Friday, September 30, 2016

What Must I Do to Be Saved?

In the book of Acts we read, "Repent you therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out,  when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3: 19). The change in a person’s life resulting in his becoming a Christian is called in the Bible, conversion, and the Bible teaches that conversion is necessary for a person to be saved. Christ likened this change to a birth and taught Nicodemus, “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God"  (John 3:5). Of the 27 books comprising the New Testament, there is one book which is particularly helpful in understanding the nature of conversion. This book is Acts of the Apostles which tells of the conversions of many different people. In Chapters 2, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16, 18, and 22 are 8 key examples of conversion and from these examples certain universal principles of conversion can be understood.

Conversion is dependent upon the acceptance of the Word of God by the sinner. Jesus said, "The seed is the Word", and conversions mentioned in the book of Acts bear out the necessity of both the presentation of God’s word to the sinner and his acceptance of it (Romans 1:16). The presentation can be either public or private; through words either spoken or written, but their acceptance always results in belief that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Romans 10:17). We also read, "They believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God" (Acts 8:12), and in Acts 18:8, "And many of the Corinthians hearing, believed and were baptized".

Faith in Jesus Christ, produced by the testimony of the Word of God leads to a change in a sinner’s attitude toward his own transgressions. With faith comes an understanding of God’s love to man. This, in turn, leads the sinner to determine to turn away from sin, for we read, "Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4)? An example of this part of conversion is found in Acts 2 in response to Peter’s preaching of Christ. The Bible says, ”Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 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 2:36-38). This change in a person’s heart must lead to certain actions before conversion is complete. One of these actions is confession that Jesus is the Christ, for we read, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

Finally, a person must be baptized in the likeness of Christ’s death and burial (Romans 6:4), in order for God to forgive him of past sins. The Bible says, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). And we also must remember that in Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he said that both repentance and baptism are necessary in order to receive the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Later, Peter echoed this same thought again when he said that “baptism doth also now save us” (1 Peter 3:21). When a person believes in Christ, repents of sin, confesses Christ, and is baptized into Christ for the remission of sins, he is converted. Only then has he been born of the water and of the Spirit as referred to in John 3:3-5. The Lord then adds him to the body, the Church, the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:47).

The Bible plainly teaches us that there are steps that we must take in order to obtain salvation in Jesus Christ. Hearing the word, believing in Christ, repenting of our sins, confessing Christ as being the Son of God, and being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins are the steps in which every accountable person must do in order to receive salvation. We then must be determined to live a life that is faithful to Christ, according to His teaching (Revelation 2:10; John 12:48).

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Grace of God

There's a lot to be said about the grace of God. One point worth recognizing is that the Bible (the word of God) is the product of God's grace. Much is said in the Bible about the fact that man is saved by God's grace.

Jesus said, "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).

The majority will choose to be lost, by ignoring or rejecting the terms of salvation, while the few will choose to be saved, by hearing God's word, complying with the terms of salvation, and by faithfully serving Him while in this life.

Titus 2:11-12 says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age..."

Man can either accept or reject the grace of God. He accepts the grace of God by obeying the teaching of God's grace (denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, and living soberly, righteously, and godly). He rejects God's grace when he fails to comply with the conditions of His grace. 

Some think that the grace of God and works are incompatible. On the contrary, salvation is both by grace and works. Suppose a particular rich uncle said to his nephew, "I will give you a million dollars if and when you graduate from college, are married, and name your first child after me." When the young man met those conditions, will he have actually earned the million dollars? No, it was a gift; he simply received it by meeting the conditions. So it is with the grace of God.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Have you ever noticed how miserable some people are and wondered why they were that way? Sometimes it's caused by being long on memory and short on forgiveness. If a person remembers every unkind thing anybody has ever said or done to them, they'll be miserable. Forgiveness is one of the great spiritual medicines and if used, will result in peace of mind.

To harbor grudges, to cultivate malice toward others, or to refuse to forgive, will hurt us far more than the one our ill feelings are directed toward. Colossians 3:13 says, "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." Under the law of Moses, they were commanded, "You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD." (Leviticus 19:18).

We demonstrate love when we willingly and readily forgive. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says, "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."

To be true disciples of the Lord, we must forgive "from the heart." Jesus said, "So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses." (Matthew 18:35). So, when someone asks you for forgiveness, forgive them. We fully expect God to forgive us of our sins and shortcomings when we prayerfully ask Him. Therefore as we expect God to forgive us when we seek His forgiveness, let us also willingly forgive others when they seek our forgiveness. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Studying the Bible

When Paul was on the European continent, he traveled from Thessalonica to Berea and found some of the Bereans to be more noble-minded than many he had encountered in Thessalonica.

In Acts 17:10-11, Luke says, "Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men."

I wonder, if the determining factor was our eagerness in receiving the word of God and daily searching of the Scriptures, would Luke think you or I to be fair-minded?

2 Timothy 2:15 says, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." Hebrews 5:14 says, "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." 1 Peter 2:2 says, "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby..." 2 Peter 3:18 says, "...But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

Bible study is important and essential for those who wish to receive God's approval. It is through the revelation we call the Bible that we learn of Christ and how we can receive eternal life. Let us examine the Scriptures daily so that we can grow in the grace and knowledge of God, making sure we are doing His will and not the will of man.