The next step on the road to salvation and getting right with God is repentance. John the Baptist came preaching repentance and baptism for the remission of sins before Jesus started His ministry (Matthew 3:1-6). Jesus, when He started His ministry preached the same thing: “repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
Jesus, when told of misfortune that had fallen the Galileans and others, said “Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:2,3).
After His resurrection from the dead, Jesus said to His disciples; ” Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:46,47.
This was Jesus telling His disciples, who later became the Apostles and were instrumental in the establishment of the early church, to preach repentance in His name and this they did (Acts 2:38) as Jesus said, beginning at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost. Paul helps us define repentance as a turning away from one thing to another. That is turning away from sin and back to God (Acts 26:20) This is what those in Acts 2:38 were told to do: “repent and be baptized.”
So, what one must do is turn away and cease doing the sin that is in their life and turn back to God. We should define sin here as anything we may do that trangresses the commandments that God has given us to do and to live by in His word. So what those who were obeying the gospel in Acts did was repent (turn away from sin and turn to God).
This does not mean that they immediately ceased from any sin that was in their life, but they sincerely pledged to God that they would do so and did their best to eliminate sin from their lives from that moment forward. They turned away from serving sin, to serve the living God (see Romans 6).
They vowed to walk by the spirit and not according to the flesh. This is what we must do: pledge to turn our lives around so that we are no longer living a sinful life, but are living our lives as God would have us live to the best of our ability.
This is repentance and when we sin even after we are saved, we must repent again to remain in the proper relationship with God that will save us at the last day. (Acts 8:9-22).So, the third step toward eternal salvation is to repent of our sins and turn to God.
The fourth step is that of confessing our belief in Jesus before others. This is usually done before the church, but must be followed in some form or another. What, you say, confession is necessary to salvation? That’s what Romans 10:10 says: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Jesus said that if we will confess Him before men, He will confess us before God, the father (Matthew 10:32). So, that is what we must do: confess belief in Jesus before others and this confession is necessary to our salvation. Later we are to continue to confess Christ to others as we seek to convince others to become followers of Him as well. If we ever deny Christ, He will deny us (that we belong to HIm) before God, the father, as well (Matthew 10:33).
So, once we have repented of our sins and vowed to serve God instead of sin and made the confession that we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God before others (Acts 8:36,37), we are ready for the fifth step in our journey toward God and that is baptism. I will discuss this is some detail in the next post.
May God bless you and keep you until the next time.