Thief on the Cross - Conclusion
Satan Has a Big "But..."

Thief on the Cross - Conclusion

Was Cornelius saved before baptism?

We have looked at this subject by examining three very important questions:

  1. If Cornelius and his friends were saved before baptism, what did Christ circumcise during their baptism?
  2. Does Divine intervention always indicate salvation or can it simply indicate that God has employed someone or something through Divine validation?
  3. Why would God introduce such an obvious anomaly into the consistent biblical pattern of assigning miraculous gifts after baptism?

To wrap up, I would like to share a very sincere exclamation -

Satan has a very big "But..."
and I am so very weary of watching it get in the way of God's will!

Matthew 7:22-23 (NKJV) "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'"

When will we ever learn to be fully submissive to the will of God?! When will we look beyond Satan's "But..." and realize that no excuse, no perceived exception, or loophole hermeneutic is great enough to trump the authority of the Lord's holy command?

Do you know why Jesus will say, "...depart from Me," even though they have prophesied, cast out demons, and done many other great works in His name? Read the previous verse.

Matthew 7:21 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."

We can call ourselves Christian all day long. We can claim a superior knowledge of grace all we want. We can rest on our laurels and take confidence in our accomplishments, but when the Lord returns, He says that the only ones going with Him are the ones who have done THE WILL OF THE FATHER!

What about you? Does your church submit fully to the full plan of salvation? Have you done THE WILL OF THE FATHER? Have you been baptized FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS?

In Colossians 2, we find three essential elements to this surgical procedure performed by the very hands of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:9-12 (NIV) "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead."

Before noticing each part of this surgical process, please be sure to give special attention to the emphasized words above. Baptism is the operating room. Because the operation occurs in baptism, it is critical that we view immersion as more than just a convenient initiation ceremony. Baptism must be taught as an essential part of the salvation process. According to the words of the Holy Spirit, baptism is the very point at which sins are cut away (circumcision). 

Due to the importance of the Surgeon and His work, immersion must not be seen as an outward sign of an inward grace. To view baptism in that way implies that a person is healed before surgery and it diminishes the urgent importance of this commanded procedure. Baptism is the Divinely administered surgical entry point of grace.

Three Surgical Realities Of Baptism

According to Colossians 2:9-12, three surgical realities take place in baptism:

  1. The patient is made whole. "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness." (Vs. 9) It is in baptism, Christ's operating room, we fully identify with the Divine presence. We are no longer separated by sin. Our relationship with the Creator is restored.
  2. The patient is made clean. "Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ." (Vs. 11) It is in baptism, Christ's operating room, which the contaminating areas of our spiritual character are cut away.
  3. The patient is made new. " which you were also raised with him...." (Vs. 12) Romans 6:4 (NIV) puts it this way, "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." It is in baptism, Christ's operating room, that the metamorphic process of spiritual renewal takes place.

From this passage, it becomes vividly clear that spending time in Christ's operating room is essential to one's salvation. Patients must understand that, by God's design, the surgery has to come before the healing. To view baptism as an outward sign of an inward grace confuses the process. Healing cannot come without first experiencing Christ's surgery. Salvation cannot precede the operating room (baptism). When the entry point of grace becomes an after-the-fact ceremony of symbolic gestures, the celebration devalues the work of Christ in baptism and the foundation of conversion is eroded.


Just before making the statement which I cited above (Matthew 7:21), Jesus gave this very important warning to His followers, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:15, NKJV)

Know this, when Satan's "But..." gets in the way, you can be fully assured that ravenous wolves have gone to feeding. The only way to survive their attack is to drop the "But...," hit the knees, and call out toward Heaven, "Not my will, but Thine be done!"

Submission to the full counsel of God is essential! Taking Him at His Word without interference from any manmade doctrine is the only way to escape the warning of Matthew 7:15-21! Will you do it? Will you pursue Him with wide-eyed abandonment? Will you engage in full-throttle submission?

By Sonny Childs

Sometimes it's hard to choose what's best,
Select the right and pass the test,
To push aside that stubborn will,
To tell the selfish voice, "Be still!"
When Satan's "But..." gets in my way,
I close my eyes and then I pray,
"Lord, lead me through the half-truth lies.
Please shield me from the compromise."
I ask for strength to see His will,
To yield, submit, obey until
The Lord returns in bright array
And takes me home. Oh, what a day!!

Missed the first seven lessons in this series? Go to:
The Thief on the Cross: "Intro"
                                      "Cornelius, Part 1"
                                      "Cornelius, Part 2"
                                      "Cornelius, Part 3"

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