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Why is the “Plan of Salvation” so difficult for some to comprehend? The Bible clearly teaches that in order for one to be saved they must: Hear the Gospel (John 5:24; Rom 10:17), Believe in Jesus (John 8:24), Repent of their sins, (Luke 13:3), Confess that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 10:32) and be Baptized for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16). This pattern is confirmed once and again in every conversion story we find in the Book of Acts. However, as you study the different conversions, such as the 3000 on Pentecost, the Ethiopian eunuch, the Philippian jailer, and others, you will notice that not every step is always mentioned. Unfortunately, there are some who choose a single verse and teach that the some steps are not necessary for salvation because they were not mentioned.
Consider this analogy, called “the Road Map analogy.” Suppose you ask me for directions from here to Oklahoma City. I might say, “Take I-10 West to Lafayette, then I-49 North to Shreveport. Turn West and take I-20 to Dallas, then take I-35 North to Oklahoma City.” I have given you several details, for four specific way-points, on how to get to Oklahoma City from Milton, Florida. Now, suppose you start on your journey and you get to Shreveport. There, you meet a friend and decide to stay a day or two. After your visit, you decide to continue your journey. Once again, you ask me for directions. Does it make any sense for me to start by saying, “Take I-10 West to Lafayette, then I-49 North to Shreveport. Then turn ….”? No! You are already in that place! I simply need to start from where you are! Does that imply the previously given directions are void, or unnecessary, if someone else wants to travel from Milton to Oklahoma City? No! They are still necessary. Most people are capable of understanding this concept.
The Plan of Salvation in Bible is the same concept. For some reason, people don’t seem to apply the same rules to the Bible. Consider this, why didn’t Peter ask those men to believe before telling them to repent (Acts 2:38)? It’s because they already had belief! Why didn’t Ananias tell Paul to believe, repent, and confess before telling him to “arise and be baptized”? (Acts 22:16) It’s because Paul already believed, was penitent, and confessed Jesus when he said, “Lord, what would you have me do?” (Acts 22:10). Did Phillip need to tell the Ethiopian eunuch to repent before telling him to confess? No! He said “if you believe with all your heart you may” (Acts 8:37). The eunuch already had belief, had already repented, and just needed to finish the last two steps. In each case, the evangelist started with where the convert was in the process.
This is why not every step must be mentioned in every single conversion case. This is why Jesus can say “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” is sufficient without mentioning the other elements. Remember, the Bible says, “The SUM of thy word is truth'” (Psalm 119:160). God bless! – TS