Ezekiel — Lesson 25
The Fulfillment of Old Testament Prophecy About Kings and Kingdoms
1. Unfulfilled prophecy is a favorite theme of radio and television preachers.
1. They assert that the second coming of Christ is to achieve the establishment of a kingdom, the return of the kingdom to Israel, and the rebuilding of the Jewish temple.
2. They assert that when Jesus came to earth the first time that he intended to establish a kingdom on earth with Jerusalem as the capital of the world.
1. We are told that this was prophesied in the Old Testament, but when the Jews rejected Jesus as King, Jesus postponed the prophesied establishment of His kingdom until He would come again.
2. At this second coming Jesus will do what he intended to do the first time.
3. Hal Lindsey explains it this way: Jesus was indeed the long-awaited Messiah. Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the kingly prophecies in their day in addition to the ones regarding the suffering Messiah. But when the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ, the fulfillment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history. (There's a New World Coming, p. 30.)
4. In the same text, p. 259, Lindsey asserts of Christ's ascension: Christ had just given His disciples their final briefing, and then He started rising up into mid-air and disappearing into the sky. And there they all stood gaping. The disciples had just asked Jesus if He would give the kingdom to Israel at this time, and He had replied, "No." Then He told them there would be an interim program before the kingdom of God was to be set up.
1. It is clear from Acts 1:6-7 that Jesus says absolutely nothing about an "interim program."
2. However, the point here is that premillennialists believe that Jesus came to earth the first time with the intention of establishing an earthly kingdom to rule over nations, and that such was predicted by Old Testament prophets.
3. Unfortunately for God's plan, the Jews were unwilling to accept Jesus as such a ruler and He was unable to establish the earthly kingdom that the Old Testament prophets had predicted.
4. Instead, he established the church as an "interim program."
3. To evaluate this position requires that we look at Old Testament prophecies concerning the kingdom.
1. Did Old Testament prophets indeed predict that Christ would set up an earthly kingdom or did they have some other meaning that He did fulfill?
2. Did Old Testament prophets indeed predict that Israel would return to its homeland?
2. Old Testament prophecies related to the kingdom.
1. Daniel 2.
1. Daniel 2 is a prophecy that is frequently mentioned as postponed for later fulfillment.
2. The chapter deals with Daniel's interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar's dream of an image.
1. Daniel identifies the head of gold as the Babylonian kingdom.
2. Three other kingdoms follow, and most Bible students agree that they are:
1. Chest and arms of silver - Medo-Persian empire;
2. Belly and thighs of brass - Grecian empire under Alexander the Great;
3. Legs and feet of iron - Roman empire.
3. Speaking of the Roman empire, Daniel clearly says that "in the days of those kings" God shall set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed.
1. Lindsey recognizes that this prophecy refers to the Roman kings of Jesus day, but he states that the Messiah did not establish His kingdom because the Jews rejected Jesus as their earthly king (There's A New World Coming, p. 30; The Late Great Planet Earth, pp. 78-79).
2. Did Jesus establish a kingdom when He came during the days of the Roman Empire, as the prophecy plainly suggests?
3. Was the predicted kingdom a physical, earthly one or does the prophecy speak of a spiritual one?
4. Was Jesus forced to postpone his original plan?
4. To answer these questions, let's look at the description of the kingdom in this prophecy.
1. The kingdom is described as a "stone cut out without hands" that breaks the other kingdoms in pieces, fills the whole earth, and lasts forever.
2. "Without hands" means that this kingdom was of a different nature than the other four. (Heb. 9:11 -- But Christ having come a high priest of the good things to come, through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation.)
3. God never intended for the Messiah to establish an earthly kingdom over nations, but rather a kingdom in the hearts of men to which those from any nation could belong. (John 18:36 -- Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.)
4. Jesus' kingdom was to have superiority over the other four in that:
1. It was of divine origin (made without hands);
2. It would break the others in pieces (triumph over them and their efforts to thwart God's plans);
3. It would fill the whole earth (have a greater extent than any other others); and
4. It would last forever (never be destroyed as the others were).
5. This kingdom was to be established in the days of "those kings" (the Roman empire).
1. If this prophecy was not fulfilled by the end of the fourth kingdom (Roman empire), it can never be fulfilled.
2. The time of an event is as much a part of the prophecy as the event itself.
6. When Jesus spoke of the "kingdom of heaven" or the 'kingdom of God," He always had in mind a spiritual kingdom.
1. Jesus' parables of the kingdom in Matthew 13, for example, are not about a kingdom on earth, but about a spiritual reign in people's hearts.
2. When He was asked when the kingdom of God was coming, He replied: "And being asked by the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God cometh, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you." Luke 17:20-21.)
3. When he spoke to Nicodemus in John chapter 3, He made it clear that one must be born of water and of the Spirit to enter into the kingdom -- a spiritual rebirth to enter a spiritual kingdom.
4. The entire emphasis of Jesus' teaching was on the importance of spiritual matters over the material; why then should He reign over a material kingdom rather than a spiritual one?
7. It was this same mistaken idea that the kingdom was to be "of this world" that caused the Jews to reject Jesus in the first place.
1. They tried, in fact, to make Jesus king in the earthly sense (John 6:15).
2. When He would not allow it, they were confused because He did not meet their mistaken expectation.
8. Thus, a dilemma for premillennialists -- if Jesus had come to establish a kingdom on earth, the Jews would have accepted Him since that is what they expected.
1. Their rejection makes it clear that He did not intend to establish an earthly kingdom or else he did not make his intentions clear to the Jews.
2. The only reasonable conclusion is that He did as he intended and planned -- He set up a spiritual kingdom, also called the church.
3. Thus, he fulfilled the prophecies of the kingdom at His first coming.
5. The "Kingly" and "Messianic" Prophecies.
1. Another dilemma for Lindsey and premillennialists is their distinction between "kingly" and "Messianic" prophecies. (New World, pp. 29-30).
1. According to Lindsey's view, Jesus' original intent was to fulfill both the "kingly" and the "Messianic" prophecies at His first coming.
2. However, he asserts, since the Jews rejected Him He could only fulfill the Messianic prophecies, not the kingly ones.
2. The problem for the premillennialists is that there is no way that Jesus could ever have fulfilled both types of prophecies at the same coming if the "kingly" ones mean an earthly kingdom.
1. The suffering Messiah prophecies call for the death of a rejected savior (Isa. 53) while, according to Lindsey, the kingly prophecies call for a triumphant earthly leader who shall rule over the whole earth.
2. Since Jesus, in the same lifetime, could not have been both a triumphant King and a crucified savior, He could never have fulfilled both types of prophecies at His first coming.
3. Either such was never His intent or Lindsey is mistaken in what the kingly prophecies mean.
4. Since Revelation speaks of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world (KJV, NIV, see also 1 Peter 1:18-20), God always intended for Jesus to come and die as a sacrifice and for His kingdom to be a spiritual kingdom.
3. Clearly, the kingdom prophecies predict a spiritual kingdom that the Messiah would establish at the same time that He was fulfilling the prophecies of the suffering servant.
1. Indeed, it was by HIs suffering and death that He was able to become the spiritual king of our lives and take away our sin.
2. In Philipians 2:8-11, Paul states that Jesus "humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea the death of the cross. Wherefore also God highly exalted him."
1. Because Jesus obeyed God even to the point of dying on the cross for our sins, God therefore exalted him to a position where everyone would bow before Him.
2. Jesus death was a necessary prerequisite to His coronation; His humiliation had to precede His exaltation.
1. It was always God's plan that the Messiah should achieve His purpose by suffering.
2. This truth was proclaimed by Paul to Agrippa: "Having therefore obtained the help that is from God, I stand unto this day testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses did say should come; 23 how that the Christ must suffer, and how that he first by the resurrection of the dead should proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles." (Acts 26:22-23.)
3. Paul here refers to the prophecy of Isa. 9:2-7 which speaks of a "son" born to sit as king on the throne of David who shall bring light to those in darkness.
4. Putting this prophecy of Isaiah with Paul's statement in Acts, we see that the prophecies about a coming king and a coming servant whose sacrifices for sins will bring light both refer to one person who will be both at the same time.
3. Jesus' words to the disciples on the road to Emmaus add further testimony that God's plan was always for the Messiah to suffer, and, by this suffering, to become King: "And he said unto them, O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Behooved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:25-26.)
4. Christ clearly intended to establish a kingdom when He came the first time and frequently so declared.
1. Matt. 10:7 -- He sent the disciples out to preach that the kingdom of heaven was at hand.
2. Mark 9:1 -- Jesus declared that some of his hearers would not taste of death until they saw the kingdom of God come with power.
3. Matt. 16:18 -- Jesus promised to build his church and then immediately identified the church as the kingdom when he promised to give Peter the keys of the kingdom.
4. Either Jesus kingdom came soon, even within the lifetime of those who heard Him, or He was a false prophet.
5. Col. 1:13 -- Paul asserted of the Colossian Christians that they had been translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
6. Clearly, Jesus established a spiritual kingdom as he said.
6. Do God's Prophecies Ever Fail?
1. God's prophecies are not subject to the kind of failure that Lindsey and premillennialists describe.
1. Unless the prophecy is conditional when made, then it will happen when God says, where God says, and in the manner that God says.
2. There is nothing conditional about God's prophecy that He would establish a kingdom during the time of the last kingdom of Daniel's prophecy.
3. God said he would, premillennialists say He didn't; one of them must be wrong.
2. Premillennialists say that God's prophecy can still be fulfilled if the Roman empire rises again.
1. If, however, God's original prophecy was unconditional (and it was), and the Jews' rejection of Jesus thwarted its fulfillment, then God's prophecy failed and it could not be fulfilled even if the Roman Empire were to be revived.
2. The time predicted is as important a party of a prophecy as the event; if the time aspect fails, the prophecy fails.
3. Efforts to find a later fulfillment are only necessary when the original intent of the prophecy is misunderstood.
4. When we recognize that God said He would set up a kingdom during the days of the fourth kingdom from Daniel (the Roman Empire) and that it would be of a different nature from the four kingdoms (not made with hands), then we recognize that Jesus did fulfill such a prophecy at the very time predicted.
2. Daniel 7.
1. In Daniel 7 the prophet sees four beasts come up out of the sea; these beasts represent the same world empires as those pictured by the image of Daniel 2: Babylon, Medes and Persians, Greece, and Rome.
2. Note particularly what Daniel says about the fourth beast: After this I saw in the night-visions, and, behold, a fourth beast, terrible and powerful, and strong exceedingly; and it had great iron teeth; it devoured and brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet: and it was diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns. (Daniel 7:7.)
1. Lindsey agrees that this verse is about the Roman Empire, but says that only the first part of the verse was fulfilled by ancient Rome.
2. Between this description of a beast with iron teeth and feet which stamp the residue (Phase 1) and the last part of the verse which speaks of the ten horns (Phase 2), Lindsey says there is a gap of two thousand years.
3. This gap is necessary because the Jews rejected Jesus, he says.
4. Jesus was not able to establish His kingdom during the days of the first Roman Empire as originally intended.
5. In Lindsey's words: "Daniel's prophecy anticipated a long gap between the ancient and the ten nation phases of the Roman Empire" (The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, p. 113).
3. With such a statement, Lindsey actually creates another dilemma for the premillennialists.
1. If the prophecy actually anticipated a long gap, as he says, then God did not originally intend for the prophecy to be fulfilled at Jesus' first coming.
2. If, on the other hand, God did intend for the prophecy to be fulfilled at Jesus' first coming, then He did not anticipate a gap between the events at the first of the verse and those at the end.
4. Read the verse again and see if it appears that the original prophecy in any way anticipated a long gap.
1. Nothing even hints of a gap.
2. The verse describes the nature of one beast representing one kingdom which shall arise.
3. To apply some of the beast's features to the Roman Empire and other features to a kingdom that shall arise 2,000 years later is to misuse and abuse the text.
5. Lindsey tries to make the verse fit the premillenialists pre-conception that Jesus will return to set up an earthly kingdom, thus fulfilling prophecies that He intended to fulfill at His first coming.
6. By starting with an incorrect assumption, he creates problems of inconsistency.
3. Daniel 11.
1. In chapter 11 Daniel again speaks of coming world empires.
2. One to which he refers is Greece under Alexander the Great.
1. In Daniel 11:2-4, for example, he speaks of a king of Greece who shall stand up, that shall rule with dominion, but whose kingdom shall be broken and divided to those not his posterity. (Lindsey agrees that this passage refers to Alexander (Late Great Planet Earth, p. 80, Countdown to Armageddon, p. 111.)
2. In the next verse (11:5), Daniel begins a discussion of those "not of his posterity," to whom this kingdom of Greece will be divided -- one is called the king of the south and another the king of the north.
3. As here predicted, Alexander's kingdom did not go to his children, but to four generals.
4. The king of the north was Seleucus who took the area north of Palestine; the king of the south was Ptolemy, who reigned in Egypt to the south of Palestine.
5. The next verses of Daniel 11 describe in advance very accurately and in great detail the attempts of these kings and their descendants to control Palestine.
6. These predictions are so accurate, in fact, that those who do not believe God can reveal human events ahead of time, take this description as evidence that the book of Daniel must have been written after the events.
3. Lindsey, however, uses his gap theory again.
1. Somewhere between verse 4 and verse 40 Lindsey inserts a gap of 2300 years.
2. He never explains how at first the kings of the north and south are Alexander's generals, and then somehow these terms refer to people 2300 years later with no continuity.
3. He just says, "Daniel leaps over a long era of time" (Late Great Planet Earth, pp. 66, 80; There's a New World Coming, p. 224).
4. No one reading this passage without a pre-conception would ever guess that a 2300-year gap was to be inserted in this chapter.
5. Because, however, v. 40 uses the expression the "time of the end," Lindsey says that this chapter must be dealing with the period just before the end of the world.
1. The king of the south is a modern day Egyptian ruler.
2. The king of the north is from Russia.
3. There is, however, no justification for inserting a gap between verses 4 and 5, admittedly referring to Alexander and his generals, and the latter part of the chapter.
6. The time of the end in verse 40 is not referring to the end of time; the "end" in view by Daniel is the conclusion of this particular prophecy.
1. In Habbakkuk 2:2-3, for example, we read that the vision "hasteth toward the end."
2. "The end" is a common expression among prophets to mean the time when their prophecy will be completed.
3. So here in Daniel 11:40, Daniel speaks of the time when the prophecy about the divisions of Alexander's kingdom will come to a conclusion, not of the end of the world.
7. Many events may be called "the end" besides the end of the world, and certainly the end of Jerusalem and of the Law of Moses about which Daniel here speaks, would be among the most prominent.
4. Daniel 11, then is about Alexander the Great and the division of his kingdom "not to his posterity" but to his four generals: Lysimachus, Antipater, Seleucus I, and Ptolemy I.
1. Daniel tells in advance the story of how these two kings and their successors would fight over Palestine.
2. The predictions include such details as marriages, children, intrigue, warfare, and alliances.
3. It is amazingly accurate.
4. The passage culminates with the final king of the north, the Romans who come and possess Palestine until the Law of Moses comes to an end.
5. Premillennialists, typified by Lindsey, have taken a prophecy fulfilled at a much earlier time, wrenched it from its original setting and intent, and used it to develop a scenario about the last seven years of our present age to which it has no application at all.
4. Daniel 8.
1. Daniel 8 has a similar prophecy about Alexander.
1. In this one Daniel sees a ram with two horns which is attacked by a goat with one horn between his eyes.
2. After the goat is victorious, the one horn is broken, and four other kingdoms arise "but not with his power."
3. From one of these kingdoms will arise a king who shall look toward the south, toward the east, and toward the glorious land; this king shall take away the burnt offering.
4. Gabriel does not identify this last king by name, but the description of a king arising out of one of the four divisions of Alexander's kingdom who takes away the sacrifices of the Jews is clearly Antiochus.
5. Antiochus came to Israel (the glorious land) moving toward the south and, from about 170 to 165 B.C., kept the Jews from offering their sacrifices in the temple which he desecrated with sacrifices of swine.
2. Notice the similarities with chapter 11.
1. Alexander's kingdom is divided into four parts.
2. From such kingdoms will come those who attack the land of the Jews.
3. The activity happens at the time of the end (v. 17), a reference not to the end of the world but to the approaching end of God's special relationship to the Jews with the coming of the Messiah.
3. An important point to note for our study is that this prophecy is interpreted by the angel Gabriel who declares that it is about the great King of Greece whose kingdom is divided into four kingdoms, from one of which comes a king who takes away the burnt offering for a time.
1. This parallels the verses in chapter 11 which Lindsey says will not be fulfilled for 2300 years, but Gabriel's interpretation suggests no such gap.
2. The events of history completely fulfilled this prophecy before the coming of Christ.
5. Ezekiel 36-39.
1. We have learned that Ezekiel was living in Babylon with other exiles.
1. They were settled near the River Chebar (Ezek. 1:1), and had hopes of soon returning to their homeland.
2. As Ezekiel began his book the city of Jerusalem had not yet been destroyed.
2. Part of Ezekiel's work among these exiles was to break the bad news that the city and the temple would be destroyed because those Jews still in Jerusalem had rebelled again against Babylon (Ezek. 4-5).
1. In retaliation Nebuchadnezzar comes and totally destroys the city and temple (Ezek. 9).
2. In chapters 5-33 Ezekiel catalogs the sins of Judah and details God's punishment on them and surrounding nations.
3. In chapter 34 the tone begins to change as Ezekiel tells of God's concern and His desire to bring the Jews back from the lands where they have been scattered.
4. By chapter 37 He is speaking clearly of the time when he will bring these captives back to their homeland (36:8).
3. To understand Ezekiel 36-39 we need but to place ourselves in their place.
1. They were captives, exiled from their country.
2. The ten tribes, taken from the northern part of the land by Assyria nearly 150 years earlier, had never returned.
3. Now those Jews left behind in Jerusalem had caused Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the city and the temple and to take the remaining inhabitants captive.
4. We can imagine their despair; if we were in their condition, would one of the great questions on our mind be whether we would ever be brought back or is this the end of our nation.
5. Ezekiel answers just that question in chapters 36-39.
1. Ezekiel speaks of the mountains of Israel which shall "shoot forth" branches to the people of Israel who are "at hand to come" (36:8), of the "waste places" that shall be rebuilt (36:11), of gathering from "all the countries" those scattered because the "defiled" the land by their ungodliness (36:16-24), of a valley of dry bones that shall be put back together (37:1-4), of gathering both those from Israel and from Judah into one nation (37:15-23), and of making a new covenant with them under a king called "my servant David" (37:24-28)
2. These and many other phrases fit perfectly into the thought that God will return the Babylonian captives to their own land where they shall dwell for a long time.
6. God did indeed bring them back and gave them the land of Canaan from 536 B.C. until 70 A.D., over 600 years.
1. They did rebuild their temple and re-establish their homes and cities.
2. While outside rulers sometimes came, the Jews were always able to live in their homeland during this period.
3. During this same time, God sent his servant David -- Christ, according to Acts 2:30 -- to be the king of all Israelites.
4. In the context of rendering judgment upon the nations of that day, God renders judgment against Gog and Magog, assuring Israel that nothing will prevent their return from Babylon.
7. The return Ezekiel predicted came about exactly as foretold with the Jews' return to Jerusalem starting in 536 B.C.
1. They were gathered back to their land, they were protected from their enemies, they did rebuild their city and their temple.
2. Again, these promises were fulfilled centuries ago and do not apply to nations today.
3. God's Promises to the Jews.
1. God did promise Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that He would give their seed a land (Gen. 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15:1-7; 17:1-18.
1. This promise was conditional upon their obedience and refraining from idols (Deut. 28:21; Joshua 23:13).
2. Israel did not meet God's condition of faithfulness.
3. They worshiped idols, rejected the prophets, and finally rejected the Son of God Himself.
4. When they failed to keep their part of the covenant, God was freed from his part.
5. In Jeremiah 31:31-34 God declares, "which covenant they brake."
2. God did restore the Jews from Babylon, even as Ezekiel and other prophets predicted, and, thus, these prophecies were fulfilled as God intended.
1. We must not, therefore, look for a still future time when God will restore the Jews to their homeland.
2. He fulfilled such promises during O.T. time and has no remaining obligation to give the Jews a homeland.
3. God did indeed predict that if the Jews rejected Him they would continue as a recognizable group and would be persecuted wherever they went (Deut. 28:37), a prophecy that is still being fulfilled.
4. God further predicted that the descendants of Ishmael (the Arabs) would dwell nearby but be against each other (Gen. 16:12), a prophecy that is also still being fulfilled.
5. There are no remaining promises from God that the Jews will be returned to a homeland.
1. The fact that a portion of the old Jewish lands have been given to Jews today is not a fulfillment of prophecy.
2. God's predictions about them have nothing to do with whether they will have a part of their ancient land.
3. Ever since the establishment of a nation in Israel in 1948, some have been trying to make that a fulfillment of O. T. prophecy and a prelude to the end of time.
6. As time has continued since then, however, these modern interpreters are becoming more and more suspect.
1. It has now been over 50 years since the Jews have had this land and there has been no return of Christ or great conversion to Him, as many predicted. (See Dwight Wilson, Armageddon Now!, pp. 131-139.)
2. Others keep moving the date further down the line in an attempt to make this event fit their timetable.
3. They have based their conclusions on a misconception.
1. All of God's land promises to the Jews were fulfilled in ancient days (Joshua 21:43-45; 1 Kings 4:21).
2. Because of their failure to meet their part of the bargain, God is no longer obligated to fulfill his part of the promise. Jeremiah 31:31-34.
4. Amos 9:11-15.
1. This is one of the most interesting O.T. passages about a coming time of rebuilding.
1. It speaks of a day when God will raise up the tabernacle of David to possess Edom and other nations.
2. It tells of abundant harvests and a time when God will bring back the captivity of His people so that they may build waste cities and plant their vineyards.
3. God states that this people will no more be plucked up out of this land.
2. Sounds like a prediction of the Jews returning to the land of Palestine in a final earthly kingdom in the eyes of some.
1. However, that is not what Jesus' apostles, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, said it meant.
2. In Acts 15:16-18, James, with the agreement of the apostles, said that this was a prediction of the Messiah's coming to bring a message of deliverance to the Gentiles.
3. And he said that it had already been fulfilled.
5. Some prophecies about the Jews related to their return from Babylonian captivity; others, like Amos 9:11-15, speak figuratively of the Messiah's reign and the spread of the gospel to the Gentiles.
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)