Belief in Christ and Forgiveness of Sins

imagesThird, belief in Christ results to remission of sins. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins’” (Acts 2:38). The preposition, “for,” basically means, “for the purpose of.” Repentance and baptism are for the intent of forgiveness of sin. Clearly, repentance and baptism are for the purpose of forgiveness of sins.

Many stumble over these words. Some think that baptism is for the purpose of forgiveness of sins. Baptism therefore is required for salvation. However, Peter requires both repentance and baptism to be forgiven. It is not baptism alone that is required for forgiveness of sins. It is repentance resulting to baptism that is required for forgiveness. It is baptism resulting from repentance that is required for forgiveness. Baptism is not essential to salvation. But repentance and baptism are essential to belief in Christ.

Others think that the preposition, “for,” can mean, “because of” or “on the basis of.” Peter would be saying, “Repent and be baptized, because of forgiveness of sins.” If so, then forgiveness of sins precedes repentance and baptism. They are forgiven first before they repent and be baptized. However, it does not fit the pattern in Luke-Acts. In Luke-Acts, baptism always precedes forgiveness of sins. John preached a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. Peter preached repentance and baptism for forgiveness of sins. The pattern is repentance, baptism, and then, forgiveness of sins.

The point of Luke is that baptism is the response of repentance. For Luke, the response of repentance is baptism in Acts 2. The response of faith is baptism in Acts 16. Thus, baptism is the response of repentance and faith in Christ. Repentance is the reality; baptism is the ritual. For Peter, the reality and the ritual go together. The reality bears fruit in the ritual. The ritual is the fruit of the reality. Thus, repentance is the internal reality of baptism. Baptism is the external ritual of repentance. Both are required for the forgiveness of sins.

Fourth, belief in Christ results to the reception of the Spirit. “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’” (Acts 2:38). Luke shows in Acts that everyone who repented also received the gift of the Spirit. The gift of the Spirit is the baptism of the Spirit, who is the promise of the Father (Acts 1:4-5). The gift of the Spirit is given to those who repent and believe in Christ.

Thus, belief in Christ involves four elements. A person who trusts Christ will repent. He will follow the rite of baptism. He will receive forgiveness his sins. He will receive the gift of the Spirit.

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