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Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 25) - Act 16:30-31; Act 22:16

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For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse.

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace

61. Act 16:30-31
A. "And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31) And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." (Act 16:30-31)
B. Do these verses teach that belief on the Lord Jesus Christ is a conditional requirement to get eternal life?
i. This is a reference text, not a proof text, since it doesn't define what the jailor and his house would be saved from (See Section II,1,D on Proof Texts vs. Reference Texts).
ii. Therefore it must be determined from other scripture what type of salvation is being referred to.
C. These verses do not teach decisional regeneration for the following reasons:
i. Belief is a work (Joh 6:28-29).
a. Believe v. - 1. To have confidence or faith in (a person), and consequently to rely upon, trust to.
b. Believing is something a person does.
1. "...what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe..." (Act 16:30-31)
2. "...What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?...This is the work of God, that ye believe..." (Joh 6:28-29)
3. "...judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done..." (Mat 23:23)
4. "Remembering without ceasing your work of faith..." (1Th 1:3)
c. Work n. - I. 1. Something that is or was done; what a person does or did; an act, deed, proceeding, business; in pl. actions, doings
d. Since a work is something a person does, and belief is something a person does, therefore belief is a work.
e. For an examination of Rom 4:5 (...to him that worketh not, but believeth...) - see Section II,9,C on Justification.
f. Since eternal salvation is not by works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5) (See Section II,7,A,i), therefore the salvation in Act 16:31 cannot be eternal salvation.
ii. If the common Arminian interpretation of these verses proves anything it proves too much.
a. Arminians love to quote this verse, but they almost always leave off the words at the end of the verse, "...and thy house."
b. If these verses are teaching that a man will be eternally saved by believing on Jesus Christ, then they're also teaching that a man's whole household will be eternally saved by his belief.
c. Scripture teaches that one man cannot by any means redeem another (Psa 49:6-9).
d. A father's faith has no effect on the spiritual state of his children (Rom 9:10-13).
e. Regeneration (being born of God) is not of the will of the flesh (the sinner's own will), nor of the will of man (someone else's will - like a father), but of God (Joh 1:13).
D. So if this verse isn't referring to being saved from hell, to what is it referring?
E. An examination of the context is necessary.
i. Paul and Silas were beaten and cast into prison and the jailor was given a charge to keep them safely (Act 16:19-24).
ii. They prayed and sang praises to God at midnight and the prisoners heard them (Act 16:25).
iii. At that time there was a great earthquake which opened the prison doors and everyone's bands were loosed (Act 16:26).
iv. The jailor awaking out of his sleep and seeing the prison doors open drew his sword and was just ready to kill himself because he thought that the prisoners had fled (Act 16:27).
v. Paul stops him, telling him that everyone was still there (Act 16:28).
vi. Then the jailor came in trembling and asked Paul and Silas, what must I do to be saved? (Act 16:29-30).
F. From the context, there is no evidence that the jailor had heard the gospel and was convicted of his sin and was asking how he could be saved from hell that night at midnight.
i. Notice that the passage specifically states that the prisoners heard Paul and Silas praying and singing praises to God (Act 16:25).
ii. The jailor, on the other hand, was sleeping at that time (Act 16:26-27).
iii. It's interesting that none of the prisoners asked Paul and Silas what they had to do to be saved.
G. Finding the prison doors open, the jailor was terrified of something, but it certainly wasn't God because he was ready to kill himself.
i. In those days, if a prisoner escaped, the jailor in charge of him lost his life (Act 12:19).
ii. This is why the jailor was ready to kill himself and why he sprang in to the prison and came trembling before Paul and Silas asking what he could do to be saved.
iii. Given that in those days families could be sold to pay the debts of debtors (Mat 18:24-25), it is possible that a jailor's whole household would be killed if he lost his prisoners.
iv. At the least, they would be left destitute without the provider of the household around.
H. If the jailor was fearing death and asking what he could do to be saved from being executed, why would Paul and Silas tell him to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ so that he and his house could be saved from that?
i. Because, "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Rom 10:13).
ii. Daniel was saved from a fearful death because he believed in God (Dan 6:23).
iii. The Lord will save men from violence and enemies who trust in him (2Sa 22:3-4).
iv. The Lord will save men who call upon him from their fears and troubles (Psa 34:4-6).
v. God saves those who cry unto him from their distresses (Psa 107:19,28).
vi. God spared that jailor's and his family's lives because he believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. After hearing the gospel, the jailor and his house all believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and were baptized (Act 16:32-34), which showed the evidence that they were not only saved temporally from death by the Lord, but also were saved from a future eternal condemnation (Joh 5:24) (See Joh 5:24 - Section III, 41).

62. Act 22:16
A. "And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (Act 22:16)
B. Does this verse teach that baptism washes away sins eternally?
C. Baptism is something a person does:...what shall we do?...be baptized everyone of you (Act 2:37-38).
i. Therefore baptism is a work.
ii. Work n. - 1. Something that is or was done; what a person does or did; an act, deed, proceeding, business; in pl. actions, doings
iii. Eternal salvation is not of works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5).
iv. Our sins were purged by Christ Himself without our help (Heb 1:3).
v. Jesus obtained eternal redemption for us when he entered into the holiest (Heb 9:12).
vi. Redemption n. - 1. a. Deliverance from sin and its consequences by the atonement of Jesus Christ.
vii. Therefore, the washing away of sins at baptism is not eternal forgiveness of sins.
D. Baptism doesn't put away the filth of the flesh (1Pe 3:21).
i. The filth of the flesh is sin (Rom 7:17-18,25; 2Co 7:1; Jam 1:21; 2Pe 2:7).
ii. Therefore, baptism doesn't put away sin eternally.
iii. Baptism is rather the answer of a good conscience toward God, which the unsaved, unregenerate man doesn't have (Tit 1:15).
iv. Therefore, one has to already be regenerate and have a good conscience toward God in order to answer with a good conscience by baptism.
E. Baptism is a figure (1Pe 3:21).
i. Figure n. - II. Represented form; image, likeness. 9. a. The image, likeness, or representation of something material or immaterial.
ii. Baptism is symbolic or figurative of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:4).
iii. It was Jesus' death and resurrection which took away our sins eternally (Rom 4:25).
iv. Therefore, baptism figuratively, not actually, washes away our sins (Act 22:16 c/w 1Pe 3:21 c/w Rom 6:4).
F. Though there is not an eternal forgiveness of sins associated with baptism, there is a temporal forgiveness of sins which is (See Section II,10,B on temporal forgiveness).
i. There is an aspect of forgiveness of sins which is conditional in nature and brings the elect into fellowship with God.
ii. This is the type of forgiveness that a father would give to a wayward son who repents; it doesn't make one a son, but brings a son into fellowship with his father.
iii. This forgiveness is dependent on confessing our sins (1Jo 1:9).
iv. This is the calling on the name of the Lord that Paul was exhorted to do when he was told to be baptized (Act 22:16).
v. This temporal forgiveness of sins is conditioned upon repentance and baptism (Act 2:38), which is accompanied by confession of sins (Mar 1:5).

For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace