This is The Way - “True Confessions”


We’ve been talking in this series about “The Way” – the way we follow Jesus – and today we go to the foundation of that. How does “The Way” – this life of discovery of following Jesus – begin? And then what? The earliest Christians wrestled with this question about the “entry requirements” for new followers of Jesus and came to the conclusion that it shouldn’t be difficult to become a Christian; just “believe in your heart and confess with your mouth,” then declare that faith publicly.

1.  A Life of Discovery (Acts 8:26-35)

  • Philip (not the disciple, the “evangelist”) loved telling people about Jesus, and Acts 8 tells the story of his Spirit-led encounter with an Ethiopian royal official who was seeking God. The Ethiopian was reading the prophecies of Isaiah about Jesus, and couldn’t understand what he was reading. Philip jumped at the opportunity, and told him about “the Good News of Jesus” and what he had done.
  • Christianity – The Way of Jesus – is a Life of Discovery.  It’s a journey – a journey to Jesus, and a journey with Jesus – and it’s guided by Scripture, by the Holy Spirit, and by others who are on the journey with us (“guides”). That journey begins with a simple decision to trust and follow Jesus.

2.  A True Believer (Acts 8:36-37; Romans 10:9-10KJV)

  • Philip was effective in sharing the Good News with the Ethiopian, and the man believed and put his faith in Jesus. When he did, he immediately wanted to do “the next step” – to be baptized in water. Philip agreed, but only if he was assured that the man fully understood and truly believed in Jesus.
  • Philip didn’t want ritual without belief. Rituals – like baptism – can reflect belief, but they can’t replace it. What matters isn’t the ritual of baptism; it’s the true belief (trust) in Jesus that it signifies.

3.  A Public Declaration (Acts 8:38-39; Matthew 10:32)

  • Once he was assured that the Ethiopian was a true believer in Jesus – i.e., in who Jesus was and what God had done through him – Philip was more than happy to baptize the man as a public declaration of his new faith.
  • Jesus commanded that his followers make a bold, public declaration of our faith in him – not as a ritual that leads to salvation, but as a testimony to others of that salvation. Baptism is a just such a public declaration – a public declaration of a private decision to trust and follow Jesus on the Life of Discovery that he offers us.
  • As a community, Cape Cod Church wants to tell the story of the Bible– the story of Jesus – so that people will come to know him and trust him with their lives. We want to show and tell them about the Life of Discovery he offers, so that they too will believe. Once they do, we invite them to “wear the T-shirt” of baptism and make a joyful, public declaration of that faith in Jesus.


These passages may provide additional insights related to the subject of this week’s message. All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.

Isaiah 53:1-12; Matthew 28:18-20; John 3:16; Acts 2:38-39; Acts 8:12; Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8-10

Video of the Week: The Story of the Bible by the Bible Project


  1. Read Acts 15:19 again.  In your experience, have you found that becoming a Christian is “not difficult,” as James commanded? Why or why not?

  1. Do you think it’s possible that the modern evangelical church has made becoming a Christian too easy?  Explain your answer.  

  1. Read Romans 10:9-10 again. How would you summarize Paul’s “requirements” for salvation in your own words?

  1. Thinking about the ritual of full-immersion baptism, why do you think Jesus chose it as the means for his followers to publicly declare their faith in him?

  1. “Ritual can reflect belief, but it can’t replace it.” What does that statement mean to you?  Why is performing Christian rituals without an underlying true belief a bad thing – or is it?

  1. If you encountered a new believer in Jesus who told you that they’d been baptized as an infant so they’re “good” and don’t need to be baptized as an adult, what would you tell them?

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