Let's Begin with a Premise... WE ARE SINNERS!
ROMANS 5:8 - "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (See Romans 5:19)
Notice Jesus' Comment:
MARK 2:17 - "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
His Message to SINNERS was...REPENTANCE
Listen to Jesus Again.
LUKE 24:45-47 - "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved 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 the nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
Two Things Would be Preached: Repentance and remission of sins:
- How? It would be preached in HIS NAME.
- Where? It would begin in JERUSALEM. (This was fulfilled in Acts 2:38)
God Demanded Repentance of Mankind! Repentance means: the "the act of turning about; an about face" (from sin to God).
MATTHEW 3:8 - "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."
MATTHEW 4:17 - "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
True repentance is the first step to God! Repentance prepares our heart to obey the Scriptures further. Many have assumed that repentance is itself the new birth experience. It is said that if we "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" we need not go any further, because the new birth is complete.
Let's examine this idea. First of all, it is true that believing on the Lord Jesus is the FIRST step toward salvation. As Paul told the Phillipian jailer, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31) .
Why is This True?
HEBREWS 11:6 - "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."
Let's Look at This Issue Even Closer:
ACTS 2:21 -"And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
MATTHEW 7:21 - "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven."
Jesus is very clear that church attendance and simple "easy believe-ism" is not the new birth experience! ("But he that doeth the will of my Father.") We are not all going to the same place, and we do not all believe the same thing concerning doctrine.
Some wish to downplay doctrine as unimportant, but the apostle Paul had a different view.
I TIMOTHY 4:16 - "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (See I Timothy 4:13, II Timothy 3:10, 16; Titus 2:1; and II John 1:10. )
If there is a God, then there has to be a truth! Therefore, we have the responsibility to diligently seek for that truth.
After repentance, the next step of obedience is >> Water Baptism.