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How Can You Be Sure Jesus Has Forgiven Your Sins?

How Can You Be Sure Jesus Has Forgiven Your Sins?

How can you receive salvation and forgiveness of sins? By faith alone, or is obedience necessary? Is baptism sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Should babies be baptized?

Different ideas are taught about how a person receives forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus Christ. Are we saved by "faith only," or must we obey the gospel? Is baptism necessary to salvation from sin or is obedience not essential? Is baptism sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Should babies (infants) be baptized? What can we learn from New Testament examples of people who were forgiven? What does the Bible teach?

Introduction:

To receive eternal life according to the gospel of Christ, a person must be forgiven of sins by Jesus' blood (Ephesians 1:7; Matthew 26:28; 1 Peter 2:24). But many people are unsure about whether or not they have been forgiven. Others may think that they have been forgiven, but would be surprised to learn that Jesus does not agree.

Matthew 7:21-23 - Many people, who believe in the Lord, will expect Jesus to accept them at the judgment. Instead He will reject them because they have not done the will of the Father.

Acts 23:1; 26:9 - Saul was a Jew who opposed Jesus in all good conscience, doing what he sincerely believed he should do. Yet he was the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:12-15). Clearly he had been misled.

What about you and me? Is it possible we have been misled like these people? What about baptism or "faith only." What about repentance and confession? Should babies be baptized? Is baptism sprinkling, pouring, or immersion? Surely these questions deserve your careful investigation.

The Bible teaches that we can be sure Jesus has forgiven us if we have obeyed the gospel conditions of forgiveness.

Hebrews 5:9 - Jesus is the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him. (See also Acts 10:35; Luke 6:46; 1 John 2:3-6.)

1 Peter 1:22 - We purify our souls in obeying the truth.

Romans 6:17,18 - We are made free from sin when we obey from the heart the doctrine delivered.

If we recognize Jesus as our Lord, then we must obey the conditions of forgiveness just as the gospel reveals them, without any human changes (Acts 17:11; Galatians 1:8,9; 2 John 9).

This study is designed to help each be sure about salvation.

Please begin with a brief self-examination to show us where we are now (2 Cor. 13:5). Then we will study what the Bible says about salvation and we can each compare our own case to Jesus' teaching.

1. Have you made a personal commitment to serve Jesus? (a) yes, (b) no.

2. Have you been baptized? (a) yes, (b) no. If so, how old were you?

Were you baptized by (a) sprinkling, (b) pouring, or (c) immersion?

Why were you baptized? (a) to please loved ones, (b) as a sign I had been saved, (c) to receive forgiveness of sins, (d) because others were doing it, (e) to join a denomination, (f) other:

When you repented of sin and determined to live for God, how long was it till you were baptized?

3. Suppose a person sincerely does the following things. At what point do you believe his sins would be washed away? When he (a) hears the gospel, (b) believes, (c) repents, (d) confesses Jesus, (e) prays for forgiveness, (f) is baptized, (g) other:

Now please take out your Bible and look up the indicate >>>Scriptures<<<. Then answer each question that has a number enclosed in asterisks (*1*, *2*, etc.). Note: Correct answers for the questions are listed at the end. This lesson is not designed to be submitted to us for grading. If you wish to study this course online and submit the lessons to us for grading, please go to www.BibleStudyLessons.com. Thank you.


I. Let Us Consider Some New Testament Examples of Conversion.


The book of Acts contains many examples of people who received forgiveness of sins by Jesus' blood. Since God is no respecter of persons, we can surely be saved if we do as these people did (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). (As you study, please note the chart at the end of this section.)

A. The Jews on Pentecost

On a Jewish feast day called Pentecost, Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the Roman empire. The Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to preach to the people (Acts 2:14-36).

>>> Read ACTS 2:36-41. <<<

*1* What did Peter tell the people to believe (v36)? (a) Jesus is Lord and Christ, (b) people can save themselves without Jesus, (c) it does not matter what we believe, (d) all the preceding.

*2* What did Peter command them to do (v38)? (a) just be sincere, (b) repent and be baptized, (c) follow their church tradition.

*3* For what purpose were they to do this (v38)? (a) as a sign they were already saved, (b) to join a particular denomination, (c) for remission of sins.

*4* Who else may receive these blessings (v39)? (a) only Jews, (b) only people in the first century, (c) all people everywhere.

Three thousand people heard, believed, repented, and were baptized. As a result, they were forgiven of sins. (See the chart below.)

B. The Ethiopian Treasurer

A certain eunuch was riding in his chariot, reading from Isaiah. Then a preacher named Philip approached (Acts 8:26-34).

>>> Read ACTS 8:35-39. <<<

*5* Philip spoke about whom (v35)? (a) Buddha, (b) himself, (c) Jesus.

*6* As a result, what did the eunuch want (v36)? (a) baptism, (b) money, (c) a direct revelation from the Holy Spirit.

*7* What did he have to do first (v37)? (a) pray for forgiveness, (b) believe in Jesus and confess Him, (c) pay a fee.

The treasurer heard about Jesus, believed in him, confessed his faith, and was baptized. (See the chart below.)

C. Saul of Tarsus

Saul was an unbelieving Jew who was traveling to Damascus to persecute Christians (Acts 8:3; 9:1-3).

>>> Read ACTS 9:3-6,18; 22:16 <<<

*8* Who appeared to Saul as he traveled (v3-5)? (a) Jesus (b) Mary, the mother of Jesus, (c) John the Baptist.

*9* What did the Lord tell Saul to do (v6)? (a) wait in the city to be told what he must do, (b) pray through at the mourner's bench, (c) send a financial contribution.

*10* What did Ananias tell him he must do (22:16)? (a) pray to the saints, (b) give his testimony before the church, (c) be baptized.

Saul heard about Jesus and was baptized to wash away his sins.

A Summary of Examples of Conversions

People Hear Believe Repent Confess Baptized Result
Jews
(Acts 2)
v14-41 (v36) v38   v38,41 Remission (v38)
Treasurer
(Acts 8)
v35 v37   v37 vv 38,39 Rejoicing (v39)
Saul
(Acts 9,22)
9:6       9:18
22:16
Sins washed away (22:16)

Have you done what these people did?


II. Let Us Summarize the Steps to Forgiveness.


By taking all that Jesus said from the examples of conversion (Acts 3:22,23), we see that the following steps were involved. Notice each of them more closely.

A. Hearing

>>> Read JOHN 6:44,45. <<<

*11* What must one do to come to Jesus? (a) see a vision, (b) learn the word of God, (c) pray for a direct message from the Spirit.

*12* Can one be saved without hearing the gospel? (a) yes, (b) no.

"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" - John 8:32. (See John 6:63,68; 12:48; Acts 11:14; Romans 10:14-17.)

B. Faith

>>> Read ROMANS 1:16. <<<

*13* What is the power of God to salvation? (a) human wisdom, (b) the gospel, (c) man-made creeds.

*14* What condition must we meet to be saved? (a) believe, (b) just have a good conscience, (c) read the whole Bible 5 times.

"Without faith it is impossible to please Him" - Hebrews 11:6. Note that believing alone does not make one a child of God, but only gives him the right to become a child of God - John 1:12. (See also John 8:24; 20:30,31; Romans 5:1,2.)

C. Repentance

>>> Read ACTS 17:30,31. <<<

*15* What does God command men to do? (a) just live better than most people, (b) hear a voice from God, (c) repent.

*16* How many people must do this? (a) some, (b) all, (c) none.

*17* What event should lead us to repent? (a) the judgment, (b) the sin of Adam, (c) the giving of the Law of Moses.

*18* What is repentance (note Matthew 21:28,29)? (a) not sinning, (b) not getting caught, (c) changing our mind about sinning.

God "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" - 2 Peter 3:9. All people are guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and must repent to be forgiven. We must change our mind about sin and decide to do God's will always. (See also Acts 2:38; 3:19; 2 Corinthians 7:10.)

D. Confession

>>> Read ROMANS 10:9,10. <<<

*19* What must we believe to be saved? (a) Joseph Smith is a prophet, (b) Jesus rose from the dead, (c) miracles still occur, (d) all the preceding.

*20* What else must we do to be saved? (a) confess Jesus, (b) believe as our parents did, (c) obey the 10 commands.

"And Simon Peter answered and said, 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God'" - Matthew 16:16. (See also Acts 8:37; Matthew 10:32; John 12:42.)

E. Baptism

>>> Read EPHESIANS 4:3-6. <<<

*21* How many true Heavenly Fathers are there? (a) thousands, (b) one, (c) it doesn't matter.

*22* Can a person be a true Christian if he believes there are several different gods? (a) yes, (b) no.

*23* How many true baptisms are there? (a) three, (b) one, (c) it doesn't matter.

Just as there is only one true God, so there is only one true baptism today. Yet denominations practice many different kinds of baptism. What is the true baptism, and why is it important? In order to be sure what Jesus wants regarding baptism, let us study it further.


III. Let Us Take a Closer Look at Baptism.


A. The Proper Purpose of Baptism

Why should a person be baptized? Are sins forgiven before baptism or as a result of it? Some groups say baptism is essential to receive forgiveness. Others say sins are forgiven before baptism, but one should be baptized to join a denomination or as an outward sign he has already been saved. What does the gospel of Christ say?

>>> Read ACTS 22:16. <<<

*24* When were Saul's sins washed away? (a) on the road to Damascus, (b) before he was baptized, (c) as a result of his baptism?

*25* Note that Saul had already believed in Jesus and had been praying (9:1-6,11). Most churches would say he was already saved before baptism. But was he? (a) yes, (b) no.

One who believes in Jesus must be baptized to wash away sins.

>>> Read ROMANS 6:3,4. <<<

*26* Into what are we baptized? (a) Jesus and His death, (b) a particular denomination, (c) a social club.

*27* According to what we have earlier learned, can a person be saved outside Jesus and without His blood? (a) yes, (b) no.

*28* For each person there must be a point at which he first receives forgiveness. He is in sin before that point, but afterwards, he is forgiven. At what point does this occur? (a) the moment we believe, (b) when we pray for forgiveness, (c) when we are baptized.

In Jesus are forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7), freedom from condemnation (Romans 8:1), salvation (2 Timothy 2:10), and eternal life (1 John 5:11,12). But to come into Jesus, we must be baptized. (See also Galatians 3:27.)

Illustration: Before the ceremony, a couple takes several steps toward marriage, but they enter the blessings and privileges of matrimony at the point of the wedding ceremony, not before. So faith, repentance, etc., are essential steps toward salvation; but only at the point of baptism does one contact Jesus' blood.

Note also that, as a result of baptism, we "walk in newness of life" (we are "born again"). We cannot be born again without baptism (see also 1 Peter 1:22,23; 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:3,5). This new birth obligates us to serve God faithfully (see the rest of Romans 6).

>>> Read ACTS 2:38. <<<

*29* When does remission of sins come? (a) before one repents and is baptized, (b) after one has repented and been baptized?

*30* Can one be saved without repentance? (a) yes, (b) no.

*31* Can one be saved without baptism? (a) yes, (b) no.

*32* As in the Lord's Supper, baptism involves both an outer action and an inner meaning (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). If a person did the outer act but did not understand the inner meaning or did it for the wrong reason, would his baptism be valid? (a) yes, (b) no.

(See also Romans 6:17,18; 2:28,29).

>>> Read MARK 16:15,16. <<<

*33* What must one do to be saved? (a) believe and be baptized, (b) just believe, (c) just be a zealous religious person.

*34* When is one saved? (a) before baptism, (b) after baptism.

Just as 1 + 1 = 2, so faith + baptism = salvation. Take away faith or baptism, and you no longer have salvation.

"...Baptism doth also now save us..." - 1 Peter 3:21. The power to forgive is in Jesus' death and resurrection, not in the water. But we receive that power when our faith leads us to be baptized, not before. (Compare the story of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:10ff.)

B. The Proper Action of Baptism

Does baptism involve sprinkling, pouring, or immersion?

>>> Read ROMANS 6:4. <<< (cf. Colossians 2:12)

*35* How is baptism described? (a) sprinkling, (b) pouring, (c) burial and resurrection, (d) all the preceding.

*36* How was Jesus buried? (a) a little dirt was sprinkled or poured on Him, (b) he was completely surrounded in the earth, then came out from it (compare Matthew 12:40; 27:60).

>>> Read ACTS 8:38,39. <<<

*37* How is the eunuch's baptism described? (a) he was sprinkled, (b) water was poured on him, (c) he went down into the water and came up out of it.

*38* When denominations sprinkle or pour, does the person "go down into" the water and "come up out of it"? (a) yes, (b) no.

In the gospel, baptism is always a complete immersion. In fact, the original word meant to dip, immerse, etc. (See the Greek derivation of the word according to English dictionaries.) (See also Mark 1:9,10; Hebrews 10:22; John 3:23.)

C. The Proper Subject of Baptism

Should babies be baptized, or should people wait until they can understand and decide for themselves?

*39* Before one can be baptized, he must understand the gospel (John 6:44,45), believe (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 8:12), repent (Acts 2:38), and confess (Romans 10:9,10). Can babies do this? (a) yes, (b) no.

*40* Baptized people are members of the church and must participate in its work and worship (1 Corinthians 12:13,25,26; 10:16,17; 11:23-29; Ephesians 4:16). Can babies do these things? (a) yes, (b) no.

>>> Read MATTHEW 18:3. <<<

*41* To enter the kingdom, what must we do? (a) become totally depraved, (b) inherit the sin of Adam, (c) be converted and become like little children.

*42* When we are converted, what is our condition? (a) forgiven of sin, (b) innocent, (c) like little children, (d) all the preceding.

*43* Since baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), then do babies need to be baptized? (a) yes, (b) no.

The command to be baptized is addressed to people old enough to make their own choice with understanding. Little children do not need baptism because they are innocent before God and are not accountable for sin (Psalm 106:38; Matthew 19:14; Ezekiel 18:20; 2 Corinthians 5:10). To baptize babies would be to obey the teachings of men, not Jesus (Matthew 15:9; Galatians 1:8,9; etc.).

In the Bible, when people understood, believed, and repented, they were baptized without delay (Acts 2:41; 8:35-39; 22:16; 16:23-34). Many churches today postpone baptism until a "baptismal service" days or weeks later. This shows they misunderstand the purpose of it. If you understand, you should not delay, but obey today.

Conclusion

To be sure your sins are forgiven, you must obey the teachings of Jesus the Lord (Hebrews 5:9). You must not follow human doctrines, but obey the gospel exactly as Jesus revealed it.

You began this study by summarizing your own conversion. Please go back and compare what you have done in the past to what you now know the Bible teaches.

* Have you understood the true teachings of the gospel about forgiveness of sins?

* Have you believed in God, in the Bible, and in Jesus as your Lord and Savior who died for your sins and rose again?

* Have you repented of your sins and determined to dedicate your whole life to serving God?

* Have you confessed Jesus as your Lord?

* Have you been Scripturally baptized - did you first understand and make up your own mind to be baptized, were you completely immersed, and did you do it for the purpose of receiving forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus?

Perhaps you are one of the many people who thought you were forgiven, but now you realize you were misled. What should you do? You should realize that you simply have never completed your obedience to the gospel and you should now determine to complete it.

In particular, if a person realizes that his "baptism" was not Scriptural, what should he do? Acts 19:1-7 shows that people with this problem were baptized properly. Remember, there are many false baptisms, but only one true baptism (Ephesians 4:3-6).

"Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only" - James 1:22.

"If you love Me, keep my commandments" - John 14:15. Do you love Jesus enough to obey his commandments?

Correct answers to the questions are as follows:

*1* = a, *2* = b, *3* = c, *4* = c, *5* = c, *6* = a, *7* = b, *8* = a, *9* = a, *10* = c, *11* = b, *12* = b, *13* = b, *14* = a, *15* = c, *16* = b, *17* = a, *18* = c, *19* = b, *20* = a, *21* = b, *22* = b, *23* = b, *24* = c, *25* = b, *26* = a, *27* = b, *28* = c, *29* = b, *30* = b, *31* = b, *32* = b, *33* = a, *34* = b, *35* = c, *36* = b, *37* = c, *38* = b, *39* = b, *40* = b, *41* = c, *42* = d, *43* = b

Note: If you would like to learn more about the topics studied in this article, please consider the links below. We have articles about the purpose of baptism, the importance of obedience, baptism of babies, sprinkling and pouring vs. immersion, "faith only," etc.

Note: If you would like help in finding a faithful local church in your area or a Christian in your area to study the Bible personally with you, please click on the link at the end of this message to email us. You will be given an opportunity to inform us of your desire. Depending on where you live, we may or may not be able to help in these ways.

(C) Copyright 1990, 1998, David E. Pratte
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This material is available if you wish to purchase it in printed form. For a complete list of prices and other titles available, visit Light to My Path Publications.

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Topics for further Bible study

(Click for more information. Use your "back" key to return here.)

Why We Need Forgiveness
Jesus as Savior from Sin
The Purpose of Baptism
Should Babies Be Baptized?
Individual Responsibility in Salvation
Have You Been "Born Again"?
Importance of Repentance
Is Baptism Sprinkling, Pouring, or Immersion?
The Importance of Obedience
Salvation by "Faith Only" vs. Obedient Faith
Should Alien Sinners Pray for Forgiveness
Eternal Security ("Once Saved, Always Saved")
Election and Predestination
What about the Thief on the Cross?

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