The theme of our study is "Accepting Jesus". There are many errors taught concerning just what "accepting Jesus" actually involves, and in this study we will try to notice some of those errors and how they may be corrected. In the course of establishing this, we shall note 4 areas of study concerning the Christ and his system of religion as set forth in the Bible.
IN ORDER TO ACCEPT JESUS, WE MUST ACCEPT HIS DEITY.
The prophet Isaiah wrote, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). The name "Immanuel" was defined by Matthew (1:23) as "God with us". Jesus was God in human flesh! In explaining to the Pharisees his deity, Jesus said, "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David. He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord; how is he his son?" (Matthew 22:42-45). The point was that Christ was before David, and greater than David, indeed called by David "Lord". John 1:1-4 helps us to understand this point even more clearly: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." These words are totally consistent with the record Moses gave of the creation in Genesis when he used the Hebrew word "ELOHIM" for God. All Hebrew words ending in "im" are plural. Moses again records, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..." (Genesis 1:26). We know that Jesus was God, and with God, in the creation. This means that since he was before time, he is eternal. In verse 14 of the same chapter of John we read, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." Here we begin to see the plural nature of the Godhead, we see God the Father sending God the Son into this world. Jesus was man: "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14). To say that he was less than human, or more than human in this respect, is to misinterpret the idea of a sacrifice. A man who was familiar with our sufferings died a cruel death for us on Calvary. Jesus was God, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory" (I Timothy 3:16). There is no accepting him as a prophet only, or as a great religious teacher only, we must accept him as God in human flesh. Hear Paul: "Who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself..." (Philippians 2:6-8). Truly God, truly man.
IN ORDER TO ACCEPT JESUS, WE MUST ACCEPT HIS CHURCH, THE KINGDOM.
Early on in the ministry of our Lord, he began to point man toward the coming of his kingdom. Matthew records, "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). From these words we see that the coming of the kingdom of heaven was an event that was to be in the near future, as close as an object in hands reach. John the Baptist had been sent before Christ to ready the world for him and the advent of his kingdom, for we read of his mission: "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, Make his paths straight" (Matthew 3:1-3). We know that the church or kingdom had not been built when the events of Matthew 16:18-19 took place, for we read, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven..." From these verses we learn that the church and the kingdom are one and the same institution, that they were to be built sometime after these words were spoken, and that they were to be built by the Lord. We learn that the church (kingdom) was to be established in the lifetime of our Lord's apostles from Mark: "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power" (Mark 9:1). From Luke we learn, "Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem... And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high" (Luke 24:45-49). From these verses we learn that after the death of Christ and his resurrection, salvation would be preached in Jerusalem, among all nations, after they received "power". In Acts 1:8 the apostles were told, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you..." Acts 1:12 places the apostles in Jerusalem, Acts 2:1-4 has them receiving the Holy Ghost, verse 5 states that men of all nations were present, verse 38 has repentance and remission of sins being preached in his name. "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). "And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47). It is not enough to merely find a church, or the "church of our choice", but we must seek to find the church that Jesus built. The one he loved and purchased (Acts 20:28), the one he gave himself for (Ephesians 5:25), the one of which he is the savior (Ephesians 5:23).
IN ORDER TO ACCEPT JESUS, WE MUST ACCEPT HIS GOSPEL, THE WORD OF GOD.
Jesus brought with him a message, a set of clearly defined religious teachings. He left these for us to follow on the pages of the New Testament. It is his will that we respect him and his authority enough to do as we are commanded. Of the truth Jesus said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). From these words we see that if men are to be freed from their sins, it must be by the truth. But what is the truth? And, where is it to be found? Hear again the Lord, "Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth" (John 17:17). To accept him is to accept what he has said.
But there is more to be accepted than just the letters that are in red print in some copies of the New Testament, for the word of God did not only come from the lips of his "only begotten son". Before his crucifixion, Christ told the apostles, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26). The Holy Ghost brought to the apostles a full and perfect knowledge of the will of God, and they in turn wrote it down on the pages of the New Testament. So, if we accept Jesus we will accept the entire New Testament, for he gave it by the Holy Ghost. Paul discussed the principle of inspiration in II Timothy 3:16, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." VINE'S EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS defines this phrase as follows: "THEOPNEUSTOS, inspired by God (THEOS, God; PNEO, to breathe), is used in 2 Tim. 3:16, of the Scriptures as distinct from non-inspired writings" (p. 593). When the writers of the New Testament were writing, they were writing the words of God, breathed froth from the mouth of God.
Paul reminded the brethren from the region of Galatia that accepting the word of God was of the greatest importance, saying, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed..." (Galatians 1:6-8). They failed to continue walking in the Gospel and were therefore lost.
The young evangelist Timothy was instructed, "Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also" (II Timothy 2:1-2). It was important for this young man to lead people in the ways of Jesus, but in so doing he would also be leading them after Paul's teaching, for the two are totally consistent. Paul wrote, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Corinthians 11:1). When Paul preached, it carried the force of Jesus preaching, for Jesus had given him the words.
IN ORDER TO ACCEPT JESUS, WE MUST ACCEPT HIS TERMS OF SALVATION.
Christ set forth some specific terms that must be met in order for salvation to be had by an individual seeking it. The first of these terms, logically speaking, is the necessity of hearing the gospel. In Luke 8:18 Jesus said, "Take heed how ye hear..." It is of the greatest importance how we listen to the words of salvation, for "how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard" (Romans 10:14). How can we benefit from the gospel if we will not hear it?
Having heard the word, we then must choose to believe it. We know that if we reject it we cannot be saved, for Jesus said, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). Positively, Paul affirms "...with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Romans 10:10). How can we benefit from the gospel if we will not believe it?
Having heard and believed, one must then begin to amend his life based on the teachings of the gospel. This is known as repentance. Paul tells us that "...the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans 2:4). So repentance is the natural response of a sincere heart to the goodness of God. In II Corinthians 7:10 we are told, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." We should be sorry about our sins, but we will never be sorry about turning away from our sins in coming to the Lord. How can we benefit from the gospel if we will not repent as it commands?
Having heard, believed and repented, we are then to confess our faith in Christ. Paul wrote, "...with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). Before his immersion, the Eunuch said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God..." (Acts 8:37). John 12:42-43 tells of some who, even though they believed, would not confess the Lord and were lost. If we believe in him, how can we keep from confessing him?
Having heard, believed, repented and confessed, what does one lack? Notice that one believes "unto salvation", and confesses "unto salvation", and repents "to salvation"; but is baptized "into Christ". "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" (Romans 6:3). "For by one spirit were ye all baptized into one body" (I Corinthians 12:13). "For as many of you as have been baptized into Jesus Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). We enter Jesus Christ, thus salvation, when we have been obedient with respect to hearing, believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized. This is what Peter meant when he wrote, "The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us..." (I Peter 3:21). That grand crowd assembled on Pentecost of Acts 2 heard the same message, and we must do what they did to be saved today.
By Tim Smith, Enon Endeavor,
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