September 18

Today we begin a series of lessons centering on the conversion stories from the book of Acts. There are of course many similarities in these accounts, but they are each different and unique situations in the lives of those individuals who chose to follow Jesus. We can gain much from their stories.

There may be some that you are interested in inviting to hear more of what it means to become a Christian. This would be an ideal series for them to sit in on a lesson or two (or all). Our Shepherd Groups that begin on Sunday, Sept. 25th will take a few minutes at each meeting reflecting on some of these lessons. This will be a perfect time for you to invite others to come and be a part of our Sunday morning assemblies throughout this series, and also to be a part of the Shepherd Group with which you will meet.

Today we will look at the conversion process itself, reminding ourselves once again of how one becomes a Christian. Because there is more discussion and disagreement over the subject of baptism, we’ll spend more time with that part of the response of faith. And yes, Christian baptism is a part of the response of faith. Our coming to believe and trust in Jesus is a response to the sacrifice made for us by our Lord and Savior. Were it not for the death of Christ, no amount of believing, repenting, confessing, or being baptized would save us. But because Jesus died on the cross for us, we can be saved. We can trust in Him for our soul’s salvation. We can look to Him for purpose and meaning in life as we follow His example and live to serve our God and our fellow human beings.

I’ve often wondered why people are willing to believe in Jesus yet are hesitant to be baptized in His Name. Just as being baptized is a decision we make, an act of the will, choosing to believe in Jesus and accept His sacrifice is something we decide to do, a choice we make. Repenting of our sins, changing our lives to live in a direction and a path that is pleasing to God, is something we decide to do, a choice we make. It doesn’t mean that we have earned our salvation just because we have chosen to believe in Jesus. Nor do we earn it by being baptized. It is simply a part of that response of faith acknowledging exactly the opposite, that we cannot earn our salvation, that there truly is nothing we can do to save ourselves from the penalty our sins deserve.

How about you? Have you decided to follow Jesus? If so, then “what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:16)

Bill Allen

Dr. Bill Allen preached at South Fork from 2005 to 2015. He received a Bachelors degree in Bible from Oklahoma Christian in 1978, a Masters in Bible from Abilene Christian (ACU) in 1988, and a Doctor of Ministry from ACU in 1992. He now preaches at the West Erwin Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas.

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