I was recently sent a picture of a street preacher in Germany. On a big white sign with black and red letters it said that Hell was real. Of course I believe this statement to be true. Unfortunately from there on there were problems with the gospel this person was sharing. The sign mentioned a list of things to “do” to be saved. This is VERY common in Christianity. This man’s sign first mentioned the need to repent. You must be careful using the word repent as a prerequisite to salvation. You find this word used very often in the Gospels in relation to Israel’s need to change their mind about Jesus and their unbelief. You should be very careful using this word in this same context for salvation today. There is NO requirement of repentance prior to salvation today unless you are using this word in relation to what you currently believe about Jesus. An unsaved person today needs only to BELIEVE. Paul uses the words repent and repentance very rarely. The fact is, people claiming the need to repent today typically comes from reading the word in Matthew through John where Jesus is dealing with Israel’s unbelief and has nothing to do with salvation here in the age of grace. The next “to do” on this man’s sign was to be baptized. The fact is there is a required baptism in this age of grace but it has NOTHING to do with water, before, during, or after salvation. We are baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ and there’s not a drop of water that can do this. I sometimes feel surrounded by “to do” lists at work and at home, but the one place there is NO to do list anywhere involved is salvation in the age of grace we are living in. The gospel of the grace of God revealed by Paul only requires belief in what Christ accomplished on the cross plus nothing. When you force the gospel of the grace of God backward in your Bible into Matthew through John you end up mixing works with salvation. This is why thousands of churches add to do lists before or after salvation. Yes, things like water baptism and repentance were required by Jesus as he ministered to Israel during his earthly ministry. No, these things are NOT required today when we are saved by grace ALONE apart from the law and any other work you can think of. Ever wonder how there can be so much confusion about how a person is saved in churches today? The answer is easy. Mix the gospel being preached to Israel during Jesus’ earthly ministry with the gospel Paul revealed as a mystery and only confusion can result. When we use Paul as our example as we are instructed to many times in scripture salvation is clear and easily understandable. When we do the OPPOSITE of what we are instructed to do in scripture and preach the kingdom gospel that was meant for Israel ALONE the gospel can easily become a “to do” list of works.
Steve Schoenberger is a student of the Bible and the teacher at Abundant Grace Bible Fellowship, A Mid-Acts Dispensational Bible church teaching the Bible rightly divided according the the revelation of the mystery delivered to the Apostle Paul