Necessary: Holding To The Pledge

August 2, 2012

Jesus, when He walked this earth, taught that everyone must repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15), follow Him (v. 17 // Luke 9:23), put His words into practice (Luke 6:46-49), and hold to His teachings faithfully. (9:62 // John 8:31) He commands the same of us.

When a man accepts the Gospel, that man is agreeing to a covenant relationship with God through Christ. (Heb. 8:6-12) It is called the New Covenant (v. 13) and it is founded on great promises. (v. 6) God promises to forgive the man, wash him clean, take away the old nature, free him from sin’s power and penalty, and give him His own nature and divine power, doing so by setting up residence right inside the spirit of the man. (Ezek. 36:25-27 // Rom. 6:22,23 // 2 Peter 1:3,4 // 1 John 1:9 & 3:9) All this is why it is also called the Good News!

But when a covenant is made, there are two parties. And both have obligations. The man’s obligation to God is obedience –that is, to live according to the control of the Holy Spirit, doing so by choosing to deny himself and picking up his cross daily (Luke 9:23) so that he, by the Spirit, can immediately put to death any wicked temptations, desires, or actions that crop up. (Rom. 8:12-14 // Gal. 5:16-18,24) Contrary to what the numerous OSAS groups teach, this obligation is mandatory. (1 John 2:3,4) For not only is outward obedience required, but inward purity is required as well –since God sees and hears attitudes and thoughts just as easily as He sees and hears words and actions. He will indeed judge them all. (Ec. 12:14 // Jer. 17:10 // Rom. 2:16 // 1 Cor. 4:5 // Heb. 4:13) And according to the evil or good the man has in his lifetime harbored in his heart –as well as acted out– he will be acquitted or condemned. (Matt. 5:29 & 12:36,37 // John 5:29 // Rev. 20:11-15)

So if a man comes into covenant with God, pledging to be obedient to Him, what is the initial requirement besides faith? It is repentance. The man must repent. But is repentance merely an acknowledgment of being a sinner in need of escape from sin’s penalty? Hardly! Repentance is the pledge to not only follow God’s Word faithfully, but it is a submission to a baptism. On the man’s part, this baptism is the pledge of a good conscience. (1 Peter 3:21) On God’s part, this baptism is a washing and a cleansing of the man’s heart, body, and conscience (Heb. 10:22), done not only by the Spirit (Titus 3:4 // Ezek. 36:25), but also through the blood of Christ which itself washes, purifies, and cleanses the conscience from acts that lead to death. (Heb. 9:14) This is what happens when a man asks God to accept him into the New Covenant.

So what if the man continues to sin in action, word, thought, or attitude, after claiming to have entered into the New Covenant with God? Well, the man is lying about his status with God. (1 John 1:5,6 & 2:3,4) Either God saw that the man’s heart was not genuine, so there was no true baptism, or the man was actually genuine, but later decided to renege on his end of the agreement. (Matt. 10:33 // Luke 8:13,14 // John 15:6 // Heb. 6:4-6 // 2 Peter 2:20-22) When this happens, God, in His faithfulness, keeps His forgiveness, cleansing, and power readily available should the man turn back, but if the man does not, that man forfeits his soul. (1 Cor. 3:16,17 // Heb. 10:26,27) For only through obedience to God is a man united with God in spirit (1 John 3:24), and only through this, is a man saved.

However, it begins with making “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” (1 Peter 3:21) For by holding to this, will a man be obedient, be untied to the Lord, and thus be saved. (same verse // 1 Tim. 1:19)

with love,

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