Gospel Declaration

When Jesus began his preaching ministry, fully aware of all that God had done throughout history to prepare for his coming, he declared: "The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15, NASB). Indifference to the saving initiative of God in history is not an option. It demands a personal response of faith. This is the same way the apostle Paul summarized his own message: "testifying both to Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).

To repent is to turn from sin to Christ. It involves understanding that I am guilty of sinning against God, and personally deciding to turn from rebellion to follow Christ. It is inseparable from saving faith - not a work of penance or human effort.

Faith is more than mere optimism or belief in certain historical facts concerning Christ. Even demons know the truth about God and his salvation. In contrast, genuine saving faith includes an element of personal trust in Jesus Christ to save me. There is a subjective confidence that Christ's perfect life and voluntary sacrifice are sufficient for the forgiveness of my sins and to secure my eternal acceptance by God.

Having personally embraced a new life of faith, I publicly declare my faith in Christ through baptism. The act of being plunged beneath the water and brought back up again pictures my personal union with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).While the physical act of baptism itself does not save, there is power in the gospel picture it presents to those who witness it. Submitting to the ordinance becomes an act of obedience to Christ. The New Testament practice of immersion was the very means of appealing to God through Christ for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21) and identifying with his redeeming actions buried to sin and raised to Christ's new life.

This new life makes a discernible difference in the way we respond to circumstances and relate to others. It's actually the fruit the Holy Spirit produces when he takes up residence in us. In short, the mark of a Christ-follower is a growing likeness to Jesus. The apostle John said, "This is how we know we are in him.Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:5-6).

    Point - September 2018

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