The writer of the book of Hebrews chastised the first readers in their spiritual growth. He said, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 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” (Hebrews 5:12-14). The challenge for the Hebrews was to leave the first principles and grow on to maturity. In fact, the writer encourages such in the first part of chapter six. Some of the elementary principles as given by the inspired writer included things like repentance, baptism, and the resurrection of the dead. While it is true that the salvation of mankind is one of the first-principles, it is also good to examine the subject from time to time in order to be reminded of the biblical truths in regard to the matter.
The Bible clearly teaches a plan by which man can be saved. One must hear the word of God (Romans 10:17). Next, one must believe what he or she has heard (Hebrews 11:6). Then, the person must repent of their sins (Acts 2:38). Fourth, he or she must confess that same belief in Christ (Romans 10:9). Next, the person must be baptized for the remission of his or her sins (Galatians 3:27). Finally, one must remain faithful to the word of God and the cause of Christ (Acts 14:21-22). The third step of salvation — repentance — will serve as the focus of this article.
In Ezekiel 14:6, the prophet encouraged the citizens of Israel to repent of the sin that existed in their lives. He said, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations.’” In this case, repentance meant a turning or the stopping of an action. Ezekiel was encouraging them to quit worshipping their idols and practicing things which are contrary to the will of God. In 2Corinthians 7, Paul writes of repentance. It seems in a previous letter of Paul’s to the Corinthians he spoke of some concerns he had for the way in which they were living. This led them to feel sorry for the way they were acting but Paul said they were not sorry enough. He said they were only sorry for a while (vs. 8). He then explains how to repent in a biblical way: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (vs. 10). John the baptizer further speaks of repentance and proclaims that repentance must be seen in action (Matthew 3:7-10). It is not enough for one to simply say that he or she is sorry or that he or she feels bad for a given sinful action. The fruits of that kind of thought must be seen in action. “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Matthew 3:8). The baptism John was performing for various ones was one of the signs of their repentance.
There are several biblical examples of repentance and what it entailed in certain situations. The first example is about the apostle Paul in Acts 22-23. Paul was standing before the commander and the centurion and they were about to scourge Paul because of his dedication to Christ. They learn in the incident Paul was a Roman citizen by birth and no longer willing to scourge him. The next day Paul was brought to the Sanhedrin and he makes a claim of sincerity by saying, “Then Paul, looking earnestly at the council, said, ‘Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.’” Paul lived like he lived in sincerity of heart. He did not realize he was doing wrong. Repentance is seen in the life of Paul when he changed his actions. He went from being the persecutor to being the persecuted. When he learned the right way to live, he changed his actions accordingly.
In Acts 16, there is recorded the conversion of the jailor in Philippi. Paul and Silas were imprisoned for casting out the spirit of divination in a slave girl. They were singing songs of praise to God while in prison. While they were singing, an earthquake occurred making it possible for Paul and Silas to escape. When the jailor heard of this, he was willing to take his own life. Paul and Silas stopped him and taught him about the spiritual salvation which comes from God. Actions showing the jailor’s repentance is seen in Acts 16:33, “And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.” He felt bad for what he had done to them and helped them to heal by washing their wounds.
In 1Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul writes of such sins as adultery, homosexuality, and extortion. In verse 11 he says, “And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” The Corinthians were these things but are these things no longer. Again, one can see fruits worthy of repentance. They changed their sinful actions into righteous actions. Repentance, from the standpoint of salvation, is to stop doing something sinful and to make right what is wrong.
There are several New Testament passages exhorting people today to repent of their sinful actions. God used to tolerate certain sinful things but now wants all men to repent (Acts 17:11). Christ commanded that repentance and the remission of sins are to be preached to all people. He wanted this work to begin at Jerusalem and continue throughout the entire world (Luke 24:44-48). The book of Acts outlines certain events which took place in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the entire world. Today, preaching of repentance continues so that people will know God’s desire for their lives. God promises great rewards to those who will repent of their actions and live their lives to the will of God. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9).
“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17a).
We often speak of what one must do to be saved. However, we often forget what we must do to remain saved. The Bible teaches that we can fall from grace and be eternally lost (Galatians 5:4; Revelation 2:5). Satan desires that we become unfaithful and step away from God (1 Peter 5:8; Luke 22:31). How can we avoid falling prey to Satan’s desire for us?
STUDY the Bible daily. The Psalmist tells us just how beneficial God’s word is in our daily lives. Psalm 119 lists several things that Bible study can do. 1. It can cleanse (vs. 9), quicken (vs. 25), strengthen (vs. 28), confirm and strengthen (vs. 38), comfort (vs. 50), instruct (vs. 98-99), give light (vs. 105), give hope (vs. 114) give peace (vs. 165), and deliver (vs. 170). It can deliver us from sin (vs. 11), give you understanding (vs. 169), and be your meditation all the day long (vs. 97).
To maintain our faithfulness we must study that which instructs us in the way of faithfulness. Paul told Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We notice the passage does not say to simply READ the scripture, but to study (give diligence). Jesus overcame temptations by knowing scripture (Matthew 4:1-11).
PRAY regularly. Very often people only pray when in distress or in times of trouble. Prayer ought to be an important and ever present part of our daily lives. The Bible has much to say about our prayer life. Paul encouraged the Thessalonian brethren to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The apostle exhorted the brethren to make prayer a constant companion. We are to enjoy the privilege of prayer in the closet, with our families, in public settings as well as in the worship assembly of the saints.
Prayer keeps us in touch with our Father. Our prayer life represents our close association with God. Through prayer we thank Him for our blessings and humbly make our requests to Him (Philippians 4:6). A regular prayer life can help keep us faithful.
Sincerely DESIRE to go to heaven. The greatest desire we should have is that of going to heaven. Salvation must be the burning desire of our hearts. We are to set our affections on things above (Colossians 3:2). When we set our minds on heaven faithfulness will be our daily companion.
Life's Journey A Few Good Men (1) Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.– Calvin Coolidge Life's Journey is fraught with anxiety (Mat. 6:30); fear (Mat. 8:26); doubt (Mat. 14:31); and secular discernment (Mat. 16:8), therefore, leaders of the flock of God must posses that type of faith that would remove mountains (Mat. 17:20).
Life's Journey is fraught with excuses gone wild... "I don't have the money"; I don't know how"; and one of the worst excuses of all, "I don't have the time" (real truth: "It just isn't that important to me"). It's not about money, know how or time - it's about priorities (Mat. 6:33; Jos. 24:15)! Leaders must posses the dignity and integrity of a life well spent in the service of the sheep.
Life's Journey is fraught with distractions such as the lust of the flesh (what feels good - sensual); the lust of the eyes (what looks good - appealing); and the pride of life (what makes me look good - arrogance, trusting in self). God has called His leaders to something much, much better! We can and must be what God made us to be!
Life's Journey is fraught with false markers; false signs; false teachers; and false systems of salvation. God gave the world... One Savior: Jesus (Jho. 1:29; 14:6; 1 Tim. 2:5-6); One Society of Salvation: the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 2:16; 3:9-11; 4:4, 12, 16; 5:32); One Story of Salvation: the faith of the gospel (Mark 16:15-16; Rom. 1:16-17; Eph. 4:5; Phi. 1:27).
With such a journey as this you would think that it would be easy for leaders to become discouraged - the answer to that inquiry is yes but the spiritual minded leader keeps his focus A FEW GOOD MEN (1) 1 (Heb. 12:1) and with the knowledge that we shall reap in due time, he does not grow weary in well doing (Gal. 6:9). Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.– Calvin Coolidge.
Why would anyone wish to be called bitter? You will if you try to live in this world without God. This is what happened to Naomi (whose name means pleasant). After living in Moab a number of years her life became bitter (Ruth 1:20-22). Her husband had moved his family from Bethlehelm into the pagan nation of Moab to find a better life (Ruth 1:1). However, life was not better there. Naomi’s husband and two sons died in that place. Life among the ungodly brought Naomi bitterness not success.
When Lot moved his family into Sodom he thought life would be better. It was a place where he thought his fortunes would thrive as he viewed the green pastures (Gen. 13:10-13). Conversely, the opposite happened. Like Naomi’s husband, Lot lost his family too (Gen. 18-19). Sodom was a place of bitter loss. Lot lost his wife and a number of his children. Fire and brimstone rained down from heaven upon that wicked place killing some of his family. His wife turned into a pillar of salt. It was a sad end.
In the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son He explained how the young man went into a far country to have a good time (Luke 15:11-24). He thought life would be better away from the father’s presence. The prodigal son lost everything including any dignity he had. It was not pleasant to eat the husks from the pig’s feeding trough.
It was when Naomi returned from the pagan land of the Moabites that life began to change for the better. At the end of the book of Ruth, Naomi was not bitter; conversely she was rejoicing over her new baby grandson. When she came back God began to fill her life with blessings and joy.
The prodigal son humbly returned to his father’s house to confess his sinful ways. His father received him home with joy and a host of immediate blessings. It was a happy reunion. He left the far country of despair with its pig pen and pathetic food and came back to a loving welcome home and a table full of freshly dressed beef.
These three passages teach a wonderful lesson to every Christian. Nothing good awaits the Christian who leaves God’s house. You can venture off from the church looking for good things, but you will not find them there (Eph. 1:3). These examples teach us that God will not allow you to find good things outside of the church. These passages teach us that outside the church is loss, bitterness, and even death. You might have a few days of fun, but eventually “the thrill is gone.” Then what?
God allows each of us to make the choice to stay in the church or to leave. Will your choice be wise or foolish?
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