By Tony Ripley
A rather odd thought came into view as I was thinking of this word “preparation.” Almost all of us have seen at one time or another an ant bed, abundant in ants I might add. Thousands of little soldiers treacherously working and making preparation. But what are they preparing for? Day upon day they seek and find. Hour upon hour they travel down the same narrow path. And as cruel as the thought may sound, one can plug up their hole and inevitably another ant bed will spring up close by. Their meeting place may be destroyed, but never seems to phase the stamina, drive, and determination by that army of red soldiers in the course of their preparation.
Surely there is a lesson to be learned in this thought. Everyone has been involved in the art of preparation at some given time. Whether it be preparing for that big final, getting ready for that important interview, or just accumulating those things necessary for a family get-together at Thanksgiving. Preparation enables us to acquire that which we desire. But aside from things material, preparation is also that basis on which our spiritual reward is built. Almost all who are confronted today will claim with intense excitement that they want to go to heaven when they die. But it’s also common that people want to get there by their own mode of travel. “My Way and My Time” is not often said, but is revealed by living example. Paul said, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life” (Rom. 6:23). Isn’t this reward of eternal life what the spiritually minded man backs his determination with? Certainly there is no other reward greater than an eternal home with our Heavenly Father. How many ways can an individual take to reach this destination? If we look around today, we can find many ways that are promised to end at heaven. But we may want to reflect on the words of Jesus, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). And we know by inspired word that there is only “one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all” (Eph. 4:4-6). So then, why do we find so many different routes to travel in order to receive an heavenly home? Many I fear are preparing in vain. Too many good people take for granted the words of their local preacher without any study or thought in its validity. When I ask the question, “What must I do to be saved?”, a hundred different answers may crop up from those listening, all being different than the answer given on Pentecost day. In order for one to receive riches in glory, he must prepare and the art of preparation is revealed in the inspired word of God. Jesus told the Apostles, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall, be damned” (Mark 16:16). Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. And the only way to acquire life eternal is to follow divine instruction.
In Acts 2, we find Peter preaching the very rim gospel sermon on the day of Pentecost. And as he unveiled their unfruitful works, they were pricked in their hearts and said, “Men and brethren what shall we do?” (2:37) Peter then told them in verse 38, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” That’s the question: “What shall we do?” What must I do to be saved? And the answer is very simple.
First you must believe. In John 3:16, Jesus said, “Whosoever shall. believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” These are the profound words of Jesus and they cannot be denied. Nor can the words be denied which he spoke in the same chapter in verse 5. “Except a man be born of the water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Some like to stop at John 3:16 long enough to claim their salvation through belief only. But beloved, if we believe part of the word of Jesus, we must believe all and take heed to his commands.
Next you must repent. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:13). Repentance is a change of heart and is essential to the one that is preparing for life everlasting.
You must confess. In Romans 10:9-10 we find that, with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation. Notice the confession of the Ethiopian nobleman in Acts 8:37.
And of course with no doubt, you must be baptized into the body of Christ. In every example of conversion that we firid in the New Testament,. baptism is always mentioned. There are so many passages of Scripture showing the command to be baptized. And it seems odd that so many verses can be overlooked by so many people. Notice these passages: Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21; Galatians 3:27-29.
Never do we find anyone being saved without adequate preparation. Philip in talking to the eunuch “preached unto him Jesus.” It’s impossible to preach Jesus without preaching baptism, his kingdom, and his matchless name. Preparation is essential to salvation. Belief, repentance, confession, and baptism are all essentials and prerequisites of salvation. Many will deny this, but denial of inspired commands will not make them false. Notice what Paul says in Galatians 1:6-10.
What steps have you taken in obeying the gospel of Christ? Many believe, but fail to obey all the commands of the New Testament. Remember, the devils believed and trembled. Have you obeyed these simple commands? Have you obeyed the gospel? If not, why not? Will you heed his loving call today?
Guardian of Truth XXXIII: 7, p. 200
April 6, 1989