Ezekiel — Lesson 23

Ezekiel 43:13 - 46

1. Description of the altar. 43:13-17.

1. The first element of temple worship that Ezekiel described was the altar of burnt offering.

1. It was built in four stages consisting of a base plus three stages; each stage was two cubits smaller than the one below.

2. Around the base was a one-cubit gutter with a rim on the outer edge one cubit high (v. 13).

3. The lowest stage was two cubits high and sixteen cubits on each side (v. 14).

4. The second was four cubits high and twelve cubits on each side (v. 15).

5. The third was the hearth and was four cubits high and twelve cubits on each side.

6. On the four corners of the fourth state hearth were horns or projections.

7. The upper ledge on the edge of the second state also had a rim one-half cubit high and a gutter one cubit wide (v. 17).

8. There were steps on the east side of the altar for access to the hearth.

2. The altar was a visible sign of the consequences of sin that encouraged people to confess and repent of sins (43:18-19; cf. 45:13-17).

2. Regulations for the use of the altar. 43:18-27.

1. Two purposes for the altar were specified (v. 18).

1. It was to be used for offering whole burnt offerings.

2. It was to be used for sprinkling blood, which was associated with:

1. Priestly ordination (Exod. 29:20);

2. Burnt offerings (Lev. 1:5-13; 9:12); and

3. Peace offerings (Lev. 3:2-8; 9:18).

2. The altar was a symbol both of the consequences of sin and of the grace and love of God who provided a means to atone for sins (v. 19).

1. The wages of sin produced the death of the sacrificial animal.

2. The projections on the four corners of the hearth were considered the most holy and sacred part of the altar (Exod. 29:12) and a place of mercy and refuge (1 Kings 1:50; 2:28).

3. The horns of the altar that Ezekiel saw were sprinkled with blood to purify the altar and make atonement for it (v. 20).

4. A bull was offered as a sin offering and burned outside the inner court but inside the temple complex (v. 21).

5. On the second day of the dedication of the altar a male goat was offered outside the inner court and the altar purified as in v. 20.

6. Then a bull and a ram were offered as a whole burnt offering mixed with salt (vv. 23-24).

1. The use of salt with an offering has specific overtones and association with the idea of covenant (Num. 18:19; 2 Chron. 13:5).

2. Salt was used as a part of sacrificial communal meals and was a sign of purification and preservation.

7. This procedure was repeated for seven days (until the seven days had ended rather than an additional seven days).

8. The seven days for these ceremonies were for the atonement, cleansing, and dedication of the altar (v. 26).

9. At least seven theological concepts are associated with the altar and the sacrifices.

1. The altar sometimes was regarded as the "table" of Jehovah (Ezek. 44:16; Mal. 1:7, 12).

1. It was where the sacrifice was transformed by fire into smoke that rose to heaven and to God.

2. Because it was burned, it became an irrevocable gift.

2. Since the temple was regarded as the "house" of God, a house normally had a hearth, which was a repository of fire.

1. The altar was considered to be the "hearth" of God (Ezek. 43:15-16).

2. The fire of God was on the altar, and priests were admonished to keep the fire pure (see Lev. 10:1-7).

3. Fire is a symbol in scripture for God's presence (Exod. 19:18), power (Exod. 9:24), wrath (2 Kings 1:9-12), approval (Lev. 9:24), guidance (Exod. 13:21-22), protection (Zech. 2:5), purity (Isa. 6:5-7), deliverance (2 Kings 2:11), God's word (Jer. 5:14), the Messiah (Mal. 3:2), the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3), judgment (Matt. 25:41), the return of Christ (2 Thess 1:7-8), and the end of the present world (2 Pet. 3:10-12).

3. The altar was a sign of God's presence among his people (43:27).

1. It was commemorative of an appearance of God (Gen. 12:7; 26:24-25).

2. Such manifestations of God were often accompanied by fire (Exod. 19:18; Judg. 13:16-22).

4. The altar was associated with the idea of holiness, purity, and mercy, especially the horns of the altar (43:15, 20; 1 Kings 1:50-51; 2:28).

1. The sprinkling of blood on the horns of the altar was a rite of purification (43:18-21).

5. The altar was an instrument of mediation (40:47; 43:19).

1. Offerings were translated from the physical world by burning and given to God as they rose to heaven in smoke.

2. By keeping the commandments, the offerings, sacrifices, and feast days, the covenant promises were maintained (Lev. 1:1-7:28).

6. Sacrifices were considered a gift to God (Ezek. 43:27).

1. A domesticated animal that was needed for food or work was given to God.

2. The sacrifice was burnt for at least two reasons:

1. Burning made the gift irrevocable; and

2. Burning translated the sacrifice to the invisible world where God lived.

3. Thus, the sacrifice was a means of communication with God and was considered a form of prayer (Psa. 141:2).

7. Sacrifice was for expiation of sins (43:25-27; Lev. 4:2, 13, 22, 27; 5:3-4, 15, 18; Num. 15:22-31).

10. When the altar had been properly dedicated and the seven days fulfilled, God would then accept them (v. 27).

11. From the eighth day onward the altar was used for sacrifice of burnt offerings.

1. The beginning of the service of the altar of sacrifice from the eighth day has messianic overtones.

2. The eighth day and the use of eight as a messianic number is an important part of the new temple of Ezekiel's vision.

3. The use of the number eight and especially the eighth day in Scripture is significant (Ezek. 43:27).

1. Every seventh year was considered a Sabbatical year in which the land was to lie untilled.

1. The pattern of six days of work followed by a Sabbath of rest was fixed in the years just as in the weeks (Lev. 8:1).

2. While this principle certainly had agricultural value, it also was to help guard against covetousness.

3. A year without tilling the ground or harvesting crops required careful planning and storing in preparation for the Sabbatical Year.

4. But the Sabbath Year was followed by the eighth year that was to be a year of new beginning; it was to be a time for plowing the ground, sowing seeds, and harvesting crops once again.

5. Jesus the Messiah is the person of the eighth day and eighth year of new beginnings.

6. He is our Sabbath rest who satisfied both the Sabbath Day and the Sabbath Year of rest (Matt. 11:28-29; Heb. 4:1-13).

7. He will lead his people to a final time of eternal rest (Rev. 14:13).

2. Priests were chosen and prepared for a seven-day period (Lev. 8:1).

1. The eighth day was the day for consecration and beginning their priestly duties (Lev. 9:1-2).

2. Nazarites, who made a personal consecration similar to the priests, were cleansed and consecrated on the eighth day (Num. 6:10).

3. The sign of the covenant of Abraham, circumcision, was to be administered on the eighth day after birth (Gen. 17:12; Lev. 12:3; Rom. 2:28-29).

4. Those who were healed of sickness were to present themselves to the priest to be examined and pronounced clean on the eighth day following healing.

1. Lepers were pronounced clean in such eighth-day ceremonies (Lev. 14:10, 23).

2. Cleansing of running sores was done on the eighth day (Lev. 15:14, 29).

5. The eighth day was a day of holy convocation and gathering.

1. A holy convocation was called on the eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, and an offering was made unto the Lord (Lev. 23:36, 39; Num. 29:35).

2. When the law was reinstated after the Babylonian exile, it was done by Ezra and Nehemiah in a holy convocation on the eighth day (Neh. 8:18).

3. The eighth day convocations beautifully anticipated the observance of the Lord's Day as a day of worship.

6. Animals to be used for sacrifice had to be at least eight days old (Lev. 22:26-27).

1. The grace of God could be sought through obedience to the sacrificial system from the eighth day and beyond.

2. The eighth day was the beginning point of grace and mercy anticipating the messianic work of Jesus in providing salvation by being our perfect sacrifice (Heb. 10:1-18, esp. v. 10).

3. Duties of the Prince and the Priests. 44:1-31.

1. Vision of the Prince and the Gate. 44:1-3.

1. Ezekiel's angel-guide brought him back to the eastern gate of the inner court of the sanctuary; the gate was shut and Ezekiel heard God declare that it was to remain shut.

2. This raises several questions: why was it shut; when was it shut; who is the Prince of the gate?

1. The answer to the first question is suggested in the text.

1. Jehovah returned to the temple through the east gate just as he had departed through the east gate (10:1-22; 11:22-25).

2. When God returned he promised never again to depart the city or temple (37:28; cf. 14:11; 34:30-31; 37:24-28).

3. Closing the east gate was a way of providing an affirming sign of his intention to remain in permanent residence.

2. Ezekiel was not told when the gate was closed, but it is evident that it was closed when he saw it.

1. Today the eastern gate, also called the Golden Gate, is a significant holy site for three religions -- Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.

1. Jews believe that when the Messiah comes he will open the east gate and enter the temple mount first and then enter the city of Jerusalem.

2. Moslems believe that the gate is the site of final judgment and call it the gate of heaven and hell; they believe the final judgment of humanity will take place before the eastern gate and the redeemed are those who will be allowed to enter the temple mount; all others will be outcasts.

2. The gate was open in Jesus' day and perhaps he did use it on Palm Sunday as tradition suggests.

3. In 70 A.D. the temple, along with the eastern gate and the entire city of Jerusalem were destroyed.

4. The gate that is there now is a seventh century A.D. structure, perhaps modified by the Crusaders and partially destroyed by the Ottoman Turks, who rebuilt the gate in the early sixteenth century.

5. The Turkish governor of Jerusalem closed and walled up the gate in A.D. 1530 and it has remained closed since then.

3. Who is the Prince of the gate?

1. Some suggest that it is the Messiah.

1. This is inconsistent with the fact that the prince made a sin offering for himself (cf. 45:22), which Christ did not need (Heb. 4:15).

2. In addition, this leader had natural children (46:16).

2. Some suggest that it is David resurrected and serving in the temple during the millennium.

1. This is generally based on 34:23-24 and 37:24; however, these passages have been shown to apply to Christ, not David.

3. Still others suggest that it is a special representative of the Messiah who will serve as an administrator of the temple, temple area, and sacred district.

4. The word translated prince usually was associated with royalty, but prior to the monarchy it was a general term that meant a "leader."

5. The use of this term to describe the office of the eastern gate seems consistent with the view that he is to be a leader of the people; his identity must remain unknown.

1. The physical posture of sitting "in the gate" is also a familiar term of leadership in a municipality.

1. Lot was "sitting in the gateway" of Sodom when the angel messengers came to warn him of the destruction of the city (Gen. 19:1-19).

2. This was an indication that he was a city official.

2. The city gates functioned as a town council, chamber of commerce, city court, and welcome wagon all in one.

3. Amos decried the lack of justice in the gate and indicted the city fathers because they were corrupt and could be bribed into perverting justice.

4. Thus the rich were able to secure whatever injustice they could buy, and the poor were disadvantaged (Amos 5:10,12,15; Prov. 22:22).

5. The prince of Ezekiel's temple is a godly representative of the messianic King.

1. He will sit in the gate, commune with God, and serve as a guarantor of mercy, justice, and righteousness.

2. He will be the perfect spiritual-administrative leader of the restored kingdom.

2. Return to the sanctuary. 44:4-14.

1. Since the east gate was shut, Ezekiel's guide brought him into the temple court through the north gate.

2. As he stood in front of the temple, the glory of God filled the sanctuary (v. 4).

1. The return of the glory of God was the sign of the restoration of God's presence that Ezekiel saw withdrawn from the temple in chs. 10 and 11.

2. Ezekiel's reaction was predictable -- he fell on this face at the sight of the glory of God out of fear and reverence (v. 4; cf. 1:28; 43:1-5).

3. Once again Ezekiel was instructed to pay close heed to what he saw and heard (v. 5; cf. 40:4).

1. The message condemned bringing foreigners into the sanctuary (vv. 7-8; cf. Neh. 13:4-9), giving unauthorized individuals charge over holy things, and desecrating the temple with unholy foreign worship (44:7-8).

1. Rabbinic tradition says the "detestable practices" consisted of the employment of priests who were unqualified to minister before the Lord because of their evil deeds.

2. It may also refer to the use of prisoners of war to perform menial tasks in the temple.

3. They are not directly attributed to the Levites, however, whose sin is said to have been the idolatry and encouraging Israel in idolatry (vv. 10, 12).

2. Because of their idolatry the Levites were confirmed in the subordinate status given them in Numbers.

1. There they were to serve at the tabernacle (Num. 16:8-11), guard the tabernacle from defilement (Num. 1:53; 3:10), and redeem the firstborn (Num. 3:12-13, 40-43; 8:14-19 --Ezekiel mentions all but the last).

2. In spite of their sin they were allowed to have a part in the temple service, but only as ministers in charge of the temple, in contrast to the priests who would be in charge of the altar (v. 10; cf. 40:45-46).

3. They were to guard the temple gates and slaughter the animals of sacrifice, but they could not minister as priests or "come near," meaning they could not go into the inner court (vv. 11-12).

4. For their faithfulness the priesthood is entrusted to the Zadokites, who are enjoined to protect the holiness of the temple (44:15).

3. God has a place of service for everyone.

1. Though the Levites were disqualified from leadership roles, they still had a significant part in the service of the temple.

2. Past moral failure does not exclude one from worship or service in the house of God.

3. It may, however, preempt one from serving in leadership roles where a moral failure would present a compromised testimony (44:11-14).

3. The Zadokite priesthood. 44:15-31.

1. The line of Zadok is to be the only legitimate line of priests allowed to minister in the inner court and in the sanctuary before the Lord (v. 15).

2. Several regulations for the Zadokite priesthood are described in vv. 17-21.

1. Their clothing would be only linen, a symbol of purity in contrast to wool which was an animal by-product and therefore unclean.

2. Their hair must neither be too long nor totally shaved (v. 20).

3. They could drink no wine in the inner court (v. 21).

4. The could marry but only a virgin or the widow of another priest (v. 22).

1. V. 23 breaks into the flow to give the reasons for these regulations -- They are to teach the people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish between the unclean and the clean, teaching by example as well as precept.

2. The priests were to provide the kind of unblemished example that would encourage Israel to worship God and attract unbelieving nations to serve him.

5. The priests will serve as judges in civil disputes, and see that all the laws of God were observed, especially the feast days and the Sabbath (v. 24).

6. The priests will refrain from touching the dead.

1. Any priest who violated the law must remain unclean for seven days.

2. When he returned to duty, he had to offer a sin offering for himself (v. 27).

7. God was the only legitimate possession of the priests.

1. All food, clothing, and needs will come from the temple service (vv. 28-29).

2. They received the first fruits of the harvest and the best of each household (v. 30).

8. The priests will eat nothing that died a natural death or that had been killed by a wild animal (v. 31).

3. Those who would fill leadership roles must make whatever personal sacrifices necessary to maintain their moral purity.

4. Both the character and conduct of those in leadership roles should demonstrate an obedience of and conformity to the physical, moral, and spiritual principles of the Word of God.

4. Division of the land for the priests, Levites, and prince. 45:1-8.

1. These verses give the details of the apportionment of the central sacred district of the land that is to be assigned to the priests, Levites, and the prince (47:13 - 48:35 will divide the remaining land among the people).

2. The sacred district that Ezekiel saw had a central area of 25,000 by 20,000 cubits flanked on either side by areas for the prince with the sanctuary located in the center.

1. This land was allotted to the Zadokite priests who lived in this section and ministered in the sanctuary (45:3,4).

3. Just to the north of this section was a tract of 25,000 cubits by 10,000 cubits assigned to the Levites (v. 5).

4. A third section 25,000 by 5,000 cubits was allotted for the new city (v. 6).

5. On either side of the central district allotted to the Zadokite priests, Levites, and city is the land allotted to the prince (v. 7).

1. He received two sections of land on either side of the central district that are also 25,000 cubits from north to south but extend from the sacred central district to the borders of the land to the east and west (v. 8).

2. This land will belong to the prince who will oversee the allotments of the land for all the tribes (see 47:13 - 48:35).

3. The land of the priests will be a sacred district belonging to the Lord.

4. Those who commit themselves to God's service are his and are to live by what his people provide for his work (45:1-8; 1 Cor. 9:14).

5. Regulations for offerings and feast days. 45:9 - 46:24.

1. The demand for just standards. 45:9-12.

1. This section is a rebuke of the priests for their dishonesty in the use of scales, weights, and measures used to weigh offerings brought to the temple.

2. Abuse of these tools of the marketplace was a source of frequent mention in the O.T. (Lev. 19:35; Deut. 25:13-16; Prov. 11:1; Amos 8:5; Mic. 6:10-12).

1. Amos preached against insincere worship and dishonest practices (Amos 8:1-6).

2. He painted a sordid picture of people who were impatient because of the arrival of the Sabbath that interrupted their dishonest and deceitful business practices perpetrated on the populace.

3. The people of Amos' day loved dishonest gain more than they loved God.

4. They were selfish and covetous; their lack of morality in the market reflected their loose attitude toward all standards of righteousness.

5. These dishonest merchants tampered with the scales, placed false bottoms in the measure used in the sale of grain, mixed chaff with the salable wheat, and shaved metal off the coins used in exchange (Amos 8:5-6_.

6. Concern for honesty applied to the temple precincts as well as the marketplace.

7. In the temple animals were bought and money was exchanged by those who came to worship.

3. Ezekiel had already soundly rebuked the community leaders for their injustices (22:1-31).

1. That he here also rebuked the priests was another reminder of how seriously God views honesty and probity in dealings between individuals.

2. It was sad testimony to the lack of honesty among the spiritual leaders of Ezekiel's day and a warning for spiritual leaders in every age (cf. 22:1-22).

4. The princes (v. 9) will be responsible for setting and enforcing a system of standard weights and measures to insure honesty in trade and exchange not only in the temple but for all commercial enterprises as well.

1. God admonished the princes to avoid violence and oppression and to enforce justice.

2. Also the priests will be responsible for receiving money, gifts for offerings such as grain and oil, and were also involved in exchange.

3. Standard weights and measures were necessary for acceptable offerings.

4. This law set a standard to enforce justice that the prophets championed and God demanded.

5. Accurate scales and dry measures were to be used in buying, selling and exchanging (vv. 10-11).

6. The shekel was the unit of monetary exchange, and a standard weight for the shekel was set (v. 12).

7. No standard conversion table has been established for the weights and measures named by Ezekiel.

1. A homer was a dry measure of approximately five bushels.

2. An ephah was one-tenth of a homer, making it about one-half bushel.

3. A bath was a liquid measure of about five-and-one-half gallons.

4. The shekel weighed an average of about four-tenth of an ounce and equalled twenty-four gerahs.

5. The shekel was one-fifth of a mina.

8. Just dealings precede acceptable worship.

1. God abhors false balances (Prov. 11:1; Amos 8:5; Mic. 6:11) because they represent injustice and deceit (Ezek. 45:9-12).

2. Jesus made this same connection between justice in our relationships and acceptable worship in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:21-26).

2. Offerings for the prince. 45:13-17.

1. The people will provide for the operation of the temple by making an offering to the prince.

1. This was like the provision for the service of the tabernacle in Exod. 30:11-16.

2. The required offering for grain will be one-sixth of all produce (v. 13).

3. One percent of the oil well be given for use in the temple (v. 14).

4. One of every two hundred animals will be given (v. 15).

5. These commodities will be used in the feast days and festivals of the temple.

2. Everyone will be required to participate in these offerings brought to the prince as the administrator of the temple stores (v. 16).

3. Regulations for the feasts. 45:18-25.

1. The first of the feasts described is an annual rite of purification for the temple (vv. 18-20).

1. This rite was to be carried out on the first day of the first month, which would have been March or April each year.

2. The prince is to offer a bull as a sin offering and place the blood on the door posts of the sanctuary, the four corners of the altar, and the gate posts of the inner court (v. 19).

3. The same ceremony to be on the seventh day for everyone who had gone astray to make atonement for the house (v. 20).

2. The Passover observance followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread is also the responsibility of the prince (v. 21; cf. Exod. 12:1-2; Num. 28:16-25).

1. At Passover the prince will offer a sin offering for himself and for the people.

2. On the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread that followed, the prince offered seven bulls, seven rams, and a male goat as a sin offering each day (v. 23).

3. Accompanying these sacrifices is to be an ephah of grain and one hin of oil, which was about twelve pints (v. 24).

3. The feast of the seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles.

1. It is described in Lev. 23:33-36 and Num 29:12-38.

2. Since it too was a seventh-day feast, the same regulations applied (v. 25).

4. Regulations for the Sabbath. 46:1-8.

1. The inner east gate of the sanctuary was closed for six days and opened on the Sabbath and New Moon, a special Sabbath celebrating the beginning of a new month (v. 1).

2. The inner east gate is the place from which the prince will carry out his ministry on Sabbath and feast days (v. 2).

1. He will not enter the inner court or take part in the sacrifices because he was not a priest.

2. He remained inside the east gate of the inner court to perform his duties while the people were just outside the gate in the outer court (v. 3).

3. For each Sabbath observance the prince will bring six male lambs, one ram, plus a grain offering and a hin of oil for each ephah of grain (vv. 4-5).

4. On the New Moon he will bring an offering consisting of a young bull, six lambs, a ram, a grain offering, and a hin of oil for each ephah of grain (vv. 6-7).

5. The prince will perform his duties entering the east gate by way of the porch (v. 8).

5. General worship regulations. 46:9-15.

1. Worshipers could enter by the north or south gate, but they must exit by the opposite gate; no one could exit by the gate through which they entered (vv. 9-10).

2. Every animal of sacrifice brought by a worshiper was to be accompanied by an offering of one ephah of grain plus a hin of oil (v. 11).

3. Any time the prince desired, he could offer a freewill offering; when he presented a freewill offering, the inner east gate was opened for him, and the regulation of 46:1 was temporarily set aside (v. 12).

4. Daily sacrifices are to be offered consisting of a yearling lamb (v. 13); accompanying the sacrifice is to be a grain offering of one-sixth an ephah of grain and one-third a hin of oil (vv. 14-15).

5. All the details of worship are a reminder that God is a God of order, not chaos (1 Cor. 14:40); this is an appropriate prescription for worship at any time.

6. Regulations concerning the prince and his property. 46:16-18.

1. The preexilic kings were able to increase the property holdings of the crown by purchasing available property (2 Sam. 24:24; 1 Kings 16:24).

2. The prince will exercise the same right of purchase and will be able to increase his land holdings by purchase of available property (v. 16).

1. Inheritance and property rights were extremely important and carefully guarded by the Israelites.

2. All property was to be returned to its original owner or family in the Year of Jubilee (Lev. 25:10).

3. The same regulation will apply to all property given by the prince to a servant (v. 17).

3. Any property given by the prince to one of his sons will be theirs in perpetuity, but the prince is specifically prohibited from taking the property of others and giving it to his sons (v. 18).

7. Regulations for cooking in the temple. 46:19-24.

1. Ezekiel was brought to the entrance of the priest's building in the inner court that was described in 42:1-14.

2. In these rooms the priests cook the animal offerings and bake the grain offerings to avoid defilement by contact with the people (v. 19; cf. 44:19).

3. In the four corners of the outer court were kitchens used to prepare sacrifices for the people (vv. 21-24).

6. Applications.

1. The altar was a reminder not only of the gap that separates human beings from God, but also of the possibility of that gap's being bridged. Human life finds its meaning in the relationship with God, but evil humans may not commune with the holy God. Only when human evil has been dealt with is communion with God possible. And thus the altar of Ezekiel's visionary temple reminds us of another altar, in the form of a cross, on which a perfect sacrifice as last achieved the bridging of that gap that separates human beings from their God.

2. As in the heart of Israel's land God's plot was to be located, so too in every human life the divine presence must be located at the center. The significance of the whole land was to be found at the center; in the center strip, at its central point, was the sanctuary which symbolized God's presence. Our own lives, however diverse their territory and character, require a focal point: it is the recognition that God is central to human living.

3. These regulations concerning worship in the temple are a reminder of the diversity of Israel's worship, its daily continuity and its annual highlights. Every day there was worship in the temple; every seventh day there was special worship; at special points throughout the year, there were festivals and feasts. The maintenance of these worship activities were integral to the spiritual life of God's people. Now, no less than in the past, we continue to need worship if the health of the inner person is to prosper.

4. Just as worshipers of old could not exit the same way they entered, we should not be able to leave worship in the same way we entered. If it doesn't affect and change us we may be only attending, not worshipping.

5. Today there would be those who would urge changes in what God commanded. After all, it would be suggested, look at the people flocking to the high places. If we are ever going to attract people in those numbers we are going to have to get over doing it the same way all of the time. How much wiser it is to make our worship to God the best it can be in the manner he has commanded than it is to change it in a manner that is designed to please us with the excuse that it is done for the sake of others. God, not the community, determines what pleases him. Those who think God is pleased with those who change what he has commanded need to review God's wrath poured out of the Hebrews for that very thing.

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)