By Carol R. Lumpkin
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6). Jesus spoke of “the way” in the Sermon on the Mount: “Because strait is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matt.7:14). The individual who desires to enter “the way” must first be taught of God. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me” (Jn. 6:44-45). The gospel, God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16), must be preached to enable the sinner to hear (Mk: 16:15). Those who hear may either believe or not believe the preached word. Faith comes by hearing the word (Rom. 10:17). When the jailer asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30), he had not heard the gospel. Paul and Silas said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Then verse 32 tells us that the word of God was spoken to them; hence, faith came by hearing the word of God.
The believer has the power (right) to become a son of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believed on his name” (Jn. 1:12). The believer is not a son of God, but could become a son when and if his faith leads him to full gospel obedience. Paul declared, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness” (Rom. 10:10). So belief (faith) is unto, in the direction toward, righteousness.
Without faith one cannot please God (Heb.11:6). Faith is unto righteousness which shows the sinner is not there yet. In addition to faith the sinner must repent of his sins. Repentance is a command of God. “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5). God commands all sinners to repent (Acts 17:30). Repentance is a change of heart which brings about a change of life. The story of the father who had two sons demonstrates the meaning of repentance. The father said to one son, “Son, go work today in my vineyard.” The son replied, “I will not: but afterward he repented and went” (Matt. 21:28-29). Repentance is unto spiritual life. “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
The alien sinner who hears the word of God, believes that Jesus is the Son of God, and repents of his sins is still guilty of his sins. Before Philip would baptize the eunuch, the eunuch was required to confess that Jesus was the Son of God. “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). Paul declared, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10b).
“But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:17). What is that form of doctrine? “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3-4). That form of doctrine has reference to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. This was the gospel Paul preached to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:1-2). This form of doctrine is obeyed in the process of one becoming saved. The sinner must die to sin through repentance, a form of the death of Christ. The sinner must be buried in water to receive the forgiveness of his sins already repented of. This is a form of the burial of Christ. The individual is raised from the water, thus a form of the resurrection of Christ from the tomb. Paul said, “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death (not unto): that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father . . .” (Rom. 6:3-4).
When the sinner obeys the gospel of Jesus Christ he is, “delivered from the power of darkness (sin), and hath translated us into (not unto) the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1:13). Baptism puts a person into Christ (the way). “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ” (Gal.3:27; cf. Rom. 6:3). Christ is the way (Jn. 14:6), salvation is in Christ (Acts 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:10), one enters Christ in baptism (Gal. 3:27); hence having obeyed that form of doctrine (Rom. 6:17), being born of water and the Spirit (Jn. 5:3, 5), the sinner is freed from his sins and becomes a servant of righteousness ( Rom. 6:17-18). He at this time is a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), saved (Mk. 16:16), a Christian (Acts 11:26), in the way (Jn. 14:6), and will in the hereafter enter heaven providing he is faithful in doing the commandments of God (Rev. 22:14). This is God’s one and only way to heaven. Study it carefully, believe it with all your heart, obey its every precept.
Guardian of Truth XXXIX: No. 24, p. 15
December 21, 1995