30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
May 28, 2000
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth?" I'm Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ, thanking you for tuning in this morning to WAVG radio to listen to a message of God. Before we get to our lesson of the hour entitled "Salvation by Repentance and Baptism," I want to let everyone of you in our listening audience to know about our Vacation Bible School that will be held at the Clarksville church of Christ on July 17-21 this year. We want to let you know about our Bible School early this year so that you can make plans early for you and your children to be able to attend this year's Bible school. Our Bible school will be held each night from 7:30-8:30 PM with this year's them being "How Shall the Young Secure Their Hearts?" This promises to be one of the best Vacation Bible Schools ever and we want you to plan on attending. You can enroll your children in one of two ways. If you have access to the internet you can enroll your children on-line by going to our WEB Site at www.ClarksvillechurchofChrist.org and follow the directions to enroll your children. You may also call 944-2305 and leave your name and phone number and we will return your call to get the necessary enrollment information. We look forward to seeing you and your children at VBS this year! At this time I want to encourage you to get your Bible, pen, and piece of paper out and be ready to write the scriptures down and turn to them as the truth of God's word is presented this morning. How many times has it been that you have heard something discussed in matters of religion and wished that you had a pencil handy to write down that passage of scripture or that particular thought? I want to give you a chance right now to get your pencil and paper ready so that you can be prepared to write these verses down so that you can do some serious study at a later date. Jesus said: "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). As we have discussed on this program before, many false prophets are out there trying to deceive innocent people into believing a lie. I want to make sure that I am only presenting the truth of God's Word and I want you to test my words to make sure that I am not putting forth a doctrine that is false but rather is true. I want to encourage you this day to learn the truth. Jesus said plainly in John 8:32: "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Every sincere, religious person will want to learn the truth in order to make sure that his call and election is sure (2 Pet 1:10).
Our study this morning is a continuation of the lesson that I presented last Sunday morning on the general theme "The Scheme of Redemption." I spoke last week on the subject of "Salvation by Grace and Faith." This morning we shall study the vital lessons of "Salvation by Repentance and Baptism."
To begin our study this morning let's first talk about the repentance aspect of our salvation. Repentance of sin has, in every age and dispensation, been a condition of pardon or forgiveness. God has never saved a sinner without repentance and he could not if he would. In the very nature of conversion, repentance is required; and no sinner can turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God without repenting.
What is repentance? The word "repentance" means, "a change of mind." Repentance, therefore, means changing one's attitude toward sin. A sinner turns from sin because he has changed his mind about it. He once loved sin, now he hates it; he once delighted in sin, now he abhors it; he once found pleasure in sin, now he finds pain in it. He once believed that sin was good for him; he now sees that sin degrades, demoralizes, and destroys him. Instead of finding peace and joy in sin, he learns, from bitter experience, that sin brings shame, remorse, a defiled conscience, a polluted soul, and an impure heart. Instead of elevating him, sin degrades him; instead of making him better, it makes him worse; and instead of satisfying him, sin leaves him completely unsatisfied and dissatisfied. He longs for something better, therefore he repents and turns completely away from sin. Repentance is, then, a sorrow for, and abhorrence of sin that brings about such a change of mind that it leads the sinner to turn away from sin with all his heart.
There are many examples in the Bible which illustrate the meaning of repentance. In Matthew 12:41, Jesus said, "The men of Nineveh.... repented at the preaching of Jonah." Notice, if you will in the book of Jonah, chapter three, verses eight through 10, what is said: "But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it." Here we find that the people of Nineveh turned from their sins and evil ways. Repentance, therefore, was a change of mind that led them to turn from their sins. In Matthew 21:28-29, Jesus gave the parable of the two sons. "A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first and said, Son go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented and went." This man repented because he changed his mind and this led him to turn from his disobedient ways. The story of the Prodigal son in Luke 15 is a good illustration of repentance. This young man left his father's house, departed into a far country and there wasted his substance in riotous living. He lived in sin and became steeped in iniquity. Later, he came to himself, confessed his sins, turned from them, and went back home to his father, where he received mercy and pardon.
Repentance has been preached to the world in every dispensation. This was the universal message of the Old Testament prophets. God raised these men up in times of great apostasy and their chief work was in turning people from sin unto righteousness, from Satan unto God. A casual study of the prophets, like Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Hosea, Micah, Jonah, and many others, reveals that repentance was the main burden of their preaching because sin was the main burden of the people.
When we come to the New Testament, we find Repentance preached on almost every page. When John, the forerunner of Jesus, began his ministry, he began by preaching, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2). And when the Pharisees came to receive his baptism, John refused to baptize them until they had brought forth fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:7-8). When Jesus began his personal ministry He, "began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). Later He said, "for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13). On another occasion he laid down these uncompromising words, "except you repent, you shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). These words still ring loud and clear down through the centuries as the Lord's ultimatum to a lost and sinful world.
When Jesus sent the twelve apostles out to preach during His personal ministry, it is said in Mark 6:12, "And they went out, and preached that men should repent." When Jesus gave the Great Commission He not only commanded Faith and Baptism as conditions of pardon, but He also predicated salvation on Repentance. In Luke 24:47, He said, "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." When the gospel was preached for the first time in Acts 2, many sinners were convicted of sin and the apostle Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). A few days later, Peter preached to another group of sinners and said, "Repent and be converted, that you sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19), and about five thousand obeyed. On another occasion, Peter encountered an erring child of God. This man had believed and had been baptized. However, he fell into sin and was in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity. Peter said to him, "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee" (Acts 8:22). Thus we see that repentance has always been a condition of forgiveness, both to the alien and to the erring child of God.
Repentance stands out in the preaching of the apostle Paul. When preaching to idolaters in Athens he said, "The times of this ignorance God overlooked; but now he commands all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30). Later when he preached that matchless sermon to King Agrippa, he said that sinners "should repent and turn to God, and do works worthy for repentance" (Acts 26:20). When Jesus addressed the churches of Asia, He said, "Repent; or else I will come quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" (Revelation 2:16), and he later said to them,"be zealous therefore, and repent" (Revelation 3:19).
In all these passages of scripture I hope that you are able to clearly see that repentance is important in conversion. It is commanded of God; we will perish without repentance; we cannot have remission of sins without it; nor can we live the life of a Christian without daily repenting of our sins. One of the most severe "woes" ever pronounced by our Lord was upon those who refused to repent. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not; Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" (Matthew 11:20- 21). Christ is still pronouncing "woes" upon those who refuse to repent, and He will not save them until they repent!
Perhaps the most difficult task of a preacher is to persuade sinners to repent. It is not hard to convince sinners of the truth and make believers of them, nor is it hard to convince an honest person that they must be baptized for the remission of sins. The hardest job is to bring about such a conviction of sin as will lead sinners to turn from it and to turn to Christ for salvation. The kind of preaching greatly needed today is not just that which convinces the mind of doctrinal truth, but that which convicts the heart of sin and creates within the soul of the sinner a great desire for salvation. Let us as preachers, like the prophets of old, preach against sin in all of its forms, denounce it, rebuke it, expose it, and condemn it until sinners become so completely and thoroughly convicted of sin that they will come to the foot of the cross and there, in deep penitence and contrition of the soul, receive mercy and pardon!
What are the blessings of repentance? One of the great blessings is the remission of sins. "Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins." Sin is a load that needs lifting; it is a guilt that needs pardoning; it is a barrier that needs removing; it is a defilement that needs cleansing; it is a blot that needs erasing; it is a debt that needs canceling; it is a bond that needs breaking; and it is a power that needs destroying. But this cannot be done until sinners are willing to repent. But once they repent, having believed, and obey the Lord`s commandments, sin, in all its forms, will be forgiven. The heavy burden will be lifted from their soul. The blood of Christ will cleanse.
Another blessing which repentance brings is that of joy. The repentant sinner not only rejoices in his new found salvation, but all of heaven rejoices also. In Luke 15, Jesus pictures the joy in heaven when sinners repent. When the shepherd found the lost sheep, he brought it home rejoicing. Jesus said, "likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more that over ninety nine just persons, who need no repentance." When the woman found the lost coin, she called her friends to rejoice with her. Jesus said, "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents." When the lost son come to himself, confessed his sin and returned to his father's home to receive mercy and pardon, we see the joy of heaven pictured in the joy of the father, who so gladly received him back home, and rejoiced that his son, once dead, was alive again, and though lost, was now found.
We urge you, my friends in this listening audience, to repent of all your sins, obey the gospel and be saved today. It will make you happy, it will make those who are God's children happy, and, it will make God, Christ, and all the angels in heaven rejoice. God earnestly desires you to be saved. He does not desire you to be lost. Peter stated, "The Lord....is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). Why not believe in Christ Jesus as the Son of God, repent of your sins, be baptized for the remission of your sins, and be saved?
Now, let's go on to the second part of today's lesson on God's scheme of redemption and that is Baptism. Baptism, as each one of you knows, is a very controversial subject in the religious world. There is probably no other Bible theme over which there has been so much disagreement. However, this fact should not discourage us from a study of the matter. Rather, it should encourage us to search the scriptures diligently, and find out just what is taught concerning baptism. As in all other religious matters, the Bible is the standard of authority; and in this study today we wish to determine just what the Bible says, nothing more nor nothing less. It matters not what some church has declared as dogma; what some council has decreed; what some creed teaches; or what some bishop or preacher may have said. Churches, councils, creeds, and bishops have no authority in religious matters; and since they have often proved to be unscriptural, contradictory, and unreliable in their teaching, it behooves us to disregard them and seek the Bible answer to all of our questions. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the only authority in religion. We can know what is right and wrong in all matters of religion by simply reading the Bible to find what is said. Much of the controversy on the subject of baptism is the result of following tradition, creeds, and human opinions rather than the authoritative word of God. Let us, then, ask ourselves this question, "What does the Bible teach on the subject of baptism?" Do you have your Bibles open, your pencil or pen ready, and something upon which to write? Please, study along with us. If you do not agree, please let us know. You will be our friend indeed, if you are able to point out some point wherein we have erred.
The Bible teaches that baptism is a command of god which mankind must obey. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." So we see that Jesus commanded the apostles to baptize those whom they taught. In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus said, "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believes not shall be damned." In this familiar passage, Jesus connects the preaching of the gospel with faith and baptism and no one can preach the gospel acceptably who does not urge sinners to be baptized. In Acts chapter 2, Peter, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). So we learn that the Holy Spirit commanded penitent believers to be baptized. When Peter preached the gospel to the house of Cornelius "he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:48). To deny, then, that baptism is a command of God is to deny the plain statement of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). If we truly love the Lord, we will obey the command to be baptized as well as all other commands. A refusal to be baptized, on the part of the sinner, shows that he neither loves Christ nor believes in Him.
The Bible also gives an answer to the question, "Who can receive baptism?" This phase of our subject is surrounded in controversy as there are some who teach infant baptism, yet, friends, there is absolutely no example of infant baptism in the Bible; nor is there a single verse that teaches such. History reveals that infant baptism was introduced long after the Bible was written. The Bible clearly reveals who is an acceptable candidate of baptism. Before one is baptized, one must be taught the gospel. "Go teach all nations, baptizing them" said Jesus. Infants are not subjects of baptism because the gospel cannot be taught to them. One is an acceptable candidate for baptism who has believed in Jesus Christ. "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved,"so states our Lord. Faith always, ALWAYS, precedes baptism. When the eunuch desired baptism, Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart you may: and he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37). Upon this confession of his faith Philip baptized him. Only believers can be baptized scripturally because baptism is an act of faith that demonstrates trust in the crucified Christ. As pointed out earlier in our lesson this morning, one must repent before being baptized. Of what can an infant repent; having committed no sin? Who can be scripturally baptized? One who has been taught, becomes a believer and repents.
The Bible also gives an answer to the question, "How is baptism administered?" Some people say sprinkling and/or pouring are acceptable modes of baptism. While others believe immersion is the only scriptural act. There is no example of sprinkling or pouring water over another for baptism in the Bible; nor is there any scripture which authorizes such a practice. Immersion is the only scriptural act of baptism. The word "baptize" means "to immerse," "to submerge," "to plunge," "to dip." It NEVER means sprinkling or pouring. When Jesus was baptized, he came to the Jordan River, he was baptized, and he came up out of the water (Matthew 3:13-17). This plainly shows that Jesus was immersed and that baptism, in Christ's day, was a burial of the whole body beneath the water. When Philip baptized the Ethiopian nobleman, they both went down into the water, he baptized him and they both came up out of the water (Acts 8:38-39). This proves that preachers, who were guided by the Holy Spirit, always administered baptism by immersion. In Romans 6:4, Paul says, "We are buried with him by baptism into death." So, baptism is a burial, an immersion. He goes on in these verses to show that baptism pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Only immersion could do this; sprinkling could never picture a burial and resurrection. What is the action of baptism? It is a burial. It requires water; much water (John 3:23); coming to the water (Acts 8:36); going into the water (Acts 8:38); being buried beneath the water (Colossians 2:12); being raised (Romans 6:4); and coming up out of the water (Mark 1:10).
The Bible, furthermore, gives an answer to the question, "Why should one be baptized?" Some say that baptism is non-essential and that we can be saved as well without it, as with it. Others teach that baptism is nothing more than a religious ritual, an outward sign of an inward grace. Others say that it is administered to people who are already saved in order that they might be brought into the church. What does the Bible say on the design of baptism? My friends, the Bible teaches that baptism is a condition of salvation. One cannot be saved without being immersed in water for the remission of sins. In Mark 16:16, Jesus says, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." That should settle the matter. He did not say, "He that believes and is saved should be baptized." He did not say, "He that believes and is not baptized shall be saved." In 1 Peter 3:21, Peter said, "The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us." Baptism is always mentioned before salvation; it is never mentioned after salvation. In Acts 2:38, Peter said, "Repent and be baptized.. for the remission of sins." Not because our sins are already remitted, but, as one translation states it, "in order to have your sins forgiven." Surely, the sinner does not receive remission of sins until he is baptized! When Ananias encountered the believing, penitent Saul of Tarsus, he said, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16). So, baptism is connected with the washing away of sins and the calling on the name of the Lord. In Galatians 3:26-27, Paul says, "For you are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." So baptism, upon a confession of our faith, puts one into Christ. Salvation and all spiritual blessings are in Christ, and, since baptism puts one into Christ, those blessings are not ours until we are baptized. Listen to Paul again in Romans 6:3-4, "Know you not, that so many of us as were baptized in Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? There we are buried with him by baptism into death: That like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." This important passage teaches: First, that we are baptized into Jesus Christ. Second, we are baptized into the death of Christ. It is the death of Christ which saves, but baptism relates to that death, and puts us into its benefits. In other words, baptism, by faith, brings us to the blood of Christ. When the sinner comes demanding baptism, he is trusting Christ, not his own works; the blood, and not the water. Baptism, like faith, saves him because it brings him to that which does save, the blood of Christ. Third, this passage teaches that when we are raised from the grave of baptism, we are raised to "walk in newness of life." The new life begins when we are baptized, not before. Those who teach that it begins before baptism are surely wrong, if these scriptures mean anything at all.
Briefly reviewing, we have learned that baptism is a command of God. We have learned that it is administered only to believers who have repented. We have learned that it is administered only by immersion, and that this baptism is a condition of salvation with which we must comply if we want to have the remission of our sins and enjoy the newness of life that is found only in Christ Jesus.
Are you a Christian? Have you put your faith in the Christ of Calvary? Have you repented of all your past sins? Have you confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior? Have you been baptized (immersed) for the remission of sins? If not, we earnestly plead with you to do this and be saved by the blood of Christ. Begin living for Christ and seeking to lead others to obey Him in like manner. Accept His grace and mercy. Begin that life that will prepare you to be with Him forever and ever when this life is over.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"