by John Deffenbaugh
The Alien Sinner
The Erring Christian
The question is: where do you stand in the above scenarios. Do you need to be baptized properly for the right reason or do you need to come back as an erring Christian to the right relationship with Christ?
The Alien Sinner
The alien sinner (non-Christian) is separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) because of his sins. He is deserving of spiritual death (Romans 6:23). Consequently he is pictured in Ephesians 2:12; “remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” NOT A PRETTY PICTURE. God, seeing man’s need for salvation from sin, in His mercy and love, sent Jesus for you and me (Jn. 3:16). “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly…. But God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6, 8). In death, Christ shed His blood of the New Covenant which is for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28). God offers us hope in Christ (Ephesians 1:3, 7). Upon hearing the word of God (1 Corinthians 1:18), we must believe in what God and Christ have done for us (Jn. 8:24, Heb. 11:6). We must repent (a change of will which results in a changed life) concerning sin according to Acts 2:38, 3:19 and 17:30. We must be willing to confess our belief in Christ before men (Acts 8:37-38). Those penitent believers who had confessed Christ were then baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27) for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).
Those who are baptized into Christ are saved (Mark 16:15-16) and added to the Lord’s church or body of believers (Acts 2:47). These saved people are to lead a life of holiness and dedication to their Lord who bought them (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). They do not let sin reign as lord in their bodies any more (Romans 6:11-14). They serve Jesus as their Lord, bearing fruit in the church. “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Such a life is described in 1 John 1:7. In living this way we will continue to have access to the precious blood which cleanses us even though we may stumble and sin (verses 8-10). Here we also enjoy fellowship with God and His people (1 John 1:3, 7).
The Erring Christian
As Christians described in the previous paragraph, God allows us to access the grace He offers mankind. This grace is found ultimately and fully “in Christ” (2 Timothy 1:9, 2:1). Being people, we sin, even after becoming Christians. Some sin on occasion and incidentally, while others sin habitually, making it a way of life. The former receive forgiveness as they confess sin to God and ask forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:8-10). Those who habitually sin and continue therein are addressed in 1 John 3:6 where “sins” in the original Greek indicates a continual action in the present tense. The one who continually fails to keep His word is no longer “in Him” (1 John 2:5-6). While he may have been baptized into Christ, he has now managed to exit the body of Christ. This one who doesn’t practice the truth abides in darkness and is out of fellowship with God and brethren (1 Jn.1:3, 6). However, THERE IS HOPE FOR EVERY SOUL in this life if they are willing to come to God on His terms!
Making Things Right
All Christians need to repent, pray and confess sin as needed. In Acts 8:17-22 we read of Simon who was an erring Christian. In verse 22 he is commanded to repent and pray for forgiveness. We also read of the necessity of confessing sin in James 5:16. Some however only need to do so in private as their sin is between them and God (1 Jn. 1:9). Others however have sinned in such a way as to also offend their brother in Christ. He must not only repent and pray to God but must also confess and make things right with his brother (Matt. 5:23-24). If this sin is public, it needs to be confessed publicly so the church will know the erring brother is repenting and wanting to make things right. This seems to be the confession of James 5:16. In this way the erring brother is restored to the right relationship with his brethren and also with God.
WHERE ARE YOU NOW?