The message from God the Father through Jesus to humanity is about the wonderful future in store for humanity when God's government is brought to earth by his Son. Most of what people hear about the gospel is focused solely on Jesus Christ, and as a result, millions do not believe what Christ taught. They only believe certain things about him because they do not understand the message that he brought about salvation and the Kingdom of God.
Mankind in general has been greatly deceived, they simply do not believe what the biblical record teaches about how to live forever:
"Look to me, and be you saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isa.45:22 KJV).
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one that sees the Son, and believes on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:40 KJV).
BECOME IMMORTAL THROUGH REPENTANCE, BAPTISM AND CONVERSION
To Become an Immortal
God the Father offers much more than eternal life to those he calls to salvation in this age. The angels have eternal life and are sustained by God's life-giving power, yet they can be destroyed if they disobey him. The life God offers to the elect during this gospel age of salvation is immortal life, which can never be destroyed.
The quality of life promised by the Father is comparable to that which he himself has. God is a spirit-being who inherently possesses the highest form of life: immortality on the divine plane of existence. Immortal life springs forth from itself and is not dependent on any other source to sustain it, because it is self-sustaining:
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory" (1.Cor.15:51-54 NIV). See also Rom.2:7; 2.Tim.1:9-10; 1.Pet.4:6; Rev.20:6.
It is abundantly clear from studying the Bible that God the Father intends to share immortality with those he calls to repentance, baptism, and conversion prior to the first resurrection. It is the acquisition of immortality that allows a person to pass beyond this physical existence into the Family of God as a son of God
Although immortality represents the highest reward that is granted for faithfulness to God, there are many more. The reward for being righteous is not to float around heaven playing harp music for eternity. God the Father and Jesus Christ have something far more spectacular in store for those who are found worthy to take part in the first resurrection.
The following list contains some of these rewards:
Becoming an immortal spirit-being
Becoming a son of God
Becoming a joint-heir with Christ
Becoming a co-ruler with Christ
Becoming a King and a Priest
Inheriting the Kingdom of God
Inheriting all things
These are only a few of the awesome rewards that are promised to those the Father calls to salvation through his message of the good news.
An Awesome Opportunity
The magnitude of the opportunities and rewards that God the Father offers to those called to salvation through repentance, baptism, and conversion during this age are almost beyond the ability of human comprehension. What God offers can be obtained by those who are willing to repent and become obedient to his way of life:
"But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them to us by his spirit: for his spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1.Cor.2:9-10 KJV).
HOW TO OBTAIN SALVATION
It is one thing to understand what salvation is; however, obtaining salvation is an entirely different matter. Obtaining salvation is a process that involves the following seven steps:
Being called to salvation by God the Father
Proving that God does exist and that the Bible is his written word put to print
Believing in Jesus Christ and his perfect sacrifice
Repenting of violating God's law and way of life
Asking for forgiveness of sin and being baptized
Receiving God's spirit that transforms a person into a son of God
Growing in the grace and knowledge of God's truth, while overcoming the temptations of the flesh
THE CALL TO SALVATION
The call to salvation during this age (just before the return of Christ) is a truly unique and awesome opportunity. This opportunity is not pure chance, but has been carefully planned and directed by God the Father for a very special purpose:
"For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39 KJV). See also Rom.8:29-30, 1.Cor.1:9,23-28; Eph.1:5-9; 1.Thes. 5:23-24; 2.Tim.1:8-9; Heb.9:14-15.
Only God the Father has the prerogative to call a person to salvation, and he gives everyone he calls the opportunity to either accept or reject this call. There can be no neutral response to the call of God, either a person becomes a son of God or they do not!
Jesus himself confirms that the call to salvation is only made by God the Father:
"No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:44 KJV).
"And he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can come to me, except it were given to him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (Jn.6:65-66 KJV).
Paul also adds to the understanding of the uniqueness of the Father's call:
"Or despise you the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Rom.2:4 KJV).
"Then do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me, his prisoner. But suffer hardship with the gospel, according to the power of God, he having saved us and having called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace given to us in Jesus Christ before eternal times" (2.Tim.1:8-9 Para.).
Paul was inspired to record that it is not because of a person's effort that the Father extends the call to sonship; it is because God the Father has a purpose for the one called. Also, notice that the Father made the decision to offer this opportunity to these specific individuals before they were born.
It is God the Father who opens a person's conscious mind and begins to direct the thought process toward the physical and spiritual knowledge that will bring a person into an awareness of God and his Son and the opportunity that is being offered:
A Special Calling
The scriptures clearly show that God is not calling everyone to salvation at this time in history. Although many are called to salvation, only a comparative few of those called (past and present) are chosen to participate in the first resurrection. Those called prior to Christ's return have been selected for a special purpose before and after his return. On the surface, this may seem unfair but it is not. The God family has a plan for all humanity and is being extremely fair and logical in the execution of this plan.
If God the Father and Jesus Christ have been trying to save all of humanity from the time of Adam to this present age, they have failed, and the scriptures concerning the requirements for salvation cannot be reconciled with the facts of history or the rest of the Bible. This is not a very popular teaching, nonetheless it is true. Today is not the only day of salvation. It is 'a' day of salvation. God was not in the past, nor is he in this age, calling all of humanity to salvation. It is only the day of salvation for those called in this age for a special purpose.
God the Father personally calls each person to salvation and then leads them to repentance. This process may take years or a very short time and it requires that enough knowledge and understanding of God's truth is given to a person to enable them to understand the following:
They are a sinner and under a death sentence
They have an opportunity to have their sins forgiven
They have been offered eternal life as a child of God
Called and Chosen
Jesus said: "So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen" (Matt.20:16; 22:14 KJV).
Those who are chosen to have their minds opened and are called to repentance, baptism, and conversion during this age have not been called by chance, each person has been called for a special reason.
One reason a person is called to salvation during this age is to fulfill a purpose or function within the body of Christ (the church). See 1.Cor. 12:18,27-28; 2.Cor.5:20.
Another reason God is calling people in this age is to prepare a people for future responsibilities in his kingdom as kings and priests who will rule the earth and teach God's truth. Those called to the first resurrection are to be role-models, leaders, and teachers for those who have never had an opportunity for salvation. See Rev.2:26; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4-6.
"Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God [God the Father] raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 KJV).
In order to obtain salvation and become a son of God, we must have our sins forgiven and our death sentence removed. And as stated earlier, the only being who can forgive sins and remove the death sentence is God the Father, because he is the Sovereign of all that exists and has the power to remove and forgive sin through the sacrificial blood of his Son Jesus Christ. See Rom.1:15-16.
BELIEF IN THE FATHER AND IN HIS SON
John 5:24-29 Paraphrased
"Truly, I say to you, He that hears my words, and believes in him that sent me, has ever lasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life" (v24).
Jesus said that one must have belief in the Father in order to have eternal life. One of the primary reasons that Jesus came was to reveal the Father. Therefore, a person must believe the things that Jesus said about the Father being the Sovereign God of all that exists and Jesus being his Son that was sent from heaven to proclaim his message to humanity.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live" (v25).
Jesus said to those of his day and ours that, if those who are dead in their sins (those awaiting eternal death by fire if they do not repent) will truly listen to the message that will free them from their death sentence and anyone who truly understands the message acts upon it in a positive manner, they will escape eternal death and live forever.
"For as the Father has life within himself: so he has given the Son to have life within himself; And has given him the authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man" (vs.26-27).
The scriptures say that Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven and administers all things for him in heaven and earth. Verses 26 and 27 tell us that the Father has also given Jesus Christ authority over life and death—Jesus holds the key to eternal life.
"Do not be astonished at this: for the hour is coming, that all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall rise, they that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation" (vs.28-29).
The good news for all humanity is that each individual will have an opportunity for salvation. If a person will truly believe in the Father and Jesus Christ and accept the opportunity that is offered, that person will be rewarded with eternal life. But if one rejects the opportunity that is offered, that person will be executed in the Lake of Fire and cease to exist for all eternity.
Many people believe that Jesus Christ existed. Many also acknowledge that he is the Savior of humanity and many accept him as their personal Savior; however, there are very few who believe to the point that they are willing to follow his teachings and examples as a way of life. To those of shallow belief he says, "And why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things that I say?" (Lk.6:46 Para.).
History clearly shows that Jesus was neither a myth nor a legend. He did exist; he was a real human being. However, there is more to gaining salvation than just believing that Christ existed. Even Satan and the demons believe in God (Jms.2:19).
Believing is more than just an acknowledgment that Jesus did exist and was the Son of God. Belief in Jesus Christ is manifested in one's life through a deep commitment to God that is evidenced by the righteous fruit of that belief.
REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, AND CONVERSION
Prior to the beginning of Christ's ministry, John the Baptist preached that people should repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins:
"As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before your face, which shall prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins" (Mk.1:2-4 KJV). See also Matt.3:1-7; Mk.1:14-15; Lk.3:3.
The Redemptive Process
Any who desire to become a son of God must do so through the redemptive process contained in the good news message concerning Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, and the receiving of the holy spirit.
On the first festival of Pentecost, after the death and resurrection of Christ, the apostle Peter preached the gospel message to a great assembly of people:
"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:37-38 KJV).
There can be little doubt that some of those whom Peter addressed understood that they had participated in the murder of their Messiah, Savior, and Redeemer just as the prophesies had foretold. In great fear and shame, they ask Peter, "What shall we do?"
There are four very important things to learn from these verses:
Peter began to fulfill the great commission to proclaim the good news message of the redemption and salvation of humanity through Jesus Christ.
Through the preaching of the gospel by Peter, God the Father revealed the prophetic significance of the Passover that had just been observed and the events that were happening at that moment in time.
Peter told them the process whereby they could have their sins forgiven and be transformed into sons of God:
Receive the holy spirit
On this festival day, through the proclaiming of the good news of Jesus Christ, the new process by which a person could be saved and obtain eternal life was formally announced.
REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION
"Repent you therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19 KJV).
What Peter was inspired to preach about repentance on the festival of Pentecost was nothing new, because God has always required repentance of sin in order for a person to be in harmony with him. What was new was the process through which one could establish and maintain a harmonious relationship with the Father for all eternity.
Many feel that to repent means to feel sorry for being a sinner and ask God to forgive one's sins. Others feel repentance is just a matter of going through the ritual of baptism. Still, others feel that it is a matter of the heart and they believe that all one must do is give one's heart to the Lord. However, to truly repent, be baptized, and be converted comprises far more than just being sorry about the fact that you have sinned, feeling remorseful, saying a few words, and participating in a ritual.
True repentance is extremely important because it is the first step in the process of receiving salvation. If a person is not truly repentant, they will not receive God's spirit and will not be saved.
The Word Repent
The English word repent, used in Acts 2:38, comes from the Greek word metanoia and is a very complex word because it deals with the mind and its thought processes. In the context of Acts 2:38, the word metanoia clearly refers to changing from that which is evil, to that which is good.
The repentance that Peter speaks of is not the metanoia ametameletos (repentance) that Paul speaks of in 2.Cor.7:8 KJV, which means regret or sorrow. Although a person should regret violating God's law and way of life, to truly repent means to do much more than just feel sorry.
True repentance requires a total change in a person's life, a change that leads away from all aspects of evil, and leads toward that which is of God. True repentance also requires a total commitment and an unconditional surrender to the rule and authority of God.
Repent of What?
If a person does not first know and understand exactly of what to repent, how can they accomplish repentance? Obviously they cannot. Repentance involves knowledge and understanding. A person must know of what to repent and understand why they should repent.
Repent of Sin
God inspired the prophet Isaiah to encourage the people of Israel to repent of their sins so that he could bless them:
"Wash yourselves, purify yourselves, put away the evil of your doings from my sight, stop doing evil. Learn to do good; seek justice; reprove the oppressor; judge the orphan; strive for the widow. Come and let us reason together, says the Lord: Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing to hear, you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken" (Isa.1:16-20 Para.).
James speaks very bluntly to Israel about the cause of their current problems:
"Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double minded" (Jms.4:8 KJV). Please read verses 1 through 11 for background information concerning this admonition from James. See also Matt.9:10-13; Jn.8:1-11.
WHAT IS SIN?
Sin is the violation of the physical and spiritual law of God. Sin is any deviation from God's righteous laws, precepts, and principles that define how a person should live their life and worship God. It is this deviation from the law of God for which a person must ask forgiveness. See Rom.14:22-23; Jms.4:17; 1.Jn.3:4; 1.Jn.5:17.
A person cannot be a true child of God by the biblical definition unless they are in obedience to God's ten commandments and other laws, precepts, and principles. A person cannot pick and choose which of God's laws they will or will not obey; all must be obeyed:
"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom.2:13 KJV). See also Psa.119:172; 2.Jn.5-6.
Keep the Commandments
Just as the question of eternal life is on the minds of people today, it was on the minds of people during Jesus' day:
"And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said to him, Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if you will enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt.19:16-17 KJV).
Why did Jesus tell this young man to keep the Commandments? The answer is simple. The young man had a choice; he could either obey God's law and gain eternal life, or he could disobey and pay the penalty for disobedience (Rom.6:23):
"And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city" (Rev.22:12-14 KJV).
A Change of Heart
For a person to truly repent there must be an intense desire and effort to have a change of heart. This change of heart is a change in one's attitudes, state of mind, priorities, and lifestyle; a change that will lead away from the things that are against God and toward the things that are of God.
True repentance is much more than an emotional feeling of sorrow or remorse; a person who is truly repentant must not only regret having sinned but also no longer make a practice of sinning. One who is seeking to please God should strive with all their being to love and obey God. True repentance requires a change of heart, mind, attitude, and physical actions.
Just saying one is sorry for violating God's laws and asking for forgiveness of one's sins is not enough. For a person to truly repent, there must be a change in one's life. True repentance is not just a fleeting emotional experience; true repentance requires a real change in a person's attitude, thought process, and lifestyle. Yes, words are important; however, words must be backed up with action:
"Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying, This people draws near to Me with their mouth, and with their lips honor me; but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the ordinances of men" (Matt.15:7-9 Para.). See Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.
The overall plan of God for salvation has not changed from the foundation of the world. Part of this plan is that humans must come into conformity with God's laws of worship and behavior. A fundamental teaching of both the Old and the New Testaments is that one must put forth a serious, heartfelt effort to change from disobedience to obedience before being granted salvation.
A CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE
"Therefore also now, says the Lord, Turn you even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn to the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repents him of the evil" (Joel 2:12-13 KJV).
Accepting Jesus Christ involves a change of heart, mind, attitude, and lifestyle; it involves a change in what we are and it involves a change in the direction of our lives.
"For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, says the Lord: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isa.66:2 KJV).
Very few in today's world tremble at God's word. In fact, most people today ridicule God and his word. Many also say that his law has been done away and they simply do not believe the good news message that Jesus brought.
"The Lord is near to them that are of a broken heart; and saves those who have a contrite spirit" (Psa.34:18 Para.).
True repentance and conversion is an event of monumental proportions. It is not just a philosophical change and it is not only a change in attitude. It is also a change in what a person 'is,' physically and spiritually.
"And there went great multitudes with him: and he turned, and said to them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (Lk.14:25-26 KJV). See Matt. 10:34-38.
Jesus says in order to follow him, a person must be willing to put him first above everything and everyone else. Nothing else can have a higher priority than obedience to God's way of life. The phrase "hate not" is a powerful Greek expression meaning, "to love less by comparison." Any person who considers anyone or anything, including their own physical life, more important than their commitment to God, cannot be a son of God.
"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple" (Lk.14:27 NIV).
What Jesus said in Luke 14:26-27 is not some ethereal or philosophical analogy. It is an integral part of the good news message. This message contains information that Jesus brought about himself, his Father, and the way to secure salvation and enter the Family and Kingdom of God:
"He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (Lk.9:59-62 NIV).
Once a person understands the good news message of the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ, God the Father requires a total commitment. There can be no turning back once a person commits to becoming a part of the God family. See Heb.2:1-3; 6:4-6;8; 10:26-29; 2.Pet.2:20-21; Ezk.18: 24,26.
"Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 KJV).
The baptismal ceremony with its various steps is the process by which the Father makes and ratifies an eternal agreement between an individual and himself. Upon completion of the final ritual of the baptismal ceremony, a person becomes a son of God the Father and a brother of Jesus Christ in the holy and divine Family of God.
Baptism is not only a symbolic representation of our death, burial, and resurrection to a new life in Christ, it is in fact a physical and spiritual transformation. Notice how Paul uses the baptismal ceremony in his exhortation to the elect at Rome to live a sinless life before God and man:
"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?" (Rom.6:1-2 KJV).
Here, Paul reminds the elect at Rome of their baptism and their sinless condition before God:
"Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Rom.6:3 KJV).
As a person is submerged in the baptismal waters, their old life symbolically dies and is buried. The baptismal water symbolizes a grave and truly would become a grave if the person being baptized were held under the water for very long:
"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism to 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. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:" (Rom.6:4-5 KJV).
When a person is raised out of the water, they are symbolically and literally raised to a new life. The repentant person is now pure and sinless, no longer under the penalty of death for violating God's law, because their spirit and body have been purged of all sin and defilement:
"Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dies no more; death has no more dominion over him" (vs.6-9).
Dead to Sin
"For in that he died, he died to sin once: but in that he lives, he lives to God. Likewise reckon you also yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom.6:10-11 KJV). See also Rom.7:6; Heb.9:13-14.
As Christ is dead to sin, so are those who have God's spirit dwelling within them. They are free from the penalty of sin and can look forward to being immortal spirit-beings that can never die:
"For in baptism you see how your old, evil nature died with him and was buried with him; and then you came up out of death with him into a new life because you trusted the Word of the mighty God who raised Christ from the dead. You were dead in sins, and your sinful desires were not yet cut away. Then he gave you a share in the very life of Christ, for he forgave all your sins, and blotted out the charges proved against you, the list of his commandments which you had not obeyed. He took this list of sins and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross" (Col.2:12-14 LBP). See also Col.3:1-4.
Sins Washed Away
Baptism is much more than a symbol of a physical death and a resurrection. During this ceremony, the person being baptized is washed clean and purged of all sin by the power of God's spirit through the sacrifice of Christ. At that moment, the baptized person, devoid of sin, becomes righteous before God. Under the first agreement with national Israel, washing with water as an act of purification was a part of the sacrificial system. The good news is that now, through the sacrificial blood of Jesus and through the baptismal ceremony, we are washed clean of all physical and spiritual defilement and forgiven of our sins that would otherwise prevent us from coming before the Father.
The writer to the Hebrews, Paul, and John all spoke about the washing away of sin with pure water, the blood of Jesus, and the cleansing power of God's spirit:
"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb.10:22 KJV).
"But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared, Not by works in righteousness which we had done, but according to his mercy he has saved us, through the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the holy spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ, our Savior" (Tit.3:4-6 Para.).
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood" (Rev.1:5 KJV). See also Rom.5:9; Eph.2:13; Heb.13:12; 1.Jn.1:1-7; 3:5-6; Rev.5:9; 7:13-14.
RECEIVE THE HOLY SPIRIT
Receiving the holy spirit is the most important event that can ever happen to any human, because it is at this point in time that a person is transformed into a son of God and their body literally becomes a temple of the living God:
"Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit" (Acts 2:38 Para.).
"And we are his witnesses of these things, and also the holy spirit, whom God gives to those obeying him" (Acts 5:32 Para.). See also Acts 8:9-24; Gal.3:1-2.
THE CONTINUING PROCESS
In order to secure salvation, a person must truly believe the gospel message concerning God the Father and his son Jesus Christ; then, they must have their sins forgiven, their death sentence removed, and have the holy spirit and the laws of God placed within them.
After the above things are accomplished by God the Father through the sacrificial blood of Christ, it is very important to understand that the process of salvation continues until one's physical death. This is because it takes physical effort, as well as a righteous attitude to maintain a harmonious relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.
In order to worship and please the Father as we should, one must study God's word, communicate with the Father, fellowship with those of like mind, if possible, and make and follow through on righteous decisions. It takes both faith and works in order to truly believe in and follow the way of God. It is through good works that we grow toward spiritual maturity and show the Father our faith in him and his Son.
Some falsely believe that all one has to do to obtain salvation is to have an intellectual belief in Christ, ask for repentance and receive the holy spirit. This may sound good on the surface; however, it is not the kind of belief required for salvation. If one does no more than these things and does not follow through with the instructions given in the word of God for the manifestation of true belief in their life, that person does not truly believe. True belief is more than an intellectual exercise, true belief requires both faith and works.
FAITH AND WORKS
"Dear brothers, what's the use of saying that you have faith and are Christians if you aren't proving it by helping others? Will that kind of faith save anyone? If you have a friend who is in need of food and clothing, and you say to him, "Well, good-bye and God bless you; stay warm and eat hearty," and then don't give him clothes or food, what good does that do? So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith. You must also do good to prove that you have it. Faith that doesn't show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless" (Jms.2:14-17 LBP).
James said that it is not enough to just have faith (belief). He said this because faith that does not show itself through good works is no faith at all; it is dead and useless:
"But someone may well argue, "You say the way to God is by faith alone, plus nothing; well, I say that good works are important too, for without good works you can't prove whether you have faith or not; but anyone can see that I have faith by the way I act." Are there still some among you who hold that "only believing" is enough? Believing in one God? Well, remember that the devils believe this too—so strongly that they tremble in terror! Fool! When will you ever learn that "believing" is useless without doing what God wants you to? Faith that does not result in good deeds is not real faith" (Jms.2:18-20 LBP). The King James Version renders verse 20 as: "Faith without works is dead."
"Don't you remember that even our father Abraham was declared good because of what he did, when he was willing to obey God, even if it meant offering his son Isaac to die on the altar?" (Jms.2:21 LBP).
Abraham was willing to trust (have faith) in God no matter what God instructed him to do. Therefore, because of his physical works, his faith was complete. Thus, without the manifestation of works, faith is not complete:
"You see, he [Abraham] was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to; his faith was made complete by what he did, by his actions, his good deeds" (Jms.2:22 LBP).
A part of Abraham's faith was the knowledge that God had the power to fulfill his promises through Isaac; therefore, Abraham's physical works, based on knowledge, resulted in a faith that was complete:
"And so it happened just as the scriptures say, that Abraham trusted God, and the Lord declared him good in God's sight, and he was even called "the friend of God." So you see, a man is saved by what he does, as well as by what he believes" (Jms.2:23-24 LBP).
Doing and Believing
James concludes that one is made righteous by what is done, as well as by what is believed. It is very important to understand what James says about faith and physical works. It takes physical effort, as well as a right attitude to fulfill God's laws, precepts, and principles:
"For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified (or declared righteous)" (Rom.2:13 KJV).
Righteousness is imputed (given as a gift) to us because of our belief in God the Father and Jesus Christ, his sacrificial blood and all that he did for us through his life and sacrifice.
In his letters to the elect of God, the apostle John wrote the following concerning the awesome opportunity that is offered to those whom the Father calls to salvation during the gospel age:
"Beloved, now we are the sons of God the Father, although it is not yet revealed what we shall be like: we do know, that when he appears, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1.Jn.3:2 Para.).
The elect of God are destined to be born into the Father's family and kingdom as his immortal spirit sons. Almost no one today understands the profound nature of the teaching that the Father sent his Son to proclaim so many centuries ago as a part of the good news message.
The extremely good news is that today, during the gospel age of salvation, if anyone truly believes the Father's good news message without reservation and accepts and performs the method that he has designed in order for humanity to be saved from eternal death, that person can be saved and enter into the Family and Kingdom of God as an immortal being.
By B.L. Cocherell b1w8