Daniel — Lesson 4
The Prophecy of the Third Kingdom in Daniel 8
A. With chapter 8, the book again switches to the Hebrew language. Recall that since chapter 2, Daniel’s record had been given in Aramaic.
B. Although certain symbols in Chapter 8 may remind us of symbols that were used in Chapter 7, we must keep in mind one of our principles of interpretation: Similarity of language does not prove identity of subjects.
C. While the primary subject of Chapter 7 was the fourth kingdom, the primary subject of Chapter 8 is the third kingdom.
1 In the third year of the reign of King Belshazzar a vision appeared to me, Daniel, after that which appeared to me at the first. 2 And I saw in the vision; and when I saw, I was in Susa the capital, which is in the province of Elam; and I saw in the vision, and I was at the river Ulai.
2. This vision appeared to Daniel in the third year of Belshazzar’s reign.
A. If this denotes the third year of his coregency with Nabonidus, his father, then this vision would have appeared to Daniel in 550 BC.
B. Daniel would have been in his seventies at this time.
C. Cyrus entered the city of Babylon in 539 BC.
D. Alexander the Great came on the scene in about 336 BC, over 200 years after Daniel received this vision.
3. In the vision, Daniel saw himself in Susa.
A. Susa was a Persian royal city and was more than 200 miles east of Babylon.
1. A century later the Persian king Xerxes built a magnificent palace there, which was where the events in the book of Esther took place.
a) The palace of Xerxes was discovered there in the late 1800’s.
2. Nehemiah was King Artaxerxes’ cupbearer in the Susa palace.
B. Susa was the capital of Elam, which at one time was independent of both the Babylonians and the Medes.
1. By around 550 BC, however, Elam seems to have become a province of Persia.
2. While Persia and the Medes were rivals, the Babylonians and the Persians were friendly. However, that changed when the Persians and the Medes merged.
3. It was then that Nabonidus began to negotiate with Lydia and Egypt, hoping to form a triple alliance.
3 I raised my eyes and saw, and behold, a ram standing on the bank of the river. It had two horns; and both horns were high, but one was higher than the other, and the higher one came up last.
4. What does the ram denote?
A. There is no doubt but that it denotes Medo-Persia. This is stated explicitly in verse 20.
B. Again, one must wonder where the liberal scholars get their idea that Daniel thought the Medes and the Persians acted as separate kingdoms in their dealings with the Babylonians. How could it be any more clear? We have one ram denoting both kingdoms.
5. This ram has two horns which denote the Medes and the Persians.
A. One horn is higher than the other. This higher horn denotes the supremacy of the Persians in their merger with the Medes.
B. The higher horn comes up last. This is in perfect accord with history. The Medes were the dominant power until Cyrus the Great came along and brought prominence to the Persians.
4 I saw the ram charging westward and northward and southward; no beast could stand before him, and there was no one who could rescue from his power; he did as he pleased and magnified himself.
6. This verse gives us a completely accurate picture of the Medo-Persians.
A. The three general areas of Medo-Persian expansion were:
1. Westward toward Lydia, Ionia, Thrace, and Macedon.
2. Northward toward the Caspians and the Scythians.
3. Southward to Babylon and Egypt.
B. In these campaigns, the Medo-Persians were nearly invincible and, as pictured here, their targets were helpless against them.
C. Medo-Persia and its king, Cyrus, became arrogant, and Cyrus “magnified himself.”
D. About 150 years before the rise of Cyrus, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about Cyrus’ rise to power and even called him by name! Read Isaiah 44:28.
1. Who says of Cyrus, ‘He is My shepherd, And he shall perform all My pleasure, Saying to Jerusalem, “You shall be built,” And to the temple, “Your foundation shall be laid.”
2. Josephus tells us that Cyrus read what Isaiah had written and had “an earnest desire and ambition … to fulfill what was so written.”
3. See also Ezra 1:1-3 and 2 Chron. 36:22-23.
5 As I was considering, behold, a he-goat came from the west across the face of the whole earth, without touching the ground; and the goat had a conspicuous horn between his eyes. 6 He came to the ram with the two horns, which I had seen standing on the bank of the river, and he ran at him in his mighty wrath. 7 I saw him come close to the ram, and he was enraged against him and struck the ram and broke his two horns; and the ram had no power to stand before him, but he cast him down to the ground and trampled upon him; and there was no one who could rescue the ram from his power.
7. Who is this goat from the East?
A. Again we are left with no doubt. Verse 21 tells us explicitly that it denotes Greece.
8. This goat with one conspicuous horn comes from the West and charges the ram with the two horns. Again, this is in perfect accord with history.
A. Alexander the Great and the Greeks came against Persia in 334 BC from Macedonia and Greece, which were in the West.
B. Like this goat, Alexander moved fast. The hooves of this goat did not even touch the ground.
1. Alexander died when he was 33, but by that time he had conquered virtually the entire world!
9. Who was this conspicuous horn?
A. As we have suggested, it must be Alexander the Great.
B. Verse 21 tells us that this horn was the “first king.”
1. Although his father Philip II of Macedonia had united all of the Greek city-states except Sparta, Alexander is considered the first king of the consolidated Greek empire.
C. This attack by the goat against the ram appears to be unprovoked.
1. History tells us that Alexander launched just such an attack in 334, and emerged victorious just 3 years later.
2. He was enraged at the Persians for having defeated the Greeks in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) and the Battle of Salamis (481 BC).
3. One commentator wrote:
a) Alexander’s conquest of the entire Near and Middle East within three years stands unique in military history and is appropriately portrayed by the lightning speed of this one-horned goat. Despite the immense numerical superiority of the Persian imperial forces and their possession of military equipment like war elephants, the tactical genius of young Alexander … proved decisive.
4. Daniel is suggesting that Alexander did not accomplish all of this on his own! He was acting out his part of a plan that God had put in place hundreds of years earlier.
D. Recall that Josephus says that the Jews showed Alexander this very passage when he marched against their city. Alexander then spared the city out of gratitude.
1. Josephus wrote:
a) “The high priest then showed Alexander the passages in the prophecy of Daniel indicating that a Greek would destroy the empire of the Persians. Alexander, of course, accepted the prophecy as a reference to himself, and declared that God had ordained him to conquer Persia, which he proceeded to do. Furthermore, Alexander not only refused to execute any sanctions against Israel but bestowed upon that nation all kinds of favors and benefits, which was contrary to his usual custom.”
8 Then the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly; but when he was strong, the great horn was broken, and instead of it there came up four conspicuous horns toward the four winds of heaven.
10. This goat “magnified himself.” What does that mean?
A. It could denote Alexander’s advances into Afghanistan and India, which occurred in 327 BC. That is, he magnified his empire.
B. More likely, it refers to Alexander’s pretensions of divinity, which distressed his troops to the point that they mutinied and refused to advance further into India.
1. Egyptian priests had told Alexander that he had descended from Zeus, and he took it very seriously. He required his comrades to prostrate themselves before him.
2. Recall that the use of a two-horned ram to symbolize Medo-Persia supports an early date for the book of Daniel.
a) After Alexander the Great visited Egypt, he was forever depicted on coins with his head adorned with the ram’s horns of Amen-Ra.
b) A thousand years later, Mo-hammed called him ‘Alexander, the lord of the two horns.’
c) One commentator has written:
(1) “It is impossible to believe that the writer of Daniel could, in the face of universal attribution of the two ram’s horns to Alexander, represent Persia, the power he overthrew, as a two-horned ram (Daniel 8:3,20) unless he had written before the expedition into Egypt.”
11. This horn is broken at the height of its power, and in its place arise four other horns.
A. Alexander died in Babylon at the age of 33 due to a malaria and alcoholism. At the height of his power he was cut off.
B. After his death, attempts were made to hold his empire together, but they proved futile.
C. By 311, four of his generals had claimed independence and by 301 they had it. (At one point 13 men were trying to carve out a piece of the Greek empire, but when the smoke cleared only 4 were still standing.)
1. Ptolemy in Egypt (including Palestine)
2. Seleucus in Babylonia
3. Lysimachus in Thrace and Asia Minor
4. Cassander in Macedonia and Greece
D. History tells us that the initial division of Alexander’s kingdom was four-fold and that is what Daniel tells us as well. The difference is that Daniel told us many years before Alexander was even born!
9 Out of one of them came forth a little horn, which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land. 10 It grew great, even to the host of heaven; and some of the host of the stars it cast down to the ground, and trampled upon them. 11 It magnified itself, even up to the Prince of the host; and the continual burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown. 12 And the host was given over to it together with the continual burnt offering through transgression; and truth was cast down to the ground, and the horn acted and prospered.
12. Here we have another little horn.
A. Recall that we saw a little horn in Chapter 7 as well. That little horn was Domitian, the 11th emperor of Rome.
B. Is this little horn also Domitian? No. The little horn in Chapter 7 came up from the fourth kingdom (Rome). The little horn here in Chapter 8 comes up from the third kingdom (Greece).
C. Remember, similarity of language does not prove identity of subject – and this ‘little horn’ is a perfect example.
13. Who then is this little horn that arises out of the Greek empire?
A. We are given a few clues here and more clues later in the chapter. Let’s summarize the clues:
1. He grew great toward the south, the east, and the glorious land. (verse 9)
2. He was able to cast down some of the host of the stars and the host of heaven. (verse 10)
3. He greatly magnified himself. (verse 11)
4. He took away the burnt offerings. (verse 11)
5. He overthrew the sanctuary. (verse 11)
6. He was a king of bold countenance. (verse 23)
7. He understood riddles (verse 23)
8. He had great power (verse 24)
9. He caused great destruction (verse 24)
B. This part of the vision anticipates a ruler in the Greek empire who subjugated the people and the land of Israel, desecrated the temple, interrupted the worship, and demanded for himself the authority and worship that belongs to God.
1. There is only one ruler who fits all of these clues. The little horn of Chapter 8 is Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire.
14. Historical Review of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
A. As we have seen, after the death of Alexander, Ptolemy and his successors established themselves in Egypt and at first controlled Palestine as well.
B. The Seleucids on the other hand controlled Mesopotamia and Syria.
C. There was constant friction between these two groups, and as was often the case, Palestine became a battlefield.
D. In 200 BC, the Seleucids gained Palestine from the Ptolemies at the Battle of Panias.
E. Initially, the Seleucid rule was popular with the Jews. According to Josephus, Antiochus III eased the tax burden considerably.
F. However, he soon came in conflict with Rome and after several defeats was forced to pay a large annual indemnity. This meant he had to tax the Jews more heavily, and understandably his popularity began to wane.
G. Antiochus III was killed in 187 BC while raiding a temple treasury in Elam in order to pay off the Romans.
H. His successor, Seleucus IV, continued this policy by plotting unsuccessfully to rob the temple treasury in Jerusalem. He was assassinated in 175 BC.
I. As one might expect, this period gave rise to Jewish opposition and the gradual emergence of a nationalistic movement.
J. Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to power after the death of his brother, Seleucus IV.
K. He needed to unify his empire against the threats of Rome to the west, Parthia to the east, and Egypt to the south.
L. He wanted to make the land of Israel a buffer state between himself and Egypt.
M. He sought to accomplish this unity by fostering Hellenism; that is, by encouraging the adoption of Greek culture and ideals.
1. He particularly identified with Zeus and took the name Epiphanes (‘the god appearing’) because he considered himself to be a divine personification of Zeus.
2. His enemies called him Antiochus Epimanes (“the Madman”).
N. Due to the Roman taxes, he was virtually penniless when he assumed the throne, so he increased taxes and continued to rob temples.
O. Although they all disliked the taxes, the Jews were divided about Hellenism.
1. Younger Jews were eager to adopt Greek culture and integrate it into Jewish society, but most older Jews were uncompromising traditionalists.
P. The High Priest (who got the job by paying Antiochus a bribe) built a Greek gymnasium within sight of the temple. There, young men (including priests) studied Greek culture and took part in sports.
1. The intertestamental book of First Maccabees contains the following description:
a) Whereupon they built a place of exercise at Jerusalem according to the custom of the heathen. And made themselves uncircumcised, and forsook the holy covenant, and joined themselves to the heathen.
(1) The custom of the heathen? Greek sports were conducted without clothing.
(2) Made themselves uncircumcised? This is not figurative speech. Some of the Jews actually tried to reverse their circumcision with surgery.
Q. Later, an altar to Zeus was built in the temple and sacrifices were offered on it. And this was not all, as the following excerpt from one commentary makes clear:
1. Antiochus issued decrees forbidding the practice of Jewish religion on pain of torture and death; the Sabbath and the festivals were not to be observed and circumcision was forbidden; copies of the Torah were to be destroyed and Jews were to be forced to offer sacrifices to Zeus and eat the meat of the sacrifice. Pigs were deliberately chosen as the sacrificial animals because they were considered unclean by the Jews.
R. One elderly priest, Mattathias, refused to sacrifice to Zeus and, with his five sons, rose up and killed the king’s officers who were trying to force him to comply.
S. This led to the Maccabean Revolt, which eventually gave rise to the first independent Jewish nation since before the Babylonian captivity.
1. This nation only lasted 79 years. In 63 BC, the Romans under Pompey conquered Jerusalem and once again the Jews were under foreign domination.
15. Now, let’s look at those clues again. Who is the Little Horn of Chapter 8?
A. He grew great toward the south, the east, and the glorious land. (verse 9)
1. This accurately describes the directions of the Seleucids. The ‘glorious land’ denotes Palestine.
B. He was able to cast down some of the host of the stars and the host of heaven. (verse 10)
1. This ‘stars of heaven’ and the ‘host of heaven’ refer to the people of God, who at this time were the Jews. This symbol may point back to the promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:5 that his descendents would be as numerable as the stars.
2. Antiochus caused many ‘stars of heaven’ to fall as he caused them to renounce their covenant with God.
C. He greatly magnified himself. (verse 11)
1. Antiochus declared himself to be the divine personification of the Greek god Zeus.
D. He took away the burnt offerings. (verse 11)
1. Verse 11 says that “It magnified itself, even up to the Prince of the host; and the continual burnt offering was taken away from him, and the place of his sanctuary was overthrown.”
2. This Prince of the host is undoubtedly Jesus Christ himself, who we also saw in Chapter 7.
3. It was from him (the Prince) that the burnt offering was taken. (The Hebrew here simply says that the daily was taken away. Antiochus caused the daily activities of the priests to be stopped.)
E. He overthrew the sanctuary. (verse 11)
1. Antiochus looted the temple and set up an altar to Zeus in the sanctuary.
2. The Jews were ordered to offer unclean sacrifices and to eat swine’s flesh or be penalized by death.
F. He was a king of bold countenance. (verse 23)
1. Even the Roman Pompey refused to disrupt the Jewish worship, but not so with Antiochus.
G. He understood riddles (verse 23)
1. A better translation is that he was skilled at double dealings. Again, this was true of Antiochus. History tells us that he was extremely crafty and devious.
H. He had great power and he caused great destruction (verse 24)
1. This, of course, as we have seen was also true of Antiochus.
I. In summary, Antiochus IV Epiphanes is the little horn that arose out of the Greek empire and persecuted the people of God ruthlessly. He overthrew the sanctuary and caused the daily sacrifices to end. He caused many of God’s people to fall by causing them to renounce their covenant with God in favor of Greek culture and gods. As verse 12 says, he cast the truth down to the ground – and he did so with the help of may of the Jews.
13 Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to the one that spoke, “For how long is the vision concerning the continual burnt offering, the transgression that makes desolate, and the giving over of the sanctuary and host to be trampled under foot?” 14 And he said to him, “For two thousand and three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.”
16. Daniel hears a ‘holy one’ (probably an angel) ask how long the sanctuary and the people would be trampled under foot. A second ‘holy one’ provides the answer: The sanctuary will be restored after 2300 evenings and mornings.
A. History tells us that the sanctuary was restored in December 164 BC.
1. In fact, the Jewish Hanukkah holiday celebrates this very event. This is the feast that is called the feast of the dedication in John 10:22–23. This celebration of the rebirth of the temple was later adopted by Christendom as the date to celebrate the birth of Christ.
B. What about the time period of 2300 mornings and evenings? Is it literal or figurative?
1. View 1: The time period is a literal 2300 days, which would be a little over 6 years and 100 days.
a) Antiochus was in Judea for a period of about 6 years.
2. View 2: The time period is a literal 1150 days, which would be a little over 3 years and 50 days. (1150 days contain 1150 mornings and 1150 evenings for a grand total of 2300 mornings and evenings.)
a) This view is more appealing in that the altar to Zeus was set up in the temple about 3 years before it was cleansed.
b) Josephus tells us that “the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years.”
3. View 3: The time period refers to a figurative time period of 6 years that falls just short of a figuratively complete 7 year period.
a) If this view is correct then a period of six years would indicate that the persecution would be temporary.
4. Why ‘evenings and mornings’ instead of ‘days’?
a) The removal of the evening and morning sacrifices was the center of attention in this story.
b) I think this focus on the daily sacrifices supports View 2.
15 When I, Daniel, had seen the vision, I sought to understand it; and behold, there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, and it called, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was frightened and fell upon my face. But he said to me, “Understand, O son of man, that the vision is for the time of the end.”
17. After the vision, Daniel sees the angel Gabriel and hears a voice asking Gabriel to explain the vision to Daniel.
A. Daniel is the only book in the Old Testament that gives us the name of an angel.
B. Note that once again Daniel – though able to interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams – was not permitted by God to interpret his own dream.
18. The angel tells Daniel that the vision is for the time of the end. What does he mean by this?
A. The phrase ‘time of the end’ is one of those phrases that requires us to examine the context very closely.
B. Although we might be tempted to think ‘the end’ must always refer to the end of the world, that could not be the case here. The vision very clearly ends with the cleansing of the temple after its desecration by Antiochus. Thus, the time of the end refers here to a time even before the birth of Christ.
C. The ‘end’ is the end of the vision. That is, it is the appointed time when the vision will be fulfilled. The key idea is that God is in charge of the timing and he will determine when the ‘end’ occurs. The fulfillment is sure and will not occur by accident.
D. The ‘time of the end’ in verse 17 is called the ‘appointed time of the end’ in verse 19. It is the time that God has appointed for the events in the vision to be completed.
18 As he was speaking to me, I fell into a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me and set me on my feet. 19 He said, “Behold, I will make known to you what shall be at the latter end of the indignation; for it pertains to the appointed time of the end.
19. Daniel is so overcome that he faints, but the angel sets him on his feet again.
20. The ‘indignation’ in verse 19 refers to the outpouring of God’s wrath against the enemies of his people and against sin.
20 As for the ram which you saw with the two horns, these are the kings of Media and Persia. 21 And the he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king. 22 As for the horn that was broken, in place of which four others arose, four kingdoms shall arise from his nation, but not with his power.
21. Here we have the explanation of the vision, which we have already discussed.
A. Recall that the ram was Medo-Persia and the goat was Greece. As history tells us, Greece defeated Medo-Persia and then split into four pieces after the death of Alexander the Great.
B. These four kingdoms did not arise ‘with his power.’ That is, they were ruled by his generals and not by his sons.
C. Verse 20 speaks of the ‘kings of Media and Persia.’ Did Daniel believe that the Medes and the Persians were separate kingdoms when these events occurred?
1. No. Daniel clearly sees that Media and Persia are represented by a single ram. That is, they act and do everything together. They are, as history tells us, a single entity.
2. Why, then, does he refer to the ‘kings’ of Media and Persia when in fact Cyrus was in charge of both?
a) The answer is suggested by verse 21.
(1) And the he-goat is the king of Greece; and the great horn between his eyes is the first king.
b) Verse 21 shows us that the the term ‘king’ can also refer to ‘kingdom’.
c) The goat is called the king of Greece, yet the first king is a horn on the goat.
d) Thus, the ‘two kings’ of Media and Persia in a single ram denote the two kingdoms of Media and Persia which merged into a single Medo-Persian empire.
23 And at the latter end of their rule, when the transgressors have reached their full measure, a king of bold countenance, one who understands riddles, shall arise. 24 His power shall be great, and he shall cause fearful destruction, and shall succeed in what he does, and destroy mighty men and the people of the saints. 25 By his cunning he shall make deceit prosper under his hand, and in his own mind he shall magnify himself. Without warning he shall destroy many; and he shall even rise up against the Prince of princes; but, by no human hand, he shall be broken.
22. Here we have a description of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, who we have also already discussed.
A. Recall that each of these items fits Antiochus precisely. In Jewish writings, he is referred to as Antiochus the Wicked.
B. Verse 23 tells us that he would arise in the latter end of the four kingdoms’ rule.
1. Although, chronologically he ruled about midway in the timespan of the Seleucid kingdom, God’s interest in the Seleucids ends with Antiochus IV (as we will see in Chapter 11). The kingdom began to decline with the death of his father Antiochus III.
2. This is not unusual in the Bible. There were many Roman emperors, but as far as God was concerned there were only 11. He talks about the first 11 in Daniel and in Revelation, but says nothing about all the others that followed. God’s interest in Rome (and in the Seleucids) seems to have ended after they were judged and sentenced.
C. Verse 25 tells us that Antiochus IV would be broken by no human hand.
1. History tells us that after making an unsuccessful attempt to pillage a wealthy temple in Elymais, he died of a sudden mysterious illness.
2. Daniel tells us that the illness was anything but mysterious! God removed Antiochus from the scene just like he removed Herod from the scene in Acts 12.
26 The vision of the evenings and the mornings which has been told is true; but seal up the vision, for it pertains to many days hence.”
23. Daniel is told to seal up this vision because it pertains to many days hence. How many days hence?
A. The vision was received in 550 BC and it was fulfilled in 164 BC. Thus ‘many days’ refers here to a time period of 386 years.
B. Daniel was told to seal the vision up because it dealt with events that would pertain to people who would live much later. This vision was not directly applicable to the people of his own day.
C. In Revelation 22:10 John was given the opposite command!
1. Revelation 22:10 And he said to me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.”
D. Why was John told to not seal up the words? Because the time for their fulfillment was near! This is also mentioned elsewhere in the book.
1. Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place.
2. Revelation 1:3 the time is near.
3. Revelation 22:6 And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.
E. Thus, Daniel was told to seal up a vision that referred to a time less than 400 years after he received it, yet John was told not to seal up his vision. Does it make sense to teach that nothing in Revelation has yet been fulfilled as so many teach today?
1. Daniel 8:26 and Revelation 22:10 provide a very good starting point for discussing the prophecies in these two books and especially the prophecy in Revelation.
27 And I, Daniel, was overcome and lay sick for some days; then I rose and went about the king’s business; but I was appalled by the vision and did not understand it.
24. Daniel was appalled by the vision and was overcome for some days. Why? Because he saw what would one day happen to God’s people. Even though it would not happen to him or to anyone he knew, still he was disturbed.
A. This is certainly a lesson for us. We should be concerned for God’s people everywhere and for all time.
B. How can we show our concern for future Christians? By carefully guarding the truth that has been entrusted to us, we show our care and concern for God’s people in the future.
1. 1 Timothy 6:20 O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you.
2. Jude 3 Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
C. This is not just the elders’ or the ministers’ responsibility. It is everyone’s responsibility. We neglect it at our own and our children’s peril.
D. Notice that even after the explanation, Daniel confesses in verse 27 that he did not fully understand the vision. (This should provide some comfort to us in our efforts to understand these visions!)
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)