Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 3 March 2018
Page 11

The Christian’s Condition:
Past, Present & Future

Brian R. Kenyon

Brian R. KenyonThose of us who are in Christ should never take for granted what great blessings Christ has given us. Those who are not in Christ must realize the blessings that God offers. This writer is confident that if non-Christians truly knew what Christ offers, they would obey the Gospel without hesitation. In Colossians 1:21-23, Paul outlined the Christian condition. We consider it here with the hopes that those in Christ will be encouraged to serve the Lord with renewed zeal, and those outside of Christ will realize the blessings they are missing, turn from their own desires and obey the Gospel.

Past: Lost and Hopeless

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…” (Colossians 1:21). “Once” denotes an earlier period of time in the Colossians’ lives when they were away from God. “Alienated” refers to one estranged or one rendered as belonging to another. Formerly, they were not part of God, being without hope (Ephesians 2:12; Romans 1:20-23). Paul added that they were “enemies.” How were they “alienated and enemies”? In their “mind by wicked works”! Their mind, purpose and intent yielded sinful actions (Proverbs 4:23). Not only were they far away from God, but they also proved themselves to be God’s enemies in both thought and action. As Christians, we also at one time were alienated and enemies of Christ. All who are not in Christ still are enemies of our Lord. Where do you fit?

Present: Reconciled

“Yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death…” (Colossians 1:21-22). “Yet now” indicates a strong contrast. Formerly, they were “alienated and enemies,” but now they are reconciled! “Reconciliation” means that we are made friends again with God. It indicates the opposite of “alienated and enemies.” Paul put it like this in Ephesians 2:13, “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Reconciliation was made possible by Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17-21), being accomplished by His death on the cross. The combination of “body” and “flesh” in Colossians 1:22 emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, which was denied by some in Paul’s day (and ours). Reconciliation, however, required more than the incarnation of Christ. It required the death of His fleshly body. Christ died for all humanity (Hebrews 2:9), but only those who obey Him will benefit from his death (Hebrews 5:9). Are we presently reconciled? Or, are we presently Christ’s enemy?

Future: Perfect Presentation

“To present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight” (Colossians 1:22b). Christians, who live faithful “until death” (Revelation 2:10), will one day be “presented” to God in three ways. First, they will be presented “holy,” which means consecrated or set apart for special service. Second, they will be presented “blameless [without blemish, ASV],” which means “without spot” (Philippians 2:15). Third, they will be presented “above reproach [unreproveable, KJV],” which means “faultless.” This future presentation, however, is conditional, “if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven” (Colossians 1:23).

In What Condition Are We?

Each of us is in one of these first two conditions. If we have not obeyed the Gospel, being baptized into Christ, then we are “alienated and enemies.” God has no pleasure at all in people being lost (Ezekiel 18:32). The good news of the Gospel is that people do not have to be lost! Every reader can be reconciled to God, being made friends with Him. We must simply obey the Gospel. Have you obeyed the Gospel? If not, why not do it today? If we have obeyed, are we continuing to obey the Gospel? If not, why not determine today to renew your commitment to Jesus Christ?

When and How Is One Saved?

Sunny David

Sunny DavidContrary to the teachings and opinions of men that one is saved at the very moment one believes in Christ or when one prays the sinner’s prayer, the Bible very clearly teaches that to be saved in Christ one must hear His Gospel message and believe it, repent of sins, confess Christ to be the Son of God and be baptized into Christ for the remission of sins. This does not mean, however, that this is all one must do to be saved and to go to Heaven, but each person must follow these initial steps to begin the Christian walk.

When Christ was going back to Heaven, He had charged His disciples to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16). Christ didn’t stop at “He who believes,” but said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Preachers who offer salvation by “faith only,” therefore, deceive people (Romans 16:17-18).

Then, there are those who insist that one must have a supernatural experience to be saved or to be “born again,” an idea that is most irrational and unbiblical. This concept, variously advocated, supposes that at some particular moment, with emotions better felt than told, in answer to prayer, under the emotional appeal of revivalism or in some other bizarre circumstance, the sinner suddenly experiences faith. At that moment, it is supposed that all his sins are forgiven, he is transformed spiritually, born again and saved eternally. Some claim to have such an experience during their sleep, when they suddenly saw, as they say, the sky opened and heard someone speaking to them to assure them that they were now saved. This is totally absurd. No biblical precept or example even hints at such a thing ever. In all of the cases of conversions as mentioned in the Book of Acts of the Apostles, no one ever came into Christ or became a Christian in the manner of such a false conception.

On the other hand, no experience that any man ever had could rival that of Saul (Paul) on the Damascus road. He actually saw the Lord. Yet, three days later, as we read, he was still a praying, penitent and grieving sinner, and so he remained till he heeded the command of the Lord given to him through Ananias to “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Acts 9:18 says, “And he arose and was baptized.” The fact of the matter is that one must both believe and obey to be saved—not just believe (James 2:24, 26).

There are many other examples found in Acts, which is commonly accepted as the book of conversions, that show in all cases where people were saved from sin and became Christians, all had to believe and obey the Gospel. For instance, a large gathering of people, after hearing the Gospel of Christ, asked the disciples, “What shall we do?” The answer given to them was, “Repent, and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:37-38).

Again, when the evangelist Phillip entered Samaria and preached Christ there, we read in Acts 8:12 that “both men and women were baptized.” A little later, in the same chapter, we read about the conversion of the eunuch. There we read, beginning with verse number 35, Phillip preached Christ to the eunuch as they were traveling in his chariot and, “Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, ‘See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?’ Then Phillip said, ‘if you believe with all your heart, you may.’ And he answered and said, ‘I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.’ So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Phillip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:35-38). Clearly, one can see from all of these examples of conversion that there is a scriptural pattern given in the Bible to learn when and how one is saved.

When one believes in Christ, he changes his mind. When one repents of sin, he changes his will. Then, when he is baptized, immersed in water, to be saved—for the forgiveness of sins or to have sins washed away—he changes his relationship or his place from being of the world, for  now he is in Christ. During baptism one shares in the death of Christ, thereby contacting the saving blood of Christ, which He shed in His death for sinners.

So does the Scripture teach. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). By being baptized, an individual is lowered into a body of water, and the water closes over one’s body. Just as a dead person is buried, so one is buried in baptism. Then, he is raised up from the watery grave to walk in the new life of a Christian. All of this portrays the man died to one kind of life and rose to another kind of life. He went down into the water a man of the world and rose a man in Christ, a different person, a new man (2 Corinthians 5:17). God’s way is the only sure way.

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