Why Did Jesus Appear to Saul

Why did Jesus appear personally to Saul (later called Paul) on the way to Damascus?

  • To tell him what to do to be SAVED? No
  • To PARDON him?

After His ascension, Jesus never appeared to anyone to pardon sins. Why? Because God has ordained a law of pardon [Mat 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38].

Jesus saves no one except through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation [Heb 5:8-9]. There is no scriptural evidence that He ever appeared and saved someone outside of gospel obedience. He did providentially bring sinners into contact with a gospel preacher who would tell them what to do to be saved.

Why did Jesus appear in person to Saul? The answer is to make him an Apostle [Acts 26:16-18].

The criteria to be an Apostle, a man must have seen the Lord Jesus Christ after He arose from the dead [Acts 1:22; 2Pet 1:16; 1John 1:1, 4:14]. Paul had not been a witness of the resurrection of Christ until the Lord appeared to him on the highway [1Cor 15:8].

  • Saul was a chosen vessel [Acts 9:15].
  • He was one ‘born out of due time’ [1Cor 15:8].

 

All of the Apostles were witnesses of the resurrection of Christ [John 20:19-31]. It was necessary for Paul to be made a witness also by this appearance of Christ to him on the Damascus highway. The purpose of the highway appearance was not to save him, but to make him a witness.

Ananias was instructed to go to Saul. He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:14-16]. Note what he DIDN’T tell Paul…

  • To pray and ask Jesus into his heart.
  • To get religion.
  • To speak in tongues as a sign that Jesus accepted him.
  • That he was already saved.

 

He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Just as Christ had commanded [Mat 28:18-20; Mark 16:16]

What did Saul do to be saved? FIRST, we note that he believed. Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul was on a mission of persecuting the church of Christ. Then the Lord appeared to him and told him that it was Jesus he was persecuting. Saul saw Him and heard His voice. Saul believed in the risen Jesus on that Damascus highway. [Acts 22:10; 26:14-18]

NEXT, he repented. Upon arriving to Damascus, he was blind and his attitude was changed [Acts 26:19]. He was ready and willing to do whatever the Lord would command despite his past [Acts 22:10]. He went to the house of Judas at the Lord’s command. He waited for 3 days in a penitent state [Acts 9:9].

THEN he was baptized. He was a penitent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was but one thing left for him to do. He was already a believer, and had already repented. He needed to be BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN [Acts 2:38; 22;16].

In his letter to the Romans, he tells us how & why he was baptized. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” [Rom 6:3-4]

Notice the pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we’ by which Paul is including himself along with these gentile brethren among those buried with Christ by baptism. When he took that step into baptism, he himself was putting on Christ. [Gal 3:27]

From Pharisee of Pharisees and Persecutor of the church of Christ to ALL IN PAUL for the spreading of the gospel. What a shining example of faith and duty.

 

—Spencer

WHEN THE DEVIL WAS BAPTIZED

ON SEPTEMBER 23, 1911 the ‘devil’ obeyed the gospel. I’m certainly not talking about ‘THE’ devil, Satan. This article is about a man who was about as devilish as human man can be.

As a youth, his devilish tendencies were quite apparent. As is often the case, his brother was called the preacher on account of his good behavior, whereas our subject acquired ‘devil’ as a moniker for his devilish behavior. “He liked to carry on and play pretty rough at times.”

In his early twenties, he became an actual rebel. Being a southern sympathizer, he organized a group of rebels to engage in guerrilla attacks on Union installations during the war between brothers. Among his “Wildcats” guerilla fighting unit was a good friend named Dyke Garrett. Dyke found the brutality of war deplorable, denouncing it as against God’s will. After the war Dyke began to think much more seriously about Christianity and obeyed the gospel under the teaching of one Alexander M. Lunsford.(1) Lunsford himself being a student of another Alexander. The Devil and Dyke remained lifelong friends.

However, the ‘devil’s’ vengeful side showed up when one of his friends was shot & wounded. The ‘devil’ vowed and subsequently followed through with his promise to have retribution. This vengeance streak ran through the blood of his kin and another death was attributed to the ‘devil’ and his family.

It wasn’t long before the ‘devil’ and his family got into a feud with a neighboring family over a hog. Things escalated quickly after that. When the ‘devils’ brother was killed in the feud, he went all in killing 3 of them in retaliation. (2)

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Rom 12:19]

There were several more battles, and as many as 15 lives lost in the feud, including five children in the war between families that lasted for over 28 years.

For most, that’s the end of the story, but it wasn’t the whole story for the ‘devil.’ Some 20 years later, the ‘devil’ got some new information. He received some good news from his old war buddy, Dyke.

 

Dyke Garrett, gospel preacher

 

You’ll recall, Dyke had turned to Jesus obeying the gospel. Not only that, He became a circuit preacher for the church of Christ in the parts where the ‘devil’ lived.

Having been a friend of the ‘devil’ he went to him personally to deliver the good news. Receive it he did and at the urging of his friend, the ‘devil’ went to a gospel meeting and at the end of that meeting he went forward to repent and be baptized for the remission of his sins. They went down to the waters of Island Creek where Dyke Garrett baptized Anse ‘the devil’ Hatfield into Christ. (3) The feud between the Hatfield’s & McCoy’s was over. At least it was over for the ‘devil’ now turned child of God.

Anse ‘devil’ Hatfield standing on front right with hand on hip. Dyke Garrett is the seated man with white beard on front left.

 

According to those that knew him, Devil Anse spent the remainder of his life in peace, with the knowledge that God had forgiven him, his sins washed away in the blood of the Lamb in a cold mountain spring.

If the Gospel can have that effect on a fighting man like Hatfield, as it had on Paul who had been “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord,” then surely it can have that effect on anyone.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” [Romans 1:16]

—spencer

  1. Do you recall that Dyke Garrett had been converted to Christ by Alexander Lunsford who was converted through another Alexander? That was one Alexander Campbell. (4)

1: Uncle Dyke Garrett. https://www.wvencyclopedia.org/articles/2082

2: WIKIPEDIA.ORG “Hatfield–McCoy feud”

  1. Baptism of Devil Anse. https://thedailyhatch.org/2012/06/01/great-great-granddaughter-of-devil-anse-hatfield-said-he-came-to-christ/
  2. https://blueridgecountry.com/archive/hatfields-mccoys-revisited-blog/hatfields-and-mccoys-revisited-week-4religion/

 

STAYING IN STEP

Never have I ever seen a caterpillar metamorphose into a butterfly except through some very specific steps. Before we can have a butterfly, there must be 4 distinct stages: egg, larva, pupa then adult. Each phase has different and necessary purposes. There is no way for the butterfly to skip a step, nor to take the steps out of order. People are the same regarding physical things. First gestation, childhood, teen then adulthood. Did you know that there are steps and order for spiritual things, namely, Salvation?

God instructs us to look at nature because it shows His handiwork and it can teach us some spiritual lessons. [cr. Rom 1:20; Pslm 19:1; Prov 6:6]. The example of stages in nature can teach us very powerful lessons about the stages of Salvation.

Although the modern religious world rejects any plan of salvation that has man doing anything, this doesn’t negate scripture that says there is a part man must do and, in God ordained order. “And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.” [Acts 9:6] (emp seb) That being said, and proved, what are the steps for salvation and must they be completed in order?

Romans 10 lays out that there is an order (steps) for one to follow. In verses 13-14, Paul shows that the beginning steps leading to salvation are HEARING, BELIEVING & CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:13-14] (emp seb)

He goes onto write that faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. This shows that HEARING, BELIEVING & CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD shall be learned through the study of the Word of God, namely, the New Testament. But, is this all that the New Testament has to say on this subject? CERTAINLY NOT!

In the same chapter in verse 10 Paul wrote, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (emp seb) So CONFESSION is also essential to salvation, but is this all that there is? A problem many folks have is that they stop at one passage without considering all that God has revealed about a subject. This is how & why we have thousands of denominations today. Let’s continue our search.

Thus far we have learned that salvation begins with…HEARING the word of God through the scriptures, BELIEVING this word, CONFESSING and CALLING on the name of the Lord. (there must be a distinction between CONFESSION & CALLING). To answer this question we go back to where we began this article by noting what Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was told to do by Jesus. We refer to his own retelling of the story in Acts 22:16, “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” We learn that water BAPTISM is synonymous with “CALLING ON THE NAME OF THE LORD” and that it precedes salvation.

Jesus said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:3] Clearly, He’s speaking about salvation. After His death, burial & resurrection, but before His ascension He also said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” [Mark 16:16] (emp seb) This verse also shows the necessity of not skipping the steps and doing them in order and for their intended purpose.

Putting this all together we find only these steps for salvation in this order…
1) Hear & Learn – Rom. 10:17; John 6:45; 17:3
2) Believe – John 6:29; 8:24
3) Repent – Luke 13:3; Acts 3:19; 17:30
4) Confess the Lord – Matt. 10:32-33
5) Be Baptized – Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; Gal. 3:26-27; 1Pet. 3:21

Failure to follow the steps in their proper order and for their intended purpose is to fight against the very will of God [Acts 5:39]. There is much more on this subject, but none of it contradicts what has been said thus far.

Another thing we find is this saying, also from Jesus, “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” [Rev 2:10b]. From this, along with passages like Mat 28:20; Acts 2:42; 2Tim 3:14-17, we learn that continued faithfulness is what those who have obeyed the gospel will continue to do. A person that is practicing faithfulness without having “obeyed the gospel” is practicing a vain religion. There are far too many people living in this false hope.

THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER

Most of you understand the expression, “THROW OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATHWATER” because you lived it. Back in the days of old, before the days of indoor plumbing, the family would take their baths in a large metal wash tub. After everyone was done, the last usually being the youngest, the bathwater was tossed out into the yard.

The idiom reminds us not to discard the precious as we attempt to rid ourselves of the despised.

I bring this to your attention because there is a movement among many to “toss out the bathwater” of baptism.

They’re TOSSING out the TRUTH of salvation as they seek to rid themselves of the baptismal waters. In their zeal to remove the ‘bathwater’ they have missed the simple truth about the Gospel.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. [Mat 23:24]

Those who are now working to rid the church of the ‘bathwater’ are repeating the mistakes of those in the past and tossing out the precious truth about salvation & baptism.

One fellow said that the baptism spoken of in Acts 2:38 is ‘spiritual immersion.’ What he’s done is thrown out SALVATION with the baptism water. Look at 1Peter 3:21; what is being taught?

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” [1Peter 3:21]

The Apostle Peter makes a specific reference to water when he says, “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh.” Why would he bring up ‘the filth of the flesh’ unless saving baptism involves water? If salvation was ‘faith only’ then this addition is completely pointless. He brought it up because he was talking about WATER BAPTISM. He was teaching us not to confuse the water baptism obeyed through faith with a physical cleansing. WATER BAPTISM, submitted through faith, provides a SPIRITUAL CLEANSING.

Paul was told, “arise, and be baptized, and WASH AWAY THY SINS, calling on the name of the Lord.” [Acts 22:16] Upon hearing the preaching of Jesus by Phillip, the Ethiopian Eunuch asked, “See, here is WATER; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” [Acts 8:36] (emphasis mine, seb) These verses harmonize BECAUSE they are teaching WATER BAPTISM. They make no sense if salvation occurs BEFORE water baptism.

No one is teaching a ‘works’ salvation, for no one, submitting to the simple command of God in Christ, is able to do anything of themselves while under the water. Christ is doing the spiritual cleansing [Rev 1:5]. Christ is doing the saving [Matt 1:21]. Christ is adding to the church those that are being saved [Acts 2:47].

If you believe

  • You were saved before you were water baptized,
  • That baptism is not immersion in water,
  • That baptism doesn’t save you,
  • Were baptized in or into a denomination,
  • You were saved by being baptized as a baby,

Then you are guilty of ‘THROWING OUT THE TRUTH WITH THE BATHWATER’ and remain in your sin.

Saving Baptism in the bible is

  • Commanded by Christ, Matt 28:19; Mark 16:16
  • For the remission of sins, Acts 2:38; Mat 26:28
  • What washes away sin, Acts 22:16
  • Death to sin, Romans 6:1-4
  • A Burial, Colossians 2:12
  • Immersion in water, 1Peter 3:21; Acts 8:36
  • What saves you, by faith, 1Peter 3:21; Heb 11:7
  • Taught by Peter, Paul, & others Acts 2:38; 19:5; 22:16;
  • The Putting on of Christ, Galatians 3:27
  • AFTER Hearing, Believing, Repenting & Confessing, Mark 16:15, 16

TAKE A PICTURE

The Reverend Jefferson Davis Tant, duly ordained in the Methodist ministry, became a circuit-rider in North Texas in the year 1880. His work as a Methodist minister was destined to be a short one. In 1881, he moved to Buda, Texas, where in August of that year, he heard W. H. D. Carrington, a minister of the Church of Christ, preach the gospel. He liked what he learned. In those days, the church was often referred to as “Campbellites.” The meeting ran from two weeks to a month. Tant decided to go back and hear what the “Campbellite” preacher had to say further. Carrington took the Bible, read the passages and explained them clearly, especially the verses that told what one must do to be a Christian or to be saved.

On August 14, 1881, Tant came forward in Carrington’s meeting and gave the preacher his hand. He was openly weeping as he did so, weeping from fear and from gratitude.

J.D. Tant preached all over the nation [abandoning the term reverend]. Gospel preachers were few and far between. He was in great demand, ordinarily receiving more than 200 invitations per year for gospel meetings and debates. His record was 269 invitations in a single year. Obviously, he could not hold more than 20 or 25 of these, since most of them were of two weeks’ duration.

The following account is from the book about his life; “TEXAS PREACHER.”

J.D. Tant’s last debate with Ben M. Bogard (his eighth) was in the Lone Star community about eight miles east of Greenwood, Arkansas, in the fall of 1937.

The proposition being discussed was that baptism of a penitent believer is (or in order to) the remission of past sins. In one of Bogard’s speeches of denial he took up his entire thirty minutes trying to prove that there are two figures (pictures) contemplated in 1Peter 3:21. Insisting that Noah and his family were saved by faith, and then pictured their salvation in the water of the flood, he declared that we are first saved by faith, and then picture that salvation by baptism. He dwelt at length on the fact that one could not have a picture of a thing or a person without first having the substance of the thing or person. He told of having a picture of his mother, and how highly he prized the picture; but he could not have had the picture unless he had first had the mother! His Baptist brethren seemed elated with this argument and felt that it was unanswerable.

Tant got to his feet and replied, “My good friends, remember that baptism is just a ‘picture’. Ben Bogard says it is, and since Ben seems to be the big ‘It’ among Baptists, that makes it so. Now, Ben, says baptism is a ‘picture’. That does not help Baptist doctrine at all; for it was Jesus Christ himself who said in Mark 16:16, ‘He that believeth and gets his picture taken shall be saved’.

And when those wicked people on Pentecost asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what they had to do, Peter replied, ‘Repent ye, and get your picture taken, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

And when Ananias came to Saul of Tarsus there in Damascus, he said unto him as recorded in Acts 22:16, ‘And now why tarriest thou? Arise and get your picture taken, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’.

So, you can see, Ben, you, too, will have to get your picture taken or you can never be saved!”

There was a roar of laughter from the audience, and Bogard was obviously discomfited as his bit of sophistry was thus handed back to him.

Ask Jesus into your heart

We’re told to ‘ASK JESUS INTO OUR HEART’ so that we can be saved. The only verse in scripture remotely close to that is John 14:15-21 partially quoted here: “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– 21 “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

But they don’t like that, so I ask, “HOW DO YOU ASK JESUS?” Their reply, “ASK JESUS.”

So, I did… and Jesus said…

Matthew 11:15 He that hath ears to hear, let him HEAR.

John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye BELIEVE not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Luke 13:3 except ye REPENT ye shall ask likewise perish

Luke 12:8 Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall CONFESS me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God:

Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is BAPTIZED shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mat 28:20 Teaching them to OBSERVE all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Now that we’ve asked Jesus, are we to obey His words?

Be careful how you answer,

Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He (Jesus) became the author of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him,

2Thessalonians 1:8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Must we OBEY the Master of the Universe, the Creator, the one who has been given ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and on Earth? Mat 28:18

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Luke 6:46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?

BUT AREN’T WE SAVED BY FAITH ONLY?

Do you know there is only ONE verse in the entirety of scripture with those words (FAITH ONLY) placed side by side?

James 2:24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and NOT by faith only. 

I find it interesting, in the denominational world, they remove the word NOT from James 2:24, but they don’t remove it all together. They take it a place it back inside the scriptures at Mark 16:16;

Mark 16:16 as understood by the denominations:

“He who believes and is (NOT) baptized will be saved;

WHAT DOES IT REALLY SAY?

He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”

LEGALISM

One of the most manipulative criticisms of the members of the Lord’s church is that they’re ‘legalists.’

Legalism is defined as “strict, literal or excessive conformity to the law or to a religious or moral code” (Webster’s Dictionary). Another way of saying it is, “one who follows the rules.”

What is unique about the definition of legalism is that it’s subjective. What does “excessive conformity” mean, who decides what is excessive and by what standard are they determining what constitutes excessive.

If you were to poll the denominations in a local area about what is a legalist, and pit their views on sin against one another, you’ll find that they would each think the other were legalists.

It’s really a made-up sin for people who want to continue in it. Paul addressed this in Romans chapter 6…

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Romans 6:1-2

Here’s the rub, the workers of the devil have convinced people that NOT COMMITTING SIN IS A SIN! If you were to suggest that a legalist is a person who places their trust in the rule keeping ONLY, then of course that’s wrong. God clearly teaches an obedience through faith. Jesus condemned the Pharisee’s, not for keeping the law, rather for keeping it without their heart. I’ve met no one in the churches of Christ who believes or teaches salvation by works alone.

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these OUGHT YE TO HAVE DONE, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.” [Mat 23:23] emphasis mine.

A careful reading of the New Testament will find commands like…

  • Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: Mat 28:18
  • By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: Romans 1:5
  • …according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: Romans 16:26
  • For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things. 2Cor 2:9
  • If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
  • For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 1John 5:3

I believe the confusion comes from a misunderstanding of passages that teach the keeping of the Law could not bring life [ie Gal 3:11; 5:1-4]. The context of these passages is speaking about the Law of Moses, not the Law of Christ. Later in Galatians 3:27 Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” In many places, the Inspired Writers and Apostles of Christ warned those, that still clung to the fulfilled Law of Moses, that it would lead to death. And nowhere will you find any similar condemnation of strictly following the commands of our Lord. Instead, they commend it.

Now, based on a poor understanding of Scripture, millions are being led astray believing that strict obedience to God is a sin called legalism. They’re being told that a faithful Christian is one who is not overly concerned with knowing or keeping God’s commandments. They will often cite 2Corinthians 3:6 as a proof text. However, when you examine the context (v7) you’ll find that what is under consideration is once again, the Law of Moses as it refers to “tablets of stone.”

Listen up, those who love God will keep His commandments [John 14:15]. What does it mean then if you refuse to keep His commandments? In his letters, John also wrote…

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” [1John 2:3]

To love God, to truly know God, is to keep His commandments THROUGH FAITH for it also says in His divine word…

 

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” [Hebrews 11:6]

FOLLOWING JESUS

There is no argument, just about everyone I speak with about the gospel agrees that people are to FOLLOW JESUS. When I ask them what this means, they will often say something like, “you’ve got to ask Jesus into your heart.”

Setting aside that this statement is never found anywhere in scripture, it never answers the question, “how you FOLLOW Jesus?” This is a legitimate question. Jesus said to the rich ruler in Mark 10;

Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

[Mark 10:21]

Jesus said it at other times as well….

If any man serve me, let him follow me. [John 12:26]

So, how are we to follow Jesus? For us to Follow Jesus, we must find out where He walked. A serious reading of the gospels shows us the life of Jesus and how He walked and where His walk ended.

Jesus came into a world full of sin and darkness. John says about Him, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” [John 1:5]. Jesus said about Himself, “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, 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].

Three times in Marks Gospel does Jesus predict where He would finish His walk in this dark world. “Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem…And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again” [Mark 10:33,32]. He, of course, was talking about His crucifixion where He would become the perfect sacrifice for sin.

After His death, they took down His body and placed it inside a tomb and rolled a stone over the opening. Then, on the 3rd day, He rose again.

FOLLOWING JESUS

That was a very difficult path…. the path to the cross. How are we to follow that? Paul explains it to us in Romans 6:3-4…We are in sin, our sinful self must die (which is why repentance is so hard), then we must be buried which is baptism (you never bury living people) and then God raises us up to a new life.

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

All of this means that for us to follow Jesus, we must take the path that He took. For us to Live for Jesus requires us to die for Him first.

OBEYING THE GOSPEL

This imagery fits perfectly with obeying the Gospel [2Thess 1:8-9]. The Gospel is the Death, Burial & Resurrection of Jesus [1Cor 15:1-4]. We obey the Gospel when we die to sin, are buried in Baptism and are raised up as a new creature. “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead” [Colossians 2:12].

To follow Jesus, to obey the Gospel, to be saved…we must Believe, Repent, Confess & be Baptized for the remission of sins. [Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38, 22:16]. Then we can continue to follow Him in the way that He lived.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me

[Galatians 2:20].

EMERGENCY ALERT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Last week an erroneous alert went out when a Hawaii Emergency Management Agency employee triggered a ballistic missile alert, and people freaked out. Rightfully so, what would you do if you learned that a nuclear missile was rocketing toward you?

The alert lit up the phones of people, many of whom were still in bed, having coffee or taking a morning walk on the resort beaches of Hawaii. They fled toward shelters and crowded the highways as panic and terror spread across the islands. Many more had no idea what to do when a missile is about to fall from the sky. One woman said, “We have no bomb shelters or anything like that. There’s nowhere to go.”

And they prayed. I’m sure that more than a few atheists began to pray as well. As with many catastrophes, there’s just isn’t enough time to come up with a doomsday plan, and then activate it. (It would take 20 minutes for a missile to reach Hawaii from North Korea and would leave only 12 minutes for the state to warn everyone.)

It was a normally beautiful winter day. Winter in Hawaii starts out in the mid 70’s and sunny. A Saturday in Hawaii would have found folks, sleeping in, getting ready for a wedding, going to work, babies being born and at least one man suffered a heart attack triggered by the startling alert. Being a popular vacation spot, there were many thousands of tourists beginning or finishing their vacations. In other words, everything was normal.

ARE YOU READY

As many of you already surmise, this article is not going to be about preparedness for a Global Thermonuclear War. We talk about spiritual issues here and this incident is an exceptional illustration of what will take place when Jesus returns.

He will return, it’s been promised. “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” [Acts 1:11].

Unlike in Hawaii, there will be no advanced notice of His appearing. “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” [Matthew 24:36].

The world will be “acting normal” just as they did that morning in Hawaii. “And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man” [Matthew 24:37-39].

Just as a thief catches the victim by surprise, so too will be the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up” [2 Peter 3:10, cr. 1 Thess 5:2].

There will be no sirens, but there will be trumpets louder than any you’ve ever heard. It will be the trump of God. “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” [1Corinthians 15:52].

All of this means is that there just will not be any time to obey the gospel [2 Thessalonians 1:7-8]. To those of you who believe the error of “faith alone,” that also will fail, for the very instant Jesus appears in the sky is the moment “faith” will end. “Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen” [Hebrews 11:1]. Faith ends at sight. Scripture reveals no prayers an infidel could utter to place them in a right relationship with God. Only faithful obedience to the Gospel can do that through Christ Jesus.

Here’s what else will happen on that day; “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we that are alive, that are left unto the coming of the Lord, shall in no wise precede them that are fallen asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” [1 Thessalonians 4:15-17].

The key to this verse are two simple words, “IN CHRIST.” The location of Salvation is “IN CHRIST.” Every spiritual blessing is “IN CHRIST” [Ephesians 1:3]. We are “IN CHRIST” when we have “PUT ON CHRIST” through water baptism by faith. “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” [Galatians 3:26-27].

The only way we’re going to escape any and all catastrophes is to be “IN CHRIST.” When one is in Christ, what looks like a disaster, will be the most wonderful celebration any could ever imagine.

– Spencer

What do I do Now?

After a person obeys the gospel, the most oft asked question is, “what do I do now?” However, this question is asked by both the new convert AND the members of the local congregation. The new convert, full of joy and gratitude, has a desire to serve and to do what is right. The older members want to help them, but where do you begin?

For the answer, let us turn to Acts 2, the place where the church of Christ began.

41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. That’s where we are with Margie, and all others who obeyed the gospel recently (a young man named Nick, was also baptized into Christ on the same day.) Nobody joins the church; the Lord adds to the church [47].

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Here’s where we find our answer to the question, “what do I do next?”

Continue in the apostles’ doctrine. The Apostles’ doctrine is Christ’s doctrine. Jesus said to the Apostles, that in addition to making disciples, as one who has all authority, teach them “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” [Mat 28:19-20]. Paul said about his letters, “let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.” [1Cor 14:37]

So, the first thing we need to do is to continue to learn through study of the Scriptures what Jesus expects from us. The most effective way to do this is for the new convert and the “old” members to get together and study the scriptures. We need to note that “continue” means to do them. It’s not enough to learn what Jesus wants, we must obey Him [John 14:15]. We can also learn when we gather to worship on the first day of the week.

And Fellowship and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. The new Christians worshiped together. They had fellowship, which means that they were in partnership with one another. This partnership begins when we, “all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” [1Cor 1:10]. The partnership also includes the collection of money for the work of the church. (As you continue to study, you’ll begin to understand the work God has given the church is to spread the Gospel, Teach the saints and practice limited benevolence). The Philippians gave money to spread the gospel, and were in fellowship in the gospel [Phil 1:3-7].

One of the parts of worship (there are 5 activities in sound worship) the disciples ‘broke bread’ which is to remember the death of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. Commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Supper” the first Christians met on the 1st day of the week, Sunday, where they would take unleavened bread and fruit of the vine to commemorate His death. The Apostle Paul wrote the early Christians how to properly observe this important part of our worship [1Cor 11:23-34].

 

They also prayed. Prayer is the privilege of the saints. Christians are called saint in the Scriptures [Rom 1:7; Eph 1:1; Phil 1:1; Col 1:1]. In obeying the gospel through baptism, we have “put on Christ” [Gal 3:27] and have been given access through Him to the “throne of grace” [Heb 4:16]. Prayer is an incredible part of becoming a child of God. We know that God does not listen to sinners [John 9:31] but He hears us!

God is not our “genie in a bottle,” to gift us with everything we want like a spoiled child. Rather, He wants to help us in our time of need. It says in Hebrews 4:16; “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Temptation doesn’t stop when we become Christians, neither do troubles & pains, “but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” [1Cor 10:13]. So, all Christians need to pray.

Finally, let us note one more thing from Acts 2…

47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. As you begin your journey as a new Christian, and every Christian, let us never forget from whom we received the gift of grace. We received it from God through Christ Jesus [Eph 2:8-10]. May we never forget, may it never grow old and may we never grow tired of praising God for His indescribable gift.

Thanks be unto God for his indescribable gift.

2Corinthians 9:15