WHAT MUST ONE UNDERSTAND IN ORDER TO BECOME A CHILD OF GOD?

by Garland M. Robinson

        1.
        One must understand God exists. "Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture" (Psalm 100:3). There is "One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all" (Ephesians 4:6). "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all" (1 Chronicles 29:11). "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! ... For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever" (Romans 11:33,36). "For the LORD is a great God" (Psalm 95:3).
        One must understand sin is a violation of God's Will. "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). "...For where no law is, there is no transgression" (Romans 4:15; cf. 5:13). "All unrighteousness is sin..." (1 John 5:17).
        One must understand sin separates one from God. No one is exempt from sin. "There is none righteous, no, not one. ... For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23,10). "The LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear" (Isaiah 59:1-2). Before becoming a child of God, one is "...dead in trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1). Sin defiles a person (Mark 7:20-23). When one turns from what is right and commits that which is wrong, he will pay for his evil, if not in this life, in the judgment to come (Ezekiel 18:26-30).
        God desires that all men everywhere turn from their evil so they will not have to suffer for it. "...Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die? ...For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, ...wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye" (Ezekiel 18:30-32).

        2.
        One must understand that if he dies separated from God (because of his sins) he looses his soul for eternity in hell. "For the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). The death spoken of here is spiritual death eternal separation from God. To be separated from God means separation from everything that is good, true and holy. "...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all" (1 John 1:5). Heaven is a pure place where only righteousness dwells. "Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie" (Revelation 22:14-15).
        Eternal separation from God occurs when one dies and leaves life on this earth. No provision has been made by God to be saved from sins after we die. "Woe unto the wicked! it shall be ill with him: for the reward of his hands shall be given him" (Isaiah 3:11). "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. ...the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him" (Ezekiel 18:20).
        Those who sin and die without forgiveness will perish in utter destruction (Luke 13:3,5). "...He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36,18). Sinners shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The unforgiven "...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone..." (Revelation 21:8).
        Though sinners will perish, there is continual consciousness of suffering, pain and agony. Jesus talked about those who "...go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44). Hell is an everlasting place of torment. Jesus said, "...depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: ...these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal" (Matthew 25:41,46; Luke 16:23).
        Few are those who see the danger and approaching destruction. Many laugh and scorn. Don't be among that number. Jesus died and shed his blood for you (Matthew 26:28). Without your obedience, you will perish in a devil's hell.

        3.
        One must understand that only in Jesus Christ can one have forgiveness (salvation) from sins and peace with God. The religions of the world think there are many saviors. But salvation is found in only one Jesus the Christ, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16). Jesus plainly said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: and no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6).
        When Peter and John were being examined for healing the lame man at the gate of the temple, they said, "Be it known unto you all...that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead... This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12).
        Christ died on a cross and shed his precious blood in order to obtain the forgiveness of sins for all humanity (Matthew 26:28). "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. ... But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life" (Romans 5:6-10,1-2). "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
        Only Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Jesus said, "...if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). God made Jesus, Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36) and appointed Him judge of the living and dead (Acts 10:42; John 5:22). There is no other foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11). "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all..." (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
        Do you believe? Don't let life slip by without obeying the Savior, Jesus the Christ. There's no salvation without it (Matthew 7:21-23).

        4.
        One must understand he becomes part of a body of people who are separate and distinct from the world. God has always demanded his people be separate from the world. To Israel God said, "I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people" (Leviticus 20:24). In the New Testament, we read, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you" (2 Corinthians 6:17).
        Peter, on the first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus (the day the church of Christ began), preached the gospel for the first time. Some desired to know what to do to be forgiven of their sins. The Lord's answer was, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38). "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. ...And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:40,41,47).
        There is only one body to which the Lord adds the saved (Ephesians 4:4; 2:16; Romans 12:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13,20). The one body is His church, not a denomination of men (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18). The body of the saved is known as the church of Christ (Romans 16:16). The Lord's church is the "called out" those who have been called out of the world to live a separate life unto God. For the Lord "...hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13). This passage also reveals that the body of saved, the church, is also called the "kingdom." Jesus used the words "kingdom" and "church" interchangeably in Matthew 16:18- 19.
        Jesus is the Savior of his body, the church, the kingdom. "For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). Jesus will only save those in His body. Are you in His body the church? You enter the body by believing, repenting, confessing Christ and being baptized into his body (1 Corinthians 12:13).

        5.
        One must understand the Lord, Jesus the Christ, has one church (body). This is plainly stated in Ephesians 4:4, "There is one body." This does not mean there are two, three or 300. There is one. The one body is the church, the one church is the body. The "body" and the "church" are used interchangeably in Ephesians 1:22-23 and Colossians 1:18 "and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body...." "And he is the head of the body, the church...."
        Jesus promised to build his church in Matthew 16:18. "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." He never promised to build "churches" (plural). He never promised there would be many churches so men could pick and choose what they wanted. The Lord did not provide people with a smorgasbord religion where you go through the phone book or drive down the road and choose what you want.
        After the first century A.D., hundreds of religious groups and denominations have been started and maintained by men. However, none of them were started by Christ. The Lord's church began on Pentecost when the apostles preached the gospel for the first time (Acts 2:1-42). On that first day, about 3,000 people repented of their sins, were immersed in water (baptized) and then added by the Lord to his church (Acts 2:41). The Lord's church that began that day is the same church that exists now. It is called the "church of Christ" (Romans 16:16) and the "church of God" (1 Corinthians 1:2).
        Men and women everywhere are either members of the Lord's church or they are not they are either saved or lost. To be added by the Lord to his church, one must obey the will of Christ. When those in Acts 2 asked what to do to be saved, they were told to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins..." (v.38). Verse 41 says about 3,000 did that and were added by the Lord to his church.
        Those in the Lord's church will be saved while those not in the Lord's church will be lost. Jesus is the savior of the body (Ephesians 5:23). He will not save those outside his body.
        Friend, are you in the body of Christ?

        6.
        One must understand the Lord adds the saved to his church. This point is made very clear in the Bible. When the gospel was preached for the first time on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, we read: "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls." Those who repented and were baptized (verse 38) did not "join" the church, they were added to the church. "And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women" (Acts 5:14). Who added them? Acts 2:47 tells us, "Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved."
        Among denominational churches we find where people "join" a denomination or are "voted on" in order to become a member of a denomination. Such a practice is foreign to the scriptures. There were never any votes taken as to who could be a member of the church and who could not. That places the power of salvation in the hands of men instead of the hands of God. What if you desperately wanted to be saved but men did not vote you in? I want to be with God, not men. The Bible says the Lord does the adding, not men.
        The "body" to which the saved are added by the Lord is his glorious church. The body and the church are one and the same (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22-23). It is a spiritual body/church. Our conversation (citizenship, commonwealth) is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). Jesus told Pilate His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36). The words kingdom, church and body all describe the same thing. They simply identify different aspects of the Lord's spiritual body the church. It is to this body that the Lord adds those who are obedient to His Word.
        Won't you accept God's Word and obey it today? You cannot save yourself following man's ways. You cannot "join" a denomination and be saved. Salvation is found only in the Lord's church for he will save it and no other. "...Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). The Lord will add you to his saved body if you: Believe (John 8:24), repent (Luke 13:3), confess him (Matthew 10:32) and are baptized (Mark 16:16). This is the Lord's way to be saved and added to his body!

        7.
        One must understand that BELIEF in Jesus is essential to become a child of God. There are a number of things that one must believe about Jesus.
        One must believe that "Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God" (John 20:31), "Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11), "the Christ of God" (Luke 9:20), "the Messias, which is...the Christ" (John 1:41), "indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world" (John 4:42), "this is the Christ" (John 7:41), "God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:36), "the Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 11:17), "Christ Jesus" (Acts 19:4), "his son Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 1:3).
        One cannot be saved without faith in Jesus the Christ. Jesus said, "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:18). "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). It can't be any plainer than that! No salvation is found in Mohammed, Buddha, Brahman, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, or any other.
        Heaven says, "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" (Hebrews 11:6). The jailor in Philippi was told that if he wanted to be saved he had to believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). Jesus said, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 16:16).
        Belief (faith) in Jesus is essential in order to be saved, but "faith alone" will not save. The one who tells you it will is telling you a lie. James 2:17-26 disclaims this fatal error. John 12:42 shows one can believe without enjoying God's pleasure. There's far more to being saved than believing in Jesus. Is your belief alive or dead? The difference between the two is heaven or hell.

        8.
        One must understand that REPENTANCE of one's sins is essential to become a child of God. Without a person repenting of their sins, there is no forgiveness of sins. Jesus said, "...except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). It could not be any plainer! This also shows the foolishness of the doctrine of "faith only." If "faith only" were true, then repentance would be excluded. But, Jesus most assuredly included it in his plan of salvation.
        The word repent means "to think differently or afterwards, i.e., reconsider, to change one's mind, to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins." Repentance is in the mind. It involves a "change of mind." When one changes their mind, it shows itself in a change of action or life.
        To simply change one's action is not repentance. For example, a thief may be placed behind bars which obviously means his action has changed (he no longer steals). But, when released, he continues stealing. However, if a thief changes his mind toward stealing, he will not steal, whether he is placed behind bars or not.
        The message of John, Jesus and the apostles was one of repentance. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). "...I am... come to call...sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13). "And they went out, and preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12). "I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:10). "Then 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). "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..." (Acts 3:19). "God...commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). "...The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom. 2:4).
        Unless a person humbles himself before God and repents of every sin in his life, he cannot be forgiven of his sins. Repentance, like water baptism, always comes before forgiveness of sins. Acts 2:38 is so plain that even a child can understand it.

        9.
        One must understand that CONFESSION of faith in Jesus as the Christ, the savior of the world, the Son of God, is essential to become a child of God. There is no salvation in any other name. "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Jesus plainly said, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven" (Matthew 10:32-33). "For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God" (Romans 14:11).
        The apostle Paul reminded the brethren in Rome "that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed" (Romans 10:9-11).
        The man from Ethiopia understood the teaching of Philip about forgiveness of sins and desired to be baptized to receive forgiveness. "And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God" (Acts 8:37). He immediately was then baptized.
        "Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God" (1 John 4:15). "For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist" (2 John 1:7). "Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (John 12:42-43).
        Though confession of faith in Christ is essential, it is not all that is required. Unless it is preceded by faith and repentance and followed by water Baptism, it is simply "words in the air." Do you believe? Will you publicly confess Christ?

        10.
        One must understand that WATER BAPTISM is essential in order to become a child of God.
        Baptism is immersion in water. That is what the word "baptism" means. Bible baptism is a "burial," a "planting" (Colossians 2:12; Romans 6:4,5). Sprinkling and pouring are not baptism. Sprinkling and pouring are from the mind of men, not God. Men have always substituted their own plan in place of God's plan. Have you or your church substituted sprinkling for baptism?
        Baptism puts one INTO Christ. "For as many of you as have been baptized INTO Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Salvation is found IN Christ (2 Timothy 2:10), not OUT of Christ. Therefore, if you are not IN Christ, you are lost in your sins.
        Baptism puts one INTO the death of Christ where contact is made with His saving blood. "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death" (Romans 6:3)? We have redemption through His blood (Eph. 1:7).
        Baptism is for the REMISSION (forgiveness) of sins. This is made clear in Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins...." One's sins are destroyed in baptism (Romans 6:6). We are made free from sins in baptism (Romans 6:18). This is in perfect accord with the whole New Testament. The baptism of John the Immerser was "for the remission of sins" (Mark 1:4). Whenever one was questioned regarding salvation, baptism was always the point referred to. This is true in Romans 6:1-18 and Acts 19:1-5. So many do not like God's plan and go to great lengths to circumvent it. Nonetheless, what Jesus said one had to do to be saved in Mark 16:16 remains the same, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." It's amazing how many people, and especially preachers, think they know better than the Lord!
        Baptism puts one INTO the body of the saved the Lord's church. The Lord adds those who are baptized to the church (Acts 2:41,47). It is this Body He is going to save (Ephesians 5:23). Those outside the church/body will not be saved.
        Will you believe and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16)?

        11.
        One must understand that living a faithful Christian life is essential for those who desire to be saved. Jesus said, "...No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:62).
        Surely, no one would be so naive as to think that once you become a Christian you do not have to live the Christian life. Repentance, which precedes forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38), means to turn away from wickedness and do what is right. Repentance demands a changed life a life lived for God in faithfulness.
        Before one becomes a Christian he should "count the cost" of what's involved in being a faithful Christian. Jesus said, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? ... Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand. ... So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:26-28,31,32).
        Living a faithful Christian life is so serious, Jesus used the figure of cutting off your hand or foot or plucking out your eye in order to spare the soul from eternal damnation (Matthew 18:8-9). When anyone or anything interferes with us living a faithful Christian life and we yield to temptation and become unfaithful, our spiritual condition is then worse than it was before we became a Christian. "...The latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment..." (2 Peter 2:20-21).
        The exhortation of heaven is, "...be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). That demands faithfulness. Nothing short of it will do.