"But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name" (John 1:12).

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31).

"If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rom. 10:9). Many Christians have wrongly understood verses such as these and believe that they are saved because they believe in Jesus and they will go to heaven. Truly they worship Jesus. They go to church in the morning and go to cinema hall in the evening or see movie on the TV. They read Bible in the morning and then close it to read romantic novels. They send their testimonies to some Christian magazines and next sit down to write love letters. They listen to sermons that there are no differences among Christians such as a Greek or a Jew etc. Soon after the service they look for and group themselves with their own caste members. They buy candles to light them in the church and go out and light up their cigarettes. They drink from the cup in the Holy Communion and then go to wine shop to take alcoholic drinks. Even such people claim that they will go to heaven, as they believe in Jesus Christ.

Many reputed speakers preach "Simply believe in Lord Jesus and you will be saved". At the end of the meeting they give a call, "All those who are saved, please raise your hands and come forward". They count the number of people who raise their hands and announce that, on hearing the address of this speaker in this meeting, hundreds of persons have been saved. The speaker does not know that many of those who raised their hands, habitually do so in every other meeting. They speak like this because they have no knowledge either about the meaning of "faith" mentioned in the scriptures or about "salvation" and the method to attain it.

What is meant by "Believe in Lord Jesus Christ"? The meaning of believing in Lord Jesus Christ is to believe in the words of Jesus Christ (John 5:46-47). Believing is different from its practical application. When man sinned against God, he was separated from Him (Gen. 3:23-24) and lost the knowledge of God (Phil. 3:8). His godless soul became dark. As his relationship with God was severed, he left God who was his life and due to sin, died in his soul. Since man became godless, he is without peace or rest and is burdened by the weight of his sorrow and distress.

God who is rich in mercies pardoned man and graciously willed that he join Him and be with Him forever. God manifested Himself in flesh to fulfill His will (I Tim. 3:16). Since God, who manifested himself in flesh, came to save His people from their sins, He was named 'JESUS' (Matt. 1:21). One should believe wholeheartedly that this Jesus Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:37). When we accept that He is the Son of God, we believe that He came from God. Since He came from God, He had seen the Father (John 6:46). As He was sent by the Father, He had known the Father (John 7:29). Only he to whom the Son who had known His Father, wills to reveal Him, can know the Father (Matt. 11:27). Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden for being unable to see and know God, I will teach you the knowledge of knowing Him. Take My commandments (yoke) upon you and you will be eased of your burden and know God (Matt. 11:28-29). The words that I speak are spirit and are life. That Spirit will give you life and give you rest (John 6:63).

Jesus says that to know the only true God and Jesus Christ who is sent by Him, is eternal life (John 17:3). When a person believes in this Jesus Christ, he believes that by obeying His commandments he can know God and possess the eternal life to live with Him forever and get everlasting divine rest. When this faith comes into a person, he becomes His disciple in order to learn from Him. If one who believes in Him continues to abide by His doctrines (John 8:30,31), he will truly be His disciple.

What is "salvation"?

If some one claims that Jesus has saved him, it means that he has received the remission of his sins (Luke 1:77). To receive this salvation of the remission of sins, one should,

1. Believe on Jesus Christ (Mark 16:16)

2. Repent from his sins (Acts 2:38)

3. Confess all his sins of which he is convicted to a minister of God who is sent by Him (Mark 1:5)

4. Receive baptism (Mark 16:16) for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4, Acts 2:38), and to be cleansed of his sins (Acts 22:16) .

Only then a man can receive the salvation of the remission of sins on the basis of the scriptures. Only this has been succinctly written in Mark as "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mark 16:16). A man who has received the remission of his sins (is saved) this way, gains knowledge of God day by day, continues in His doctrine till the end and perfects his salvation. At this point of time, the verse "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31) is fulfilled. "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (I Pet. 4:11)(KJV). "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (II Cor 4:3)(KJV).

Here are some more wrong notions of Christians:

1. I was already baptized in my childhood. Is it not written in Bible that there is only "one baptism" (Eph. 4:5). Therefore I will not take baptism again by immersion as you suggest.

2. I am purer than the Pentecostal believer who has taken this baptism and therefore I don't need to be baptized.

3. Baptism is only a religious rite. Why should one unnecessarily create confusion by giving importance to this and teaching it as a doctrine? Doesn't this teaching prevent many people from getting saved?

4. This is an open testimony that you have accepted Christ. Therefore receive baptism.

5. Let God reveal to me. Afterwards I will receive baptism.

6. Oh, the Lord has bathed me with the Holy Spirit. What is the need of this water bath?

Similarly there are contradictory opinions and wrong notions among Christians these days regarding baptism. The commandment given by Jesus Christ (God) through the Holy Spirit after His resurrection to His apostles whom He had chosen (Acts 1:1) is: "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15-16).

Those who were sent with such command would know clearly how to carry out the work for which they were sent. For example when the Lord chose St.Paul, said to him, "I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be a salvation to the ends of the earth" as a basis for his ministry and commanded him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47). Since he was sent this way, God had revealed to him the divine mystery regarding the Gentiles (Eph. 3:2-3). Some preachers who neither knew this secret nor received any such command, created disturbance by talking whatever came to their mind (Acts 15:24).

Similarly even now, those who did not receive commandment like the early apostles, to give baptism, without understanding its concept, blabber about it as seems good to them. It is not written "once" but only "one" baptism in Eph. 4:5. Look as the believers at Ephesus had not received the "one" baptism but a different one, St. Paul gave them the correct baptism (Acts 19:1-15). You should not say like the devil who quoted the scriptures as, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: 'He shall give His angels charge concerning You' and 'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone'" (Matthew. 4:6). On the other hand, you should use the scriptures like Jesus did as, "It is written", "It is also written", "It is written" (Matthew. 4:4,7,10).

It is the Lord who judges and sanctifies. The counsel being given by God for your deliverance is: You should repent and receive immersion baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). It will be detrimental to you if you reject the counsel of God (Luke 7:30). A sinner who obeys the counsel of God will turn into a saint. It is plain ignorance to disregard one of the most important commandments (Matthew. 28:19) which the Lord gave to His apostles after His resurrection to follow, as a trivial religious rite. "If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God" (I Pet. 4:11)(NIV). He should not spoil others by teaching them what he learned incorrectly.

There is no scriptural basis to the idea that one should be baptized as a sign of accepting Christ. That is only your opinion! One should believe (Mark 16:16), repent and for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4; Acts 2:38), in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew. 28:16,19), receive immersion baptism (Eph. 5:26) and (Titus 3:5). Then your sins will be washed away (Acts 22:16). You will be saved (Mark 16:16).

A high official of queen Candace who was reading the scriptures could not understand it. Philip explained the scriptures in detail. That man who occupied a high position accepted it with humility. He received baptism immediately. He did not demand haughtily that God should reveal to him. He went back to his land rejoicing (Acts 8:27-39).

Some people receive Holy Spirit before they are baptized (Acts 10:44-48). Those who received the anointing of the Holy Spirit as the early apostles, took baptism without refusing water (Acts 10:47-48). It is not surprising to see anyone who has received a spirit other than the one poured out on the gathering of Peter, will disobey scriptures. Such a person is alien to salvation. The Bible says, "Baptism that now saves you also - not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Pet. 3:21)(NIV). In other words, by receiving baptism, one receives salvation by the remission of his sins (Luke 1:77). Therefore you don't have to baptize those who are saved. In accordance with the scriptures, baptize someone towards his salvation.

This is the counsel of God. Accept this and escape from destruction. This may appear an insane and unimportant matter. "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (I Cor. 1:21)(NKJV).

"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16)(NKJV).

Few more wrong notions of Christians:

1. According to Eph. 1:13, "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph. 1:13)(NKJV), a person can not believe in Jesus Christ and receive Him without the work of the Holy Spirit, he possesses the Holy Spirit the moment he turns a believer. Therefore it is not necessary to tarry for receiving the Holy Spirit.

2. According to I Cor. 12:3, "no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit" (I Cor. 12:3)(NKJV), I possess the Holy Spirit because I call Jesus, the Lord.

3. It is not written in the Bible that speaking in tongues is the sign of receiving the Holy Spirit but it is only said that "whether there are tongues, they will cease" (I Cor. 13:8). Therefore it not necessary to speak in tongues.

4. Look at that man! He speaks in tongues but does evil. I don't speak in tongues, but I am honest. Therefore I am the one who possesses the Holy Spirit.

5. Speaking in different kinds of tongues is a gift (I Cor. 12:10). I don't speak in tongues as I don't have that gift.

6. "If anyone speaks in tongues .... Let one interpret" (I Cor. 14:27). Therefore one should not simply speak in tongues.

7. Only holy people will receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore if you still have not received the Holy Spirit, you should purify yourself still more.

In this manner, there are many wrong opinions prevailing among Christians which are beyond the bounds of Holy Scriptures, regarding the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

"But the word of the Lord was to them, 'Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little'"(Isa. 28:13)(NKJV). "Look in the scroll of the Lord and read: Not one will lack her mate. For it is His mouth that has given the order, and His Spirit will gather them together" (Isa. 34:16)(NIV).

Through the people who possess His Spirit, He will speak to this people (unbelievers) with stammering lips and another tongue. But they would not listen and they will go and fall backward, be injured and snared and captured (Isa. 28:11,13; I Cor. 14:21).

Moreover how could an evil spirit leave a man without the work of the Holy Spirit? After the evil spirit had left the man through the work of the Holy Spirit, if it comes back and finds him vacant instead of becoming the habitation of the Holy Spirit, will not that evil spirit accompany seven more evil spirits and stay in him again? (Matthew. 12:43-45).

Similarly the work of the Holy Spirit is different and the experience of His coming to abide in a person (being filled the Holy Spirit) is different. God met Saul. He offered himself to do the will of the Lord. As he had faith, he was praying. In a vision he saw a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight (Acts 9:11-12). Did he not believe Jesus? Did not the Holy Spirit work in him? Yet he was not filled with the Holy Spirit. Therefore God sent Ananias to pray for him placing his hands on him so that he is filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17).

Also in the city of Samaria, on hearing the preaching of Philip the evangelist, many received the Lord, believed and were baptized. When the apostles Peter and John heard that and came to see them they found that they still had not received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:12-15). These Samaritans did not receive the Holy Spirit when they heard the word of God and became believers. But you think that the moment you became believer you have received the Holy Spirit! "You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures" (Matthew. 22:29)(NKJV).

"There are differences of ministries" (I Cor. 12:5)(NKJV). The Holy Spirit appoints ministers to serve Jesus (the Master) (Acts 20:28). Without the Holy Spirit no one can become a minister of God. Without being appointed by Him, one should not call himself a minister of Jesus and should not say that He is his Lord (Master) (I Cor. 12:3). God is only with His chosen people. His blessings belong to His people alone. The promise belongs to the generation of Abraham only. The Gentiles who were non-Israelites were alien to the commonwealth of Israel and they were without God. Jesus made both the Gentiles and the Israelites one.

Through Him both have access to the Father by one Spirit (Eph. 2:12-18). God gave the Holy Spirit to the Gentiles the same way he gave to the Israelites (Peter and his companions) and made no distinction between both of them (Acts 11:15, 15:8-9).

How did the early Jewish believers who tarried in Jerusalem receive the Holy Spirit? "And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language". (Acts 2:4,6)(NKJV). When Peter was speaking in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word and those Gentiles also spoke with tongues and magnified God. As the Jewish believers heard this they were astonished to know that like them the Holy Spirit was also granted to the Gentiles (Acts. 10:44-47).

The Jewish believers, found that there was no distinction between themselves and the Gentiles as the Gentiles spoke in tongues just like them(Acts. 11:15-18). When a person receives the Holy Spirit, it can be seen and heard (Acts. 2:33). Speaking in tongues while receiving the Holy Spirit, can be heard (Acts. 10:46). One can also see a person receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts. 8:18). Therefore those who don't have this experience are still distant to the citizenship of Israel.

Just by calling Jesus the Lord and becoming a believer by the work of the Holy Spirit, one has not become the habitation of the Holy Spirit. It is no wonder that tongues have ceased to those who have lost their knowledge including scriptural knowledge (I Cor. 13:8). While the Holy Spirit who descended in the beginning continued to descend the same way for over 27 years according to biblical reckoning, (Gal. 1:18, 2:1; Acts. 15:39-40, 19:1-6) when did He change His ways?

Some tourists who came on a picnic for a long distance, were preparing to return home as time went by. They took their vehicles and started their journey. Some of them who were driving speedily, tired by the long journey felt drowsy and went off the road and crashed into the trees. A few who watched this stopped their race and some others who heard the news of the accident did not even start their vehicles. But some talented and bold people went on their way and reached home.

Similarly denying and refusing the Holy Spirit just because some who received it and spoke in tongues went bad, is foolishness. Did they get spoiled because they spoke in tongues? If a person speaks in tongues, he will only be edified (I Cor. 14:4). Without receiving the Holy Spirit, one can not walk in the truth (John 16:13) and can not reach the destination (rest). This is 'the rest' and this is 'the refreshing' (Isa. 28:11-12). If speaking in tongues is a gift, faith is also a gift by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 12:9). All may not have the gift of faith. But all should have the faith toward salvation. In the same way all may not have the gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues (I Cor. 12:10, 14:18). But as the sign of having received the Holy Spirit, all should have the experience of speaking in tongues (Acts. 10:44-45; I Cor. 14:23; Acts. 19:5-6).

Even granting as you say that speaking in tongues is a gift, how many of those with whom you are in fellowship possess this gift? If none is having the gift, the Scriptures declare that you can not be prepared for the coming of Christ (I Cor. 1:7). Speaking in different kinds of tongues is one gift. Interpretation of tongues is another gift (I Cor. 12:10). If any two of those who have these gifts assemble with others in the church, and as one speaks the other interprets, the church will be edified. Otherwise in the absence of an interpreter, if a person with the gift of speaking in tongues goes on speaking in the congregation, it will not be useful to anybody. Since he can not employ his gift for the edification of the church, Paul suggests that instead of speaking in the congregation he can speak in tongues with God for his own edification. Paul suggested this as part of orderliness to be observed when the church assembles (I Cor. 14th chapter). He did not offer this counsel to individuals.

When a person knows and obeys the truth, he will be sanctified (John 17:17) How can one know the truth? He will be sanctified when the Spirit of Truth comes and guides him in truth. Therefore the Holy Spirit is given as a gift to a person for his santification. This is a promise of God.

Wait for the fulfillment of promise. Receive the Holy Spirit. Ask a minister of God appointed by the Holy Spirit to lay his hands on you and pray. Ask and it shall be given. Anyone who asks receives. It is very certain that the heavenly Father gives the good gift (Luke 11:13). "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" (Acts. 19:2)

"..which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2Pet. 3:16).

This article was published by Chief Pastor N. Lazar, New Jerusalem Church

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