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The Case of Jews Today (Acts 13:14-41)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 17 February 2013 00:00

Question: If the Jew on the Day of Pentecost had to be baptized in order to enter fellowship with God, what about Jews today? Must they be baptized in water before they can be in fellowship with God and members of the Christian Church? The answer is No.

Why? God had insisted on baptism for remission of sins for the Jews who were living in the land of Israel or who had come to the land of Israel and were in some way involved personally in the rejection of Christ, but for nobody else.

The difficult passages in Acts that specify baptism in connection with the forgiveness (remission) of sins are confined to exactly such situations.
Again, outside of the special situations in Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16, there is never any requirement for water baptism for forgiveness of sins in the book of Acts.
This is a very important observation to make.

What then of Jews today? They are in the same boat as the Jews in Pisidian Antioch that we meet in Acts 13. At 1900+ years difference, they have no personal responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ. They have not personally rejected the baptizing ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus through His disciples. Therefore this special condition of water baptism for the forgiveness of sins, did not apply to them.

They received forgiveness of sins and justification by faith (Acts 13:38-39) at the moment they believed the message Paul preached to them. There is no mention here of water baptism as a condition for forgiveness as had been the case for the Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 2.
Therefore, Jews today and Gentiles today have the experience of Cornelius. When they are born again through simple faith in Messiah (Christ) Jesus, they also at the same moment receive forgiveness of sins and begin fellowship with God.
Also, at that very same moment, they are baptized into the Body of Christ (they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit) and become a part of His Church.

The Bible teaches us that God always justifies by His grace through simple faith (Romans 4:5). It is by His grace that He declares us righteous (justifies us) in His sight through the redemptive blood of His Son on the cross (Romans 3:24). Through simple faith we are born again into God’s forever family (John 1:12; 3:1-18) and thus possess immediately and forever the gift of everlasting life.
But He has the right to determine the grounds and to tell us on what terms He will have fellowship with us, His children.
He has laid down the terms for forgiveness and fellowship with Him differently at times.

In the Old Testament, when a man committed a sin, how could he get forgiveness?
He brought a sacrifice and acknowledged his sin in connection with that sacrifice, and then he was forgiven.

On the Day of Pentecost, how did God extend forgiveness? To the Jews of Jerusalem, because of their special guilt, He insisted upon water baptism.

For us, as with Cornelius and the Jews in Acts 13 that we studied on Sunday, we received our initial experience of forgiveness at the very moment of faith in Jesus Christ.
But if we sin subsequently (as we all do), then the condition God has set forth for forgiveness of sin and fellowship with Him is that we confess that sin (1:9). When we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and righteous (just) to forgive us the sins I have confessed AND to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness!

What I am saying is this: God always justifies by faith alone. But He has the right to tell us on what terms He will have fellowship with us.
Therefore when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we should recognize that not only do we have the wonderful gift of our guaranteed eternal destiny imparted to us (because we are justified – declared righteous by God in His sight - and regenerated – given eternal life), but that very, very graciously, God admits sinners, like ourselves, instantly into fellowship with Himself!

Do you know something? If I had been a Jew listening to Peter on the Day of Pentecost and having been persuaded that what he said was true, and had I understood that I couldn’t get into fellowship with the God who had given me eternal life (through faith in His Son, who was Jesus, the Christ, whose crucifixion I had ‘voted’ for – Matthew 27:25) until I had been baptized, I don’t think I would have had any complaints about that!
Considering the guilt that would have been mine, that was a simple step to take in order to experience forgiveness and cleansing for my sin and to be admitted into fellowship with God!

And I certainly can’t complain as a Christian today, when I sin, when God tells me, “Now, I won’t have fellowship with you, David, unless you confess that sin.”
That’s a simple condition! And what we should understand here is the magnificent grace of God in extending His fellowship – which is His privilege – extending His personal fellowship – to me (and us) on such simple and gracious terms.

So this week make it your goal to walk openly and honestly with our Lord, remembering and rejoicing in 1st John 1:7 ~ But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.







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