Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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When I was in the seminary, our Systematic Theology professor told us one day, "Brethren, if your doctrine doesn't match the facts, then it's time to get a new doctrine." That is sound advice, but when it comes to the subject of "getting saved", the facts have never seemed to have much influence with God's own Spirit-baptized people! Let's consider some basic biblical facts concerning the baptism of the Spirit and being saved. And as we do, let us humbly ask God for the grace to change our thoughts to match His if the facts that we find differ from what we have been trained to think.
The typical Pentecostal doctrine has always been that one must "get saved" before receiving the holy Ghost baptism. Cornelius, the first Gentile to receive the holy Ghost baptism, has often been referred to by Pentecostals as a "saved man" before the holy Ghost fell on him in Acts 10, Peter came to his house and preached. The biblical evidence, including Cornelius' own testimony, demonstrates that the historical Pentecostal doctrine is wrong, that such was not the case with Cornelius, nor is it the case with anyone else.
First, the Bible tells us that when God's angel appeared to Cornelius and instructed him to send for Peter, the angel told Cornelius that the man called Peter "will tell thee words whereby thou shalt be saved." Now, reason itself tells us that if Peter came to Cornelius' house to tell him words that would save him, then Cornelius could not have been "a saved man" before Peter brought those words to him.
Secondly, the Scriptures plainly state that only by the name of Jesus can any man be saved (Acts 4:12). How, then, could Cornelius have possibly been "a saved man" before Peter came to his house to proclaim to him the name of Jesus?
Later, Peter would write that the baptism of the holy Ghost which came by the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the very thing that saves us (1Pet. 3:21). What are we to do with that biblical fact? Can we believe that Cornelius was a "saved man" before he received the baptism that saved him?
Paul taught the saints in Corinth that "by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body" (1Cor. 12:13). Doesn't that fact mean that no one is born again before being baptized by that one holy Spirit? Certainly, Cornelius could not have been "a saved man" and not even yet have been baptized by the holy Ghost into the body of Christ!
Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Since Jesus the Lord said that, we have to humble ourselves to confess that what he said is a fact of life in the kingdom of God. Does our doctrine match that fact, or as the professor wisely suggested, is it time for us to get a new doctrine?