J. A. Trench.
Article 53 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
It would not be scriptural to say that those who were pricked in their heart and said to the Apostles, "What shall we do?" were already saved. For this would set aside what Scripture means by being saved in the full sense of the word. It is often used as if it were equivalent to being converted or turned to God. But Cornelius' case (Acts 10) and Peter's narrative in Acts 11 show the force of it. That the devout centurion had been born again no one can doubt, for he manifested the fruit of this work of grace in his prayers and alms, which would not otherwise have been acceptable with God. But according to the angel's direction, he had sent for Peter to tell him words whereby he and his house should be saved. We turn then to Peter's address to find what these words were. He had hardly begun to speak, he tells us, when having adduced the testimony of all the prophets to Christ, "that through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins," the Holy Ghost fell on all that heard.
To be saved, then, is to be brought consciously in the faith of the soul on to the ground of accomplished redemption through believing the glad tidings of the remission of sins. And this is accompanied by the Holy Ghost taking up His dwelling-place in the forgiven person.
In the type (Ex. 12) the children of Israel were safe enough from the judgment of God within the bloodstained lintels of their houses in Egypt. But it was in view of deliverance from all the power of the enemy through the Red Sea — a figure of the death and resurrection of Christ for us — that the word "stand still and see the salvation of God" was given. (Ex. 14:13) There had been safety for the sheep in the Jewish sheepfold into which the Lord entered (John 10) to call out His own. But it was by Christ as the Door that those who had heard His voice entered into the first characteristic of the new blessing: "By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved," though much more lay beyond.
Nor was it otherwise in Acts 2, when the Jews were brought to deep concern of heart by the testimony of Peter to the One whom they had crucified being raised, and made by God both Lord and Christ. The question was, What were they to do? The answer came, "Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Thus they would save themselves from the guilt of that untoward generation. Three thousand of them received the Apostle's testimony, and were baptised, the Lord forming them as the saved remnant of His ancient people into the Assembly.
The Philippian jailer was a similar case of the conviction of conscience essential to any real work of God in the soul. The case of the disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19) in connection with what the Apostle recalls in Ephesians 1:13, confirms what we have seen to be the force of salvation. They had been truly converted through John the Baptist's testimony to a Christ who should come after him. Paul brought them the tidings that He had come, and of His finished work, "the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also having believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise."