William Andrew Dillard
Hyper-evangelism and the great debates of a couple of generations ago have produced in some an all encompassing point of spiritual completion in the experience of the spiritual new birth. For this reason, a host of scriptures that speak to the salvation of the mind-life are simply written off as applicable to the spiritual new birth which is thought to be the sum and substance of New Testament Christianity. Little thought is attributed to spiritual salvation by grace being 4,000 years old when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Such a mindset produces error in rightly dividing and interpreting scriptures. For example, it is assumed that 3000 people were spiritually saved on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2. The Bible says no such thing! What it says is that 3,000 were added to them (the church). Of course some may have been saved on that day, but doubtless most of them were of old, saved Jews, and others under the ministries of John and those in the limited commission. At one time there was some controversy about that. John 4:1 records, When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,). It is evident that a great number of people were saved and baptized who did not have the privilege of accompanying Jesus and the apostles during His earthly ministry. Referencing those, Jesus said, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16.
Inasmuch as Jesus’ prayer in John 17 was adamant in several expressions that His church body be one, even as He and the Father were one, it is reasonable to believe His statement in John 10:16 was referencing the many disciples who were to be coalesced into the one fold prior to the great, initial outreach. Pentecost and the days following, as in Acts 4:4, then would be. in a manner of thinking, a roundup of the sheep into one fold under one shepherd.
While this reasoning alone is not proof of the state of those added to the church on Pentecost, when coupled with the fact that the Bible pointedly does not say those 3000 did not all experience spiritual salvation on that day lends heavy credence to that being the case of their being already saved disciples, rejoicing over the New Testament message, and being brought into the one fold.
It is not good to build theology on an “assumed, thus add to the Word” mentality. It is better to coalesce reasonable, bible support, than to change what is said to fit an accepted line of theology. Either way, what difference does it make? Not much except one way is right and another is wrong, just the difference between right and wrong!