By Paul K. Williams
Is there a set pattern to follow for those who desire to become a child of God? Did Jesus authorize a set plan to be saved or did he leave it up to each individual to come in whatsoever way he wanted to.
We know that Moses was given the pattern for building the tabernacle (Heb. 8:5). Moses did not have authority to change that pattern, providing he wanted to please God. We know that Noah was given the pattern for the building of the ark (Gen. 6). He was not allowed to alter the pattern in any way. In order to arrive at the over all pattern to become a child of God, all examples of New Testament conversion must be taken into consideration. No one example of conversion includes all that is required to be saved (I mean it is not so stated). We conclude that all commandments were required even though it is not so stated. Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mk. 16:16). Does this preclude the necessity of repentance and confession? No! “The Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8). Repentance and confession are not mentioned.
When we consider all the listed conversions in the New Testament, we arrive at this conclusion: (1) one must hear the gospel (word of God) – Acts 18:8, (2) one must become a believer in Christ – Acts 16:31, (3) one must repent of his sins – Acts 2:38, (4) one must confess Christ to be the Son of God – Acts 8:37, (5) one must be baptized – Acts 10:48. This appears to be the pattern which all sinners must comply with to receive the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
Preachers and/or teachers have no authority to change what the apostles have bound (Matt. 18:18). Since this is true, then we today are restricted to this pattern, it alone, in telling sinners what to do to be saved. Question! Can these commands be arranged in different order than listed above, or does it makes any difference so long as all are obeyed? I have been hearing and reading that “confession of Jesus” is required before repentance and baptism. The order cited above is H-B-R-C-B, while it is being taught that hear, believe, confess, repent, baptize, is the order. If this is permissible, then why not put baptism before hearing and believing as some teach in denominationalism. Why not put baptism before repentance?
In the conversion of the eunuch, confession was required just before baptism (Acts 8:26-39). While Philip was preaching Jesus to the eunuch they came to a certain water and the eunuch requested baptism. Philip said: “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). This should prove without question that the confession was required just prior to baptism. This being true in the only recorded account of confession in a conversion, then who has the right to teach that it comes before repentance and baptism. We must not, yea, we cannot alter God’s pattern.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 20, p. 627
October 15, 1992