The Golden Isles church of Christ

Weekly Bulletin

Volume 3, Number 14

April 6, 2003

Three Answers to One Question

by Robert Turner

Could one question be given three differing answers, and all answers be correct? Seems unlikely doesn't it? Yet this is the case in the N.T. book of Acts when the question, "What must I do?" (to be saved) is asked.

The expressed answer given to the Philippian jailer was "Believe!" (See Acts 16:25-34 for full account.) Some insist that this expressed reply is complete, and hence salvation is by faith only. However, a consideration of the expressed replies given this question on other occasions will show the fallacy of such reasoning.

When some of the Pentecost multitude asked, "What shall we do?" they were told, "Repent, and be baptized." (See Acts 2:6-38-f. for details.) And when Saul asked what to do he was directed to Ananias, who told him to "Arise, and be, baptized." (See Acts 9:1-18 22:6-16 for the record.)

If only the expressed reply is to be considered we would have to conclude that the jailer was saved by faith alone, and that those on Pentecost were saved by repentance and baptism (i.e., without any faith) and that Saul was saved by baptism alone, without either faith or repentance. Of course none of these conclusions are valid.

A fair study of the context shows that the same elements, and all three of these elements, were present in each of the cases examined. One must have faith in Christ to be saved, but faith that is not strong enough to cause one to obey the Lord's commands is a "dead" faith. (Jas. 2:24-26)

Why Did The Answers Differ?

Because the questions were asked by people in different circumstances. A man in Burnet may ask how far is it to San Antonio?" and be told, "100 miles." In Marble Falls this question would get a different answer. And in Blanco, the same question would get a third, and different answer. Yet all would be part of one great truth.

There is no indication that the Philippian jailer had either knowledge or faith in the Christian system; so he was told to believe, and then "they spake unto him the word of the Lord." He repented, as indicated by washing their stripes, and he was baptized, as stated in Acts 16:38. Thus he truly believed. (vs. 34)

But those on Pentecost heard the preaching of Christ before they asked their question. The preaching "pricked" their hearts; i.e., they believed. Then they were told "repent and be baptized."

And Saul (later called Paul) had already believed, and had spent three days penitently praying, when he was told, "Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins."

Where Are You??

Your status or condition before God must be considered in answering your question, "What must I do?" The Lord will save "all who will obey;" (Heb. 5:9) and has given one gospel to all. (Gal. 1:8 Rom. 2:11) Have you proven your faith by full and complete obedience to His will?

- from PLAIN TALK, Feb 1964 issue, Vol. 1 No. 4

The Smudge on Your Face

by Steve Klein

 Have you ever had a friend tell you that you had a smudge of grease, food, or make-up on your face? What did you do? If you're like most folks, first your mind races with questions like "How did that get there?" "How long has it been there?" and "Who else has seen it?" Then, if you are caught in this kind of situation without a mirror, you rub your face at the point you estimate the blot to be and ask, "Did I get it?"

Your friend responds, "No, you smeared it!"

You roll your eyes, rub again and ask, "How about now?"

"OK, you're fine," you're told; and you believe it.

We often deal with sin like a smudge on the face. At first we don't realize its there. Then we're not sure how it got there. Next we blindly try to rub it off before too many others see it. Our inability to see ourselves and our pride combine to make our spiritual faces into messy smears of sin. Folks tell us we're OK, and we believe them without checking a mirror.

God has a solution to the smudges of sin.

1.He has given us a Mirror. God's word is like a mirror in which we can see our spiritual selves. It ought always to be with us -- in our hearts. As it guides our steps, it can even keep us from getting sin smudges to begin with. "Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You" (Psalm 119:11).

2.He wants us to look into the Mirror regularly. When we look into the mirror of God's word, we can clearly see the smudges of sin. If you want to keep smudges off, you must be one who "looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it" (James 1:25).

3.He expects us to clean ourselves up accordingly. God has provided the means for us to clean ourselves through His word and His grace when we see that we have been stained by sin. When the Psalmist asked, "How can a young man cleanse his way?" They answer was, "By taking heed according to Your word" (Psalm 119:9). By following the instructions of God's word, and taking advantage of the cleansing power of Jesus' blood, we can cleanse away the smudges of sin. "Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1).

The Lord has provided the means for us to see ourselves and be cleansed. We must take advantage of what He is provided. He is not like some overzealous grandmother with a wetted handkerchief who is always daubing at the grimy faces of unwilling grandchildren. He pleads with us to "cleanse ourselves."

- from THE BULLETIN of the New Georgia church of Christ, January 26, 2003 issue

Click here to go to previous week's BULLETIN

Click here to go to next week's BULLETIN

Email the Editor at