By Leonard Lauriault: QCS columnist
I prepared another article for this week, but last week I received a tract others also probably got and I’m compelled to respond (1 Corinthians 9: 16; Romans 1: 14-17; Acts 20: 25, 26). First, I commend the tract’s distributors for acting on their faith (James 2: 14-26; Matthew 28: 18-20). If every Christian followed this pattern of evangelism, many would be won to Christ. Secondly, the tract was well designed, attractive, easy to read and understandable. Finally, I don’t relish doing this, but it’s got to be done (2 Timothy 2: 25, 26; Titus 1: 9). So, here goes, chips a-fallin’.
After saying we can’t do anything to obtain salvation, even praying, the tract, entitled “The Romans Road to Heaven,” says we must turn from our own way and accept God’s way, simply believing (That requires no effort on our part? John 6: 28, 29). Then, we’re told to pray (more action). There’s the problem — the Bible never mentions praying for forgiveness to become a Christian. There are instances where old and new covenant believers asked God’s forgiveness (Luke 18: 9-14; Acts 8: 18-24). First John 1: 5-9 instructs Christians (new covenant believers) to confess their sins to God to receive forgiveness, but he doesn’t hear non-Christians or unrepentant Christians (John 10: 31).
Because the tract is based on the book of Romans, let’s see what road to salvation the Romans actually took. Bear in mind, though, the nationality of converts or which New Testament book is used really doesn’t matter because the apostle’s teaching was the same everywhere and people were told the same things to become saved (1 Corinthians 4: 17). We’re also to teach the same message taught in the beginning.
Romans mentions many things concerning our salvation, including: belief (Romans 10: 9, 10), repentance (Romans 2: 4-6), confession (Romans 10: 9, 10, Why didn’t the tract mention this?). We must do all these to receive salvation and the tract at least alluded to them all (except confession) just after it quoted Galatians 2: 16b regarding the impossibility of gaining salvation through the works of the law. The “law” mentioned there was the old covenant – Jewish law, which required fleshly circumcision, among other things (Galatians 5: 1-6). Jesus’ death set aside that law (Colossians 2: 13-15), but its righteous requirements are still in effect (Romans 2: 12-16, 25-29; Colossians 2: 6-12, be sure to read all the scripture passages).
The Roman citizen and inspired writer of Romans, later known as Paul, fasted and prayed for three days after he met Jesus personally. Still, his sins had to be washed away (Acts 9: 1-19; 22: 6-16; Romans 10: 13) when God also circumcised his heart. In addition to the requirements for salvation mentioned in the tract (except the “sinner’s prayer”), Paul told the Roman Christians (and Christians today) about their baptism in Romans 6: 1-11 (see also Galatians 2: 19-21; 1 Corinthians 6: 17). These verses connect baptism with repentance — leaving the sinful life by crucifying it; beginning the new life — the Christian life; and eternal life — sharing in Jesus’ resurrection. The Bible never describes baptism as a work. It’s to be received without delay upon belief in Christ (Acts 19: 1-5; Ephesians 1: 13, 14). The method and purpose of baptism also are critical to salvation.
Paul told the Galatian Christians they were God’s heirs through faith because they’d put on Christ in baptism after which God sent his Spirit into their hearts (Galatians 3: 26-4: 7; Acts 2: 36-39; Romans 8: 9). Yes, we do receive Christ by faith — faith that causes us to obey him in baptism (1 Peter 1: 22; Acts 6: 7; John 14: 15).
The tract asked a good question, “What will you do with Jesus?”
The questions now posed are: Why did the tract start out on “The Romans Road to Heaven” and take a detour around Romans 6: 1-11? What will those without Jesus do because they weren’t baptized to have their sins forgiven and to receive his Spirit (Matthew 7: 21-23)? Also, what will those do who cause confusion over the place and purpose of baptism in salvation (Galatians 5: 10; Matthew 25: 46)? Why do they continue disregarding Jesus’ command and teaching through inspired writers about baptism?
If you have any questions or comments, give me a call.