Starting over

Yes we can start over. That was the message last time. The message that there is Good News in a world of bad news. But it means facing facts. Facts about ourselves and about God. It means accepting those facts and then responding.

To respond to God in Christianity, we have to accept that we are his creation, not our own. We have to accept that we are sinners in his sight – that we have refused and resisted his reign over us. We have to accept that this attitude deserves only God’s condemnation – a just condemnation which he is fully entitled to execute. And we have to accept that there is a way out of that deserved condemnation: Jesus Christ. That Christ died on the cross in my place, for my sin, taking my merited punishment from God.

Now that really is good news. God condemns my sin and rebellion – but then offers me a way out of the inevitable punishment by taking that punishment himself. Hallelujah, what a Saviour. 

But how do we avail ourselves of this ? Having accepted all the above as true and just, how then do we actually enter into the good of it all ? What must we do ?

Well as the apostle Peter preached in the day of Pentecost when the first converts were added to the post Resurrection, post Ascension body of believers in Christ

Repent and be baptised everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission [pardon] of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

Please note here what does not happen. There is no saying of the sinners prayer so beloved of modern day evangelistic crusades. NONE. That is a modern invention, and is not Scriptural and therefore not permissible. It is profane, not holy.

The apostle here clearly teaches  REPENTANCE to be followed immediately by BAPTISM.

Saying a prayer of words is easy. It is easy to do in the warmth and atmosphere of the moment. What is not so easy is to change your heart attitude before God your Maker, knowing full well that he can see your innermost thoughts and intents. 

Now you can pretend to have a change of heart, but what you cannot pretend is the follow through – to be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins. 

Now, you could go through with the act of baptism without repenting – others would not necessarily know. But God does know. He knows your heart. And if you are not sincere, you will simply not gain the benefits which baptism bestows because it is the Holy Spirit at work and he will only deal in reality and truth. 

Besides which, when it comes to the point, very few people in the western world today would wish to identify with Jesus Christ unless they were genuinely converted. Simply because of the way in which Christianity is viewed in a godless and selfish culture.

But what happens with Baptism ? I mean with real, full immersion in water baptism – which is what the Greek word implies and which the early church practised.

It tells us that

  1. the person being baptised is seeking to have their sins washed away – it is an outward symbol of a heart felt attitude
  2. the person is being obedient to the teaching of Jesus Christ in his Great Commission and repeated by the early apostles such as Peter at Pentecost
  3. the person is identifying themselves individually and personally with the death of Christ – they are going down into the waters in association with his death
  4. as they come up again from the waters of burial, they are personally associating themselves with the resurrection life of Jesus Christ – this teaching is explicit in Romans chapter 6
  5. they are being sealed by the Holy Spirit as members of the body of Christ because the Holy Spirit is active in the physical ritual which God has ordained
  6. they are being approved of by God as a new member of the family – notice that God the Father spoke as Jesus came up out of the waters of baptism in the first chapter of Mark, and verse 11
  7. they are committing to live a completely new life as followers of Jesus – followers who are actually spiritually made anew and cleansed from their old sinful ways

This last is absolutely essential. The idea that we can come to Christ and avail ourselves of forgiveness but then carry on living as before is totally wrong. In fact those who teach this heresy – technically called antinomianism – have not at all understood what God requires and what God makes clear throughout the Bible – both to the Jews in the Old Testament and to the Christian believers in the New Testament – OBEDIENCE.

Adam fell from relationship with God, and from his grace because he DISOBEYED. The only way back to relationship with God is on the basis of Christ’s obedience at the cross and Christ’s example at the cross.

Jesus was absolutely explicit on this. That’s why the kingdom was taken from the Jewish nation and given to gentile believers. Jesus states clearly in Matthew chapter 21 and verse 43

The kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof

Conversion to Christ is not shallow or superficial, not a sham and show conducted by hypocrites. It is a real and fundamental change which necessitates a real and fundamental new life and lifestyle of obedience to the teaching of Jesus Christ.

May I just emphasise that last. The Teaching of Jesus Christ – not the contrivances of the religious and ecclesiastical trying to make Christ and his teaching acceptable to sinners and this world.

No,  the Christian message is an affront to this sinful, godless world which lives and breathes rebellion against God and his teaching because it likes and enjoys the darkness it indulges and lives in. 

Men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil

John 3, verse 19

Christian Preacher

 

By Christianity

The personal icon photograph shows God's creation, the world. It reminds us that God is the Creator of all - the almighty, the all knowing and all present - the one who is most important of all. The one to whom we owe all, and the one to whom we will answer for all. The site's header image of the Bible [King James Authorised Version], a map, a light and a compass represent to us that God's word in the Bible is our spiritual map, illumination and guide through this life. Those who obey his teaching will know his presence and power - Gospel of John, chapter 14, verse 23

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