by Terry W. Benton
Only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and only through knowledge of what He did can we engage in the activity of faith that will result in our salvation. There is a common expression these days that "there is nothing you can do, Jesus did it all for you" which is misleading. Jesus did not believe for you. He did not repent for you, and He was not baptized for you. When Peter told the Jews who asked "what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37) what they should do (Acts 2:38), and then told them with many other words to "save yourselves from this perverse generation" (Acts 2:40), he was not denying that Jesus had paid the price for their sins, but he was affirming that the benefit of what Jesus did is not automatically applied to our account until and unless we meet these conditions. No one is saved by the blood of Christ until and unless they truly believe enough to meet these conditions: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins...." The gift is offered freely on those terms. Those who believe will "gladly receive his word" (Acts 2:41) and be baptized accordingly. Those who do not will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).
Now, let us also observe that baptism is to be "in the name of Jesus Christ", which is by His authority. On our own authority we could not be baptized and the act itself save us or give us remission of sins. But, baptism that is done in the name of Jesus Christ will be active faith that puts us in the position to have saved ourselves from this perverse generation. It is a separating act that cuts out sins and ties to a perverse generation of people and allows us to cross the Red Sea of Jesus' blood to rise on the other side totally free from the past sins and now totally committed to the leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (I Corinthians 10:1-3; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 22:16; Acts 8:33ff). 3,000 gladly received his word, were baptized, crossed over into the heavenly land, the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3,7; Colossians 1:13), and were saved from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1). They were now risen to new life in Christ with Christ as their head. This is what happens when a person gladly takes the exit route Jesus offers. This is how they were able to "save themselves." This is how we must cut the ties we have to a perverse generation and save ourselves from the condemnation that is certain to come upon a world of spiritually blind people (II Corinthians 4:2-4). Jesus wants you to be saved (Matthew 11:28ff; II Peter 3:9). Jesus died to pay for your sins. He told you what to do now to save yourself. Have you done it? If not, why not?