By John Steele Gordon Christmas famously "comes but once a year." In fact, however, it comes twice. The Christmas of the Nativity, the manger and Christ child, the wise men and the star of Bethlehem, "Silent Night" and "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" is one holiday. The Christmas of parties, Santa Claus, evergreens, presents, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" and "Jingle Bells" is quite another.
The end of this offers nothing new. It is sadly devoid of quick fixes or startling new discoveries. There is none of that.
The repair for hardened hearts has already been discussed along with the gospel plan of salvation in the previous studies in this set (as it is in many of the other posts here). The process to stop a soul from slipping away is exactly the same today as it was when it was first offered: hear the Word of God, believe what you read or hear, repent of your trespasses against God and his Word, confess that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior; and be immersed into Christ to be a Christian and God’s servant.
The formula has not changed. From the beginning of time it was to heed the word of God’s messengers. When Israel was around it was to heed the Law of Moses. Now it is to be “of Christ.” So the one blindingly obvious conclusion is that there is no obvious conclusion. It is the exact same requirement – only the few particulars differ. And it is just as it was always given attested by signs and wonders sent from heaven long ago.
So it isn’t any different now than it was for Pharaoh or Israel. Today in order to be pleasing to God you must accept his invitation and come to Jesus. It is ours to accept or to reject.
The Devil is a very busy fellow. And “but” is the biggest word in the English language – it negates everything found in front of it. “I think it is important, but I don’t think it’s that important.” “I think that’s what it says, but I don’t think it applies to me today.” “I used to think that was true; but now I believe you don’t have to take it so literally.” “I believe the denominations are all ‘Christians’ too; they just have a different viewpoint on some things.”
Have you heard phrases like these or others applying the same rationality? You won’t find a word of support for any of this in the Bible.
God has said quite a bit about different ideas and about alternate paths and renderings. His take is that none of that will work out for anybody. He laid out one plan for the rest of time. His chosen heir executed it. And his Spirit confirmed it with signs and wonders.
We need to get our eyes adjusted to the light. It’s dark out there. People will be lost for evermore and gone to torment if we sit around and do nothing. And I have demonstrated that the scriptures show that doing nothing is just as dangerous as doing something contrary. God has said that he does not change. He is the one constant in the universe. We made all those other things up ourselves.
The preacher taught the Eunuch that part and parcel to teaching Jesus is teaching that “Jesus is the Son of God.” And part and parcel of teaching that Jesus is the Son of God was teaching baptism is immersion in water. That is a conclusion many have missed in the reading. But baptism along with the proper attitude puts us in Christ and when coupled with a pure heart acts to “wash away our sins,” exactly as was later said to Paul.
So that there may not be among you man or woman or family or tribe, whose heart turns away today from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations, and that there may not be among you a root bearing bitterness or wormwood; and so it may not happen, when he hears the words of this curse that he blesses himself in his heart, saying, “I shall have peace, even though I walk in the imagination of my heart” as though the drunkard could be included with the sober.
(Deuteronomy 29: 18, 19)
Those who call on the name of Christ need to get out of the imagination business. Only the obedient will ever walk with God. The rest’s end will be like those ancient Egyptians we discussed.
Our duty is to follow the Word of God and to accept it just exactly as it is laid out. Or we will receive the reward for our wrong choices. The apostles wrote that there are no private interpretations. So we need to heat soak in the scriptures until all of the things that cause us to look away are gone from our minds and lives. We need to be Christians and Christians only – there is no alternate group or name found anywhere in God’s Word. There is no other plan. Once we get there we need to share it and tell anyone who seeks an answer about the truth of the Word of God and about salvation in Jesus Christ where all the answers are found. “It is the gift of God.”
I cannot guarantee that my house or my friends will follow the Lord God like Joshua said his would; but I will never know without doing the correct things and doing the things Jesus said to do. And while there is daylight and while we still have time we ought to get busy doing what God told us. The clock has not stopped ticking yet, but when it does it will be too late to start into anything at all.
Once again, we need to follow the Word of God. We need dedication and perseverance. We need to study the Bible to the exclusion of some wasteful pastimes until we all have it lodged firmly in our minds. Then we ought to set out with hammer and chisel in hand to loosen up some hearts. We may need to start with the one beating in our own ears. After we get that taken care of we can dedicate ourselves to chipping away at someone else’s hardened heart before it is everlastingly too late.
If you are not a Christian, you need to come to Jesus just like that jailer, those Corinthians, or the business woman Lydia did so long ago. Don’t wait until the water returns into its place. Why not get busy and follow the example of that man in that chariot? He learned the truth by reading in the OT and then asked the teacher a few simple questions; and you can do the same thing now. Once he got the correct answers he did what he had been told. Confessing Jesus as the Son of God he was immersed in water right away and “went on his way rejoicing.” Seek out the Christians nearby, who are ready to hear your needs, to hear your confession and to baptize you into Christ, if you are ready and willing. The Bible will get you the rest of the way.
So, what are you waiting for? Get up and be immersed right now, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.