On the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ, the gospel was first preached. Acts chapter 2 records Peter’s sermon on this occasion as he preached the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Jesus Christ at the right hand of God (Acts 2:14-36). Upon completing his sermon many believed what he preached and asked, What shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (vv. 37, 38). After exhorting them further (v. 40), they then that received his word were baptized (v. 41). This was the first time the gospel of Christ was preached, people obeyed and the lost were saved. But it wasn t the last.
After the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7), Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and proclaimed unto them the Christ (Acts 8:5). While we are not told specifically what Philip said when he proclaimed unto them the Christ, we can necessarily assume that he preached the same thing he heard the apostles preach in Jerusalem: the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Jesus Christ. Just as Peter did on Pentecost, he undoubtedly preached that they must believe on Jesus as the Son of God, repent of their sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
There are two reasons why we must necessarily infer this. First of all, God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). He would not have required anything different from the Samaritans than from those on Pentecost. Second of all, it can be inferred from the reaction of the Samaritans to Philip’s preaching. But when they believed Philip preaching good tidings concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12). Even the sorcerer Simon also himself believed: and being baptized, he continued with Philip (v. 13).
After preaching in Samaria, the Lord spoke to Philip and told him to go down from Jerusalem unto Gaza (Acts 8:26). There he found an Ethiopian nobleman sitting in his chariot and reading from Isaiah 53. Philip beginning from this scripture, preached unto him Jesus (Acts 8:35). While we re not told what Philip said, we can once again necessarily assume that he preached the same gospel that he preached to the Samaritans that one must believe in Jesus as the Son of God, repent of his sins and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.
This assumption is made because as they went on the way, they came unto a certain water; and the eunuch saith, Behold, here is water what doth hinder me to be baptized? And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him (Acts 8:36, 38). This passage shows the element of baptism to be water and the method of baptism to be immersion as they both went down into the water . . . and he baptized him. In each of these examples of conversion baptism was essential. Those on Pentecost were baptized into Christ (Acts 2:28, 41), as were the Samaritans (Acts 8:12, 13), and now the Ethiopian.
Saul of Tarsus was breathing threatening and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1). On the road to Damascus Jesus appeared to Saul. Upon identifying Himself, Jesus tells Saul that he appeared unto him to appoint him as His apostle to the Gentiles (Acts 26:15-18). But before Saul could fulfill this ministry he must first find the forgiveness of his own sins. Upon asking What shall I do Lord? Jesus told him, Go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee (Acts 22:10).
God then tells Ananias to go find Saul in Damascus where he had been fasting and praying for three days (Acts 9:9, 11). Even though Saul now believed in Jesus as the Son of God and had been praying concerning his salvation, his sins had still not been forgiven, for when Ananias came to Saul he said, And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on his name (Acts 22:16). Saul arose and was baptized (Acts 9:18). To be saved, Saul was given the same instruction as those on Pentecost (Acts 2:38), as the Samaritans (Acts 8:12) and as the Ethopian (Acts 8:38). Saul could not find the forgiveness of his sins through prayer alone. Before his sins could be washed away he had to be baptized into Christ.
Cornelius, a Gentile, was told to send for Peter that he might hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord (Acts 10:33). It’s significant that while God used an angel to tell Cornelius to send for Peter (Acts 10:3-8), God did not miraculously tell him what to do to be saved, but rather relied upon Peter to instruct him. Upon arriving at the house of Cornelius, Peter told him about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 10:34-42), concluding his teaching by saying, that through his name every one that believeth on him shall receive remission of sins (v. 43). Some stop here and conclude that this is all that Peter told Cornelius to do in order to be saved. But is it?
Remember, Peter was sent so that Cornelius might hear all things that have been commanded thee of the Lord (v. 33). The fact is, more was required of Cornelius than faith alone, for Peter asked the question, Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized . . ? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 10:47, 48). Faith only could not save Cornelius any more than it could save those on Pentecost (Acts 2:38), or the Samaritans (Acts 8:12), or the Ethopian (Acts 8:38), or Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:16). Neither will faith only save one today (James 2:24).
As Paul entered Philippi, several Jewish women were worshipping by a riverside. Among them was a woman named Lydia, whose heart the Lord opened to give heed unto the things which were spoken by Paul (Acts 16:14). While we re not told what Paul said to her, we do see her response she was baptized (Acts 16:15). While in Philippi Paul and Silas were imprisoned. When God miraculously intervened to release them the jailor responsible started to commit suicide. As Paul stopped him the jailor asked, What must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house (Acts 16:30, 31). At this point many stop reading and assume that belief alone will save us. But will it?
Certainly belief was essential to his salvation, but more divine instruction was given as, They spake the word of the Lord unto him (v. 32). While what was said is not specifically revealed, once again it must be necessarily assumed he was told the same thing that Paul told Lydia, and that Ananias told Paul (Acts 22:16), and that Philip told the Samaritans (Acts 8:12) and the Ethiopian (Acts 8:38), and that Peter told those on Pentecost (Acts 2:38) and Cornelius (Acts 10:48), because the jailor, was baptized, he and all his immediately (v. 34). Have you been baptized into Christ?