Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Different from the World

The life of a Christian should be obviously different than those of the world. The apostle Paul wrote, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). This instruction given to the saints at Rome is sorely needed by Christians today. We live in a world in which subjects us to various pressures, calling upon us to “conform.” Just because “everyone else” dresses immodestly, uses vulgar language, is involved in the mad pursuit of material things, is intent on the things of this life that are pleasurable, etc. etc., Christians are under heavy temptation to do likewise. The word “transformed” is the Greek word “metamorphose” which means “to change into another form, transfigure, transform.” The metamorphoses is often illustrated in high school biology by the changing of a green worm into a butterfly. As Christ was transformed into a divine radiance, Christians are to be transformed into the image of Him who created him. “But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all” (Colossians 3:8-11). It is a transformation from within, which exemplifies itself from without.

No matter how popular and widespread sin and ungodliness may be, it doesn’t excuse it or make it more acceptable (Exodus 23:2). “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, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:11-13). Thus, Christians are called upon to deny ungodliness and worldly lust and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world. This we must do, regardless of what those around us do. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

The life of the Christian is to be different – a pure, clean, wholesome kind of difference that others should be able to see. It’s sad, indeed, when our conduct can’t be distinguished from that of the worldly people around us. Are we careful to conduct ourselves correctly in all of our relationships in this life? Do we strive to keep our lives clean and pure? Let us not be conformed to this world, but be transformed into the very image of almighty God (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

A Sower Went Out to Sow

Great multitudes were gathered to hear the words of Jesus, so many in fact, that the scriptures tell us that He got into a boat and sat while the multitude of people stood on the nearby sea shore. Then in Matthew 13:3 it says: “Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: Behold, a sower went out to sow.” Most of us recognize this setting as the one in which Jesus told the parable of the sower. You may recall how some seed fell by the wayside, some fell on stony places, some fell among thorns, and some fell on good ground. We have heard this parable many times, from many different angles. But I believe the key to this parable is in that third verse which says: “a sower went out to sow.”

Why is this the key? Because if the sower had not attempted to sow any seed, then there would not have been any chance for a crop! Before God can give the increase, there must be something started to give the increase to. Paul wrote: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor 3:6). If Paul had never planted, Apollos could not have watered, and God would not have had the opportunity to give the increase. Sometimes we may be asking: “why aren’t we converting more souls to Christ?” The answer is simply because we are not “sowing the seed!” Before we can convert souls, there must be some planting going on. The church can grow, IF we plant the seed (the Word of God) in the hearts of man. While it is true that most will reject the Word, we’ll never convert a soul if we don’t give God the opportunity to provide the increase.


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Obtaining Salvation in Christ

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).


Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Getting Rid of Sin

We know from the Bible that God truly hates sin. In fact, God hates sin so much that He was willing to let His Son die on the cross in order to get rid of sin. This is the love, or the mercy of God. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Without man’s faith and obedience one could never be saved. The Bible says, “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Hebrews5:8-9). We need to listen and understand that Jesus is the author of salvation TO THOSE WHO OBEY HIM. Without obedience, one cannot be saved.

If a worker comes home with dirty hands, there are several things that are needed in order to get them clean. First, he must recognize they are dirty. Without this realization he would not wash his hands. Secondly, he must have a cleansing agent. This probably is soap and water. Without this, he may never get the grease and dirt off. But then he must apply the cleansing agent. Having a whole bottle of soap, without application, he would never get his hands clean.

Christ shed His blood for sinful man. But first man must realize he is a sinner. This is the hard thing in preaching the gospel. Most people are defensive about it, saying they are pretty good folks. But in reality they know they are sinners. Next, they must have a cleansing agent, the blood of Christ. This has been provided for the taking. But without application of the blood, there is no cleansing that can take place. Wishing will not make it so. Listen to the word of God: “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). Baptism is the means of application.

How does one take advantage of the sacrifice of Christ? Most Bible believers admit that it takes the blood of Christ to wash away sins, but how is this blood applied to the human heart? “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). What does it mean to be baptized into Christ? One is baptized into the benefits of the death of Christ. What are the benefits? SALVATION. Christ died for our sins. To benefit from the blood, we must get into Christ, which means getting into a right relationship with Christ. Peter said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). These individuals obtained forgiveness of their sins by repenting and being baptized into Christ. The same act that saves you also puts you into Christ. Baptism brings salvation, remission of sins, and puts one into Christ! Have you been baptized into Christ for the remission of sins?