“He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him – the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” – John 12:48
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We know that God speaks today through His Son, through His Word. And we must respect what He says…and what He doesn’t say. We must respect what He says about worship. We also must respect what He says about how to become a Christian.
In John 8:24, Jesus said, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Remember that we all sin when we fail to respect what God says in His Word. All people have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). God’s Word says that we must believe that Jesus is Lord and Christ or we will die in our sins.
Then in Luke 13:3, Jesus said, “I tell you, no; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The Word also tells us, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31). God’s Word says that we must repent.
Now there are some who argue that all you need to do is believe in Jesus to be saved. That is false teaching. It is subtracting repentance from the equation of salvation. Jesus said repentance is necessary or you will perish. It is a command. Anyone who says differently is not respecting God’s Word.
But what is repentance? Jesus told a parable that gives a vivid picture of what repentance is. He said, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, Son go and work today in the vineyard. ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went” (Matt. 21:28-29).
The son in the parable had a change of mind which resulted in a change in his actions – he went and worked in the vineyard like his father asked. That’s what repentance is: changing your mind and, as a result, changing your way of living.
When we see that we have not been respecting God’s commands, by living however we want to and against what He says, we can have a change of mind and want to do and be better. Once we start respecting God’s Word by living how He wants us to live, then we experience true repentance.
It’s not just a change of mind. Most people change their minds every New Year, but do not put into action their resolution. True repentance brings about a change in the way you live and do things. It’s making a resolution and putting it into action. An example of repentance would be a couple living together out of wedlock who have a change of mind about respecting God’s Word and they move out into separate housing or they get married as a result.
The Word of God says that in order to become a Christian, we must also confess Christ before others. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32). Anyone who says that you don’t have to confess Christ and all you need to do is believe is not respecting God’s Word.
Finally, Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). God’s Word says that we must be baptized in order to be saved. If someone tells you that you don’t need to be baptized, they are not respecting the words of Jesus. Unfortunately, many people teach that all you need to do is believe or say a prayer to be saved. But Jesus did not say that.
We can see clearly from the words of Jesus – the words that will judge us in the last day, that we must believe in Him; we must repent; we must confess that He is Lord to others, and; we must be baptized. Those are from the words of Jesus Christ, not me. Any person who says differently than what Jesus says about how to become a Christian – that is, how to be saved – does not respect the Word of God (whether they are aware of it or not).
God is speaking to us today about how to become a Christian. Will you listen?
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Adapted from God Speaks Today lessons by Jerry A. Jenkins