The greatest gift in the history of the earth is “the gift of God” that involves our salvation from our own sins (Eph. 2:8). Through His marvelous “grace,” God gave the gift of His Son, and through the agency of His precious “blood,” He cleanses us from the guilt and condemnation of our own disobedience to His will (Eph. 1:7). What a gift!
In order to secure His gift, God has stipulated certain conditions for man to fulfill. Amazingly, it is man who has complicated these conditions and created various controversies around them. However, God’s Word could not be more clear—we must believe that Jesus is God’s Son (Acts 16:31), repent of our sins (Acts 17:30), confess our faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9) and be baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins (Acts 2:38). But, that is just the beginning!
Once we have obtained forgiveness of our sins in baptism, we are “raised” to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). That new life in Christ requires something of us on a daily, ongoing basis. We must actively and faithfully continue to “obey” His commands (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 5:9). The New Testament tells us how to become a Christian and then it tells us how to live acceptably as a Christian. At the same time, it contains numerous warnings of consequences if we “fall away.”
The words of Christ are simple, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). That “faithful” life requires holy living, in which we “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God,” and are “not be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:1-2; Tit. 2:12). That “faithful” life requires continual growth, in which we are “giving all diligence” to “grow in the grace and knowledge” of Christ, in order that we might “abound” in it and “go on to maturity” (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18; Heb. 5:12-6:1). That “faithful” life requires active membership in a local congregation, in which we assemble regularly (Heb. 10:24-25), teach the gospel to others (Mark 16:15-16), give to the work of the church (2 Cor. 8:1-9:15), minister to our brethren (Gal. 5:13; 6:2, 10), maintain good works (Tit. 2:14; 3:1, 8), preserve the unity and purity of the church (Eph. 4:1-16), submit to the elders of the church (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12), etc.
Of course, after all that God has done for us, why would we not want to joyfully, excitedly, gratefully and faithfully serve Him the rest of our lives! He warns us of falling away and being lost (Jas. 5:19-20; 2 Pet. 2:20-22; Gal. 5:1-4; 1 Cor. 10:12; Heb. 3:12), but our focus should be so intent on heaven (Col. 3:1-4) that nothing else matters!
Thank God for His plan of salvation! He has done His part! Have you done your part?