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What the Apostles Understood About First Principles

by Frank M. Mullins, Sr.

Originally published in ‘The Evangelist”

One has but to read the Great Commission as given in the Gospels to know conclusively what the Lord commanded the apostles to do in bringing His salvation to lost humanity and what those who accepted His salvation did in accepting it (Read; Matthew 28:19, 20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24:46, 47; John 20:30, 31). On the part of the apostles, they were to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4, 11; 1:22- 24; Gal 1:8, 9), and thus make disciples of Christ. On the part of those accepting Christ, it is just as clearly set forth that they were to believe on Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, who died for our sins on the cross, and in humble penitence acknowledge Him as their personal Savior in obedience to Him in baptism. This is so conclusively established by the passages cited that further argument would be a reflection on any honest believing heart who reads them as though more proof was needed.

It is just as clearly shown and conclusively proved by the book of Acts that the apostles so understood and carried out the Great Commission in bringing lost souls to Christ. In Acts 2, the record of the beginning of their witness of Christ as Savior (Acts 1:8; 11:15), when that multitude of lost souls, being convicted of sin, cried out, “What must we do?’’, the apostle Peter replied: “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). And “They that received his word were baptized: and there was added unto them in that day about three thousand souls.” Here is “the beginning” of the apostles’ work of carrying out the Great Commission — the gospel is preached (Acts 2:22-24, 36) and three thousand souls respond all in accord with the Great Commission as given by the Lord in the Gospels. It is argued that this was a Jewish audience (it was, Acts 2:5), and that baptism was commanded only for the Jews and is not binding on the Gentiles who accept Christ today. Such an argument is purely an invention of man without Scriptural warrant. The apostles bound baptism on the Gentiles as well as the Jews. . .. The Lord selected the apostle Peter to first preach the gospel of the grace of God to the Gentiles at the household of Cornelius (Acts 10:5, 19-22; 11:12-14, 15-18; 15:7-11), and when he had finished his message, God having borne witness that die Gentiles could be saved, the apostle Peter said, “Can any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit as well as we? And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:47, 48). Thus from “the beginning” with both Jew and Gentile the apostles practiced and taught the Great Commission as given to them by the Lord and as recorded in the Gospels.

This is conclusively established by reason of the fact that no example of conversion in the book of Acts varies from it whether it be a convert from the Jews, the Samaritans, the Gentiles individually or collectively: The Samaritans, Acts 8:12, 13, 17; Simon, the sorcerer, Acts 8:12, 13; the Ethiopian eunuch, Acts 8:35, 38; Paul, the apostle, then known as Saul of Tarsus, Acts 9:18; 22:13, 16; the twelve at Ephesus who had been baptized only with the baptism o( John, Acts 19:1-5; the Philippian jailer. Acts 16:28-34; the Corinthians, Acts 18:8. By word and by example the apostles have clearly and conclusively shown their understanding of the first principles to be for believing penitent hearts to be baptized in obedience to Jesus Christ in accepting Him as their Savior, and that this in no wise conflicts with salvation by grace. This is confirmed by the three epistles, Romans, Galatians, and Colossians, specifically written to establish salvation by grace, setting forth the fact that the faith that brings one to Christ for salvation is consummated in baptism: Romans 6:3, 4, “Or are you ignorant that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life”; Galatians 3:26, 27, “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ”; Col. 2:11, 12, “In whom ye were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with him in baptism’’

Frank M. Mullins was a long-time minister of the Gospel and preached at several Churches of Christ through the years. From the late 50s into the early 60s he was a Bible Teacher at Southeastern Christian College in Winchester, KY.  He was living in Dallas, Texas when he went home to be with the Lord on May 30, 1964.

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