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HUMAN BEINGS NEED DIVINE GUIDANCE

"I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps" (Jeremiah 10:23).

 

According to this passage, human beings can find their own way without Godís help.

 

   

 

GOD HAS PROVIDED A WRITTEN GUIDE, THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

"But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:14-17).
 

The scriptures are inspired of God.

 

 

 

The scriptures are a sufficient guide enabling Godís people to do every good work.

 

 

 

Other sources of guidance are needed in order to know Godís will.

 

   

 

Indicate which of the following are inspired of God and possess divine authority: 

 

Human feelings? 

 

   

 

Traditions and doctrines of men?

 

 

 

Actions of the majority?

 

   

 

The scriptures?

 

 

 

TODAY, GOD GUIDES HUMAN BEINGS BY MEANS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST

 

"In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). 

 

"For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ" (John 1:17). 

 

"And Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is well that we are here; if you wish, I will make three booths here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him'" (Matthew 17:4, 5).   

 

Before Christ came, Godís people were Israelites who lived and worshiped according to the law of Moses and teaching of prophets preserved in the Old Testament.

 

 

 

Since Christ has come, Godís people are those who follow Christ and his teaching.

 

 

 

 

"He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day" (Jesus in John 12:48).

 

The word of Jesus Christ is the standard by which people will be judged on the day of judgment.

 

 

 

"Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not in a written code but in the Spirit; for the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

 

The new covenant (or new testament) is the part of the Bible which contains the will of Christ.

 

The sole authority for learning how to become a follower of Christ, how to worship as a Christian, and how to be saved in the last day is the new covenant (or new testament). 

 

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT REVEALS EVERY HUMAN BEINGíS NEED FOR SALVATION

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE LOST?

 

"And you he made alive, when you were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.  Among these we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of body and mind, and so we were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. . . Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. . . .They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart . . . " (Ephesians 2:1-3,12; 4:18).

 

Human beings are lost and have no hope because they are (spiritually) dead through trespasses and sins, following the course of this world, separated from Christ, without God in the world, darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God.   

 

   

 

WHAT IS SIN?

 

"Every one who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness; sin is lawlessness" (1 John 3:4). "All wrongdoing is sin . . ." (1 John 5:17). "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (James 4:17).

 

Sin is acting contrary to the law of God ("lawlessness").

 

 

 

Sin is doing that which is not right. 

 

 

 

Sin is not doing the good we know we ought to do. 

 

   

 

 

" . . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

 

I have sinned, and I continue to fall short of the glory of God. 

 

 

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth" (Romans 1:18).

 

Since I have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Godís wrath (anger) is revealed from heaven against me.    

 

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT BEARS WITNESS TO THE GOOD NEWS OF HOW GOD MAKES SALVATION POSSIBLE FOR MANKIND

"Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fastóunless you believed in vain.  For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

"While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous manóthough perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we are now justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life" (Romans 5:6-10).

God loves human beings who are lost in sin so much that Christ died to pay the penalty for the sins of humanity. 

 

The ungodly are justified (declared "righteous" or "not guilty") by   .

Sinners, who are Godís enemies, are reconciled to God (made Godís friends again) through Christís death.

 

". . . they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus . . . In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace" (Romans 3:24; Ephesians 1:7).

Redemption, justification, and forgiveness of sins are in Christ.

 

Do you consider yourself to have been saved?

 

Your Religious History Profile

Approximately, when were you saved?  //

How old were you at the time?  Child    Teenager   Adult

Were you saved at a religious service?  Yes  No

If yes, at what church?  

If yes, what, if anything, did you confess before the church at the time of your salvation? "."

Were you baptized?  Yes  No

In your baptism were you immersed?  Yes   No

If yes, how much time elapsed between the day on which you believed you were saved and the day on which you were baptized?

Days    Week   Longer than a week

Were you told that baptism was required for you to be saved?      Yes  No

Was baptism required for membership in the church you joined?  Yes  No

If you were immersed, if you had died after you believed you had been saved but before you had been baptized, would you have gone to heaven? Yes  No

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT SHOWS HUMAN BEINGS HOW TO RECEIVE THE SALVATION GOD HAS PROVIDED

"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:3-4).

How does one get into Christ?

   

How does one get into Christís death which justifies and reconciles sinners to God?

    

". . . for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:26, 27).

 

One is a child of God through faith  

In Christ, one is a child of God through faith.   

Through faith, one comes to be a child of God in Christ by 

  

 

"And he said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned" (Mark 16:15, 16).

"And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38).

"And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?' And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered and said, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God'"  (Acts 8:36, 37).

Who may be baptized, i.e., what three things must one do before he or she may be baptized?

One must believe the gospel.

  

One must repent and be baptized. 

  

One must confess faith in Christ by saying, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  

  

 

"We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

". . .and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead" (Colossians 2:12).

"And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing" (Acts 8:38, 39).

People are buried with Christ by baptism.

  

Is a burial in water the same as sprinkling or pouring water on a person?

    

Is one in Christ before he or she is baptized?

    

Is one saved before he or she is baptized into Christ?

    

Does one experience the forgiveness of sins before he or she is baptized into Christ?

    

 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of Godónot because of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:25, 26).

"Jesus answered him, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. . . .Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God'" (John 3:3, 5).

"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).

". . . he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit" (Titus 3:5).

Salvation is by the grace of God through faith.

  

In baptism one undergoes the washing of regeneration (washing of "new birth").

  

 

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.' And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:38-41).

". . . and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead"  (Colossians 2:12).

". . . . For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another; but when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. . . " (Titus 3:3-7).

Baptism is performed upon a person; one does not baptize oneself, but submits to baptism (allows oneself to be baptized).

  

Is it God, or the one being baptized, who acts or works in baptism?

  

Baptism, the washing of regeneration, stands in contrast to "works of righteousness."

  

To submit to baptism for the forgiveness of sins is to submit to (allows oneself to experience) Godís gracious washing.

  

"When they heard this all the people and the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John; but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him" (Luke 7:29, 30).

When God has commanded baptism, people who are baptized show that they believe that Godís will is right ("justified God"). 

  

When God has commanded baptism, people who refuse to be baptized reject the counsel of God (as did the Pharisees and lawyers).

  

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT REVEALS WHAT THE LORD DOES WITH THOSE WHO EXPERIENCE HIS SALVATION

 

"So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls . . . praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved"  (Acts 2:41, 47).

Those who are being baptized for the remission of sins are thereby being added by the Lord to the church.

  

All those who are being baptized are thereby being added by the Lord to the church. 

  

 

" . . . and he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all" (Ephesians 1:22, 23).

Christís church is his body. 

  

 

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one bodyóJews or Greeks, slaves or freeóand all were made to drink of one Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:13).

We have learned that one is baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27). We have seen that Christís body is his church (Ephesians 1:22, 23). According to 1 Corinthians 12:13, when one is baptized into Christ, one is baptized into Christís one body, which is his church. 

  

 

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18).

How many churches does Christ have?

  

"I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned" (John 15:5, 6). "There is one body . . ." (Ephesians 4:4).

Are individual Christians or denominations the "branches" of Christ's one body, his church?

  

Those who are baptized into Christ are added by the Lord to this church (Acts 2:41, 47).

  

Suppose a person reads the New Testament, believes in Christ, repents of sins, confesses faith in Christ, and is baptized into Christ. Of what church is that person a member? 

  

Instead of seeking to join a church, one should simply obey Christ and allow the Lord to add him or her to his church. 

  

"For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands" (Ephesians 5:23, 24).

Christ is head over his church. 

  

The church of which Christ is head is the one that obeys him. 

  

"Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive" (Hebrews 9:15-17).

People can exercise their will upon earthly events after they have left this world! How? By writing their last will or testament.  Christ is in now in heaven. Can he still exercise headship over his church on earth?

    

How? By means of his written will or testament.

What is it? The       Testament.

OF ALL THE RELIGIOUS BODIES THAT EXIST, WHICH IS ACTUALLY OBEDIENT TO CHRIST?

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matt. 28:18-20).

The one that obeys the Lordís will on how to be saved and how to live?

  

 

". . . addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart" (Ephesians 5:19)

"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he prolonged his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7).

The one that obeys the Lordís will on how to worship?

  

 

"And they devoted themselves to the apostlesí teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

"I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19)

"If any one thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord" (1 Corinthians 14:37).

"I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me"  (John 17:20, 21).

In worshiping and serving Christ in his church, one should be guided solely by the teaching of Christ and his apostles.  

  

The teaching of Christ and his apostles is recorded in the New Testament.  

  

To learn how God desired for the Israelites to worship, we should consult the Old Testament, but to learn how God desires for Christians to worship, we should consult the New Testament.  

  

 

" . . . in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men" (Matthew 15:9).

"But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:23, 24).

God is pleased by worship which is according to his revealed will rather than worship which is according to human desires, preferences, or traditions.  

  

 

THE NEW TESTAMENT URGES THAT ONE ASK ONESELF, "AM I IN CHRIST?"

Ephesians 1:3 " . . . all spiritual blessings . . . in Christ"

Do YOU desire these blessings which are IN CHRIST?

One who desires these spiritual blessings must get into Christ in order to enjoy them.

  

THE NEW TESTAMENT URGES YOU TO RESPOND TO GODíS MESSAGE OF SALVATION, TO GET INTO CHRIST, AND EXPERIENCE SALVATION YOURSELF

 

"I told you that you would die in your sins, for you will die in your sins unless you believe that I am he"  (John 8:24).

 

Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?

  

"I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5).

"'What do you think? A man had two sons; and he went to the first and said, "Son, go and work in the vineyard today." And he answered, "I will not;" but afterward he repented and went. And he went to the second and said the same; and he answered, "I go, sir," but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?' They said, 'The first.' Jesus said to them,  'Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you'" (Matthew 21:28-31).

According to Jesusí parable, to repent is to make a decision to do the will of the Father.   

  

Have you repented of the sins of your past, i.e., decided to do the Fatherís will? 

  

If not, are you willing to repent now?

  

"Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:37, 38).

"But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:17, 18).

Have you been baptized (buried or immersed in water)?

  

If yes, please consider if it was for the purpose revealed in Scripture. Every religious act involves the heart (mind), including oneís motives and purposes.

"Beware of practicing your piety before men in order to be seen by them; for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 6:1).

A religious act must be done with the right motive or purpose to be acceptable to God. 

  

As we have seen, in valid, New Testament baptism, one is baptized in order to be saved, in order to get into Christ, and in order to receive the forgiveness of sins.

Have you been baptized for the purpose revealed in Scripture?  

 

Was I Immersed for the Purpose Revealed in Scripture?

If you believed you were saved before you were baptized, were you baptized in order to be saved? Yes  No (If there is a question about this matter, refer back to Your Religious History Profile).

If you were not baptized in order to be saved, were you baptized for the right purpose? 

   

If you were not baptized for the right purpose, was the immersion to which you submitted valid, New Testament baptism?  

   

"While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus. There he found some disciples.  And he said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said, 'No, we have never even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, 'Into what then were you baptized?' They said, 'Into Johnís baptism.'  And Paul said, 'John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.'  On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19:1-5).

When these people learned that the immersion to which they had submitted was not valid, they submitted to valid baptism. 

  

Since salvation is so important, should one be immersed again if there is any doubt about the validity of his or her baptism?  

  

 

"I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13).

"Not every one who says to me, ĎLord, Lord,í shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 7:21).

Consider what has just been studied. In light of this, do you know for sure that you are saved and that if you die today you will go to heaven?

  

 

"This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be made worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are sufferingósince indeed God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

If one does not obey Christ, he or she is in grave spiritual and eternal danger.  

  

 

HOW SOON SHOULD YOU GET INTO CHRIST?

"And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, every one whom the Lord our God calls to him.' And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation.' So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:38-41).

How soon were these people baptized?

    

 

"Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, 'See, here is water! What is to prevent my being baptized?' And Philip said, 'If you believe with all your heart, you may.' And he replied, 'I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.' And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:35-38).

 

How soon was the Ethiopian baptized? 

    

" . . . and brought them out and said, 'Men, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their wounds, and he was baptized at once, with all his family" (Acts 16:30-33).

How soon was the jailor baptized? 

    

When should you be baptized?

    

 

" . . . whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14).

If you postpone being baptized into Christ, do you know that you will have a future opportunity?  

    

"For he says, 'At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.' Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation"(2 Corinthians 6:2).

"And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on his name" (Acts 22:16).

Are you ready now to be baptized into Jesus Christ in order to have your sins washed away and be added to the Lordís church?

Yes   No

 

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Prepared by Tom McLemore, 2003.  Maintained by Houston Park Church of Christ. Copyright © 2000 by Houston Park Church of Christ   2 Crescent Hill Drive   Selma, Alabama 36701  334-874-7941.  All rights reserved. Revised: 29 Aug 2007