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How do we square believing in Christ with Acts 2:38?

Submitted: 11/10/2007
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Question: I was just wondering, the Bible says that 'If you believe on me you shall not perish but have everlasting life.' All through the Sciptures it talks about believing on Christ and you shall be saved? How do you explain this with our belief that Acts 2:38 is the plan of salvation. Thanks and God bless.

Answer: We would certainly agree that it is necessary to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. The questions is, what does it mean, in a biblical sense, to believe? Today many people think that merely accepting the fact that Jesus died for our sins is enough to qualify as believing, but this falls short of the Bible's meaning. Consider these verses:

Mark 16:15-16
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved....

Acts 18:8
And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.

Acts 16:31-34
So they said,'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.'32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.33...And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Acts 8:36-37
And the eunuch said, 'See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?' 37 Then Philip said,'If you believe with all your heart, you may.'

Romans 6:17-18
But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

To truly believe in Jesus Christ means that you will obey Him from your heart. In this sense, obeying cannot be separated from believing. This is why James wrote that faith without action is dead. We obey because we believe. If we refuse to obey, it only shows that we don't really believe. So when Peter said to 'repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ,' he was simply instructing the people in how to believe.

For more on this subject, please read our article titled 'Fact, Faith, and Experience' on the Doctrine shelf of the Apostolic Free Library (http://www.gloriouschurch.com/html/Fact-Faith-And-Experience.asp)