When we study the Bible, we see that God has always made a way for man to come to Him, but that way changes through Scripture. Before you write me off as a heretic, which most people will at just that, bear with me a bit and let's see what the Bible says.
Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.God provided a covering for their sins, because that sin damned their souls to Hell. God is the only one that can cover or forgive the sins of human-kind. However, let's look at the next important person in the Bible: Noah.
Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
9 ¶These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
It should be obvious that Noah found grace in God's eyes because of how he lived: just and perfect in his generations. All that means is that he lived in that manner to please God, and God gave him grace as a result of him trying to please the Lord. So, that's the reason that God chose Noah, a righteous man as the Bible calls him, to escape the judgment that God was going to bring on the earth. So what did Noah do to escape that judgment?
Genesis 6:22 Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.He obeyed God and built the boat. He could have had all the faith in the world that God was going to save him and his family, but if he hadn't built the boat, then he would have died like everyone else. Yes he built the ark by faith, but without those works, he would have been deader 'n a bag of hammers. It was his obedience that saved him, simply his obedience to do what God had commanded him.
This can be followed all through the Bible: God dealing with people differently, but always providing Grace, because we humans are frail and imperfect, and without God's Grace we'd be hopeless. Whether it was the Law that the Israelites were required to keep, or Abraham's work of offering Isaac, God always provided a way through His Grace for man to be saved from his sin.
Now let's check out the New Testament. Jesus shows up, the promised Messiah, and starts preaching. But what does He preach? Let's see!
Matthew 4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
Matthew 9:35 And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.
Mark 1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Matthew 3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
When you compare what John the Baptist and Jesus preached with what Paul and the Apostles preached consistently after Acts 15, you'll see a big difference. Jesus is preaching humility, piety and good works in the Sermon on the Mount, and John the Baptist is preaching repentance and baptism! Again, we see that God is dealing with someone, the Jews in this case, differently than He has dealt with other people before. Jesus said that He was sent not but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and went so far as to call a gentile woman a DOG! That doesn't sound much like Romans 5:8 to me. Jesus went so far as to tell them not to enter into the way of the Gentiles! So obviously something is different right now from Acts 10:10-16 and the following chapter.
The next part gets tricky; not because the Bible is hard to understand, but because people like to twist It out of context to prove their own doctrines. "Acts" is simply a history book, recording the time after Christ's resurrection and subsequent ascension. At the beginning of the book of Acts, Jesus sends the disciples out to spread the Gospel. What Gospel had they been given? The Gospel of the Kingdom! Up until that point, Jesus had been preaching what has been corrupted into a social Gospel: "Do good" and "the meek shall inherit the earth," which while it isn't wrong, it's simply not what we find later on in Scripture. Let's look then at what Peter preached, under the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:14 ¶But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judæa, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:The funny thing here is that Peter is preaching a passage from the book of Joel about the Tribulation! Peter, speaking under the direct leading of the Holy Spirit, is preaching about the last days! Don't believe me? Read Joel chapter 2.
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Ok, so we have a quandary here. We know that the Tribulation hasn't started yet, and won't for a while yet, but here's Peter preaching about the Tribulation in Acts chapter 2! So, is someone wrong here, or did something change? We'll skip a little bit; you can read it if you want to, but to save space I'm going to skip past it a little.
Acts 2:32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.So the Jews to whom Peter was preaching got convicted! He just got finished talking about the crucifixion of their Messiah-remember they were sent to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and preform miracles!-and now they're sorrowful for their actions as a nation! Now what does Peter say in response?
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 ¶Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.Now we seem to have a problem. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that salvation is a gift from God, and says nothing of being baptized. Titus 2:5 says that salvation isn't by works: it's by grace alone. All through Paul's epistles we see salvation taught as being by faith alone outside of any work, which would include baptism. So why is Peter preaching baptism with repentance??
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
First, find Salvation in that chapter. Hint: you won't. Second, to whom is Peter talking? He's talking to Jews, who just recently crucified their Messiah. What time frame does Peter think he's in? The Tribulation.
Basically, Peter is preaching something that you will NEVER see preached again in that sense, as baptism being included with salvation doesn't show up after Acts 15. As far as they're aware of, they're about to head into the Tribulation after the imminent return of Jesus Christ. And there is NO MENTION of salvation in that chapter at all. Peter is preaching a national repentance because of the rejection of Christ. That's why he says to be baptized in the name of Jesus: it was a sign that they were following Jesus Christ, whom their nation had just rejected. These people were getting ready for the Antichrist, not Salvation!
There's always more issues that Campbellites bring up in response, but this covers the main one. Enjoy; I'll prepare for a second installment after I receive all the feedback from this.