Table of Contents

First Corinthians Lesson 8

1 Corinthians 5

At the conclusion of Chapter 4, Paul gave the Corinthians a choice: he would come to them either with a rod or in a spirit of gentleness. That conclusion serves as a bridge to a new subject that Paul wants to discuss with the Corinthians.

This new subject is so different from the previous subject that most commentators think the two are related only by the source from which Paul learned about them. But there is another link between the two subjects -- the arrogance of the Corinthian congregation. Paul is still confronting their arrogant, boastful attitude and the crisis of authority that it was causing. The theme of the first six chapters is really this crisis of authority.

There was an arrogant group in Corinth that was trying to lead the church in a new direction that was opposed to the teaching of Paul.


In Corinth, the priestesses of the temple to Aphrodite were prostitutes. Prostitution was so rampant in the city that "to corinthianize" became a verb meaning "to practice fornication."

In sexual matters, the heathen did not know the meaning of chastity. The area of sex was the most dramatic area where the ethics of Greek culture clashed with the ethics of Jesus.

It wasn't hard at all for a Corinthian to think you could be religious yet still act any way you pleased when it came to sex.

The church in Corinth was like a little island surrounded by a sea of paganism. We are in a similar position today. We like the church at Corinth must struggle to keep ourselves unspotted from the world while living in that world and while seeking to proclaim the gospel to those who are very much spotted by this world. It is also to these issues that Paul addresses his comments in Chapter 5.

1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.


"A man has his father's wife." This language most likely indicates that a man was living with his stepmother, either as a husband and wife or in an adulterous (as well as incestuous) relationship. The verb "to have" is a euphemism for an enduring sexual relationship rather than a one time event. (But as we will see in the next verse, it is possible that the relationship had already come to an end.)

This sin was so horrific that even the pagans recognized it as sinful. The ancient Roman writer Cicero said that this type of incest was an incredible crime and practically unheard of.

Jewish law, of course, also condemned it. (Leviticus 18:8)


The word includes all pre-marital, extra-marital, and unnatural sexual intercourse. The early Greek Christians had a particularly difficult time in this area because it was not viewed as immoral in the society in which they lived. Although our society is quickly becoming the same, we are not that bad yet. Most people who become Christians today are not surprised to learn what we believe about sexual immorality -- such was not the case in Corinth.

So far in the letter, Paul had been dealing primarily with mental issues such as wrong ideas about the church and about the apostles. Now Paul is starting to deal with moral issues. But the two are connected -- moral problems arise from mental problems. We fall into moral problems when we aren't thinking correctly about God and about his word and about his creation. Sound doctrine involves more than just what we believe, it also involves how we live.


First, either through the prominence of the individuals or through the flaunting of their behavior, the knowledge of their sin had become very widespread. The discipline was thus required to be equally widespread. Public sin requires a public response.

There will be other occasions in which public action is not necessary or appropriate and the required discipline can be carried out in private. A public response to a private problem can often cause much more harm than good.

Second, it tells us that Paul had very reliable evidence of what was going on in Corinth even though he had not witnessed the sin himself.

Some translations have this phrase refer to the thoroughness of the evidence ("I have been told as an undoubted fact") rather than the universality of the evidence ("It is being told everywhere"), and both were probably true -- the evidence was conclusive and it was widely known in the community.

The church was allowing one member to shame them all in front of the world. As today, the world in Paul's day was no doubt looking for an excuse to dismiss the church as nothing but hypocrites.

2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.


Presumably, she was not a Christian. Paul will deal later with those who are outside.

Also, presumably she would never become a Christian -- at least not if her experience with the church and Christian living were limited to her step-son. One of the very worst aspects of fornication and pornography is that it causes the other person involved to be seen simply as an object that provides gratification rather than as a lost soul who needs Jesus Christ.


If that is the correct translation, then verses 1 and 2 taken together tell us that the two had an enduring relationship but that it may have ended by this time. The Greek verb tenses used in verse 3 also suggest that the physical acts may very well have ended.

If the sin had ended, it tells us something very important about repentance. Repenting of a sin involves more than just stopping the sin. It involves Godly sorrow and a complete about-face. It involves restitution if such is possible. They may have stopped sinning simply because they got tired of each other's company -- that is hardly repentance!

The world needed to know more than that he had stopped sinning. The world needed to know that the church did not approve of the sin. The damage to the church's reputation continued beyond the duration of the illicit relationship, and, absent repentance, appropriate discipline was required without regard to whether the sin was still occurring.


Paul's command is that they withdraw from the so-called brother and he repeats the command four times in this chapter. He will explain further below that he means they should not keep company with the person or even eat with the person. He will also give the reasons for the withdrawal later in the chapter as we will see.

We should pause for a moment and consider a rather obvious point -- our withdrawal will have very little effect if we are already withdrawn. If we are already not keeping company with someone or eating with someone, then how will that person even know we have withdrawn?

The lesson is clear. If a congregation is already divided up between insiders and outsiders, then what will an outsider care if he is withdrawn from by the insiders? How will they even know? For Paul's prescription to work, a congregation must have the sort of fellowship that will cause disfellowship to be a terrible penalty. If we are already divided up by rich versus poor, old versus young, black versus white, or old Katy versus new Katy, or single versus married then we are in a sense already practicing disfellowship. It will do little good to tell the notorious sinner that we are no longer going to eat with him when we have never bothered to eat with him prior to the sin! What kind of a punishment is that? Elders are not the only people required by God to be "lovers of hospitality" (Titus 1:8); we must all be that way.


What chiefly concerns Paul is the total lack of concern among the Christians at Corinth about what was going on. Indeed, he seems, if anything, less bothered about the immorality itself than about the blasÈ, arrogant attitude being displayed toward it. An isolated case of immorality in the church, while distressing, was not particularly surprising. (Although the type of immorality involved here was certainly uncommon, even among the pagans.) The arrogant attitude of the entire group, however, was both very distressing and very surprising to Paul.


The Greek word translated "mourning" refers to the grief of one mourning for the dead. That is the proper attitude of the church when faced with such a situation, but that was not the attitude at Corinth.

The Corinthians were arrogant about their tolerance and broadmindedness. In a word, they were smug. They were probably saying to themselves, "Look how loving we are! Look how open-minded we are! Look how inclusive and accepting we are!" As one commentator noted, "We should never underestimate what people will allow in the name of open-mindedness." (The only reason to have an open-mind is so you can clamp down on something solid!)

They may have even been amused by the sinful duo. But sin is no laughing matter; God is not mocked. We must never make light of sin or make fun of sin. Sin is deadly; it will destroy your life, destroy your reputation, and destroy your family. Sin can pollute the blood-bought church of Christ. No Christian can ever take an easy-going view of sin; not when we understand the cost.

Our security against sin lies in our being shocked at it. Can you imagine the reaction fifty years ago if an average film (or even a television show) from today had been shown in a movie theatre back then? How would the audience have responded to the filthy language, the unrelenting violence, and the sexual perversion? How do we respond? Are we shocked? Or have we perhaps become a little hardened? And what will we be like 50 years from now?


Commentators differ on whether the Corinthians were arrogant in spite of what was going on -- or because of what was going on. Was the problem simply their tolerance, or had the couple become a cause celebre of the Corinthians' new freedom in Christ? Was it simply tolerance or had they tried to give a theological basis for the sin so as to condone it?

Today, for example, we have the issue of marriage and divorce and remarriage, which Paul will consider in detail in Chapter 7. Jesus' commands in this area are impossible to misunderstand, and yet there is much controversy in this area. Why? There is controversy because of the never ending battle between truth and desire. Every person faces a choice: either we will conform our desires to the truth, or we will conform the truth to our desires. It is this latter path that leads us to controversy over the plain language of Scripture.

There is no better example than the homosexual agenda today and the impact it has had on the denominational world. Denominations have moved from toleration of homosexuality to openly embracing it by ordaining active homosexuals as priests, preachers, and bishops. Is that a result of conforming desire to truth or truth to desire?

But that controversy will never exist in the Lord's church, right? We should pray so, but history is not on our side. Who would have thought 30 years ago that we would be facing the problems we are today?

3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.


However disinclined they may have been to accept Paul's authority as an apostle, the Corinthians must have felt the force of these assertions.

Notice that Paul was represented in their midst by this letter, which he sent as an extension of his apostolic authority. When they got his letter, Paul was present in spirit and it was as if Paul were also present in body.


(1) I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(2) When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(3) The one has done this thing in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

(4) You should, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, hand the man over to Satan.

Most translations favor the first, but if we chose the closest linking phrase in the Greek, then the options would be (2) or (3).

All but the third provide a natural understanding of the phrase and any or all of those could be the correct understanding.

The third would suggest that the sin had been committed in the name of Jesus, which would certainly seem both unusual and so despicable that, if true, we might have expected Paul to have addressed it directly. Some commentators, however, link this phrase with the "Christ party" from the opening chapters -- but that is just speculation and not a likely translation based on the context of this verse.


"To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus." Paul used a similar phrase in 1 Timothy 1:20 where he says he delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Catholics used verse 5 to defend the horrible tortures of the Spanish Inquisition! Calvinists point to this verse as support for their doctrine of once saved, always saved. They say that since this man was saved, the worse thing Satan could do to him was the destruction of his flesh. But, of course, the logical conclusion of this argument is that he was saved without regard to whether he ever repented, and so why under Calvinism would the withdrawal be needed at all?

What is the destruction of the flesh mentioned in verse 5? Although commentators are all over the map, I think the answer is simple. We all must suffer the destruction of our flesh so that our spirit may be saved on the last day. Galatians 6:14 "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." Galatians 5:24 "And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." This man had not yet been crucified unto the world, and the goal of the withdrawal was to convince him that he must be -- that his flesh must be destroyed.

This man was already in Satan's possession, but the church was told to hand him over. Why? He was still considered part of the church by himself and by others. An official withdrawal was needed so that he would know and others would know that he was not part of the body.

The lesson for us here is that it makes absolutely no sense to withdraw from someone who has already withdrawn from us. Disfellowship is intended for those who still consider themselves part of the church. Paul makes this same point again later in verse 11 when he speaks of withdrawing from one who still calls himself a brother. Once someone on their own withdraws themselves from the church, they become those to whom the first half of verse 13 is directed -- they will be judged by God, not by us. Those who have left the church and turned their backs on Christ can hardly be moved to repentance by our withdrawal. What do they care?

And what is the purpose of the disfellowship? So that the person may be saved. They certainly won't be saved unless they repent, but the withdrawal is intended to bring them to repentance. Perhaps when they hit rock bottom they (like the prodigal) will come to their senses and repent. That is the goal of the withdrawal as far as the individual is concerned. The goal with regard to the group is that the sin will not infect the church and destroy its influence in the world.

But this seems so harsh. How can we do something so terrible to someone? That question has things exactly backwards. The absolutely most unloving thing we can do to anyone is convince them they are right with God when they are not. There is nothing worse we can do. Paul's command in this chapter is to do the opposite -- convince those who are wrong with God that such is their condition.

"There are always some who see this action as harsh and unloving, but such criticism comes from those who do not appreciate the Biblical view of God's holiness, and the deep revulsion to sin that that holiness entails."

So many today, even in the church, are reluctant to judge anyone else's behavior. Paul was not. We certainly must not judge others with a standard that we refuse to apply to ourselves, but we are commanded to judge those who are inside. If a man refuses to face his sin, then the church must face it for him -- but we must do so with the right attitude and the right motivation.

"Church discipline is not a group of pious policeman out to catch a criminal. Rather, it is a group of brokenhearted brothers and sisters seeking to restore an erring member of the family."


2 Corinthians 2 may suggest that he did. We will consider that issue later in our study of these two letters.

6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7 Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


With very few exceptions, leaven stands for an evil influence in Jewish literature. (Jesus used it once to refer to something good. Matthew 13:33)

In ancient times yeast was scarce, and leaven was a popular alternative. (The NIV translation of "yeast" here is not correct.) Leaven was a pinch of old dough left over from the previous batch of bread that had been allowed to ferment. This pinch of old dough, having fermented, would work its way throughout the new lump of dough, causing it to rise and become lighter. This method of fermentation, used week after week, increased the danger of food poisoning, and so at least once a year the Israelites started from scratch. After the leaven was thrown away, the next batch of bread was of course unleavened. It was a new batch. Leaven by definition could never be new.

At Passover each year, the Jews recalled the way that God had delivered them from bondage in Egypt. One feature of the Passover observance was the solemn search for and destruction of all leaven before the festival began, and during which only unleavened bread could be eaten. This purging out of all leaven was done before the Passover sacrifice was offered in the temple. (This purging of the leaven each Spring has been seen as the origin of Spring cleaning!)

Paul tells them that the Passover lamb (Jesus) had already been sacrificed, and the Passover feast was already in progress. The Passover feast must refer to the weekly communion, which Paul will discuss in detail in Chapter 11. If these things were already occurring, then the leaven should have been removed long ago -- and yet it remained.

We too must remove leaven. How can we as Christians celebrate our deliverance from sin while simultaneously celebrating sin in the congregation? How can we partake of the communion while sinning with delight and persistence?


If we permit an evil influence to remain in the church, then it can corrupt the whole congregation -- just as leaven permeates the whole lump of dough. Just as the Jews were concerned with removing leaven from their midst, so the church must be concerned with removing notorious, unrepentant sinners from its midst. But we must do more than just remove malice and wickedness; we must make sure that sincerity and truth take their place.


Paul tells the Corinthian Christians that, despite all of their problems, they really are unleavened. "That Paul should think of any congregation known to him as unleavened is remarkable; that he should so regard the church at Corinth is amazing; that he should address the church at Corinth in the midst of this particular obscenity as really unleavened is so arresting it demands closer investigation."

Paul's message to Corinth was to become what you already are! Those in the church are new creatures; we should live that way. Those in the church have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts; we should live that way.

9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10 Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.


No, it does not. Paul refers in verse 9 to a letter we don't have. Calling it a "lost letter" suggests we were intended to have it. We were not. If God had intended for us to have that letter as part of the New Testament, then that letter would be in the New Testament. There are no lost books of the Bible.

A current bestseller is entitled the Gospel of Judas and purports to contain a lost gospel that completely rewrites the Bible. The book does rewrite the gospel, but it is not a lost book of the Bible. It's history is well known and can be traced with certainty to second century Gnostics who were intent on rewriting history to fit their warped views. All of the current press about that book and about the blasphemous DaVinci Code book and movie are premised on the idea that there are lost books of the Bible that tell us what really happened. There are no lost books of the Bible, and we already know what really happened.


Perhaps with a measure of deliberate misrepresentation, the Corinthians had taken Paul's statement to mean that they could have no contact at all with anyone outside the church.

Why do I say deliberate misrepresentation? Because they knew and must have known that such an interpretation was impossible, and particularly so in Corinth. Rather than follow Paul's command, they interpreted it in such a way that it was impossible to follow, and so they dismissed it.

Paul makes his real meaning very clear -- there is to be strict discipline within the church, but freedom of association outside the church.


How are we ever going to proclaim the gospel to the lost if we avoid the lost?

We are not called out of the world; we are sent into the world. John 17:15, 18. The wheat and the tares grow together in the field until the harvest. (Matthew 13:30)

The church of Christ is not a monastery. John Wesley said that God knows nothing of solitary religion.

The church gathers together as a group on the Lord's day. That is when we can enjoy each other's company away from the evil that is out in the world. But what do we do the rest of the week? That is when we must go forth out into that evil world to win souls for Christ. We are soldiers in the Lord's army -- but the battle is not on Sunday and the church is not the battlefield! The battle starts every Monday morning and the battlefield is out in the world!

But we are called to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. James 1:27.

It would be naÔve to suggest that purity within the church and open-ending mixing outside of the church is not extremely difficult to maintain -- and yet it is the key to effective evangelism. The two metaphors used by Jesus to describe the distinctiveness of the church -- salt and light -- both assume involvement with corruption and darkness.

Jesus was entirely without sin and yet he was accused of being a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. (Luke 7:34)

Paul's own example was that he was willing to cross every barrier between Christians and the lost in order to win some to Christ. (1 Cor. 9:19-23; 10:27)

The primary reason for ineffective evangelism is that the church often tends to be remote from unbelievers and lax with fellow believers who persist in sin. In short, there is no distinctiveness. Rather than the church going out into the world, we let the world into the church.

Martin Luther: "The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not accept this does not want to be of the kingdom of Christ. He wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with bad people. Oh, you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been spared?"

11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.


In the culture of that day and in many cultures today, eating with someone was an expression of friendship and partnership. In some cultures, if a man ate at your table, you were bound to treat him as a friend and partner.

To not offer food to a guest could be interpreted as a declaration of war. The parable of the friend at midnight in Luke 11:5-8 shows a host who was willing to incur the wrath of his neighbor to obtain food for his guest. It was an incredible reversal of established norms for Jesus to eat with tax collectors and sinners.

That eating in our culture does not carry the same weight does not mean that we can eat and socialize with the one being disciplined. In fact, it means just the opposite. In our culture we may have to do even more than just not eating to show the world that we do not accept the person's sinful lifestyle.

But again, if we never ate with the person or kept company with the person before he or she sinned, then our not doing it now is hardly going to tell the world anything about how we feel and it is hardly going to have much of an affect on leading the sinner to repent. Telling a person who doesn't much feel like he is part of the group that he is not part of the group is hardly going to shock him into repenting! The real shock might come if we made him part of the group before he sinned in the first place. It is not very effective when we have to preface the notice of our "withdrawal" by first introducing ourselves! We should pray that our congregation will have such a loving spirit that exclusion from our body would be viewed as a punishment able to lead someone to repentance.


Paul wants the Corinthians to know that fornication is not the only sin that the church must condemn, and it is not the only sin that might require church discipline. This is a lesson that many congregations today need to hear. We may be quick to withdraw from an openly unrepentant adulterer, but are we as quick to withdraw from an openly unrepentant character assassin or an openly unrepentant coveter?

The six sins in verse 11 encompass five areas of behavior -- sex, money, possessions, drink, and the tongue.

The church of Christ must be utterly distinctive in our behavior in these six areas. If any among us do not seek to remain distinctive in any of these areas, then Paul's command is clear -- they must be put away from among ourselves.

The world is watching us. The world loves nothing better than to shout "hypocrite" at a Christian. The world assumes that, if the truth were known, all Christians secretly lead lives exactly like their own. The world hopes that we live such lives, and the world is constantly looking for evidence that we do. Paul knew that if the world saw nothing distinctive about the church, then no one would obey the gospel -- and the same is true today.


The root cause of sexual immorality is a wrong view of man. In the end, it views men as beasts having passions and instincts that must be gratified. And it views the other person as merely an instrument through which that gratification may be obtained -- either in person or through pornography.

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant fornication.


The Greek word used here can be translated "greed." It describes someone who is constantly grasping for more and more, and who is totally unsatisfied with what he already has.

If we judge things by purely material standards, then there is no reason why we should not dedicate our lives to the task of getting.

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant covetousness.


All men without exception worship someone or something. Every man has a god. That god might be himself or some other person, it might be money, it might be power, it might be fate, or it might be any of countless other false gods -- but no man is without a god.

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant idolatry.


The Greek word used here denotes an abusive person who berates and insults others, particularly those who are in a leadership position. It refers to a character assassin.

Jude 9 tells us that not even the archangel Michael was willing to bring a railing accusation against Satan, but instead said "The Lord rebuke thee."

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant railing.


What would happen to a solider on duty who was found to be drunk? What about a soldier in the Lord's army?

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant drunkenness.


The Greek word used here is better translated as "robber" because it carries with it the idea of violence. But with our without violence, there are always some who come into the church to make easy money off the brethren.

The church must not tolerate a so-called brother who engages in open and unrepentant extortion.


Paul tells us that when it comes to judging we should be concerned with those inside the body, while leaving those outside the body for God to judge. Many it seems are busy judging those outside the church (which is God's job) while neglecting purity within the church.

The saints will get their chance to participate in the judgment of the world, but that will not happen until the last day. (6:2)

Paul's statement that we do not judge the world certainly did not keep Paul from condemning the sin out in the world. He did so frequently. (See Romans 1, for example.)

Does the verse say that God judges those outside or that God will judge those who are outside? The tense of the Greek verb depends on an accent mark, and the ancient manuscripts lacked accent marks. Translators are divided on the matter, but the difference is not significant. Whether judged today or judged at the last day, the judgment will be the same if they are apart from Jesus Christ.


"Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person." That phrase occurs in connection with six sins in Deuteronomy: (1) a false prophets who leads people astray (13:5), (2) a man or woman who begins to serve other gods (17:7), (3) a man caught stealing (24:7), (4) a woman given in marriage under the assumption she is a virgin when she is not (22:21), (5) a man who compels a betrothed virgin to lie with him (22:24), and (6) a malicious false witness (19:19).

These six examples from Deuteronomy have a remarkable parallel with the six sins mentioned by Paul.

God's command in such cases was clear -- purge the evil from your midst. The difference is that in the Old Testament the purging was done with stones!


1 Peter 2:9-10 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

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) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

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)