“Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.”
“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
The formula for salvation is repentance and trust.
Upon hearing the Gospel, if the hearer then recognizes that he or she has violated God’s purpose (has changed their mind regarding God), and also trusts in Jesus Christ (who is God) as their propitiation (the sole appeasement of God’s wrath), then such a person has gained salvation.
Prior to the ultimate sacrifice, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, repentance was demonstrated through sacrifice. We can find examples of this performed by Abel (Genesis 4), Noah (Genesis 8), and Job (Job 1). Such sacrifices were done before the sacrificial system was installed through Moses.
In Genesis 4:4, it says that “The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering.” Genesis 8:21 describes Noah’s burnt sacrifice as a “pleasing aroma” to the Lord. Job would continually offer sacrifices on behalf of his children (Job 1:5). God would later describe Job to Satan as there being “none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil” (Job 1:8). All three men recognized that a sacrifice is needed in order to appease the wrath of God.
Pre-cross, a true sacrifice was a demonstration of repentance. The urge to sacrifice was rooted in a repentive heart. It’s the recognition that one’s sins needed to be atoned for. It’s the recognition that justice must be served.
When a sacrifice was rooted within a contrite spirit, such a sacrifice was then pleasing to God; because such was genuine. But, it wasn’t so much the sacrifice which God desired. It was what was behind it:
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
Post-cross, there is no longer a need for an animal sacrifice, because the ultimate sacrifice has already occurred. It occurred on the cross, 2,000 years ago in Palestine. On this side of Christ’s redemptive work, post-cross, the believer is now identified, not by performing a sacrifice, but by being baptized. Throughout the Book of Acts, we see examples of immediate baptism, upon the hearing of the Gospel: three thousand souls (Acts 2), after the preaching of Philip (Acts 8), the Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure (Acts 8), Lydia and her household (Acts 16), and the list goes on.
Prior to the cross, the believer demonstrated their repentance through animal sacrifice. Yet, at the same time they also trusted in God, knowing that He would provide the ultimate sacrifice some day in the future, because they knew in their hearts that an animal sacrifice was actually not enough. It went beyond that sacrifice:
“For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
You will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.”
Post-cross, the believer, full of assurance (knowing that the ultimate sacrifice has already happened), demonstrates something different. Now, they demonstrate his or her trust. Such is demonstrated in baptism, which signifies their repentive identity in Christ by being buried in the water and then rising up out of it. It signifies the resurrection. Christ was dead and buried, and after His work on the cross, He then rose from the grave. Baptism represents one’s connection to the resurrection.
Believers of all eras are saved by the same thing: repentance and trust in the Messiah (Christ Jesus).
If you have not repented and trusted in Christ, I then want to leave you with something to ponder. This is Paul quoting Ananias, as Ananias exhorted Paul to respond to Paul’s calling on the road to Damascus. I challenge you to put yourself in Paul’s shoes.
How would you respond?
“‘And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name.’”
Godspeed, to the brethren!
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