Fourth of seven Musts of Salvation; CONFESS

“…because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” [Rom 10:9]

This oft quoted verse from the ‘faith only’ error crowd doesn’t teach faith only. Notice that a person must do something to be saved, ‘confess with thy mouth.’

This is just one of a few things that man MUST do to be saved. The scriptures teach that man must participate in salvation. Grace is what God does for man; faithful obedience is what man does in response.

By citing this verse, they must admit that man has a duty toward God in responding to His Grace.

Confession is the fourth duty of man in obeying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

#4, we must CONFESS: All quotations are from the ASV

Let’s see the lesson about what to CONFESS and why.

First, let it be known that the confession, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” is the solid rock upon which Jesus has built His CHURCH. [Mat 16:16-19]. Neither Jesus, nor Peter are the rock, that would remove them from their places in the picture. It’s the confession that JESUS is THE CHRIST, THE SON of the LIVING GOD.

Next, we will note from these passages, is that confessing Jesus is done OPENLY before men. Not kept in secret, not hidden in your heart. It must be spoken & lived out daily. [Mat 10:32-33; 2Ti 2:12]

Related to this, one must NOT be ashamed. “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels.” [Luke 9:26; cr. Rom 1:16. 1Cor 1:18]

This statement was first revealed to us by our FATHER in heaven, at the baptism of Jesus and at His transfiguration [Mat 3:16-17, 17:5.]. Jesus repeated this statement of truth at His mock trial, the pivotal evidence that would sign His death sentence [Mat 26:63-64]. The Holy Spirit revealed this truth to all mankind by teaching it to the Apostles, and written in the New Testament scriptures so that all may know and believe. [John 20:30-31] The truth was preached by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit [Acts 2:36; 8:35-37; 18:28].

One day EVERYONE will. Better to do it now. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, to me every knee shall bow, And every tongue shall confess to God” [Rom 14:11].

The foundation of our confession and our belief is this STATEMENT, ‘Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ We don’t confess Him as just a good teacher, or a prophet. No, Jesus is the Christ (lamb of God) the Son of the Living God (making Him equal to God). [John 1:29; 5:18]

Finally, as is clearly stated, SALVATION requires it. “if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved:” [Rom 10:9]

Spencer

Third of seven Musts of Salvation; REPENT

Wherefore, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but declared both to them of Damascus first and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the country of Judaea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and TURN to God, doing works worthy of repentanc.” [Acts 26:19,20. emph mine seb]

The preaching of the Apostle Paul, from the beginning of his baptism, included repentance and works worthy of repentance. John the baptizer taught the same, [Mt 3:8].

Repentance was Jesus’ teaching and it is taught as a part of preaching Jesus today.

#3, we must REPENT: All quotations are from the ASV

  1. “From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Mat 4:17
  • “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish.” Luke 13:3
  • “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38
  • “Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;” Acts 3:19
  • “The times of ignorance therefore God overlooked; but now he commandeth men that they should all everywhere repent:” Acts 17:30
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9
  • “…be zealous therefore, and repent.” Rev 3:19

The false teaching of salvation by faith only must deny repentance. If one teaches repentance, as written in scripture, they must deny faith only. What does it mean to REPENT?

The definition of repent is to RECONSIDER, to make a change of heart. Repentance begins in the heart with an examination of your life and ways. However, biblical repentance goes further.

Biblical repentance is preached. Jesus said, ‘EXCEPT ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” [Luke 13:5]. He also said that repentance was to be preached as part of the preaching of the gospel. [Luke 24:47; 5:32; Mar 6:12; Mat 4:17]

Biblical repentance goes beyond a reconsideration in the heart, it includes the penitent to PERFORM the commands of God. Jesus said, “Remember therefore whence thou art fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I come to thee, and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou repent.” [Rev 2:5; cr. Jas 1:22; Luke 3:8; Mat 3:8; Mat 21:28-32].

Repentance is an EMOTIONAL response of sorrow that leads to repentance. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” [2Cor 7:8-11]. People often accuse the church of Christ of being heartless and legalistic. This is false. Repentance is a very emotional and heartfelt response to our self-examination compared to the scriptures.

There will be NO opportunity to repent after death or upon Christ’s return. Esau could not repent after the blessing was given [Heb 12:17]. The judgement scene clearly shows this, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord…And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” [Mat 7:21-29; Mat 25; Luke 6:46].

Repentance can and must be practiced toward our fellow man, but repenting unto salvation [Acts 2:38] is TOWARD GOD. “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” [Acts 20:21].  The person repenting for salvation is TURNING toward God. “that they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.” [Acts 26:20].

Seven Musts of Salvation #2, BELIEVE

The Holy Spirit uses the Word for His work

She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” [John 11:27]

Almost no one would deny that believing in Jesus as the Christ is essential to salvation. Except those who practice infant baptism, universalism, Joel Osteen or any other who thinks that just because you are a decent, non-murderous person you will go to heaven.

Belief is a work. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” [John 6:29; cr. 1Thess 1:3; 2Thess 1:11]

#2, we must BELIEVE:

Some have the false impression that we in the churches of Christ lack faith. This is far from the truth. We BELIEVE, and we know it is essential to salvation. What do the Scriptures teach about what we are to believe?

We believe that Jesus was BORN in the flesh. “Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:” [1John 4:2]

Verse 2 says, “and every spirit that confesseth not Jesus is not of God: and this is the spirit of the antichrist,” Thus, we believe that EMMANUEL, God is with us. [Isaiah 7:14]

We believe that faith must be a LIVING, working faith. “Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself… Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith.” [James 2:17, 24]

We believe that Jesus IS the Christ, the Son of the Living God. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” [Acts 8:37; Mt 16:16; Acts 8:37; Joh 6:69; 9:35,38; 11:27; Ac 9:20; 1Jo 4:15; 5:5,13]

We believe that ETERNAL life is only through Jesus. He is the way the truth and the life. [John 14:6]

We believe that Jesus is without sin and that He has VICTORY over death. “But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” [1Cor 15:54-57; cr. 1Pet 2:22; Acts 2:24]

We believe in the EXISTENCE of God and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. [Heb 11:1,6]. We believe that without faith it is impossible to please Him. We seek to do those things He has commanded to be found well pleasing to him. [Gal 1:10; 1Thess 2:4; Jas 4:4;]

We BELIEVE, do you?

Spencer

1. All quotation are from the ASV

Why does the church of Christ push baptism so much?

One of the criticisms against the Lord’s church and against His gospel preachers is that we emphasize baptism so much.

There’s a very simple and reasonable answer. To answer it, let’s look at what we have in common with the denominational world.

  • We BELIEVE in Jesus. They acknowledge Jesus as God & already know about Him, that He died, was buried and was resurrected. There are unbelievers, & for those I begin with HEARING God’s word.
  • We both agree that WORSHIP is found in the scriptures. We disagree about how to worship [in spirit & truth John 4:24], but we generally agree that Sunday worship is a part of the Christian life.
  • We agree that a person ought to be PENITENT, meaning that a person has to REPENT of sins. This is only denied by some denominational people.
  • We definitely agree that CONFESSING Jesus as the Christ is essential to salvation. The scriptures make confession essential. [Romans 10:9].

WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM?

This is where we divide widely. Actually, they’re not dividing from us as much as they’re dividing from the Scriptures. (see chart next page) We emphasize BAPTISM, because they don’t emphasize it at all regarding it being ESSENTIAL to salvation. They will baptize, even by immersion, but that is the end of the similarities. Here’s how I know they’re not following God’s word on baptism…

  • They SCHEDULE According to the word, folks who come to the knowledge of Jesus, are baptized immediately.

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” [Acts 16:33]

  • They say, “BAPTISM DOESN’T SAVE.” This is a direct contradiction to the Apostle Peter, to Paul and certainly against Christ.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;”

[Mark 16:16]

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.

IT’S HOW MUCH?!

Surely, you’ve uttered those words after asking a vendor for their price. I’m often shocked at the price of certain items. With that in view, I thought it a good time to look at the prices of some of the finer things.

If you’re in the market for a new ring, here is the most expensive diamond in the world. The WINSTON BLUE DIAMOND weighs in at a hefty 13.22 carats and can be snapped up for a paltry $23.8 million.

Perhaps you’re in the market for a new production vehicle, then the ROLLS-ROYCE SWEPTAIL may be for you. You can lose 20% of it’s value when you drive this $13 million baby off the lot. If that’s out of your budget then you can grab one of the cheaper most expensive cars, the MCLAREN SPEEDTAIL for just $2.2 million.

If you’re like me, you’re saying, “I’ll never spend more for a car than I would my house.” So, you’re looking for a house? If BUCKINGHAM PALACE were on the market, you could grab it for $1.5 Billion. Unfortunately, it’s not for sale; however, you can pick up the VILLA LEOPOLDA, VILLEFRANCHE-SUR-MER in France for just under $800 Million.

All of these are likely out of your price range, so let’s look at a few ‘cheaper’ things. At $11,000 per night you could take a vacation at NORTH ISLAND IN SEYCHELLES. If you’re a bit more adventurous you could spend just one night at WHITE DESERT “GREATEST TRIP” TO ANTARCTICA. This trip of a lifetime will only set you back $195,000 for the 24-hour trip. That’s just $8125 per hour…or perhaps you could visit for a few minutes at just $135.42 per minute.

These things are just luxury items anyway, how about we look at some more practical items? The most expensive suit of clothing will only set you back $895,000, THE STUART HUGHES DIAMOND EDITION. Each one of the three suits ever made takes over 800 man hours to design & stitch the finest wool, cashmere & silk into this magnificent work of art. We all need clothing, right?

Moving onto food, how about THE FORTRESS STILT FISHERMAN INDULGENCE? You’ve gotta eat, and this fine dining experience is a mere $14,000. To wash it down, there are beverages ranging in price from $225,000 up to $3.5 million.

That’s some shopping list, but we don’t come here to give recommendations like Yelp. No, we need to talk spiritual matters.

For most, if not all of us, these pricey things are way out of our league. We’ll never experience such worldly pleasures. However, what would we do for much less, much less?

For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” [Matt 16:26].

By the way, you can pick up everything that could be bought for just $241 trillion (based on the combined world GDP).

You see, when we reject God’s plan for us, His plan of salvation through Christ Jesus, we place a higher value on things that will one day burn up over the great cost paid for your soul. [2Peter 3:11].

Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” [1Peter 1:18-19]

Jesus told us not to fret over things we shall eat, drink or wear. Rather, we are to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. [Mat 6:30-33]. While on this planet we may never take a luxurious vacation, nor live in a magnificent mansion, but there is a far greater place that awaits those who are in Christ. Lay up your treasure there [Mat 6:20; John 14:2; 1Thess 4:16-17]. (BTW, you can get a RTW ‘Round the World’ flight for just under $2k)

This Website contains the instructions for God’s plan of Salvation. Let’s go to heaven together, shall we?

What Did Jesus Do For You?

Jesus Endured so much for us.

Our Lord and Savior put up with a lot. I mean, A LOT. Below is a list of things done to our Lord.

  • Mat 27:30 And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and SMOTE him on the head.
  • Mat 26:67 Then did they SPIT in his face, and BUFFETED him; and others SMOTE him with the palms of their hands,
  • Mat 27:2 And when they had BOUND him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
  • Mat 27:26 and when he had SCOURGED Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.
  • Mat 27:28 And they STRIPPED him, and put on him a scarlet robe.
  • Mat 27:29-30 And when they had platted A CROWN OF THORNS, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and MOCKED him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they SPIT upon him, and took the reed, and SMOTE him on the head.
  • Isa 50:6 I gave my back to the SMITERS, and my cheeks to them that PLUCKED OFF THE HAIR: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
  • Mat 26:60 But found none: yea, though MANY FALSE WITNESSES came, yet found they none. At the last came TWO FALSE WITNESSES,
  • Luke 23:40-41 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same CONDEMNATION? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but THIS MAN HATH DONE NOTHING AMISS.
  • Mark 15:31 Likewise also the CHIEF PRIESTS MOCKING said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.
  • Psalm 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they PIERCED MY HANDS AND MY FEET.
  • Mat 27:35 And they CRUCIFIED him,
  • John 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear PIERCED HIS SIDE, and forthwith came there out blood and water.

This list is hard to read when you remember why He came to earth. To free us from the bondage of sin, to redeem us to God and all because He loved us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” [Rom 5:8].

SELF CONTROL

Another thing that comes to mind when reading this list is how much self-control Christ demonstrated. Just before all these things took place Jesus said, “Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?” [Mat 26:53] He said this BEFORE all the abuse, yet during the abuse, He remained silent.

Reading this list, may we come to the same conclusion as the Centurion at the crucifixion, “they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.” [Mat 27:54]

A FINAL THOUGHT

When we, those who have put on Christ in faithful baptism, return to sin, it’s as if we’re doing it all over again.

“…seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. [Heb 6:6b]

My hope is that this serves as a reminder of how much Jesus loves you and what He was willing to do for you.

Since He went that far for you, how far will you go for Him?

Making the Best Choice!

“If you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

 

“Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word. He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations. I also will choose their delusions, and will bring their fears upon them; because when I called, none did answer; when I spake, they did not hear: but they did evil before mine eyes, and chose that in which I delighted not.” Isaiah 66:10

God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, was very angry with His people because of their poor choices. It wasn’t as if He hadn’t given them clear direction on making good choices. God gave them, and us, all that we need for life and godliness [2Peter 1:3]. Look at what He spoke to the children of Israel about repentance and turning back to Him.

DEUTERONOMY 30:1-20

1-10 God had given clear direction to the children of Israel before He brought them into the land. If they chose to obey His commands, He would have compassion on them, protect them from their enemies and give them prosperity.

11-14 He tells them that His commands are never too difficult, never too far away, but are accessible by all so that they can keep it.

15-20 Here He makes a contrast between the BEST CHOICE and the worst. To Love the Lord thy God is the BEST CHOICE, and to walk in His ways and to Keep His commandments, statutes and judgements. By this He gives a promise of blessing.

However, by making a BAD CHOICE, that is, to turn away from hearing His commands, to worship false gods, then He will DENOUNCE them, remove His protection and not allow them to keep the land.

In verses 19-20, He makes it clear about the two basic CHOICES. Life is to CHOOSE GOOD, which is serving Him, or CHOOSE BAD, which is death. Choosing wrong is a matter of life or death.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.” [Hosea 14:9]

THESE 2 BASIC CHOICES ARE STILL BEFORE US. Peter said, “We ought to obey God rather than men” [Acts 5:29]. Jesus said, “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour” [John 12:26]. Do you see the connection of God’s blessing to the one who follows?

These TWO BASIC CHOICES, following God or turning away from Him, are before us in all our day to day decision making…

  • The WORK we choose to earn our living. Eph 4:28
  • The FRIENDS we choose to keep. 1Cor 5:6; Gal 6:7-9
  • Our choice of SPOUSE. 1Corinthians 7
  • In how we choose to spend our MONEY. 1Timothy 6:17-19
  • In the way we WORSHIP God. John 4:24
  • By the way we choose to spend our TIME. Eph 5:16; Col 4:5

Don’t be confused, all this is to point out that we have free will. Just because we have choice doesn’t mean that God will accept that choice when we go against His commands. We can choose to ignore them, and when we do, we will pay the consequence of our BAD CHOICE.

God is not, as some suppose, a micro manager. He isn’t deciding whether you go to a specific place or another. He is letting you make those decisions. Those TWO BASIC CHOICES are ever before you. To do GOOD or to do BAD.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]. When He appears, this world of sin and doubt shall be dissolved. Since this is true, Peter asked, “what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness?” [2Peter 3:11]

“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” [Romans 6:17-22]

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].