Commentary on Daniel: Chapter 10
Chapter 10 is a prelude to the final vision in the book of Daniel. This vision, found in Chapters 11 and 12, will cover the history of the Jews from Daniel’s day down until the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.
1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a word was revealed to Daniel, who was named Belteshazzar. And the word was true, and it was a great conflict. And he understood the word and had understanding of the vision.
The third year of Cyrus would be the third year of his reign over the Chaldeans (about 536 BC), not the third year of his reign over Persia – which would have been 20 years earlier.
As we have suggested, the third year of Cyrus may have coincided with the first year of Darius the Mede, but we do not know for sure.
We know for sure, however, that this vision occurred after Cyrus’s decree that the Jews could return to Palestine. Ezra 1:1 tells us that decree went out in the first year of Cyrus.
The timing here is important because Daniel, who was obviously concerned about the exiles, may have just heard that work on the temple had been halted. This may explain why he is mourning later in the chapter.
What does Daniel tell us about the word that was revealed to him?
(1) The word was true.
Daniel received this vision and this word from God, and thus the word and the vision are true. The vision contained prophecies that would certainly be accomplished. There was no doubt on Daniel’s part.
The liberals do not approach this book from that perspective. Instead, they determine what the vision must mean, and then check to see if the events in their interpretation ever occurred (and, no surprise, they hardly ever have!). Thus, they conclude, the author of Daniel was mistaken since the events he predicted never came true.
For an example of this approach to Biblical interpretation, consider the following excerpt from The New Oxford Annotated Bible commenting on Daniel 11:40–45.
Predictions that Ptolemy will provoke another war with disastrous results, so that Antiochus will conquer Libya to the west of Egypt and Ethiopia to the south, but on his way back will perish somewhere along the coastal route. None of these predictions was fulfilled.
You can sense the glee as the author makes that final comment. “Here is what Daniel said would happen, but it never happened. So much for those who think the Bible is always right…” But notice that the commentator himself is never in doubt with regard to his own conclusions. He couldn’t be wrong, could he? What do you think?
If instead we believe that the word of God is true, then the situation is different. If we make some conclusion about the scriptures that later turns out to be in conflict with historical or scientific truth, then we must be in error – not God. It is our fault for misunderstanding his word. God’s word is truth no matter what we have to say about it.
The two approaches are not all that different. We begin by assuming that God is infallible. The liberals begin by assuming that they themselves are infallible. Beginning with our premise, the liberals are wrong. Beginning with the liberal premise, God is wrong.
And what does God have to say to these critics?
Isaiah 44:7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it, let him declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.
(2) The word involved great conflict.
The King James Version translates this phrase by saying “the time appointed was long” or great. The Hebrew word translated “time appointed” in the King James Version is more properly translated “army” or “host” going forth to war. The Revised Standard Version translation “it was a great conflict” is preferred.
The “conflict” here is the warfare that we will see in Chapter 11. That is, the vision will involve conflicts between many different peoples and nations.
(3) Daniel understood the word and the vision.
Recall that in Daniel 8:27, Daniel confessed that he did not fully understand the vision that he received in that chapter even after an angel appeared to help him understand it. How is this vision different?
The primary difference is that the vision in Chapters 11 and 12 is longer and contains more details. This extra detail seems to have helped Daniel understand what was in store for his people.
Also, the vision in Chapters 11 and 12 is largely historical narrative, and in that sense is more straightforward than his earlier visions.
This first verse in Chapter 10 is an overview of the last three chapters of Daniel. The “understanding” of the vision in 10:1 was not present until the end of Chapter 12.
If we skip down to verses 12–14 we discover that Daniel prayed for understanding and an angel was sent to explain to him what would occur to his people in the last days.
With the next verse, Daniel begins to give the account of the events that led him to this understanding. As we will see, it began with spiritual preparation and prayer. (Perhaps we should follow his example when we too seek to understand the will of God.)
2 In those days I, Daniel, was mourning for three weeks. 3 I ate no delicacies, no meat or wine entered my mouth, nor did I anoint myself at all, for the full three weeks.
Again, we see the extent of Daniel’s spiritual preparation.
Daniel prepared himself to seek God and study his word. Daniel made time for God. Indeed, Daniel seems to have made time for little else.
Should we follow Daniel’s example? Daniel got results when he prayed. God heard his prayers and acted to answer his prayers. If we want similar results then perhaps we should prepare ourselves as Daniel did.
For easterners, anointing oneself with oil was a daily ritual except for those who were sick, who were mourning, or who were facing a crisis.
In James 5:14, the elders anointed the sick person with oil to express their faith that the person was going to recover. (They did not think the oil healed the person.)
Here, Daniel abstains from the oil because he is mourning.
Note also that Daniel abstained during this time from meat and wine. The inference of course is that normally he did not abstain from these foods. Thus, the dietary changes he made when he first arrived in Babylon seem to have been just temporary. (Some have said that Daniel was a vegetarian all of his life, but this verse casts serious doubt on that idea.)
Why was Daniel mourning?
As we have suggested, Daniel may have heard bad news from the exiles who had left several years earlier for Palestine. As we know from Ezra, the news was not all good.
Also, the vision in Chapter 8 had discussed the horrors that lay in store for God’s people under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The vision in Chapter 9 had told Daniel that one day the Messiah would come, only to be cut off, and that one day the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed. Further, this would be God’s last word with regard to the Jews. The vision in Chapter 11 that Daniel was about to receive will have even more to say about the horrors that would soon face God’s people. What else could Daniel do but mourn? Daniel knew that there was a time to mourn, and he knew that the time was now!
And how long did Daniel fast? Well, if we believe those who think there is a Universal Day Equals a Year Principle in the Bible, then Daniel must have fasted for 21 years! But of course there is no such principle as we have already discussed. Daniel fasted for 3 weeks – a literal 21 days.
4 On the twenty-fourth day of the first month, as I was standing on the bank of the great river, that is, the Tigris, 5 I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, whose loins were girded with gold of Uphaz. 6 His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the noise of a multitude.
Daniel received this vision on the 24th day of the first month.
The first month of the Jewish calendar is Nisan. The Passover celebration took place on the 14th day of this month, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread was from the 15th to the 21st day. Thus, Daniel received his vision 10 days after Passover. While traditionally this was a time of feasting, Daniel had spent the time fasting and mourning.
Why did Daniel give us the day and the month and the year of this vision? (The year is given indirectly in verse 1.) One reason is that the extra level of detail adds to the testimony of his book. Daniel is not just making this up – these visions really occurred. A second reason is that Daniel knew that the starting point of a vision was often crucial in understanding a vision.
Daniel was standing on the bank of the Tigris River.
Earlier Daniel had a vision next to the River Ulai (which flows into the Tigris River). As you recall, it was unclear if Daniel was actually at the River Ulai or rather was just seeing the river in his vision. The wording here, however, seems to suggest that Daniel was actually present at the Tigris river when these events occurred.
Daniel was not the only prophet to receive a message from God next to a river. Ezekiel received several visions by the River Chebar.
Verse 5–6 contain perhaps the most detailed description of an angel’s appearance found anywhere in the Bible.
The description of this angel is very similar to the description of Christ found in Revelation 1. This has caused some to conclude that perhaps Daniel was seeing the preincarnate Christ rather than an angel.
One big point against this theory is that this angel, as we will soon see, fought with the Prince of Persia for three weeks until he was helped by Michael. Christ, on the other hand, had little trouble with the demons he encountered in the New Testament.
Despite the similarity of their appearance in Revelation 1 and Daniel 10, the similarity between angels and Christ goes no further.
Christ is the eternal creator (Colossians 1:16). Angels are creatures (Psalm 148).
Christ is omnipotent (Jeremiah 32:27). Angels are not (Daniel 10).
Christ is omnipresent (Psalm 139). Angels are not (Daniel 10).
Christ is omniscient (1 John 3:20). Angels are not (1 Peter 1:12).
Christ is worthy of our worship (Revelation 22:3). Angels are not (Revelation 22:8–9).
7 And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision, for the men who were with me did not see the vision, but a great trembling fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves. 8 So I was left alone and saw this great vision, and no strength was left in me; my radiant appearance was fearfully changed, and I retained no strength. 9 Then I heard the sound of his words; and when I heard the sound of his words, I fell on my face in a deep sleep with my face to the ground.
The vision in verse 7 is the vision of the angel himself appearing, not the vision in Chapters 11 and 12. The word that the angel brings is also called a vision in verse 14, but this vision in verse 7 occurs before the angel says anything.
Daniel’s companions are not able to see the vision, but they sense enough to be afraid and to flee, leaving Daniel alone.
Daniel’s experience is similar to that of Paul on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:7 and 22:9 tell us that Paul’s companions could not see Christ or understand his voice, but did sense enough to be frightened. (They saw the bright light and stood speechless.)
Also, we are reminded of the incident in 2 Kings 6:15–17 in which Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant would be opened so that he could see the great angelic army that surrounded them.
Why could Daniel, Elisha, and Saul see what their companions could not? The most likely reason is simply that God did not want their companions to see the visions. Perhaps, though, they were more spiritually alert than their companions.
Daniel’s appearance changed when he saw the angel.
Verse 8 in the New English Bible reads “My strength left me; I became a sorry figure of a man.”
10 And behold, a hand touched me and set me trembling on my hands and knees. 11 And he said to me, “O Daniel, man greatly beloved, give heed to the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.” While he was speaking this word to me, I stood up trembling. 12 Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.
Again, Daniel is said to be greatly beloved by God.
A literal translation of greatly beloved would be “man of preciousness.” Daniel was precious in God’s sight. What a tremendous complement!
Why was Daniel precious in God’s sight? Because Daniel was a man of faith and a man of good works. Because Daniel devoted himself entirely to doing God’s will and pleasing God.
We have heard so often that our works do not earn our salvation that I fear we have begun to believe that our works don’t count for anything in God’s sight. Our works are important to God. Indeed, Ephesians 2:10 says that we were created for good works.
Why were Daniel’s prayers so effective?
Verse 12 says that Daniel set his mind to understand and he humbled himself before God. Thus, the angel says, God heard his words.
It is a sad fact that although God is always able to hear us, sometimes he chooses not to hear us. Why? Because of our sinfulness.
Isaiah 59:1-2 Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; 2 but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you so that he does not hear.
13 The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia 14 and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come.”
The answer to Daniel’s prayer was delayed for 21 days. Why?
Some suggest that the answer was not delayed, but that the angel was acting to answer his prayer. Daniel’s concern was with the Jewish exiles, and this angel no doubt had the same concern as he wrestled with the forces behind Persia. Often answers cannot be given at once, but instead must be delayed by the arrangements necessary to bring them about.
Daniel’s prayer was heard the first day he started praying, yet the answer didn’t show up for 21 days. Why didn’t Daniel just give up?
Luke 18:1 tells us that we should continue to pray and not lose heart, and this is just what Daniel did.
James 5:16 tells us that our prayers can be very effective. Daniel 10 gives us some idea of the mighty forces that we can unleash with our prayers.
This is the place of prayer – on the battlefield of the world. It is a wartime walkie-talkie for spiritual warfare, not a domestic intercom to increase the comfort of the saints. (John Piper)
The prince of Persia is apparently the satanic agent assigned to work with Persia in fighting the will of God.
We would be foolish to think that Satan is not organized in his fight against him. He has a plan and he works to carry out that plan.
1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking some one to devour.
Although God could wipe out all the forces of Hell with a single thought, he does not. Instead, he accords demons (like men) certain limited powers and gives them free will.
Michael comes to the aid of this angel and remains to fight the prince of Persia.
The angel Michael is also mentioned in verse 21 and later in 12:1. Here he is called a chief prince. In Jude 9 he is called an archangel. He also makes an appearance in Revelation 12:7.
One conclusion we can draw is that apparently there is a hierarchy of angels in which Michael occupies a high position.
By the way, the liberal critics look at all that Daniel has to say about angels, and they conclude that the theology in his book was too advanced to have been written in the sixth century BC. Of course, this theory presupposes that the Jews were just making everything up as they went along, which is exactly what the liberals believe.
Why was this angelic warfare occurring? Why was Satan interested in Persia and Greece?
The short answer is that Satan was interested because God was interested. Satan constantly seeks to thwart God’s plans.
Even today, Satan is seeking to destroy the church and his attacks come from within and without.
He attacks the church from without through the sinful culture of the world and the false doctrines of the world’s religions.
He attacks the church from within by raising up false teachers from within our own ranks who twist the word of God to their own destruction, who deny the miracles and prophecies of the Bible, and who seek to change the eternal pattern that is found in God’s word.
This battle is not new. As we see, it was going full tilt back in the days of Daniel, 500 years before Christ. Now, 2500 years later, it continues. Our job is to take our position in God’s army and remain faithful and true to his word. When we compromise with this world, we betray him. To God, compromise is treason!
An interesting question to consider is to look at how much Satan knows about the plan of God and to ask when he found out about it.
Satan obviously knew that the Jews were part of God’s plan and so he sought to frustrate their efforts at every turn.
Satan, of course, knew that Jesus as the Son of God was the focus of God’s plan so he put temptations before him at every opportunity.
But what about the death of Christ? Did Satan see that as a victory? If he did, then as we know he was badly mistaken, because as John 12:31 and Hebrews 2:14 tell us, Satan was defeated at the cross.
I think that Satan first saw the cross as a victory, but later realized his mistake at the last moment. Matthew 27:19 tells us that Pilates’ wife sought to have Jesus released because of a dream she had. Who was behind that dream? I think Satan was.
One thing that these verses make very clear is that there is an unseen spiritual war going on that is related to events occurring in this world.
This warfare is going on behind a curtain and is obscured from our sight. The Bible occasionally pulls back that curtain a bit and gives us a glimpse of what is going on. Daniel 10 pulls back the curtain perhaps more than any other section of the Bible. Even so, we are not told very much and we can only speculate about the details of this spiritual battle.
Other verses that pull back the curtain are:
Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Of course, we can only speculate about the details of this spiritual warfare since the only thing we know for sure about it is what God has revealed to us – and he hasn’t revealed very much on this topic. There is nothing wrong with conjecture just so long as we remember where the word ends and the conjecture begins.
We must be careful not to go to far and become preoccupied with demons as some have done. C.S. Lewis said the following in this regard:
There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors, and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.
When are the ‘latter days’ mentioned in verse 14?
The phrase could simply mean “later” or it could point to the latter days of the Jewish age. This latter interpretation seems to fit the context better.
Many assume that the “latter days” refers to the end of the world. But as we saw in Acts 2, the ‘last days’ occurred in the first century.
If we do take the ‘latter days’ to refer to the end of the world, then we need to be aware of some consequences of that belief. Verse 14 states very clearly that this vision concerns the role of the Jews in the latter days.
As I have already suggested, I think the ‘latter days’ refers to the time when God’s special plan for the Jews would come to an end. This happened in the first century and fits nicely with how Peter described the last days in Acts 2.
But could this vision also relate to events that will occur at the end of the world? We need to be very careful how we answer that question. To answer the question ‘yes,’ is to logically imply that the Jews still have a special role to play in the plan of God, which many today believe is the case. If we take Daniel to refer to the end of the world in this vision, then the idea of a future Jewish role in God’s plan follows as a logical consequence of verse 14 – we cannot avoid it. Thus, we need to be careful about the time frame we choose for this prophecy.
What does the Bible have to say about the future role of the Jews in God’s plan?
Romans 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and bestows his riches upon all who call upon him.
Acts 13:32-33 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee.’
Jeremiah 33:14-16 Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfil the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring forth for David; and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness.’
Does God have a plan for the Jews today? Yes. Does God have a plan for Jews today that is different from his plan for Gentiles? Absolutely not!
15 When he had spoken to me according to these words, I turned my face toward the ground and was dumb. 16 And behold, one in the likeness of the sons of men touched my lips; then I opened my mouth and spoke. I said to him who stood before me, “O my lord, by reason of the vision pains have come upon me, and I retain no strength. 17 How can my lord’s servant talk with my lord? For now no strength remains in me, and no breath is left in me.” 18 Again one having the appearance of a man touched me and strengthened me. 19 And he said, “O man greatly beloved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.” And when he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”
Daniel is unable to speak until the angel (or perhaps another angel) touches his lips.
Daniel’s response to the angel is similar to that of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:5 where after seeing the vision of God on his throne he was moved to say, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips.”
Daniel turns his face toward the ground and is unable to speak.
Daniel’s responses to the visions he receives are worth studying. Often he is overcome and unable to speak for a time. Indeed, he sometimes loses consciousness for a moment and must be revived.
I think that we have sometimes been guilty of emphasizing that Jesus is our friend (which is certainly true) at the expense of also emphasizing that Jesus is the Sovereign Lord of the Universe who upholds the universe by the power of his word and possesses all authority in Heaven and on Earth.
Listen further to what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6:
Isaiah 6:1-4 In the year that King Uzzi'ah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. 2 Above him stood the seraphim; each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." 4 And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.
Our attitude toward sin is directly related to our attitude toward God. If we have become lax about sin, then perhaps it is because we have tried to lower God down to our level instead of seeing him sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up.
John Calvin said:
Hence that dread and amazement with which, as Scripture uniformly relates, holy men were struck and overwhelmed whenever they beheld the presence of God. … Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance, until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.
And we might add that men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their sinfulness until they have contrasted themselves with the holiness of God.
The first step in saving someone is too convince him that he is lost. We cannot proclaim the good news until we have first proclaimed the bad news.
Holy, Holy, Holy. That is the only attribute of God that is repeated three times for emphasis. You never read that God is love, love, love or merciful, merciful, merciful. But you do read that he is holy, holy, holy – and when we really understand that, we will see ourselves and our sin in a whole new light, just like Isaiah did. We are guilty, guilty, guilty.
Voltaire said that “God made man in His image, and man returned the favor.” Instead of coming up with new gods, I fear we have often been guilty of trying to refashion the one we have. And the result? One author has said that we are like Lancelot in search of the Holy Grail who finds himself at the end of his quest at a Tupperware party. We have tried to trivialize God.
Our so-called Christian society has tried to reduce God to some catchy phrase or fish symbol we stick on our bumpers. Some even parade around in so-called “Christian T-shirts” with slogans such as “This Blood’s For You,” which brings Christ’s atoning sacrifice down to the level of a beer commercial.
When Isaiah saw God on his throne and when Daniel met a messenger of God they were not driven to put a new slogan on their clothing or a catchy phrase on their chariot. They were driven to their knees when they realized their own sinfulness in the presence of the holiness of God.
Proverbs 9:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.
Hebrews 12:28-29 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire.
Daniel is strengthened by the angel, and for good reason. There is bad news ahead! His people are going to undergo serious trials.
20 Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I am through with him, lo, the prince of Greece will come. 21 But I will tell you what is inscribed in the book of truth: there is none who contends by my side against these except Michael, your prince.
The angel had already answered the question in verse 20. In verse 14, the angel told Daniel that he had come to help Daniel understand what would happen to the Jews at the end of days. The question here in verse 20 is merely rhetorical.
Although we have a picture of spiritual warfare involving the prince of Persia and the prince of Greece, it is important to note that the outcome of the battle was never in doubt. God had already told us how the battle was going to end!
Persia was a part of God’s plan, yet Persia was supported by demonic powers. The faithless Jews that rejected Christ were also critical to God’s plan yet were also acting on the side of Satan. Is this a contradiction?
No. Paul dealt with this problem in Romans 9–11. The Jews’ rejection of Christ allowed God to bless the whole world. Thus, how could God hold them responsible for rejecting Christ? Paul answer was that just because God is able to use evil people to further his own aims does not mean that those evil people are no longer responsible for their actions. What evil man could possibly say to God, “You are not allowed to use my evil to accomplish something good unless you give me credit!” The idea, as Paul points out, is ludicrous.
Daniel was very important to God. Indeed, God’s dealings with the powers of the world were put on hold for a moment so that this angel could answer Daniel’s prayer.
The vision in Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 is found in the book of truth.
This book conveys the idea of God’s control and knowledge of past, present, and future. The future that God is about to tell Daniel is so certain that it is already written down. It is as if it has already happened.
Psalm 139:16 Thy eyes beheld my unformed substance; in thy book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Isaiah 44:7 Who is like me? Let him proclaim it, let him declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.
This angel and Michael appear to be outnumbered. They are contending by themselves against the demonic powers of Persia. But, of course, no one is outnumbered when God is on his side.
Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
God's Plan of Salvation
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)