What if you become a Christian? In America, as Christians become a shrinking segment of the population and our views become despised by the mainstream culture, it is likely that you will be mocked and demeaned, even if you are not physically harmed.
Without faith, baptism accomplishes nothing. It is not a merely ritualistic act, effective regardless of what is going on in the recipient’s heart. Rather, its efficacy depends on “faith in the powerful working of God” (Colossians 2:12).
God is one, but His unity is a tri-unity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. While this challenges our best efforts to understand, it is clearly what the Scriptures reveal about God. We are not free to dispense either with the unity or complexity of God.
Given the tragic consequences of mankind’s sin, there is no more precious promise in the Scriptures than the promise of what heaven will be like for those who have been redeemed and reconciled to God: “They will see his face” (Revelation 22:4).
Paul spoke of the “end” when Christ “delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
Until we “put on our heavenly dwelling,” however, we press toward the goal (Philippians 3:14). God helped Israel through the wilderness, and He will help us also. If the journey is hard, that will just make our home all the sweeter when we get there.
On this battlefield we call “life,” people have many needs, and it’s hard to know what kind of help to render first. But God’s glory is by far the most important need that anyone has. More attention needs to be paid to the greatness of that need.
If we resist the idea of “church,” that is probably an indication of how much we need it. Yes, it would be easier not to have to adjust ourselves to other people, submit to them, and work out the inevitable conflicts. But that is precisely the point.
There is no better example of faith than Abraham. “Under utterly hopeless circumstances he hopefully believed . . . being absolutely certain that whatever promise [God] is bound by He is able also to make good” (Romans 4:18–21 Weymouth).
The apostles, when threatened, never backed down: the gospel is true and “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Others may help with lesser troubles, but they knew only Christ can get us to heaven.