In the New Testament, we find that being “born again” is an experience common to all who are in the kingdom of God. The new birth is one of the illustrations used to describe what happens when when anyone obeys the gospel of Christ.
One of the most prevalent misconceptions about the gospel is that nothing more than faith is required in order for our sins to be forgiven. We readily admit the importance of faith; indeed, it is at the heart of the response called for by the gospel. But is all that is involved?
When a person is “baptized,” what is the physical action that takes place? Many people believe that baptism can be accomplished by sprinkling or pouring water upon a person, but in the Scriptures, baptism was always an immersion.
When Ananias was sent to explain to Saul of Tarsus, the previous persecutor of the church, what he needed to do to enjoy salvation in Christ, he told Saul, “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22:16).
We can only imagine the excitement in Jerusalem that evening, when 3,000 believing and penitent people had been baptized into Christ and were now able to give thanks for God’s grace. And the same joy can be ours today, in just the same way.
Yielding to the Lord requires humility, but as people whose problem is rebellion, humility is what we need the most. And the initial requirements of the gospel, culminating in baptism, are a test of whether the authority of Christ is something we’re ready to accept.
The view that everyone will be saved is called “universalism.” Most of us will have a knee-jerk reaction to universalism, either for it or against it, but setting aside our predispositions, what did Jesus and His apostles teach about eternity?
What God has predetermined is that any who will confess their faith, repent of their sins, and be baptized into Christ will be a part of the people whom He has chosen. May we thank Him for giving us this choice. It was an act of sheer grace on His part.
The bottom line is freedom of the will. We are free to choose whether we’ll obey the gospel or not. But having decided to obey, our freedom doesn’t stop at our conversion. At any time, we are free to change our minds and go back to being lost.
Our feelings about our salvation are notoriously fickle; sometimes they err on the low side and sometimes on the high. But God’s promise can be counted on — and the only thing we know about God’s promise is what we find in the Scriptures.