A young father recently recounted the story of his son. The dad asked his innocent looking son, “Did you do such-and-such?” With a smile on the little cherub’s face, he looked into his daddy’s eyes and confidently replied, “Yes, daddy, I did!”
Liar, liar, pants on fire!
You don’t have to teach a kid to lie. They’re corrupt! You have to teach a child to tell the truth. Otherwise, they will do what comes naturally. King David wrote, “They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good” (Psalm 53:1, ESV). The Apostle Paul agreed: “There is no one righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10, CSB).
That’s why Jesus’ first sermon was the one-liner: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17, ESV). Sometime later He said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, ESV).
Our church’s doctrinal statement reads: “We believe man was created in the image of God and by his own choice and willful decision fell into sin. By this act, he became a sinner and was put under the condemnation of God. He was severed from the life of God and became spiritually dead.”
The statement continues: “We believe the salvation of sinners is wholly of grace. The lost person does not possess any means of saving himself. God has provided a way through the death of Christ to save sinners. He is saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The forgiveness of sin and the removal of its guilt and punishment are the results of the new birth. Through man's salvation experience, he is reconciled to God and made a new creature in Christ Jesus.”
“Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews... came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God’ ” (John 3:1-3, ESV).
Repentance is the act of turning away from self and turning toward Jesus for forgiveness and renewal. That’s transformative! Being born-again, as Jesus instructed Nicodemus, is equally transformative.
And so is “believing”...
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18, ESV).
Notice, “whoever does not believe is condemned already.” Paul says, “You were dead in the trespasses and sins ... carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3, ESV).
That’s why we need to be born again. And in John 3:16, Jesus tells us that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” The belief that Jesus refers to is transformative! It’s not just head-knowledge. It’s a life-changing belief that brings about a radical transformation in a person’s life.
This transformation is never the product of a man’s doing. It is only by the marvelous grace of our loving Lord that we can be saved from the penalty we deserve. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV).
Our church’s statement of faith also says, “We believe that those who believe and receive Jesus Christ as Savior are eternally secure. We are now in possession of eternal life and will never be in danger of condemnation or loss of our salvation. This assurance rests on the finished work of Christ which places us as a son of God in our relationship.”
We could never have become good enough to earn our salvation. And thankfully, we don’t have to earn our continued security. It is only by the grace of God that we are secured forevermore!
South Georgia Baptist Church
Mike Martin, Pastor