The Best Life Here and
'He that believeth and is baptised
shall be saved.'
R M Payne
1 Kenilworth Avenue
Prepared for use on the internet by Arches church of Christ,
Belfast, Northern Ireland.
MAN'S short life in this world cannot satisfy his soul. If he
lives without a view above and beyond this world his life is only
in degree better than that of an animal. Every part of his being
is worthy of a life much superior to that of the animal in both
its duration and its nature. His best desire is for peace and
happiness and for the continuation of his existence, that he may
exercise and develop the higher powers God has endowed him with.
If his mind should be set on the things that are unseen and
eternal, that does not necessarily weaken his belief that the
welfare of this present world is of prime importance. How to be
right for both here and hereafter is a problem worth considering.
It is also true that to ignore or deny our existence hereafter
does not make us more capable of improving our present life or
reforming the world. The reverse is the case, as we can only
improve the life that now is by living for that which is to come.
The infidel in his proposals for reform is, as a rule, vainly
striving to attain to the social life which was taught by Jesus
as a condition and preparation for our entrance into Heaven.
God left the Gentile nations free for four thousand years to work
out their own salvation in their national and social life, and
instead of improving they became worse and without hope. The
ancients were quick in observation - they could marshal facts,
they were capable in organisation and strong in action - and yet
they failed. It seems impossible to convince man that his power
is very limited. Wrecks and ruins strew his path through the
ages. The Jews rejected God and His guidance and they failed.
After four thousand years, Jesus came and taught that we must
look above the things of this world and view life in its wider
and higher sense, and in its relationship to God. He insisted
that the things pertaining to the soul and the spirit must come
first and the things of the body would naturally follow. He
showed that as we receive and develop spiritual life our power
and desire to improve the present life will increase. Only
through the spiritual life can man remove the lust and
selfishness and injustice that bring misery and ruin, and only by
the spiritual life can we attain to eternal life. In the
Scriptures, eternal, when applied to life, speaks beyond doubt of
duration, but it also indicates quality. Sin mars this life and
leaves us without hope at the resurrection. Man cannot save
himself. Education and personal effort, apart from God-given
means, cannot overcome evil and far less can they obtain
forgiveness for the past. Therefore, God is our only hope. Our
Heavenly Father saw our hopelessness and in His infinite wisdom
and almighty power prepared a way of deliverance.
It is to God's offered means of salvation that we wish to
respectfully draw your attention. As fellow-men we approach you.
Since the apostolic age no person or Church has been empowered,
or commissioned, to speak authoritatively for God. Under the New
Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles alone spoke with
authority, and the New Testament is the only authentic record of
their lives and teaching. We, therefore, draw your attention to
what they proclaimed in the name of God.
What Churches may teach, or what professing Christians may do,
should not deter you from listening to what God has spoken
through His inspired messengers. In the sacred word there is
safety and simplicity. The divine message can bring you to Jesus
in whom is salvation. No Church, or system of doctrine, can save
you. You first come to Jesus and then through Him to the Church
(Local). It is not by joining a Church you come to Jesus. His
word explains how you can come to Him.
God created you for His fellowship and friendship here on earth
and thereafter in heaven. It is unreasonable to expect that you
can obtain peace of soul and happiness of life, or attain to
eternal life, in the world over which God rules if you slight His
existence and reject His overtures.
With reverence and fear hear what God, in the Gospels, says
concerning His Son, our Lord and Saviour, and learn of His
commands as exemplified in the Acts of Apostles.
The Demands of the Gospel in Conversion.
THE Gospel in the main tells what God has done for man but it
also makes great definite demands of man. It asks for a full
surrender and an unconditional pledge of obedience to Christ, To
hate sin and to live righteously is required of each person. It
recognises no half measures but insists that a man be out and out
one thing or another. He must yield body, soul, and spirit. He
must be born again and begin a new life.
These are decisive demands that God requires of us and they go
beyond what man in himself could satisfy, but along with God's
requirements the Gospel supplies the means whereby all creation
may meet what is required of them. The Gospel is the power of God
unto salvation. We cannot from man's reason learn the dreadful
consequences of sin and how we may avoid them. Neither man nor
nature can give us a knowledge of God, or His will toward man. In
ourselves we are unable to purify the heart, or make the life
righteous. Man cannot blot out his sin against God, nor can his
mind conceive as to the future life. These things call for the
power and the wisdom of God. In the Gospel of the Lord Jesus
Christ, God has supplied to the full all that is necessary.
The Gospel gives enlightenment to the mind. It can change and
purify the heart and draw our affections to God. It constrains
and enables us to surrender our will to that of God. It shows how
we may confess and come to Christ and receive remission of sins.
it instructs us how to live for Christ and remain faithful to our
confession. It tells of the resurrection, and of a blessed hope
in the hereafter - in short, it can beget in us a new life. If
the Word, which is the seed, is received into a good and honest
heart it begets life and brings forth fruit. The truth is the
means through which the Holy Spirit convicts, and converts, man.
The listening ear, the open mind, and the understanding heart,
are what is asked of man. To whom should he give heed if not to
his Creator, the God of love and mercy?
All that man may do is without merit and is insignificant when
compared with that God has done on his behalf in the scheme of
redemption, and humanity was entirely helpless until God, in the
Gospel, opened up a new way.
The four Gospels prove that Jesus is the Son of God, and faith in
Him opens our eyes to the revelation He has given of the Father.
We see God in His grace and truth. Our faith opens our eyes as to
our own state and our position toward God, and gives a view of
our real relationship to this world and our fellow-man. Faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ brings Him into our heart and if He is
enthroned sin will depart. Faith purifies the heart. Faith in the
heart urges us to seek Jesus and produces the surrender of our
will as in repentance. We resolve to act on our faith and perfect
it in action.
With the mind enlightened by the truth, our heart made true, and
our will in full submission, we feel that within we have, through
the Lord Jesus Christ, entirely turned toward God and we then
long to complete our conversion by changing our outward life. We
wish to declare our inward change and openly confess Christ. The
Lord asks that you do this by confessing Him as the Son of God
and as your Lord, and then being immersed into His name. From
your baptism you rise to walk in newness of life. The Ethiopian
eunuch openly confessed Jesus as the Son of God, and publicly
declared his faith, and made it acceptable to God by being
baptised into Jesus Christ. In the words of the Apostle Peter, we
say, 'he purified his soul in obeying the truth.'
As Christ died for the sin of the world, pardon and everlasting
life are now offered, through Him, to those who believe in God
and hear the words of His Son. The words of Jesus to the whole
creation, Jew and Gentile, are, 'he that believeth and is
baptised shall be saved.' If you do believe in Jesus, as the
people did at Pentecost, then, in the words of Peter, we say,
'repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ, for the remission of sins.' If you believe and have
repented, as had Saul of Tarsus, then, in the words of Ananias,
we say, 'arise, and be baptised and wash away thy sins calling on
[confessing] the name of the Lord.' 'Then they that gladly
received the word were baptised: and the same day there were
added unto them about three thousand souls.' 'And the Lord added
to the church daily such as should be saved.
To Anxious Inquirers.
What Shall We do?
(ACTS II. 27).
MANY preachers and tracts ask us to have simple faith, meaning
only believe, and they speak of the moment you believe and of the
instant you receive life. At the same time they suggest that you
can be saved, where you sit, by resolving to accept Christ. But
these are not Scriptural words nor New Testament ideas.
Moreover, to tell inquirers to only believe bewilders their mind
as they already believe that Jesus is the Son of God and the
Saviour of the world, and they accept as true what is taught in
the Bible. Their conviction as to the truth of the Gospel will
likely have been unwavering for years while they continued to
live for this world. They have no doubt as to the claims of Jesus
being genuine, but that belief in itself has not brought any
assurance of their salvation, and no person can tell them of
anything else that they should believe.
The trouble of inquirers arises not because of what they should
believe but because they only believe. Their strong feeling which
comes from their believing, and which cries out 'what shall we
do?' leads them in a correct way, but instructors often take them
astray from the path of duty, instead of bringing them to the
guidance of the Lord and his Apostles as given in Mark 16:16;
Luke 24:47; John 3:5: Acts 2:38. The anxious room, in our
country, provides many examples of the blind leading the blind.
If we try to avoid having a prejudice against the four passages
we above refer to and others with the same teaching, it is
difficult to understand how we can interpret John 3:16 so that it
contradicts the unavoidable teaching of so many passages, and the
pervading doctrine of the New Testament that we obtain and can
keep possession of eternal salvation by obedience to Christ in
addition to believing Heb. 5:9 etc. The word of God nowhere says
that belief in Christ is a momentary act and bold assertion by
man does not make it true. Paul says he had kept the faith and
that the just shall live by faith, and he speaks of them that
believe to the saving of the soul, and of them who through faith
and patience inherit the promises.
Paul was baptised and washed away his sins, yet he says he was
justified by faith (Acts 22:16, Romans 5:1). His believing
carried him on through confession and baptism to Jesus Christ and
forgiveness. He believed to the saving of his soul and entered
into everlasting life.
Believing on Christ implies the acceptance of His words. He said,
'he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath
everlasting life;' here heareth means more than to listen. Again
he saith, 'whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of
him shall the Son of Man be ashamed.' Now Jesus says, 'he that
believeth and is baptised shall be saved.' These are the words of
Christ; are we prepared to believe in Him? When Paul spoke the
word of the Lord to the Philippian jailor, he believed, and was
baptised the same hour of the night. Many who profess the name of
Christ refuse to accept his teaching that baptism is a condition
of pardon and of entrance into the Kingdom of God.
'Believe in Christ' is used in many passages with a comprehensive
special sense, and sometimes covers repentance, turning to the
Lord, and living for Him. James says that faith by itself is
dead. Noah built an ark by faith, but not by 'faith alone.' To
fear God means more than to reverence Him in your mind; it
includes living for God. And to believe in Christ means more than
having a conviction in the mind; it includes a change of heart
and will, and a submission of our life. The scriptures show that
not only a decision but a full conversion is necessary, and so
the inspired word calls for repentance, confession of Jesus as
your Lord, and baptism into Christ in order to an assurance of
pardon and adoption.
The present-day preachers often speak eloquently of what God,
through His Son, has done in the work of redemption, making a
full atonement, and thus they open the minds and influence the
hearts of their hearers toward the Saviour, but, as a rule, they
fail to lead their audience to a knowledge of scriptural
conversion, as it is exemplified in the Acts and explained in the
Gospels and Epistles. It is safe to bring all theories and
popular sayings to the test of the word of God. Let us pray that
our theories may not blind us to the truth or may not take away
our reasonableness and commonsense.
They who preach 'only believe' contradict their own teaching when
they insist on a decision. Certainly God commandeth all men
everywhere to repent, but His word is consistent and therefore
never says 'only believe.' Faith alone is only mentioned to be
condemned (James 2). Decision or repentance while an outcome of
faith is in addition to and not a part of belief. The devils
believe, although they have not repented. They only believe. The
chief rulers believed although they did not add to their faith
repentance and to their repentance confession (John 12:42).
In contrast to these, Abraham by obedience perfected his faith
and made it acceptable to God (James 2:22). His faith was not
only in his mind but lived in his heart and was clothed in action
(Genesis 22:16-18). Faith moved him to obedience. His was a work
of faith, not of law or of merit. It was through faith and by
grace he received the friendship of God. May our faith carry us
on past 'only believe' to where by obedience our faith is made
acceptable to God, and by His grace it is reckoned as
righteousness. We should walk in the steps of that faith of our
father Abraham (Romans 4:12).
The woman, with the issue of blood, came into contact with the
Saviour, not by the belief in her heart alone, but by an act
resolved on through her faith - a work of faith. The thief on the
cross not only believed but openly confessed Christ and
demonstrated his faith as far as his circumstances permitted or
Christ required of him. Even before the death and resurrection of
Christ and his enthronement in heaven, and before the gospel
dispensation and the world-wide commission, when the faith of
Christ's immediate followers failed them, the thief seemed to
look into the future with unwavering trust in Jesus and his faith
raised him above his unfavourable circumstances and brought him
to the physical act of confession. May you, like the thief, have
Christ's own word that you are saved. His word to you and to
every creature since Pentecost is 'he that believeth and is
baptised shall be saved.'
Any person who loves the Lord will desire not only that in
believing his mind should be given to Christ, and that in
repentance his will and the affections of his heart should be
yielded up, but also that he should come to Christ in person and
by one act give him body, soul and spirit in one. This God
requires in baptism. In primitive times confession of Jesus as
Lord was associated with baptism. With a mind and heart
regenerated by the Gospel and having now died to the world, they
who believe do in baptism give their whole being to Him who died
for their sins (Romans 6:1-8). They are baptised into Christ and
thus put on Christ (Gal. 3:27).
These requirements cannot be inconsistent with full atonement by
the blood of Jesus, or with salvation by grace, as each and all
are clearly taught. Only superficial and unsound reasoning
presumes to make them contradictory. Faith by itself, although it
be mental, is as much an act of man as is the obedience of faith.
Neither have merit. Combined they simply bring us to Him who can
save us. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust
and obey. May we all be faithful unto death and at our Lord's
return receive the crown of life.
IT is now admitted that Baptism in the early church was by
immersion of the whole body in water, in the Name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Wherever immersion has
been abandoned the spiritual meaning and dramatic effect of
Baptism have been tremendously impaired, if not altogether lost.
In the 'one Baptism' (immersion of penitent believers) we see
dramatized the great central fact of the Christian religion - the
Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Christ. The symbolism is such
as to make real the spiritual union with this Death and
Resurrection which Baptism effects.
The Kingdom of Heaven.
THE Old Testament has references to the everlasting Kingdom that
will exist after the end of the world, but there are also many
prophecies of a coming Kingdom in which the Messiah will reign
over the earth. There is also reference to a new covenant. Both
of these suggest allegiance and service. Kingdom suggests that we
accept Jesus as Lord and are loyal to him as our Sovereign, while
Covenant implies that we fulfil the condition under which God
promises to bless us. A Kingdom and a Covenant can mean nothing
less than that.
During the ministry of John the Baptist and of Christ it was
proclaimed that the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. Christ gave the
keys to Peter, and Peter, acting on the authority given him,
opened the Kingdom on Pentecost. Christ having entered within the
vail, into the presence of God, with an infinite and ever
enduring sacrifice, he was then enthroned at the Father's right
hand. Like Melchisedek he became both priest and king. He is King
of Salem and priest of the most high God.
There is no Scripture to show that Christ will come and reign in
person on earth. That smacks of going back to Judaism. Christ
from his throne in heaven now rules over his kingdom on earth,
which was established at Pentecost, and he will reign until at
the end of the world he comes to judge and reward.
Revelation 20 tells of a thousand-year period in the reign of
Christ when some of the saints and martyrs will be associated
with Christ in his reign. The reign of Christ itself is not
discussed in the passage, but that of those who had been
persecuted and who, under Christ, had an influence over the
hearts and lives of the people of God. Reformers and martyrs can
live in the hearts of men. It is not revealed when in Christ's
reign the thousand years will begin or how long after the
thousand years Christ will continue on his throne in Heaven.
These questions and the mistaken idea that there will be a reign
in person on earth, are unprofitable fields of fanciful
speculation which fascinate many and blind them to the simple
truth. No person should be deceived by a profound and superior
The Mosaic Law having been annulled and the middle wall of
partition between Jew and Gentile having been taken away, Peter
on the day of Pentecost opened the world-wide kingdom. Being
guided by the Holy Spirit, Peter would do all things in keeping
with the Lord's instructions and his great commission. Jesus said
that 'except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot
enter into the Kingdom of God.' He taught the same in different
words when he said, 'he that believeth and is baptised shall be
saved.' He also said that 'repentance and remission of sins
should be preached in his Name, among all nations, beginning at
Jerusalem.' These plain statements, in spite of the attempts to
undermine them have never been reasonably explained away. We will
try to find from Acts 2 how Peter at the opening of the Kingdom
understood the words of the Saviour.
In Acts 2:22 to 36 we have what Peter proclaimed. The Gospel or
the life-giving word of God that was preached seemed to be
received and take root in the hearts of the hearers, as their
conviction caused them to say to the Apostles, "what shall
we do?' Acceptance of the Apostle's word and belief in Jesus, and
nothing else, would bring them to this state of mind. Spiritual
life had been begotten in their hearts. In the parable of the
Sower it is said, 'the seed is the word of God.' Paul said to the
Corinthians, 'yet have ye not many fathers: For in Christ Jesus I
have begotten you through the Gospel.' As the Apostle only
associates the Gospel with the part of the father, we should
avoid making the Word cover both the part of father and mother.
James 1:18 says 'of his own will begat he us with the word of
truth.' 1 Peter 1:23 (R.V.) says, 'having been begotten again not
of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible through the word of
God.' From the passages quoted we conclude that the Holy Spirit
through the Gospel begets life. It is one thing to receive life
or be begotten and it is another to be brought forth or born
again. In one we receive, in the other we emerge from. The one
has a premier place from the beginning right through while the
other only consummates our conversion or turning to God.
The words of life spoken by Peter had gone home and changed the
minds of the hearers. It is written 'Faith cometh by hearing and
hearing by the word of God.' The fact that Peter in his reply did
not tell them to believe shows that he looked on them as having
believed the Gospel they had just heard. The anxious inquiry they
made indicated their belief. The answer to their question was,
'repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus
Christ, for the remission of sins, and yet shall receive the gift
of the Holy Spirit.' To repent is to resolve to act on your faith
and therefore implies that there is faith. The prodigal through
his faith in his father said within himself, 'I will arise and go
to my father.'
In like manner baptism presupposes faith. I have never heard of a
person of responsible age being baptised who was an unbeliever;
it is as a believer they are baptised. Philip said to the eunuch,
'If thou believest with all thine heart thou mayest.' So although
it is not stated we cannot but conclude that the three thousand
all believed. As they had believed on the Name of Jesus Christ
and accepted the word of God into their heart, they possessed the
right or privilege to become children of God - the right to be
born of water into the family of God. Having in baptism pledged
themselves to serve Jesus Christ as Lord, it then remained with
them to hold fast the confession of their hope so that they might
inherit the promises.
Following Peter's reply we read then they that received Peter's
word were baptised (immersed) and the same day there were added
unto them about three thousand souls. Here you have the words of
the Lord fulfilled to the letter. You here see illustrated what
it is to be born of water and of the Spirit, also an example of
men believing and being baptised, and a lesson as to how
repentance and remission of sins should be preached. The three
thousand had been saved by grace through faith, they had become
children of God and had been translated into the Kingdom of God's
What took place also agrees with what Paul taught as to his
mission to the Gentiles (Acts 26:18 to 20). Peter opened the eyes
of the Jews so that they saw Jesus as the Saviour of the world,
and they then repented and turned to God. They received
forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among them that are
sanctified by faith in Jesus.
Repent and be baptised is synonymous with repent and turn to God.
Baptism is the act in which man as a man turns. Previously his
mind, heart and will may have turned, but in baptism he buries
the old man and comes forth from the water for his whole being,
the new creature, to walk in the new life.
Regarding the New Covenant, we find in Heb. 10:22 how we can come
under its blessing. The conditions, although in different words,
are the same as those in Acts 2. The same ideas are given in
Titus 3:5. Baptism is the washing connected with regeneration by
the Gospel, and we are created anew by the Truth which the Holy
Spirit has given us. It means being born of water and of the
Faith changes man's attitude to God, while the obedience of faith
gives assurance that God's attitude to us has changed, and we are
now recognised in Heaven as being justified by faith through the
redemption that is in Christ Jesus.
BAPTISM administered to penitent believers is not merely a symbol
without meaning or result. Everywhere in the New Testament it is
vitally connected with the remission of sins and the gift of the
Holy Spirit. Apart from faith, administered to infants, it is a
meaningless rite. But when administered to believers it really
effects and seals all that it symbolises - death to sin and
resurrection to new life.
'Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death, that
like as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the
Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life' (Rom. vi.