The Canon of Scripture and the Apocrypha,..How we got the Scriptures
Our Lord began preaching the Kingdom of God after the death of John the Baptist, who had preached a baptism of repentance and had prepared the way for the Lord. Virtually everyone agrees that John's baptism, was a baptism in water as both John the Baptist and our Lord's disciples baptized many in the river Jordan.
After the resurrection of our Lord, and before His ascention into heaven (in Acts 1), our Lord gave His Disciples the following commands;
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
Clearly, the Lord here in both places gives a command directly related to salvation which anyone who wants to be a Christian --to be a part of the Kingdom of God, must obey. However, Satan has succeeded in creating confusion concerning the Lord's command here.
I and my brethren believe that our Lord has commanded that each one who desires to be saved must believe and be baptized. We understand or believe this to mean that the meaning of baptism (immersion)used by John the Baptist and our Lord's Disciples is baptism in water such as the Jordan contains.
We understand the Lord to mean that each disciple must be baptized (immersed)in water to be saved by the grace of God through faith and obedience.
On the other hand, men and women of "good faith" believe otherwise. They believe that "faith only" saves us-- which would exclude the necessity of baptism in water. They believe that our Lord's commands in the aforementioned scriptures could refer to baptism of the Holy Spirit rather than baptism in water. They believe that baptism is an outward sign only and that it is in fact optional.
Of course, the Lord did not mean these passages to be confusing. Rather, they were explicit instructions. The Lord did not leave us without examples however so if we are confused, we should be able to examine the conversions into the Kingdom of God that the Bible describes and thereby clarify the Lord's commands.
The Kingdom of God (the church) did not begin until after the Lord's crucifixion and resurrection. Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, James, Hebrews, Jude, 1,2 Peter and even Revelation are all written to Christians, either Gentile Christians, Jewish Christians or both. In other words, they had already done whatever they needed to do to become Christians at the time they received those writings.
Our Lord ascended into Heaven in Acts 1 and as we have seen, after the Gospels, the rest of the New Testament is written to Christians. Thus, examples of conversions into the Kingdom of God, into the Church-- take place in the book of Acts only.
This also excludes the thief on the cross, who lived and died under the Law of Moses.
Following in order are 13 conversions into Christ from the book of Acts. In some instances, the Bible will say only that such and such believed in such a way that we can not draw any conclusions concerning the questions we have about baptism. A few of those examples have also been included.
Let's look at these examples assuming that we do not know what baptism means. Does it mean in water, or does it mean baptism of the Holy Spirit? Is the sinners prayer utilized as many do today? Is there a reference to baptism being an outward sign? Can we conclude that anyone is saved without baptism?
What conclusions can we draw about the Lord's explicit commands in Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:15& 16 after seeing each conversion of the New Testament?
The Conversion of the 3000
22 "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. 23 This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
24 But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. 25 David said about him: "`I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
26 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, 27 because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'
29 "Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. 30 But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. 31 Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.
32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.
34 For David did not ascend to heaven, and yet he said, "`The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand 35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet."' 36 "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ."
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" 38 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call."
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.
44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.
They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
In this passage, those who want to be saved are told to repent and to be baptized. We can draw no conclusions about the form of baptism if we are confused about Matthew 28 and Mark 16 because the passage is not explicit, however, it is true that they were instructed to be baptized in verse 38 and those who believe were baptized in verse 41.
No mention is made of the sinners prayer or any prayer. No mention is made of baptism being an outward sign of an inward response. In verse 38, the scripture says explicitly that baptism is for the remission of sins.
The Conversion of the Samaritans
5 Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christ  there. 6 When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 With shrieks, evil  spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.
9 Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, 10 and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, "This man is the divine power known as the Great Power." 11 They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic.
12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized.
And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them.
15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into  the name of the Lord Jesus.
It's clear from verses 12 and 13, that those who believed the message (the Gospel) were baptized but again, we cannot see the baptism-- the scripture does not explicitly explain what the medium of baptism is here.
Again, so far, we have not seen instructions concerning the "sinners prayer" nor any prayer in order to be saved. We have not seen a biblical description of baptism as an outward sign as yet.
Interestingly, the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit (power) later, after the Apostles arrived. Philip was not an Apostle.
The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch
26 Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road--the desert road--that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." 27 So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian  eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.
This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. 29 The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it."
30 Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. 31 "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?"
So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
33 In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."
34 The eunuch asked Philip, "Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?"
35 Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
36 As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"  38 And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.
For the first time, in Acts, the scripture is explicit about baptism. We see here (at the very least) that baptism in water is the baptism commanded.
In verse 36, when the eunuch says "Look, here is water, why shouldn't I be baptized", all confusion about the medium for baptism should be diminished or eliminated. Obviously, the idea of baptism could have only come from Philip's teaching. What did they do? They went down into the water which conforms with Matthew 28 and Mark 16 and with Acts 2:38 as we read earlier.
There is as you can see, no mention of the "sinner's prayer" or any prayer. There is nothing which indicates that baptism was for an outward sign of an inward belief. Is this what you did when you believed? Or, did you adopt a method which at the very least, we have not seen up to now in scripture?
The Conversion of Saul/Paul
1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, Whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 3 As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.
4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5 "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. 6 "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." 7 The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. 8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus.
9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. 10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, "Ananias!" "Yes, Lord," he answered. 11 The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight."
13 "Lord," Ananias answered, "I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name."
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."
17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord--Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here--has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18 Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized,
6 "About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, `Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?' 8 "`Who are you, Lord?' I asked. "`I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,' he replied. 9 My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.
10 "`What shall I do, Lord?' I asked. "`Get up,' the Lord said, `and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.'
11 My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me. 12 "A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13 He stood beside me and said, `Brother Saul, receive your sight!'
And at that very moment I was able to see him. 14 "Then he said: `The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth.
15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.
16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.'
Saul certainly believed in the Lord on the road to Damascus. He saw the Lord face to face-- which is what allowed him to become an Apostle. Did his new faith in the Lord immediately make him a Christian? Chapter 9 says that the Lord told him to go find Annanias who would tell him what he must do.
In Acts 9 verse, 18, Saul got up and was baptized. Although the scripture is not explicit about the type of baptism, we do keep in mind what we learned about baptism in Acts 8. Further, in Acts 22, verse 15, in another version of this same event, we see that Paul is commanded by Annanias to get up and to be baptized for the purpose of Washing away his sins.
This makes clear to us that Saul, who encountered our Lord on the road was still in his sins at this time.
Again, no "sinner's prayer". But a belief, a repentance and finally baptism into Jesus Christ. This completely conforms to the Lord's Commands in Matthew 28 and Mark 16, conforms to Peter's sermon in Acts 2:38.
It conforms to the preaching and the response of the eunuch in Acts 8. It does not conform to modern teachings to say the "sinner's prayer" and let Jesus come into your heart.
We have seen nothing like this in our review, thus far. Was your conversion like that Jesus commanded; like those of the 3000; like the Ethiopian Eunuch's? Like Saul's?
The Conversion of Cornelius
30 Cornelius answered: "Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon. Suddenly a man in shining clothes stood before me 31 and said, `Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter.
He is a guest in the home of Simon the tanner, who lives by the sea.' 33 So I sent for you immediately, and it was good of you to come. Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us."
34 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37 You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached-- 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39 "We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.
41 He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen--by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues  and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have." 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
This is the first recorded conversion of Gentile believers. If we had not read the other examples, certainly here a case could be made that the baptism our Lord commanded in Matthew 28 and in Mark 16 is baptism in the Holy Spirit, because this passage states that while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on them. So, did this mean that they had become Christians?
No, the Holy Spirit falling on them became a sign for both the Gentiles and especially the Jews that the Gospel was for all. Verses 47 and 48 prove this.
Peter realizes that baptism--the baptism that Jesus commanded for the washing away of sins (Acts 22), the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2) was for both the Jews and the Gentiles.
They are thus baptized in Water as the Lord had commanded. Not as an outward sign, clearly, since their speaking in tongues had already served as the outward sign for anyone paying attention.
Nor are they asked to say the "sinner's prayer" or any other prayer. They are instead baptized for the forgiveness of sins in water. Who could forbid water, indeed!
Conversion of the Proconsul
12 When the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, for he was amazed at the teaching about the Lord.
Conversion of the Gentiles
47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: "`I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you  may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.'  " 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and honored the word of the Lord; and all who were appointed for eternal life believed.
Conversion of Lydia
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God.
The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.
She and her household were baptized.
We now are pretty clear of what baptism means in the context of the Lord's command. Again, where is the "sinner's prayer" in these conversions?
Conversion of the Jailer
26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose.
27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, "Don't harm yourself! We are all here!" 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas.
30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household." 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized.
Here another Gentile is converted. Those who oppose baptism often select parts of this passage to prove baptism unnecessary. In answer to his question, he is told to "believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved".
If you look back at the Lord's command and at each of our examples, it is obvious that one has to believe to be saved. Here we have one who formerly did not know either Jesus Christ or God the Father.
What good would it have been to say "be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins" to one who did not know God or His Son? In that case, baptism would truly be a "work" if it is unneccessary even to know the Lord.
The correct answer is always to believe on the Lord Jesus. If you do, you will follow His commands. We see that after the Lord is proclaimed to him and his household--after they believe on the Lord Jesus, they can follow his commands and be baptized to have their sins removed. This is what occurs in verse 33.
Conversion of Dionysius, Damaris
34 A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.
Conversion of Crispus
8 Crispus, the synagogue ruler, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard him believed and were baptized.
Conversion of Apollos
24 Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. 25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.
26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.
Conversion of the 25 Disciples of John
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when  you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied.
4 Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues  and prophesied.
Conclusion: After an examination of most of the conversions in the book of Acts, I conclude the following:
1)A person must believe, repent and be baptized for the remission of sins to enter into the kingdom of God. This is what the Lord stated in Matthew 28 and Mark 16:15& 16
2)Baptism meant baptism in water unless explicitly stated otherwise. In the book of Acts, those who obeyed the Lord were baptized by going down into the water as the Eunuch did.
3)There is no example of anyone being saved by uttering the sinner's prayer or any other prayer.
4)The sinner's prayer is an invention of man. God did not give to man the authority to concoct procedures of their own divising for salvation
5)There is no reference to or description of baptism as an outward sign of an inward response in the scriptures.
6)Those who believe the message should repent and be baptized as did the 3000 on the day of Pentecost.
7)Those who "believe" but do not conform to the Lord's command have not believed and will not be saved. Obedience is part and parcel of belief.
3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: