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God gave man the standard of holiness when He communicated the Ten Commandments to Moses in Exodus 20. You're probably familiar with at least some of these:
v3 “You shall have no other gods before Me." This means that no thing or person should ever be more important to us than God; this is idolatry.
v7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain." If you've ever used God's name irreverently, you are guilty of the sin of blasphemy.
v13 “You shall not murder." Jesus said, in Matthew 5:21-22, “You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be answerable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be answerable to the court; and whoever says to his brother, 'You good-for-nothing,’ shall be answerable to the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell." Unrighteous anger is enough to convict us under God's law.
v14 “You shall not commit adultery." Jesus said, in Matthew 5:27-28, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." God's standard of holiness includes not just our actions, but our very thoughts!
v15 “You shall not steal." Have you ever taken anything that belonged to another person, even if it was small?
v16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor." Have you ever lied - even a small, "white" lie?
Just by looking at six of the ten commandments, it is clear that each person stands before God in a guilty state. In fact, Romans 3:23 says, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." In a court of law, a good judge would sentence the guilty defendant appropriately; we wouldn't think very highly of a judge who lets a defendant go free that is deserving of punishment. Because we have violated the law of an eternal God, and we possess an eternal soul, the punishment we deserve is also eternal. Romans 6:23 says, "For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
God gave us the Law to show us our own sin; but the Good News is that He also provided His innocent Son, Jesus, to take the punishment we each deserve. By Jesus' dying a criminal's death on a Roman execution stake (the cross), he paid the penalty so the case against us can be legally dismissed. Romans 5:8 tells us, "For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." There is nothing we can do to earn our own salvation. Ephesians 2:8-9 tell us further, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast." God poured out his wrath on His own innocent Son to allow sinful man to be brought into a right relationship with Him. Furthermore, Jesus rose from the grave three days later, giving believers hope that they, too, will be raised to eternal life. In 1 Corinthians 15:20, the Apostle Paul affirms this, saying, "But the fact is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man (Adam) death came, by a man (Jesus) also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive." We can be confident in this, as the Apostle John says in 1 John 5:13, "you may know [emphasis added] that you have eternal life."
Once we recognize our sinful condition, we "repent," which means to turn from evil and turn to God. It represents a change of mind. The things we pursued that oppose God's ways must be left behind if we're to pursue a relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 lays this out plainly for us, saying, "...do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor those habitually drunk, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were [emphasis added] some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God." You may have been involved in any of the sins on that list, but Jesus died to save you from those lifestyles and attitudes! While we can never be sinless, repentance means that you commit to no longer living in habitual sin.
Most people are familiar with John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life." Going on to verses 3:17-18, we learn, "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. The one who believes in Him is not judged; the one who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God." These verses record a conversation Jesus was having with a religious man by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus was a Pharisee, one of the religious leaders who was known for meticulously observing the Law. Jesus was telling Nicodemus that, as religious as he was, he was missing something. Even Nicodemus, a good man, was not good enough on his own to get to heaven - he needed to place his trust in Jesus or face God's judgment. When the Apostle Peter was asked how to be saved, he replied, in Acts 16:31, "“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved..." This is more than believing that Jesus lived historically or that he was a good teacher. This is placing your trust in him for salvation, just as you would place your trust in a parachute if you were going to jump out of an airplane.
Tell someone about the decision you've made to follow Jesus! In his letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul says in chapter 10:9-10, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation." This is not a confession of sin, but to tell others that you believe that, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," as Paul summarized the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. If you are not currently part of a church, please contact us. It would be an honor to help you get started in your new walk with Christ!
Fellowship with other believers is an important part of the Christian life. Paul uses the metaphor of the body in 1 Corinthians 12:12, saying, "For just as the body is one and yet has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ." Each believer is a valuable part of the body of Christ. Most people think of the church as a building or organization, but the Greek word in the New Testament translated "church" means, "the called out ones." The church is actually the people that assemble together to worship God, to learn more about Him through His Word, and to minister to each other. Just as a body needs all its parts to function properly, each Christian is necessary to the functioning of the church. If you're in the Jamestown, KY area, please consider visiting us.
We grow in our relationship with God as we spend time in His Word and in prayer. Start with the Gospel of John in the New Testament to learn more about Jesus, then read Paul's letters, the epistles, to learn how to live out your faith practically.
Prayer is simply having a conversation with God. Even Jesus invested his time in prayer, communing with his heavenly Father. There are a number of scriptures that record this, but Mark 1:35 points out, "...in the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and prayed there for a time." Prayer was a priority for Jesus.
While some churches baptize infants, the examples of water baptism recorded for us in the New Testament refer to individuals that have the ability to confess their own belief in the Gospel, indicating that they were old enough to make this decision themselves. While baptism does not save a person, it is an external symbol of the cleansing we've already experienced in our hearts and lives. Baptism serves as a public profession of your faith in Christ. Feel free to contact us with any questions; we can help you understand, from the scriptures, why believer's baptism is something you should consider, even if you were baptized as a baby.