GOSPEL MESSAGE #4 – Is there such a thing as HOUSEHOLD SALVATION?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published May 26, 2023
  • Word count 2,378

17

SALVATION BY WATER BAPTISM: IS THERE SUCH A THING AS HOUSEHOLD SALVATION?

What we’re are going to investigate here is whether a baby’s parent’s faith would provide repentance for their sins and belief in Christ. We could extend this by asking whether the head of a household could repent and believe for their family, friends, or relatives. Are you ready to begin?

Let’s start by going to the book of Acts, chapter 11.

Suggested Reading: Acts 11:1-18

The Apostle Peter has left the house of a Gentile named Cornelius and was on his way back to Jerusalem. When he returned to the Jerusalem church, he was met by Jewish Christians who were upset with him because he went into the house of a Gentile and ate food, which was forbidden for any Jew under the tenets of the Mosaic Law. Peter answered them by explaining the unusual circumstances that took place before he arrived at his house.

He said that he saw a vision, and immediately after it ended, three men from Caesarea arrived where he was residing who conveyed to him to come to the house of Cornelius, the confirmation of such being given to Peter by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, he recounted that when he entered Cornelius’ house, he was told by him that an angel had appeared to him and said to send men to Joppa for a man called Simon (analogous to Peter), which he proceeded to do.

14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.

And then the angel made this astounding statement to him. This man Peter, when he comes to your house, will announce to you these words (all the doctrine of salvation143) whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. One might conclude from this rendering, and many churches have, that when Cornelius got saved, he repented and believed not only for himself but also for his kinsmen (relatives) and close friends. Is this supported by Scripture?

Let’s find out and go back to the original story of this incident from the book of Acts chapter 10.

Suggested Reading: Acts 10:1-48

43-44 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

Peter told everyone clearly what they needed to do to be saved and that was to believe in Jesus. As he was speaking, the Holy Spirit fell (indwelt) on all those who heard the word (the gospel; the salvation message). What I wanted you to notice was that for anyone in the house to receive the indwelling Spirit, they had to personally believe in Christ. And if there were young children present, they had to be able to comprehend (some would call this having reached the age of accountability) what was said, and likewise repent and believe for themselves.

Let’s take a look at another section of Scriptures that are used to support the idea by some churches that if the father of a household gets saved, his whole house (family) will be saved. Stay in the book of Acts and proceed ahead to chapter 16.

Suggested Reading Acts 16:16-34

16 And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying:

This story begins right after a woman named Lydia received the Word (the gospel) spoken to her by the Apostle Paul and was baptized in water. Apparently, Paul and Silas decided that they needed to go to prayer. They knew of a place which they had gone to earlier, which was by a river. While they were on their way, a damsel (a slave girl) possessed with a spirit (an evil spirit) of divination (who told people what would happen in the future144) followed them around for many days.

Paul, sensing that she was demon-possessed, commanded the demon, who was residing in her, to come out, which he did. Her masters, who made a profit off of the spirit’s soothsaying, saw that their money-making scheme was now over. So, they proceeded to stir up the city, making accusations against Paul and Silas, who were apprehended and cast into prison.

While in the jail, they decided to sing psalms as prayers to God, when all of a sudden, an earthquake happened, causing the prison doors to open. The keeper of the prison, who was awoken from sleep, saw the open doors and thought that everyone had escaped. Realizing that if this was the case, the penalty that would be inflicted upon him was death, he took out his sword to kill himself. But Paul, aware of what was taking place, cried out to him and said, Do yourself no harm: for we are all still here.

Acts 16:30 And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

It’s interesting what happened next. The keeper went to their cell and asked them what he must do to be saved. This tells me that he must have received some knowledge beforehand about Paul and Silas in that they were Christians.

31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

It appears that both of them, at the same time, said, believe in Jesus, and you shall be saved, and your house (your family). Here we go again. Some churches would teach that what this was saying is that if the father or head of the household gets saved, they can repent and believe for their entire family. This interpretation sounds correct, doesn’t it? Well, let’s dig further.

The phrase and thy house in Greek means that [your] household will be saved if [they’ll] also believe.145 There it is! The idea expressed is that each person in the house must hear the gospel and decide for themselves.

32 And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

And not only did both of them speak to the jailor, but afterward to all that were in his house, which could have included slaves and children. Again, as we’ve said earlier, if there were children involved, then they would have to be able to hear the message and understand it in order to respond to it. What we’ve learned is that so-called "household salvation" has no basis in the Word of God - that is, that the decision of the head of the household brings salvation to the members of the household.146 This perspective also believes that when a child reaches the age of reason, if their family has already repented for them beforehand, then they don’t have to respond to the salvation message at this time because they’re already saved. The conclusion of which has no basis in the Word of God. This leaves us with an intriguing question.

What would happen to a child in terms of their eternal destiny if they died before reaching an age where they could understand and respond to the salvation message?

I think the answer to this is found in the book of 2 Samuel. If you have your Bible handy, please turn there.

Suggested Reading: 2 Samuel 12:1-23

King David had just committed two egregious sins, each of which constituted a sentence of death under the Mosaic Law. He had an affair with another man’s wife and subsequently had her husband killed so he could have her all to himself. After he took her to be his wife, she subsequently bore him a son. However, this was not the end of it all as far as God was concerned.

God sent the prophet Nathan to talk to him about what he’d done. He began by presenting a story to him about a rich ruler and a poor man. Evidently, the rich man had many flocks and herds while the poor man had only one little ewe lamb, which he brought up, nourished, and treated as one of his children. We’re told that when a traveler came to the rich man, instead of killing one of his own animals to provide physical nourishment, he took what was most precious from the poor man, his one and only lamb.

When King David heard this, he was incensed as if to question how the rich man could have committed this act of selfishness. Then, the prophet Nathan said to him, Thou art the man. He proceeded to tell him that God would impose judgments upon him; however, his life would be spared. One of the judgments would be that his newly born son with his new wife, Bathsheba, would die.

It appears that as soon as David’s son was born, he became sick. David proceeded to fast and intercede to the Lord for him so that He might revert this sickness. Sadly, this wasn’t to be so. On the seventh day, his son died. After which, David stopped fasting, washed and anointed himself, changed his clothes, and went into the house of the Lord and worshipped.

When his servants saw that he stopped fasting, they replied to him in a scolding manner, thou didst fast and weep for the child, while it was alive; but when the child was dead, thou didst rise and eat bread. Apparently, fasting after the death of a loved one was considered a cultural practice. Then, the king responded to them with a remarkable statement concerning the status of his son’s eternal state.

23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

Basically, he said, there’s nothing else I can do. My son is dead, and I can’t bring him back. However, I shall go to him. There we have it. David was saying that when he dies, he’ll be with his son, wherever he’s residing. And where will both of them reside at physical death? Remember, we looked at this earlier in this study.

Scripture tells us that the Old Testament saints who believed in Jehovah (Yahweh) at physical death (their spirits) would go to a compartment of hell called Abraham’s bosom. Luke 16:22And likewise, his son, who was too young to personally believe in Jehovah, would go there also. I hope this clears this up.

Based on the research that confirms what constitutes salvation is the gospel of Christ and the Holy Spirit, along with the conclusion that salvation is a personal decision that no one can make for someone else, we can surmise that the gospel of water baptism isn’t scriptural.

Believe it not, we’re not done. There’s another gospel message that’s a lot more prevalent than one might be aware. This I’ll call the salvation of repentance, belief, and good works. What I’d like us to do before turning to the next chapter is read an interesting article on water baptism regeneration.

CAN YOU GO TO HEAVEN IF YOU’RE NOT BAPTIZED?

I saw your comments regarding [baptism,] and you said baptism [isn’t] necessary to get to heaven…but its Jesus’ commandment for us to be [baptized]. If we don’t, aren’t we disobeying? Isn’t disobedience a sin? How can we get to heaven without baptism?

Aaron

You ask an interesting question, and it’s one that puzzles a lot of people. Your question isn’t really about [baptism] but about salvation. How, you ask, can a disobedient person go to [heaven]? You may be surprised at the answer:

Sin isn’t what sends people to Hell, so it’s not the disobedient who go there. I know: that’s not what you’ve heard before. Let’s walk through it together…

●The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible is very clear on this. There’s a penalty for sin.

●Jesus paid the penalty for all sin, for all people, for all time. 2 Corinthians 5:14 tells us this very clearly: ‘one died for all, therefore all [died.’] Jesus died to take our place…He paid the penalty for ALL of our sin. There’s no sin that His death [didn’t] cover.

●Because #1 is true, and because #2 is true, then #3 is equally true: were you to sin by never being baptized, that would not send you to Hell. God would not make you pay the penalty that Jesus paid for you!

Now, that leads us to another question: why does anyone end up in Hell? The Bible is abundantly clear that some people will be there, but it’s not because of their sin. Read more in 2 Corinthians 5: “[We’re] therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” Those who are reconciled to God go to Heaven. Those who [aren’t] reconciled to God go to Hell.

Sin is no longer the issue because, as that passage tells us, “all died” when Jesus died for us. There’s no penalty left to pay. So: because all sins for all time were covered by Jesus’ death, nobody would go to Hell for not being baptized. They’d only go there for not being reconciled to God.

Let me ask you: are YOU reconciled to God? We’re not perfect, but God’s children will naturally mature and look for ways to please Him. If you’re a Christian, you should be baptized…not so you can go to Heaven, but because you want all that God has for you. If God thinks baptism [is] important enough to command it, then we should do it.147

Endnotes

143Adam Clarke.

144UBS New Testament.

145The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.

146The Bible Exposition Commentary/New Testament.

147Tony Scialdone. “CAN YOU GO TO HEAVEN IF YOU’RE NOT BAPTIZED?” GODWORDS 24 March 2022

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New Covenant Ministries - Ministerios NuevoPacto - Harbor Church, Block Island

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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