I recently received a lengthy e-mail from someone who, evidently, responded to an article on the website of
the Pritchett, Texas church of Christ where I preach. This article will examine his assertion that
salvation is found in "only one word." His statements will be given, followed by my responses.
- In one paragraph of the four page email message, the writer said, "There is only one word
that represents all a sinner can do and must do to be saved and that word is believe." Repentance is not
the means by which we acquire eternal life. Luke's testimony on this point is crystal clear: Acts 13:48-
49 NASB, "When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as
many as had been appointed to eternal life believed."
— My Response
If "believe" is all that is essential to salvation then why did Jesus declare, "...Thus it is
written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that
repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem"
In this statement of the Great Commission, the Son of God places emphasis upon repentance being
preached unto all nations. Incidentally, the individual who sent the email to me denies that repentance was
ever required of a Gentile — one of any other race than a Jew.
- After stating that passages of scripture requiring repentance were only addressed to the
nation of Israel, the correspondent wrote, "Conditions for the Gentile are very different. They are asked
to believe and nothing else."
-- My Response
He does not take into consideration the following words of Christ: "And that repentance and
remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke
24:47). Not only that, but when the Apostle Paul spoke to the Gentile philosophers on Mars' Hill at
Athens, he said of their ignorance of the true nature of God, "And the times of this ignorance God
winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which
he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance
unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
Is my correspondent going to argue with Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul as to whether repentance
is required of all men? His statement that the conditions of salvation for Gentiles are different
contradicts what Peter said at the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. "...Of a truth I perceive that God is
no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness is accepted
with him" (Acts 10:34-35). And the Apostle Paul said, "For there is no respect of persons with God"
- My email correspondent makes the following illogical statements about repentance: "The call
to repentance is broader than the call to eternal life. It is rather a call to harmony between creature and
his Creator, a call to fellowship between sinful men and women and a forgiving God. If we keep this fact
firmly in mind, we will never make the mistake of thinking that repentance is a condition for eternal
— My Response
Question: For the benefit of mankind, how could anything be broader than the blessing of
Answer: There is no greater blessing than obtaining eternal life.
Question: How can a person have access to eternal life while at the same time not be in
harmony with the will of God?
Answer: An individual would not have access to eternal life while not being in harmony with
the Lord's new covenant. Christ died upon the cross that lost humanity could be reconciled unto God and
that Jew and Gentile would be reconciled unto one another in the spiritual body of Christ (Col. 1:19-22;
The term "reconcile" carries the meaning of bringing into harmony. No one can have access to
eternal life while remaining out of harmony with the Will of God. Nor can we have fellowship with God or
forgiveness while spiritually walking in darkness (First John 1:5-9). Surely the correspondent is
not contending that a person tainted with sin possesses eternal life.
- My correspondent denies that confessing Christ has anything to do with salvation. He claims
that we are first saved and then make a confession to that fact.
— My Response
Question: If confessing Christ has nothing to do with salvation, does it really matter as to
whether or not Jesus confesses us before the Heavenly Father? Concerning this matter, our Lord said:
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in
heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven"
(Matt. 10:32-33). And the Apostle Paul further said, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the
Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation"
(Rom. 10:9-10). My correspondent claims that we confess Christ only as a fact of our salvation. But the
Apostle Paul clearly pointed out that the confession is made unto salvation.
- In reference to baptism my correspondent says, "The unsaved are urged to perform some sort
of good work (water baptism is included here as a good work)."
— My Response
Anything commanded of us by way of the inspired Word of God pertains to "works of righteousness"
(Acts 10:34-35). Even belief is a "work of God" (John 6:29). This is not contending that
obeying the commandments of God are human meritorious works (Eph. 2:8-9), but rather submitting to
the works demanded of the Lord (Jas. 2:24).
The truth of the matter, every time that baptism and the term salvation or its equivalent are found
together in the scriptures, baptism always precedes salvation. There is not any exception to this fact.
Please note the following passages: "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,..." (Mark
16:16). The Apostle Peter answered those who were pricked in their heart of their sins and inquired
unto the apostles what shall we do. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you
in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,..." (Acts 2:37-38).
The gospel preacher Ananias said unto Saul of Tarsus, "And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be
baptized and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).
The Apostle Paul reminded Christians at Rome of their obedience to the gospel of Christ with these
words: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by
the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Rom. 6:3-4). Note that the
new life starts after we are baptized, not before.
The Apostle Peter plainly states: "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us
(not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the
resurrection of Jesus Christ:" (1 Pet. 3:21). Now is my correspondent or someone else going to come
along and say that the Son of God, the Apostles Peter and Paul, and the gospel preacher Ananias didn't
really mean what they said?
- And now a word concerning his statement that, "There is only one word that represents all a
sinner can do and must do to be saved and that word is believe." Since there are 181,253 words in the New
Testament are we to ignore any words that mention anything else that pertains to salvation in addition to
My correspondent claims that: "115 passages at least where 'believe' is used alone and apart from
any other condition for salvation."
— My Response
How many times does the Lord have to state something in the Bible for it to be true? If the Lord
speaks one time pertaining to a matter in the inspired Word then that is sufficient to establish that
truth. What my correspondent does not fully understand is that the new covenant is a system based upon
faith. In other words, every thing that we do in relation to submitting unto the Will of the Lord must be
an act of faith. That includes repentance, confessing belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and being
baptized for the remission of sins.