Millions around the world have dedicated themselves to Jesus Christ. They are "born again", all past sin forgiven - and "destined for glory". But what happens after that first step of commitment?
Increasingly the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are being translated into the world's languages. As a result literally millions who were in ignorance of Christianity are coming to belief in Jesus Christ as personal Savior. The prophet Isaiah conveyed God's message: "[my word] shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I shall please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereunto I have sent it" (Isaiah 55:11).
We have God's sure word that our sins may, through the shed blood, the sacrifice, of Jesus Christ be washed away. It's a concept unique among religions.
But when you first made that commitment - whether forty-two years ago, or yesterday - did you understand what God required of you? In the first evangelistic message (delivered by the apostle Peter) his hearers learned that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Many were stricken when convicted that just fifty days before they had put their Messiah to death. Their response is recorded for us: "What shall we do?" (Acts 2:36-37). Peter's response? "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (v.38).
Repent simply means to change your mind - about your life's direction, about your attitude to God, about sin. Is that what you did when you "gave your heart to the Lord"?
Sadly multitudes did not. For many, their "conversion" was limited to an emotional belief in Jesus as Savior. Few stop to ask, What is sin? What do I repent of? The result is that millions are living under the false impression that they are now children of God. Indeed Paul's warning to the Corinthians goes unheeded: "...if he that comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive another spirit ... or another gospel..." (2 Corinthians 11:4).
A serious warning for all!
A Tough Gospel
Jesus himself was concerned that his hearers would fail to grasp the seriousness of conversion. He warned that many would come in his name preaching that he, Jesus, is the Messiah (Christ) - yet deceiving many (Matthew 24:5)! He warned of those who would acclaim him as Lord ("Jesus is Lord") - but failed to act on his message (Matthew 7:21-22). He tells us that his way is narrow and difficult (vv. 13-20).
Clearly, becoming a Christian isn't as simple as "failing off a log". It's not a soft option. Certainly not just a matter of "believe on Jesus" - even demons do that (James 2:19)! And they are busy - and all too successful - spreading the message of "only believe".
The disciples of Jesus Christ must be willing to lay down their life in his service!
What Is Sin?
What does that service mean for you? You can measure your Christianity by your understanding of the question What is sin? For how can you repent (change your mind) if you don't know its definition? A cliff-top warning in an unknown foreign script won't stop you tumbling to your death!
In plain English, the Bible tells us what sin is. Sin is "transgression of the Law" (I John 3:4). It is "failing short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And "by the Law is the knowledge of sin" (v.20). That's quite plain!
For all too many Christians God's Law is a closed book. The Old Testament has been consigned to the scrap-heap. Yet that's where we find out what is the Law - and therefore sin. It was the source-book for all Christians who lived in apostolic times - for the New Testament wasn't yet written (Acts 17:11, 2 Timothy 3:15-17).
Be sure you have not been duped by a false gospel - one of "only believe", of a false spirit of lawlessness, of a different Jesus to the reality of "the man nobody knows".
You are invited to request the (free) leaflets "What Do You Mean "Repent"? and "Coming To Baptism". They explain in detail this vital matter from the Scriptures. God's freely-offered forgiveness through Jesus the Messiah is but the first step in discipleship - and the path to the Christian's one hope.
To comment on this article or request more information, please contact James McBride by e-mail at the comment form below.
For PDF or mailed copy, see CGOM. Excerpt from New Horizons Issue 11, September-October 1998. Edited by James McBride of the Churches of God, United Kingdom.
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