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.

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].

Fake ‘Good’ News

There is much in the world of politics being called “FAKE NEWS.” Although that’s a kitschy catchphrase, the concept is hardly new. We can trace it all the way back to the very beginning when the serpent tempted Eve with his own FAKE NEWS on God’s command. “Ye shall NOT surely die.” [Gen 3:4 emphasis mine].

In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the children of Israel not to change God’s word. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” [Deut 4:2]. In the New Testament, John as given the same warning in Revelation 22:18-19.

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. [Ecclesiastes 1:9]

As you can see, “FAKE NEWS” has been around a very long time and it’s especially troubling when it enters the realm of teaching God’s word. We are told, in Mark 16:15, to preach the “gospel” (which literally means ‘good news’), but today we have so many folks teaching a “FAKE GOOD NEWS” which Paul called a PERVERTED GOSPEL. [Galatians 1:7-9]. You won’t believe what people are teaching today about the Gospel of Jesus…

JUST ASK JESUS INTO YOUR HEART. This perversion is the most common “FAKE GOOD NEWS” that I hear. This alteration to the Gospel message follows the exact same pattern Satan used in Genesis 3 by just adding a simple 3 letter word…NOT. In Mark 16:16 it says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;” However, those being deceived are being told, he that believeth and is NOT baptized shall be saved. It’s as plain as day, Satan’s devices are being utilized by those promoting error, just add the word NOT.

Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” [2 Corinthians 2:11]

ONCE YOU’RE SAVED, YOU’RE ALWAYS SAVED. Although this is a wonderful idea, it is nowhere taught in God’s word. It is true that a Christian can have assurance of eternal life, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” [1 John 5:13], but it never teaches that you can never walk away from it. This is the warning given by the Hebrew writer,

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” [Hebrews 3:12]

GOD DOESN’T CARE HOW YOU WORSHIP IF YOUR HEART IS IN IT. Another way this “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is propagated is with this statement, “I DON’T SEE ANYTHING WRONG WITH IT.” Both statements place the speaker in the position of God!! Just because you can’t see anything wrong with it doesn’t make it scriptural. The only way you can know what God care’s about is if you read what He revealed. Do these people even know that it’s possible to worship in vain?

But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Matthew 15:9]

GOD WANTS YOU TO BE HAPPY… Lastly, for the sake of this article, this piece of “FAKE GOOD NEWS” is probably the most deceiving. Everything about this statement sounds great. To argue against it poorly is to sound like you’re advocating that God wants us to be unhappy. What people forget is that sin almost always looks attractive. God’s word says sin can be, “pleasurable” in Hebrews 11:25; “enticing” in Colossians 2:4 & Proverbs 1:10. God has given us wonderful blessing to enjoy [1 Timothy 6:17], but Satan has taken these pleasures and perverted them with his lies to turn us away from serving God. Our Father in Heaven DOES want us to be happy, and has given us instructions through His word on how to have joy in this life.

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” [2 John 1:9-11]

Friends, my hope is that all of you want to go to heaven to be with the Lord. I do too, but no one shall get to heaven by believing the “FAKE GOOD NEWS.” I know that you love God. He sure does love you, [John 3:16]. He sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us back to Himself and I know you love Jesus too. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” He is the only way. [John 14:4-15].