Christian Church of God - Grand Junction, Colorado

Christian Church of God, Grand Junction, Colorado    Statement #9 page two

But is avoiding that ultimate second death really the right reason to be baptized? The right reason really goes beyond that. Think of it this way, to escape the second death and live forever is, obviously, self serving. It’s just self preservation with assistance from God.

To understand what is beyond self preservation, Luke 11:28 is instructive, “‚Ķblessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Here we have a plain distinction between the blessed and the unblessed. Millions ‘hear’ the Word of God but only the few who keep it are blessed.

How many are actually trying to ‘keep’ the word of God? Uncounted millions are utilizing idols in their worship, the very thing scripture tells us not to do! This is disrespect of God’s word! There are many other examples of ‘worshiping’ God in a disrespectful manner. Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not the things which I say?” As we have shown, this is sin. Any person seeking salvation must first hear the word of God and keep It! But scripture also says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Rom 3:23)

Are you ready to begin keeping the word of God? From where does the desire to keep the word of God come? Jesus’ words tell us, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)

Is This Your Day of Salvation? God Himself is love. His relationship with us is as a loving Father. As a result, He desires that every one of us should turn to righteousness which will bring each one of us a joyful, abundant life. That is why He has provided us a Lamb of sacrifice for sins, namely, Jesus Christ. He and His Father had all of this planned ahead of time. Speaking of the Church, Paul explains, “…just as He (the Father) chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.” (Eph. 1:4)

Here we see the real purpose of creation -- to make a people holy and blameless before God!

Now we come to this modern age, the Church age. The plan has progressed quite far. Jesus Christ has been sacrificed to satisfy the penalty of death required because of our personal sin. And our Father witnessed it and He is satisfied. “ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.“ (Isa. 53:10-11)

Our Lord has done this for us. When the people understood this after hearing Peter’s sermon, and realizing their situation, they were cut to the heart. They wanted to know what to do. Just the same, we want to know what to do today. Peter’s answer came immediately as a directive, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” (Acts 2:38)

Here is the instruction for every person who has been called by God. We see three progressive steps in his statement. First repentance, then baptism, and finally receiving the Holy Spirit.

Repentance: To begin with, we must repent. That means recognize, admit, and confess to God that we are sinners deserving of the eternal death penalty. This includes setting our minds to cease from every sin and additionally seek to understand what additional personal thoughts and behaviors are sinful, in order to repent of them also.

Repentance is not a one-time activity, as if it were a New Year’s resolution. Repentance means we commit ourselves to a lifetime of overcoming our fleshly nature and continually say ‘no’ to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. This pre-baptism time is when the counsel of experienced Church elders will be very valuable. One must realize that God will send His Spirit to be with us in this time of decision, to guide and lead and inspire us. It should be a time of joy in the anticipation of ending our past life of sinfulness, and an expectation of the ultimate promise for us in His Kingdom. Still it is a time of deep self evaluation and is much too serious for the immature or childish of mind

Some are fearful about making the commitment because they fear failure. There is a good reason for that. It is found in Hebrews 6:4-6. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”

Let’s understand what this scripture says. The phrase ‘fall away’ must be understood. It does not mean simply ‘to sin’ as some may think

Even after baptism, Christians may sin in various weak moments or without forethought. ‘Falling away’ refers to a much more serious state of mind. If after receiving God’s Spirit one knowingly engages in persistent willful transgression of the commandments and laws of God, without repentance, that state of mind is unpardonable. We can not return to the unrepentant way of life.

Consider Paul's method of dealing with two persistent sinners in the Church.

"…of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.” (1st Tim. 1:20) Here are blasphemers who appear to be near to having committed the unpardonable sin; Yet Paul says he has a hope that still, they may learn their error, being buffeted at the hand of Satan and repent.

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