come to be known.

What about repentance?  In Acts 9:9, 11 we read that Paul was in prayer for three days.  Imagine how Paul must have felt realizing that he had done so much damage to the church! We can infer that Paul was praying for repentance at during this prolonged period.   Additionally, this can be further evidenced by Paul's future teachings on the importance of repentance.

4.  The Philipian Jailer and his Household

Unlike the others we have discussed up to this point, the Jailer was not aware of who Jesus was.  Therefore we see that he was taught the Word by Paul and Silas.

Acts 16:31-34  So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.  Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.

After the Jailer and his household were taught the Gospel message, they believed as evidenced by their being baptized immediately thereafter.

Additionally, we can find evidence for the Jailer and his household's repentance in the 33rd verse in which it is mentioned that they "washed their stripes."  The "stripes" spoken of here were the wounds that the Jailer had previously inflicted upon Paul and Silas when they were whipped in the prison.  The Jailer washed their wounds, demonstrating his sorrow for his sinful deeds against them.


Rather than an inconsistency, we instead see that these 4 "different" answers to the same question actually reveal a consistent message regarding what one must do to be saved.

We must recognize that the Word of God and the teaching of Christ and His disciples are consistent!

Jesus Himself stressed the importance of repentance and baptism.

Luke 13:3  I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Mark 16:16  He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

Notice that even when the question, "What must I do to be saved?" is not asked explicitly...
  • The Ethiopian Eunuch was taught the Word and subsequently baptized in Acts 8:26-39.
  • During the first Gentile conversion involving Cornelius the Centurion, teaching was followed by repentance and baptism in  Acts 10.

Why resist what the Bible plainly and consistently states regarding salvation?


Note:  This lesson was originally presented by Steve Clayton at Science Hill Church of Christ.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Lord's Supper

Through the course of this lesson I hope to address some common questions that one may have about the Lord’s Supper, such as:  Where did the Lord’s Supper come from?  What is the Lord’s Supper?  What is it not?  Why do we partake of the Lord’s Supper?  How should we conduct ourselves during the Lord’s Supper?

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

Where did the Lord’s Supper come from?  Appropriately enough, it came from the Lord Himself!

We have several accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Let us read the account from Matthew at this time.

Matthew 26:26-29 - And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” 

What the Lord’s Supper is Not

I think it’s important to understand that the Lord’s Supper is not a common meal.  This is a mistake that some of the early Christians made.

1 Corinthians 11:20-22 - Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Reading through these verses, it is apparent that some of the early Christians were incorrectly observing the Lord’s Supper and treating it as a carnal feast, like a barbecue or something someone would have with their friends on the weekend.  Certainly fellowship among Christians is encouraged throughout the Scriptures, but the Lord’s Supper is not a common feast.

Paul corrected and rebuked the offenders in these verses as their conduct was not praise worthy.  The Lord’s Supper is to be an act of worship in which focus is on our spiritual nourishment, not fulfilling a physical need for food and drink.

“In Remembrance of Me”

Why did Jesus institute the Lords Supper?  In Luke’s account we find an answer to this question.

Luke 22:19-20 - And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you..." 

In the latter part of Luke 22:19, Jesus states that the purpose of what He is doing is to be “in remembrance of Me.”  Basically, the Lord’s Supper is a memorial feast.  This is an act of worship in which we are setting our minds back to the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, not only His death, but also His resurrection which is the very foundation of our faith!

Emblems of the Lord’s Supper

The Lord’s Supper is symbolic in some ways (much like baptism).  Jesus states in Luke 22:19-20 that the bread represents His body and that the “cup” or the fruit of the vine symbolizes the His blood that is shed for us.

Some believe that during the Lord’s Supper the bread actually becomes the flesh of Christ and the fruit of the vine becomes His blood.  We are hard-pressed to find any evidence of this in the Bible, so we must conclude that this is symbolic in nature; The bread and fruit of the vine represent Christ’s flesh and blood, but do not actually, physically transform into them.

Observation of the Lord’s Supper

When are we to partake of the Lord’s Supper?  In Matthew and Luke’s account, the Apostles are partaking in the Lord’s Supper, but we can also see that early Christians partook in the Lord’s Supper during worship.

Acts 20:7 - Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.

From this verse we can see that the Lord’s Supper (although it is not called such here) is to be done of the first day of the week.  There are no other mentions in the Bible that indicate any other day of the week for the Lord’s Supper to take place.

How often should we partake of the Lord’s Supper? 

Acts 2:42 - And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

In this verse we read that the first Christians, those baptized on the day of Pentecost, continued steadfastly not only in the Apostle’s doctrine, fellowship, and in prayers, but also in the “breaking of the bread.”  The word “steadfastly” insinuates that this was not something that they did just once, but rather that this was an act of worship that they observed on a regular basis.

From Acts 20:7 and Acts 2:42, we can tell that the Lord’s Supper is to be observed regularly on the first day of the week.  Seeing that the first day of the week occurs every week, we can deduce that the Lord's Supper is to be partaken on a weekly basis.

Who can/should partake of the Lord’s Supper?  

I think that Acts 2 also gives us an answer as to who partake of the Lord’s Supper.  It’s Christians who observe the Lord’s Supper.  The people who were continuing steadfastly in the breaking of the bread were those that were baptized on the day of Pentecost.  The Bible indicates that the Lord’s Supper that is to be observed by Christians on the first day of the week.

Conduct during the Lord’s Supper

How are we to conduct ourselves while partaking of the Lord’s Supper?

How should we conduct ourselves during worship in general?

The Israelites in the Old Testament were rebuked for inappropriate worship.

Malachi 3:8-9 Will a man rob God?  Yet you have robbed Me!  But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’  In tithes and offerings.  You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.

The Israelites were offering less than their best to God, sacrificing lame and sick livestock.

Malachi 1:6-8 “A son honors his father, And a servant his master.  If then I am the Father, Where is My honor? And if I am a Master, Where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts To you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, ‘In what way have we despised Your name?’  “You offer defiled food on My altar, But say, ‘In what way have we defiled You?’  By saying, ‘The table of the Lord is contemptible.’  And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, Is it not evil?  And when you offer the lame and sick,  Is it not evil?  Offer it then to your governor!  Would he be pleased with you?  Would he accept you favorably?”  Says the Lord of hosts.

The Israelites were not exhibiting the proper measure of reverence in their worship.  They were offering less than their best.  Obviously, this type of worship was not pleasing to God!

For a more specific answer to the original question, let us turn to 1 Corinthians 11.

1 Corinthians 11:23-29 - For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.  Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

From this reading, we notice several things.

First of all, as we have already read, the Lord’s Supper is to be observed in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice, His death and resurrection.  I think that it is clear that this is a solemn event that should be approached with reverence.  The Lord’s Supper, much like the other acts of worship we offer to our God, is not something to be taken lightly.

We must not partake in an “unworthy manner” as Paul states in verse 27, which would make us guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.  I think this verse shows us how serious and solemn the observation of the Lord’s Supper should be.  

Additionally, each one that partakes of the Lord’s Supper should “examine himself.”  Sometimes it is hard to focus on the Lord’s Supper. We should make every effort to set our thoughts on Jesus.  This is almost like a time of meditation in which Jesus is the primary focus of our thoughts.

Some have suggested ways to assist in doing this since our minds tend to wander. Oftentimes we sing a song to help us get into the proper mood and mindset.   Memorizing Scripture to focus on or even open your Bible to read during this time could also be beneficial.

Above all, we must remember that the Lord’s Supper is to be done with reverence, as with any other act of worship.  We must apply the appropriate focus and mindset when we partake.  During the Lord’s Supper, we cannot allow our minds to wander and be distracted by other things.


I hope this lesson has answered questions that some may have had concerning the Lord’s Supper.  I think it is good for Christians to sometimes go back and study fundamental topics such as this and encourage anyone that has any questions to please simply ask.

Before we fully conclude this lesson, let us turn to Luke 22:30 which, once again, gives us a clue as to who can partake of the Lord’s Supper (although this verse does not specifically refer to the Lord's Supper).

Luke 22:30 - ...That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

This verse indicates that the Lord’s table is in His kingdom.  Therefore, we must conclude that in order to eat and drink at His table or partake of the Lord’s Supper, we must be members of Christ’s kingdom.  How do we become members of the Lord’s kingdom?

John 3:3-5 - Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.

I think it’s important to remember that in order to partake of the Lord’s Supper, we must first be a part of His kingdom.  In order to be a part of Christ’s kingdom, we must first become a Christian.