WHAT MUST ONE UNDERSTAND IN ORDER TO BECOME A CHILD OF GOD?
by Garland M. Robinson
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
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 þ 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.
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 þ 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
Do you believe? Don't let life slip by without obeying the
Savior, Jesus the Christ. There's no salvation without it (Matthew
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"
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" þ
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-
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).
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 þ "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
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 þ 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?
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!
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
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"
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.
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"
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
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
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 þ 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)?
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 þ 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