By Earl E. Robertson
Saul of Tarsus was going from Jerusalem to Damascus to persecute every Christian he could find. The distance was about one hundred and twenty miles. As he journeyed near Damascus, about noon, the voice of the Lord encountered him. Saul asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” The Lord responded, “Arise, and go into Damascus; and there it shall be told thee of all things which are appointed for thee to do” (Acts 22:10).
What strange words for a sinner if human theology pertaining to salvation is true! Obviously, Saul recognized his need to do something; the Lord told him there were some things appointed for him to do. Augustine’s doctrines, perfected by John Calvin and parroted by lesser lights even in churches of Christ, flatly contradict the idea in the word “do” used by both Saul and Jesus. Shall we allow the mutterings of mere men to destroy our confidence in the actual words of Jesus? Shall we allow “good words and fair speeches” to deceive us (Rom. 16:18)?
The Lord’s response to Saul’s question did not make allowance for Saul to “establish his own righteousness” (Rom. 10:3) and manipulate it to his own salvation, but rather bound him to what was beforehand “appointed for him to do.” God has the right to set the terms by which He will save sinners. In Saul’s case, as in all others, God exercised this inherent right. The means by which sinners are made righteous before God come from without man (2 Pet. 1:3). From without Saul would come words conveying to him exactly what God had already appointed for him and all other sinners to do to be saved. The Lord wanted Saul to “know his will” – the things “appointed for him to do” (Acts 22:14). One cannot intelligently “do” what one does not know. The Lord sent his servant Ananias to Saul to tell him what he “must do” (Acts 9:6, 11). Ananias told Saul what was appointed for him to do – what he must do: “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Now, one can argue a lifetime that baptism is not essential for salvation but it consists of nothing more or less than mere words of mere -men contradicting the eternal words of the eternal God. Do not circumvent the words of God which save believers (Rom. 1:16, 17) by trusting the cheap, fallible judgments of mere men. Respect God’s appointed truths for you.
Guardian of Truth XXV: 23, p. 363
June 4, 1981