In Christianity, we’ve all been taught to focus on this thing called, “Salvation.”
“Are you saved?
“That was a great revival – 10 people got saved!”
“Maybe that IS a commandment, but I don’t think it will affect my salvation if I don’t obey it.”
But the question we should ask is – was this the focus of the authors of our Bibles, or is this another “evolution” of modern religion? Salvation WAS an issue in the Bible – no doubt, but it was something quite different than what we’ve been taught, and it was NEVER the central preoccupation of believers in those days.
The “Prayer of Salvation” / “Sinner’s Prayer”
“Father, I acknowledge that I am a sinner, and I’m sorry for all the bad things that I have done in my life. I invite your son, Jesus Christ, to come into my heart and to reign in my life from this day forward. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”
That is what evangelical Christianity calls “The Sinner’s Prayer.” If you just recite this prayer, nothing else really matters: you are now saved, and eternal life awaits you when you die. Or, at least that’s what we were sold.
But where did this prayer come from? Was it in the Bible? (No) Did somebody ever teach this to anybody in the New Testament? (No) Do we have a historical record of anybody ever having prayed this in Messiah’s day, or 1,000 years before or 1,000 years after? (Again – no) So when did this BECOME our god’s prescribed manner to enter into His kingdom and inherit eternal life?
To put it simply, it didn’t. Never. This prayer is not Scriptural in any way, was never practiced, never taught, and has about as much validity as Monopoly money.
Let me say this again: saying a prayer doesn’t save a person. Reciting this formula like Harry Potter casting a spell does not fling open the gates of Heaven.
This is an example of “religion.” It is a doctrine that a man invented and teaches to others who all believe it absolutely INSTEAD OF believing what the Bible says.
Now, we’ve arrived at that familiar moment: if what we’ve been taught all our lives actually ISN’T in the Bible, then what IS exactly?
A Consistent Pattern of Practice
What we will see is a very consistent pattern throughout the Bible. If we begin in the New Testament, we’ll see the most clear and detailed examples, and in the most familiar terms to most of us. So let’s see how people began their walks with YHWH and entered into covenant with Him during and after Messiah’s day, and then we’ll see what they did before.
John the Baptist’s Teaching
Matt. 3:11 As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Lesson: First came REPENTANCE and CLEANSING BY WATER and then came the HOLY SPIRIT.
What Yahshua, the Messiah Did
Matt. 3:13 Then Yahshua arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Yahshua answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he permitted him. 16 After being baptized, Yahshua came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of YHWH descending as a dove and lighting on Him.
Lesson: In our perfect example, first came REPENTANCE and CLEANSING BY WATER and then came the HOLY SPIRIT.
What Messiah Taught Others
John 3:5 Yehushua answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Lesson: Baptism in water and baptism of the spirit are NECESSARY parts of salvation.
What the Apostles Taught
Acts 2: 38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Yahshua, the Messiah, for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Lesson: First came REPENTANCE and CLEANSING BY WATER and then came the HOLY SPIRIT.
The Example of the 12 Disciples
Acts 19:1 It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2 He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4 Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Yahshua.” 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the master, Yahshua. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.
Lesson: In the example of these 12 disciples, first came REPENTANCE and BAPTISM and then came the HOLY SPIRIT.
Now, what about the Old Testament?
Sound doctrine is that which brings the entire Bible together in harmony, as opposed to religious teachings which create contradictions. In the case of this pattern, we see it played out perfectly in the Old Testament as Peter explained:
1Cor. 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
So they REPENTED (came out of Egypt), were CLEANSED BY WATER (passing through the sea), and even received the HOLY SPIRIT (‘under the cloud’).
The Pattern is of Messiah
1Cor. 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Messiah
Messiah’s “redemptive work” is considered to be his death, burial and resurrection. And just as our perfect example did, you and I must also do.
When we repent, we are taking an action that symbolizes death. This is how Paul “crucified himself daily.” We are dying to our old lives / selves and putting on the “new man.”
When we are “baptized” we are actually being BURIED with Messiah!
Rom. 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Lastly, as Messiah received life anew in resurrection, so do we receive a new life when the Holy Spirit comes to us and writes His Law on our hearts.
There IS a Little More to It
Those who crossed the sea when they came out of Egypt certainly fulfilled the pattern we’re seeing nicely, but the LACKED a couple of things, and there was a consequence to be paid for it.
1Cor. 10:5 Nevertheless, with most of them YHWH was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness. Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
The first thing many of them lacked was KNOWLEDGE. Remember – it wasn’t until Mt. Sinai (a few weeks later) that they would actually be reminded of all of YHWH’s instructions (Law) for His people. So they didn’t fully understand that when they came into His house, they weren’t supposed to track mud all over His carpet, kick His dog, or take a Pepsi out of His fridge without permission.
The second thing they lacked was HOLINESS. Because they didn’t really KNOW all of these things, they naturally didn’t PRACTICE any of them. And when they broke the rules – even in their ignorance – there was a price to be paid.
So What Do You and I Need to Do?
- “Study to show yourself approved.” Repentance means “coming back to YHWH’s ways.” Naturally, it’s impossible to decide to come back if you really have no idea what you’re coming back to! In the Bible, most of the people had been taught His ways since birth, so we don’t see many clear examples of this step, but in the case of Israel coming out of Egypt, we certainly saw the consequences when it is neglected!
- “Follow me.” Make the conscious decision to stop following men or your own heart or culture or well-seeming philosophies and let the Law of YHWH (found in the Books of Moses) be the guide for your behavior, your standard of right and wrong, and your measure of justice.
- WATER CLEANSING. Be baptized in water “into Yahshua” or in the name of Yahshua for the forgiveness of your past sins. Just remember – from here on out, you are expected to be walking uprightly (i.e. in obedience).
- HOLY SPIRIT. The Laws of YHWH will be written on your heart, and you will have the desire to obey them. It will become a pride and a delight and a passion. This is the whole purpose of the Holy Spirit. (Eze. 11:19-20, Jer. 31:31-33)
- Do as Messiah did and forsake the religions we have been taught and practice obedience to the same Law that YHWH’s people practiced from cover to cover in the Bible. Live as our perfect example, Yahshua the Messiah lived. That’s what made him perfect, just as he commanded us to be.