In Acts 3:19 we read, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out…” We notice that “sins being blotted out” are conditional, based upon repentance. Without repentance our sins will not be blotted out. God has always desired that men repent (2 Peter 3:9), for without repentance we can never be forgiven. The word repent means, “to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins” (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). Jesus made it abundantly clear that the sinner must repent or perish (Luke 13:3, 5). We notice that He said “EXCEPT ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” The word except carries the meaning of “if not or unless” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).
It seems that we are going through a time when many are seeking to forgive and forget without repentance being in the conversation. Individuals as well as congregations transgress God’s word and live in that condition for years without repenting. Then after a period of time someone decides to forget and forgive those who have lived in that condition for years. Biblical forgiveness it dependent upon repentance. Anyone who has sinned must repent BEFORE forgiveness can be obtained. When an individual or a congregation is withdrawn from, that fellowship can only be restored through repentance. Jesus said, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF he repent, forgive him” (Luke 17:3).
Sin separates men from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). To be separated from God means that one is walking in darkness and thus out of fellowship with God (1 John 1:5-7). God does not overlook any of our sins. He requires confession of sins (1 John 1:9) and repentance (Acts 8:22).
What Does Forgiveness Mean? It does not mean that we can forgive even when one does not repent. We pray that repentance will come so that fellowship can be restored. However, our desires or prayers will NOT remove the guilt of sin for the one who has sinned. If such were possible why did Jesus give clear instructions in Matthew 18:15-17? He commanded, “Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother” (Matthew 18:15). If forgiveness can be granted without repentance, why would we be required to “go and tell him his fault?” If we can forgive without repentance He would have said, “just put the fault out of your mind and forgive him.” Why did Nathan say to David, “Thou art the man” in 2 Samuel 12:7? The answer is clear. David had sinned and needed to repent so as to obtain forgiveness!
When we ignore God’s commandments concerning repentance and the forgiveness of sin, we cause people to feel secure when they are not secure at all. It is impossible for us to forgive sins without the acknowledgement of sin and repentance of those sins. Just how many souls will be lost because we did not require repentance from those who were guilty? How many will be lost due to sins in their past which have never been forgiven? We have already observed that sins can never be forgiven “except ye repent.” Why is that hard for some to understand?
One person said he would just go ahead and forgive a transgressor even though there was nothing said about repentance. The person said I love them and want them to be forgiven. I believe that every faithful Christian wants the sinner to be forgiven. However, a faithful child of God will confront sin and never try to dismiss sins without repentance. Truth is… we cannot remove any sin without repentance coming from the guilty party. To try to do so will cause a soul to be lost! The faithful child of God must seek to restore the unfaithful (Galatians 6:1-2). Question: If we can forgive without confession and repentance why do preachers offer the invitation seeking to restore the erring child of God? We could just skip that part of the sermon if sinners do not need to repent!
Truth is --- God will not overlook sin and we dare not overlook or dismiss that which God will not.
The New Testament abounds with lessons from which we can profit concerning the church of our Lord. One of the very best examples we have concerning New Testament Christianity in action is that of the church in Jerusalem. This is the very first congregation established by our Lord upon earth through the apostles (Acts 2). By studying this infant congregation of the Lord's people, we can learn many principles that should be applied today. Growing our faith together makes us strong.
The church in Jerusalem was a church that was concerned. It was concerned in their efforts to do God's will in all things. That concern was so high, that nothing else really mattered. So great was their concern for apostolic teaching, the scriptures show that they continued “steadfastly in the apostles doctrine” (Acts 2:42). They were concerned for the fellowship with their brethren, and in their worship of God. Verse 42 states that they “continued in fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers.”
They were concerned with meeting the needs of others. When there was a need, many sold their possessions and gave what they had to those in need. But most outstanding of all was when opposition to the gospel came, and persecution was upon those good brethren because of their unwavering faith in Jesus, they did not give up. They did not wallow in self-pity and despair. They were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4). They grew in spite of persecution. When they were tested, they withstood the trials. James stated, “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:3). The church will grow when we stand and pass the trials of our faith. Our concern for truth and one another will add to our strength.
Lessons are of no value unless they are applied. So, let us notice that the early church grew because they were dedicated to the cause of Christ, and were concerned for the lost. They did not simply offer lip-service, but were doers of that which was good and true (James 1:22). If we simply talk about our Christianity, we deceive ourselves and those around us. We may think that we serve Christ, but in reality, we serve Satan when we do not act (James 1:21-25).
Do we want to be genuine in our Christian? Do we really want the church to grow? Sometimes the way is hard, but we can be encouraged by Paul’s inspired word, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). There will be trials, but there is no other life which offers so many blessings and rich rewards. The Lord expects the church to grow. Concern is the way to make it possible. Be concerned for your own soul and for the souls of all mankind. When we really get concerned -- just watch the church grow.
If any man will serve Christ, the way is clear. You begin by taking up the cross of submission and obedience to Him. Then repent of your sins, confess Jesus as Lord, and then be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38). It is now that you will be added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47).
God has revealed Himself in so many ways. It is truly sad that men often overlook or take for granted this beautiful revelation. He is revealed in His created universe, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.” (Psalm 19:1; Psalm 97:6). Add to that; He has clearly revealed Himself in His word, the revelation given by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). This revelation when studied and applied will produce faith in men (Hebrews 11:1-3; Romans 10:17). Thus, we can know who God is and what He expects from His creation. John, by inspiration, stated that eternal life and knowing God are joined together (1 John 5:13). James gives an insight into the character of God. To recognize and honor these attributes demonstrates our respect for Him. In James 1:12-17 we see at least three things that all men need to realize.
1. GOD IS A GIVER (James 1:17, also vs. 5).
The literal translation of verse 5 is, “let man ask of a giving God.” This would contrast the true and living God with the “dead gods” which could give nothing! God’s nature is to be loving, giving and forgiving. He gave Christ for our salvation (John 3:16), the gospel which reveals His plan of salvation (Romans 1:16), the peace which “passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7), and the hope which is sure and steadfast (Colossians 1:5, 23, 27). Truly God has “given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3).
2. GOD IS UNCHANGING (James 1:17).
Man needs security and stability for successful living. It is comforting to know that God is unchanging. His love for us does not change (Romans 8:38-39), His justice does not change (Romans 2:1, 11), and His demands upon mankind are unchanging. He has always required that men believe in Him (Hebrews 11:6ff), and that they obey all of His commandments (Hebrews 10:26-31 and Hebrews 11). This unchanging nature helps us to know of our relationship with Him.
3. GOD CREATED MAN FOR HIS PURPOSE (James 1:17).
Man’s whole duty is summarized in Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Man’s purpose is to keep His commandments. It may not be popular, but it nevertheless is God’s purpose for us. We are told to “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
“Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name” (Psalm 86:11).
Being “different” or “being an oddball” does not sound too enticing, does it? Most folks do not want to be identified as odd or different. Yet, that is just what a Christian is supposed to be! In Titus 2:14 we read, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” The word for “peculiar” is a compound word made up of Strong’s numbers G4012 and G1510; meaning being beyond usual, that is, special (one’s own): - peculiar (Strong’s Greek Dictionary). In the Old Testament we read that God’s people are a special people, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Of course, these verses state that the child of God will be different from the world.
God’s people must never be conformed to the mind-set that is of the world. “I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2). To conform to the things of the world is to lose the “special” identity that we have as children of God. We are told “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world…” (1 John 2:15). Noah lived during a time when “… the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). The difference between Noah and the rest of the world is that “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9). Do you think those around him might have considered him just a little peculiar, an oddball? Most likely they did. As he and his family labored, building the ark, his countrymen must have thought they were different. And he certainly was different because he found “grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8).
The Christian should not seek popularity at the cost of their purity. The older women are to teach the younger to be “…chaste…” (Titus 2:5). “Chaste” means “clean, innocent or modest.” Sometimes our spelling gets mixed up, and we use the word chased instead of chaste. We see many that are dressing and acting in ways that are improper. It is far better to teach and demonstrate modesty to our children while they are young than to try and change their thinking after they mature. The younger men should be taught to be sober minded and godly. Our language should never be laced with profanities like we often hear. Our entertainment ought to be clean and wholesome. Holding to the Bible standard of right and wrong will cause many to think of us as oddballs. Be thankful they can see the difference, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16).
How often have we heard a parent tell a child to say “thank you” for something that was received? We seem to be living in a time when good manners are a thing of the past. Many never seem to acknowledge any of the blessings they enjoy. The words “thank you” are all to often left out of the modern day vocabulary. Sadly, this trend has spilled over into man’s relationship with God. Not only do some forget God altogether, some never stop to thank Him for the many blessings and benefits that are enjoyed each and every day. The Bible tells us to be thankful (Psalms 50:14 “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”)
In his letter to the church at Corinth Paul wrote, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). The word thanksgiving is used three times in 2 Corinthians 9:11-15. The passage emphasizes the fact that God should be honored and thanked for all that is made possible by Him. Psalms 100 should cause us to acknowledge our need and dependence on Him, “it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture” (Psalms 100:3). We praise and honor His name because He is the creator of all. One of the highest forms of God’s power and authority is revealed in His act of creation, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Psalms 139:14). It seems that even Christians today often forget the many blessings from His hand. Sometimes men only think about their our own personal problems. Israel was like that. They had been set free from the bondage of Egyptian slavery, yet, they forgot the blessings they had been given and begun to murmur and complain, “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness” (Exodus 16:2). This attitude brought punishment to the Israelites (Numbers 11:1, 4-6, 21:5). They grumbled and were not at all thankful.
We should continually thank Him for the “unspeakable gift.” The word “unspeakable” is defined as “indescribable or not expressed fully.” The apostle states that are no words that can adequately describe this gift. The mind of men cannot comprehend the greatness of the gift of Christ which was given to the world (John 3:16). How can we understand the cruel death that Jesus endured to save sinners? Every person needs the blessing found in this “unspeakable gift” because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). We should continually give thanks to God because He gave the precious gift of His Son who brought the hope of salvation to all men. Paul wrote, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Our words fail us when trying to express the beauty and value of the Father’s gift. However, we can continually thank Him daily for the blessings of His love.im for His "
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Jesus commanded that men follow Him (Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; Mark 10:21; John 1:43; 21:22; 12:26). Clearly, He is to be our example in all that we say and do..
It is amazing and inspiring to study His life and observe how He handled the temptations, trials and problems of life. He was victorious over every obstacle He had to face. We should be happy to follow in the steps of our Master.
When we follow Him, the steps lead us through the waters of baptism. Many today claim to follow Jesus but they mock and ridicule the idea of baptism. This is inconsistent, for Jesus saw the necessity of it. Though He had no sins, He could not “fulfill all righteousness” without baptism (Matthew 3:13-15). If we truly follow Jesus, His steps they will lead us to baptism. He not only practiced it, He commanded that it be done (Mark 16:16). Will you follow Jesus or men? Our place in eternity depends upon how we answer that question.
As we follow Jesus, His steps lead us to Gethsemane. There will be trials and tribulations for those who follow Him. The way to heaven has its Gethsemane’s and we will be wounded along the way, but He who was wounded for us has promised a wonderful blessing for our every hurt (Revelation 2:10).
If Jesus' steps had ended at the cross, think of the hopelessness that would come upon mankind. Thank God, such is not the case! We can rejoice as we read of His triumph over death and the grave, and follow His steps as they lead into the portals of glory (Acts 1:9-10). This is one of the greatest motivating powers for our following Him down the stony path of life. We can anticipate the end of our road. Christ gave Martha the assuring concerning the resurrection, “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
Jesus said, "... I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12). WE MUST FOLLOW JESUS no matter what the cost might be.
The steps of Jesus will also lead us to the worship assembly. Even as a boy, He went into the synagogue. Later He went to the place of worship and stood up to read the law (Luke 4:16). We are not following His steps if we forsake public worship. God understood the value of assembling together and commanded, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25).
Christ is the only way to heaven. If we follow Satan, we will be led into sin, defeat, and finally into torment (Revelation 20:10). If we follow men, we will be lifted no higher than humans can reach. Following Jesus is the only sure way (1 Corinthians 11:1). We cannot follow Jesus and forsake the worship assembly.
Following Jesus will lead us to the throne of God.
Hebrews 11:16 “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.”
I love to sing To Canaan’s Land I’m on my Way. Each time the song is sung I can picture a beautiful, peaceful journey to a land where there will be “no sad farewells, no tear dimmed eyes, where all is peace and joy and love and the soul never dies.”
The Physical Canaan’s Land: Israel journeyed from Egypt to their Canaan Land. Israel was held in bondage to Egypt until God sent Moses to set them free. They were held in physical bondage by Pharaoh. However, Exodus 2:24 tells us that “God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.” He brought them out of bondage to reside in a place He had set aside for them, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8). Canaan was the land promised to the Israelite children who would remain faithful. The Lord said, “I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.” (Leviticus 25:38). Ultimately, Joshua led the faithful Israelites into the Promised Land.
The Spiritual Canaan’s Land: The faithful child of God is also on a journey. Today, men can and are still held in bondage. Of course, this is the bondage of sin. Scripture tells us that we all sin from time to time (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8, 10). While we are living in this condition, we are separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Micah 3:4). However, God has provided a way of escape for us; “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). The bonds of sin are broken through obedience to His word (Romans 1:16; 6:17; Ephesians 2:1). Jesus promised a place prepared for those who would be faithful (John 14:1-4). This place is called Heaven. It is the spiritual Canaan’s Land reserved for the steadfast child of God. This Canaan is described as “…an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).
Moses led Israel to freedom from bondage in Egypt. Jesus is the Savior who has made it possible for men today to be set free from the bondage to sin. He “…became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). It is only by and through Him that we can truly say, “to Canaan’s Land I’m on my way… where the soul never dies.”
Will you be in the number that will enter into the Promised Land?
Micah 6:8 “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
I like to believe that all of us would like to know just what the Lord requires of us. The Old Testament prophet Micha, by inspiration, gives an answer to this most important question.
God requires more than action (Micah 6:6-7). Proper sacrifices are not measured in quantity alone. Our sacrifices for the Lord must come from the heart. External action without the involvement of the inward man is not what God requires. Our Lord said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). Samuel rebuked King Saul, “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (1 Samuel 15:22). We can “go through the motions” of worship, yet it will not please God unless it is done with the proper attitude. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). God requires that a proper attitude be coupled with proper actions.
God requires that men do justly (Micah 6:8). To do justly is to act in an appropriate way. To always do that which is right in the sight of God. God requires that we treat all men in a godly manner never mistreating any man. The apostle Paul emphasized this attitude in 1 Thessalonians 2:10, “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.”
God requires that we love mercy (Micah 6:8). Notice the passage requires that we not simply SHOW mercy, but we are to LOVE mercy. The idea is that when motivated by love mercy will be genuine and meaningful. When we demonstrate Biblical mercy, we can expect to receive mercy (James 2:13).
God desires that we walk with Him (Micah 6:8). To walk humbly with God means that we recognize His authority and are willing to submit to Him. Walking with God is a difficult task for many in today’s world. Great men of faith have “walked with God.” Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24) because he pleased God. The way to Heaven is attained when we walk with God.
God requires obedience with the proper attitude.
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.
Click HERE to learn more about our blog writers.