May 28

Acts 16:25-34

“At the same hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and his entire family were baptized without delay.” vs. 33

When the Philippian jailer, in the aftermath of an earthquake, asked what he needed to do to be saved, Paul was quick with a response, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved, you and your household.” Some have used Paul’s answer as a proof-text for infant baptism. Others have used it to prove that “believing in Jesus” is required for salvation. Ironically the first use points to an inclusive view of salvation while the second has paved the way for rigid exclusivity. Those who espouse “household baptism” believe that God’s grace is poured out freely and is available even to slaves and toddlers who have never heard of Jesus. In recent years the more exclusive view has dominated the Christian world. Congregations ask prospective members if they have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. Only if the answer is “yes” will they be eligible for baptism into Christ. It follows in such circles that only those who have made a personal decision for Jesus can have the assurance of salvation. All non-believers face the prospect of eternal damnation. In our time many are coming to see this emphasis as a distortion of Paul’s grace centered focus on Jesus as the Christ, the incarnation of God’s universal love. In their eyes salvation is a universal gift that issues from the heart of God and not from a human decision.

Thought for the Day: What does “believing in Jesus” mean?

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