BECOME IMMORTAL THROUGH REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, AND CONVERSION

The  gift that God the Father offers to those he calls to  salvation in this age is not just eternal life; it is much more.  The angels have eternal life and they are sustained by God's life-giving power,  yet they can be destroyed if they disobey him.  The  life God  offers  to the Elect is immortal life, which can never  be destroyed.

The quality of life promised by the Father is comparable to  that which  he himself has. God is a spirit-being who inherently  possesses  the  highest form of life—immortality on  the  divine plane of existence. Immortality springs forth from itself; and it is not  dependent on any other source to sustain it because it  is self-sustaining:

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed––in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable  and  we will be changed. For the  perishable  must clothe  itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with  immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,  and  the mortal with immortality, then the saying  that  is written will become true: "Death has been swallowed up in  victory"   (1.Cor.15:51-54  NIV).  See  also Rom.2:7;  2.Tim.1:9-10; 1.Pet.4:6; Rev.20:6.

It  is  abundantly  clear from studying the Bible  that  God the Father  intends to share immortality with those he calls  to  repentance, baptism, and conversion. The acquisition of immortality allows a person  to pass beyond this physical existence into  the Family of God.

Although immortality represents the highest reward that is granted  for faithfulness to God, there is much more. The  reward  for being righteous is not to float around heaven playing harp  music for eternity. God the Father and Jesus Christ have something  far more  spectacular in store for those who are accounted worthy  to take part in the first resurrection. Some of the enormous rewards that the Father promises to those he calls to salvation  are as follows:

An Awesome Opportunity

The  magnitude of the opportunity and reward that God the  Father offers  to those called to salvation through repentance,  baptism, and  conversion is almost beyond the ability of human beings to comprehend; nevertheless, what God offers can be obtained by those who are willing to repent and become obedient to his way of life:

"But  as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,  neither have  entered  into the heart of man, the things  which  God  has prepared for them that love him. But God has revealed them to  us by his spirit: for his spirit searches all things, yes the  deep things of God" (1.Cor.2:9-10 KJV).

HOW TO OBTAIN SALVATION

It is one thing to understand what salvation is; however, obtaining  salvation is an entirely different matter. Obtaining  salvation is a process which involves the following seven steps:

1. Being called to salvation by God the Father.

2. Proving that God does exist and that the Bible is his word.

3. Believing in Jesus Christ and his perfect sacrifice.

4. Repenting of violating God's law and way of life.

5. Asking for forgiveness of sin and being baptized.

6. Receiving God's spirit that transforms a person into a son of God.

7. Growing  in  the grace and knowledge of  God's  truth,  while overcoming the temptations of the flesh.

THE CALL TO SALVATION

The call to salvation and immortality during this age (just prior to the return of Christ) is a truly unique and awesome   opportunity. This opportunity is not pure chance, but has been carefully planned  and directed by God the Father for a very  special  purpose:

"For the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call"  (Acts 2:39  KJV).  See also  Rom.8:29-30,  1.Cor.1:9,23-28;  Eph.1:5-9; 1.Thes.5:23-24; 2.Tim.1:8-9; Heb.9:14-15.

Only  God the  Father has the prerogative to call  a  person  to salvation and he gives everyone he calls the opportunity  either to accept  or reject this call. There is no neutral response to  the call of God, either a person becomes a son of God or they do not!

Jesus himself confirms that the call to salvation is only made by God the Father:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me, draw him:  and I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn.6:44 KJV).

"And  he said, Therefore said I to you, that no man can  come  to me, except it were given to him of my Father. From that time many of  his  disciples  went  back, and  walked  no  more with  him" (Jn.6:65-66 KJV).

Paul  also  adds to the understanding of the uniqueness  of  the Father's call:

"Then do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of  me, his  prisoner. But suffer hardship with the gospel, according  to the power of God, he having saved us and having called us with  a holy  calling, not according to our works, but according  to  his own purpose and grace given to us in Jesus Christ before  eternal times" (2.Tim.1:8-9 KJV Para.).

Paul was inspired to record that it is not because of a  person's effort that the Father extends the call to sonship; it is because God the Father has a purpose for the one called. Also,  notice  that  the Father made the decision  to  offer  this opportunity to these specific individuals before they were born. See our study paper concerning the subject of predestination for more details.

It  is God the Father who opens a person's conscious   mind,  and begins  to direct their thought process toward the  physical  and spiritual knowledge that will bring them into an awareness of him and the opportunity they are being offered:

"No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me  draw him: . . ." (Jn.6:44 KJV). See also Jn.6:65.

"Or  despise you the riches of his goodness and  forbearance  and  long-suffering;  not knowing that the goodness of God  that  leads you to repentance" (Rom.2:4 KJV).

A Special Calling

Many are called to salvation, but only a comparative few of those—past and present—are chosen to participate in the  first resurrection  when Jesus returns as King of kings.  Those  called before Christ's return have been selected for a special purpose. On the surface  this  may seem unfair, but it is not. The  God Family has a plan for all of humanity, which is extremely fair and logical in its execution. See  our study paper concerning the resurrections.

If  God the Father and Jesus Christ have been trying to save  all of humanity from the time of Adam to this present age, the scriptures concerning the requirements for salvation cannot be  reconciled with the facts of history or the rest of the Bible. This is not a very popular teaching, but it is true nonetheless; today is not the only day of salvation, it is 'a' day of  salvation. God was not calling all of humanity to salvation in the past, and he is not calling all of  humanity  to salvation today. It is only the day of  salvation  for those called in this age for a special purpose. See our studies concerning the various resurrections.

God the  Father personally calls each person to  salvation,  and then  leads them to repentance. This process may take years or  a very  short time and it requires that enough knowledge and understanding  of God's truth be given to a person to enable  them  to understand the following:

Called and Chosen

"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen"  (Matt.20:16; 22:14 KJV).

Jesus says that those who are chosen to have their minds opened and are called to repentance, baptism, and conversion during this age have not been called  by  chance;  each person has been called for  a  special reason.

One reason a person is called to salvation during this age is  to fulfill   a   position  or  function  within the   church.   See 1.Cor.12:18,27-28; 2.Cor.5:20.

Another  reason  for  this calling, is to prepare  a  people  for future responsibilities in God's kingdom as kings and priests who will  rule  and  teach God's truth. Those called  to  the   first resurrection are to be the role-models, leaders, and teachers for those  who  have  never had an  opportunity  for salvation.  See Rev.2:26; 3:21; 5:10; 20:4-6.

GOD AND THE BIBLE

The vast majority of those who profess to believe in God have not taken  the time nor spent the effort to prove that  God  actually exists.  Most  have just taken the word of someone in  whom  they have confidence, or they just have a  feeling  that God  exists. But, is it logical to take the word of someone else or trust your feelings on such an important question?

It is the responsibility of each individual who is called by God to sort out these questions  for themselves and prove, to their own satisfaction, the existence of God and the validity of his Word:

"But  without faith it is impossible to please him: for  he  that comes  to God must believe that he is, and that he is a  rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb.11:6 KJV).

The  faith that the writer to the Hebrews speaks of is not  blind belief, it is belief that is based on knowledge. Once a person has proven that God does indeed exist, they must prove  that the Bible is his inspired word to mankind and a book to be  followed  by those who desire to obey the Creator's instructions  and way of life.

King  David says, "The fool has said in his heart, There  is  no God" (Psa.53:1).  Jesus says, "It is written,  That  man shall  not  live  by  bread alone, but  by  every  word  of  God" (Lk.4:4).

BELIEVE IN CHRIST

In the account of Paul and Silas being released from prison by an angel (Acts 16), the jailer asks, "What must I do to be  saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus  Christ,  and you shall be saved, and your house" (Acts 16:30-33 KJV).

History clearly shows that Jesus was neither a myth nor a  legend; he  did exist; he was a real human being. However, there is  more to  gaining  salvation than just believing that  Christ  existed. Even Satan and the demons believe in God (Jms.2:19).

Many  people  believe that Jesus Christ existed,  and  many people also acknowledge that he is the Savior of humanity and they may even accept him as their personal Savior. However, there are very few who believe to  the point that they are  willing to follow his teachings  and examples  as a way of life. To those of shallow belief, Christ says,

"And  why call you me Lord, Lord, and do not the things  which I say?" (Lk.6:46 KJV).

Believing  is  more than just an acknowledgment that  Jesus  existed and was the Son of God. Belief in Jesus Christ is manifested  in one's life through a deep commitment to God, and it is  evidenced by the righteous fruit of that belief.

DOING AND BELIEVING

After  a person is called to salvation (Jn.6:44,65;  Acts  2:47), there  are some very specific things they must do in order to  be converted and enter into the Family of God.

A person is justified (made righteous) by what they do  as  well as  by  what they  believe.  It is very important  to  understand that  it takes physical effort and a right attitude  to  maintain one's righteousness before God. See Jms.2:11-24.

To worship God as we should takes physical effort. One must study God's word, communicate with the Father, fellowship with those of like  mind,  and  make righteous decisions. In  short,  it  takes faith and works in order to truly follow God. It is through these good works that we show God our faith in him and his son.

REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, AND CONVERSION

To those who desire to become a son of God, repentance,  baptism, and conversion are  three extremely important steps in the  process of obtaining salvation, because they are the steps that lead to a covenant relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Before the beginning of Christ's ministry, John  the  Baptist preached  that people should repent and be baptized for the  forgiveness of their sins:

"As  it  is written in the prophets, Behold, I send  my  messenger before  your face, which shall prepare your way before  you.  The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare you the way of the Lord,  make his paths straight. John did baptize in  the  wilderness,  and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission  of sins" (Mk.1:2-4 KJV). See also Matt.3:1-7; Lk.3:3.

"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into  Galilee, preaching  the  gospel of the Kingdom of God, And    saying,  The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel"  (Mk.1:14-15).

On  the first festival of Pentecost, after the  death and  resurrection of Christ, the apostle Peter spoke to a great assembly of people  after the holy spirit had been given to the first  Christians.  This was a truly unique time in history because  it  was the beginning of the gospel age of salvation.

Acts 2:37-39 KJV

"Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart,  and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and  brethren, what shall we do? Then  Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every  one  of you  in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of  sins,  and you shall receive the gift of the holy spirit. For  the promise is to you, and to your children, and  to all that  are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall  call." See also Rom.11:27-29.

There are four very important things to learn from these verses:

1. After  Peter  had finished telling of  the  prophecies that foretold  the coming of the holy spirit and the murder  of  Jesus Christ, he exhorted these people to repent of their evil ways.

2. Through the preaching of Peter, God the Father  revealed  the prophetic  significance of the Passover, which had just been observed,  and   the events that were happening at that  moment  in time.

There  can  be  little doubt that some of those  whom  Peter  addressed   understood that they had participated in the murder  of their Messiah and Savior, just as the prophesies had foretold. In great fear and shame, they ask Peter, "What shall we do?"

3. Peter gave them a method by which they could have their  sins forgiven and be transformed into sons of God:

4. Peter  explains that this call to repent,  be  baptized,  and receive  the holy spirit is made by God the Father to  those  he specifically calls and chooses to present with the opportunity of salvation.

On  this festival, through Peter,   God revealed the  New  Covenant method  by which a person could be saved and obtain eternal  life and  immortality. In order to understand this method, it is necessary to review each of its steps in detail.

Terms and Conditions

A  person  cannot earn salvation or eternal life because it  is  a  gift (Rom.6:23);  however,  God the Father has set forth a  number  of terms  and  conditions that must be complied with before he will bestow the gift of salvation and eternal life.

Many times, people give gifts to others that have terms and conditions, which must be fulfilled before the person actually receives the gift. An example of a gift with terms and conditions is a will or a trust which is made prior to the death of an  individual.  One  of  the prerequisites in order to obtain  the gift  of eternal life is repentance.

REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION

"Repent  you therefore, and be converted, that your sins  may  be blotted  out,  when the times of refreshing shall come  from  the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19 KJV).

What Peter was inspired to preach about repentance on the  festival of Pentecost was nothing new, because God has always required repentance  of  sin in order for a person to be in  harmony  with him.

While  Jesus was speaking to a group of people, he  used  examples from their time to admonish them to repent and obey God:

"About  this time he was informed that Pilate had butchered  some Jews  from  Galilee  as they were sacrificing at  the  Temple  in Jerusalem.  "Do you think they were worse sinners than other  men from Galilee?" he asked. "Is that why they suffered? Not at  all! And don't you realize that you will also perish unless you  leave your evil ways and turn to God? "And what about the eighteen  men who  died  when the Tower of Siloam fell on them? Were  they the worst   sinners  in  Jerusalem? Not at all! And  you,  too,  will perish unless you repent" (Lk.13:1-5 LBP).

There  is  no doubt that repentance is necessary in order  for  a person  to be converted; however, there are many different  ideas and beliefs as to what repentance means, what repentance is,  and how one goes about the process of repentance.

Many feel that to repent means to feel sorry for being a  sinner and  to ask God to forgive one's sins. Others feel repentance  is just  a  matter  of going through the ritual  of  baptism.  Still others  feel that it is a matter of the heart and  they  believe  one  must  just give one's heart to the Lord. However, to truly repent,  be  baptized, and converted comprises far  more  than just  being sorry you have sinned, feeling remorseful,  saying  a few words, and participating in a ritual.

True  repentance is extremely important, because it is the  first step  in the process of receiving salvation.  If a person is  not truly repentant, they will not receive God's spirit and will  not be saved.

The Word Repent

The English word 'repent' that is used in Acts 2:38 comes from the  Greek word 'metanoia', which is a very complex word because it deals with  the mind and thought process. In the context of Acts 2:38, the word  'metanoia'  clearly refers to changing from that  which  is evil to that which is good.

The repentance that Peter speaks of is not the 'metanoia  ametameletos' (repentance) that Paul speaks of in 2.Cor.7:8 KJV, which  means 'regret' or 'sorrow'. Although a person  should  regret violating  God's laws and ways of life, to truly repent means  to do much more than just feel sorry.

True  repentance  requires a total change in a  person's  life,  a change that leads away from all aspects of evil and leads toward that  which  is  of God. True repentance also  requires  a  total commitment and an  unconditional surrender to the rule  and  authority of God.

Repent of What?

If a person does not first know and understand exactly of what to repent,  how can they accomplish repentance? Obviously they  cannot.  Repentance involves knowledge and understanding. A person must know of what to repent and then understand why they  should repent.

Does God the Father call a person to salvation, lead them  to repentance,  and ask them to repent without revealing of what  they are  to  repent  in order to gain  salvation?  Absolutely  not! This would not make any sense and is totally illogical.   God does not leave a person he calls to salvation in ignorance as  to what he expects of them.

Repent of Sin

God inspired the prophet Isaiah to encourage the people of Israel to repent of their sins so he could bless them:

"Wash  yourselves, purify yourselves, put away the evil  of  your doings  from  my sight, stop doing evil. Learn to do  good;  seek justice; reprove the oppressor; judge the orphan; strive for  the widow. Come and let us reason together, says the Lord: Though your sins  be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though  they be  as  crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are  willing  to hear,  you shall eat the good of the land. But if you refuse  and rebel,  you shall be devoured with the sword; for the  mouth  of the Lord has spoken" (Isa.1:16-20 KJV Para.).

Notice what Jesus says to those who were offended by his association with certain people:

"And  when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat  with  publicans and  sinners, they said to his disciples, How is it that he  eats and  drinks with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it,  he said to them, They that are whole have no need of the  physician, but  they  that are sick: I came not to call the  righteous,  but sinners to repentance" (Mk.2:16-17 KJV).

James  speaks  very bluntly to Israel about the  cause  of  their current problems:

"Draw  near  to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse  your hands,  you  sinners; and purify your hearts you  double  minded" (Jms.4:8  KJV).  Please read verses 1 through 11  for background information  concerning  this  admonition from  James.  See  also Matt.9:10-13; Jn.8:1-11.

All of the above references refer to repenting of sin in order to become  right  with God. However, before a person can  repent  of sin, they must know exactly what sin is.

WHAT IS SIN?

In past centuries there has been much debate and confusion as  to what sin is and is not. Notice how sin is defined in the Bible:

"Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the law: for sin is  the transgression of the law" (1.Jn.3:4 KJV).

"All unrighteousness is sin" (1.Jn.5:17 Para.).

"Do  you have faith? Have it to yourself before God.  Blessed  is the  one not condemning himself in what he approves. But the  one doubting, if he eats, he has been condemned, because it is not of faith, all that is not of faith is sin" (Rom.14:22-23  KJV Para.).

"Therefore, to anyone knowing to do good, and not doing it, it is sin to him" (Jms.4:17 KJV Para.).

Sin  is the violation of the physical and spiritual law  of  God; sin is lawlessness. Sin is any deviation from God's  righteous laws, precepts, and principals, which define how a person  should live  their life and worship God. It is this deviation  from  the law of God for which a person must ask forgiveness.

A person cannot be a true child of God by the biblical definition unless they are in obedience to God's ten commandments and  other laws.  A person cannot pick and choose which of God's  laws they will or will not obey; all of the law must be obeyed:

"For  not  the hearers of the law are just before  God,  but  the doers  of  the law shall be justified" (Rom.2:13 KJV).  See  also Psa.119:172; 2.Jn.5-6.

Keep the Commandments

Just  as the question of eternal life is on the minds  of  people today, it was on the minds of people during Jesus' day:

"And, behold, one came and said to him, Good Master, what  good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said  to him,  Why call you me good? there is none good but one, that  is, God: but  if you will enter into life,  keep  the  commandments" (Matt.19:16-17 KJV).

Why  did Jesus tell this young man to keep the Commandments?  The answer is  simple––the young man had a choice. He could  either obey God's law and gain eternal life or he could disobey and pay the penalty for disobedience (Rom.6:23).

"And,  behold,  I come quickly; and my reward is with me,  to  give every  man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and  Omega, the  beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed  are they that do his commandments, that they may have a right to  the tree  of life, and may enter in through the gates into the  city" (Rev.22:12-14 KJV).

Before a person can repent there must be a realization that  they are  a sinner and have been living in violation of God's law  and way of life. A person must also realize that there is a need  for a change from the old sinful self to a new righteous person.

Before repentance, baptism,  and  conversion, all people are living in disobedience to God's law and are under a death  sentence  for  this violation. Only those who live in obedience to the law  are  just before  God. Everyone else is living in sin and is  not  pleasing him with their lives. Everyone needs to change from the condition of sin to the righteous condition of sinlessness.

Everyone  needs  to come into conformity with the law of  God.  A fundamental teaching of both the Old and the New Testaments is that a person must be in obedience to God's laws, precepts, and principles before they will be granted salvation.

How to Repent

The Father leads a person to repentance but he will not force  a person to repent.  It is each individual's personal responsibility to make the decision for total change in their life.

A Personal Evaluation

A  major part of the repentance process concerns doing a  serious and  honest  evaluation of one's attitude, state  of  mind,  and lifestyle,  which is extremely important in order  to  understand one's current relationship and condition before God. Listed below are a few things that are necessary for a person to consider and understand before asking God's forgiveness:

A Change of Heart

For a person to truly repent, there must be an intense desire  and an effort  to  have  a change of heart. This change of  heart  is  a change  in one's attitudes, state of mind, priorities, and  lifestyle;  a change which will lead away from the things that  are against God and toward the things that are of God.

ASK FOR FORGIVENESS

Asking God the Father to forgive our sins is an extremely personal encounter with the very head and power of the Family of God. A person  must be sincerely sorry that they have sinned  when  they ask for the Father's forgiveness. See Isa.66:2; 2.Cor.7:10.

God the Father promises that he will forgive our sins and  remove our death sentence if we ask him:

"If  we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to  forgive  us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"  (1.Jn.1:9 KJV). See also Isa.1:18; 1.Jn.5:13-15.

Each person must ask forgiveness for  themselves in the  name  of  Jesus Christ. Asking in Jesus' name is  the same as asking by his authority as our High  Priest,  because Jesus alone has the authority to intercede on our behalf to God the Father for the forgiveness of our sins. See  Acts 4:12; Jn.14:6.

Notice what Paul says about the intercessory authority of Jesus:

"Wherefore  he  is able also to save them to the  uttermost  that come  to God by him, seeing he ever lives to make  intercession for them"  (Heb.7:25 KJV).

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men,  the man Christ Jesus"  (1.Tim.2:5 KJV).

EVIDENCE OF REPENTANCE

Before a person is baptized, God the Father and Jesus Christ require evidence of repentance. In speaking to a crowd of  people who wanted to be baptized, John the Baptist says,

"Offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?   Therefore  bring  forth fruits worthy of repentance, and  do  not  say within  yourselves, We have Abraham as father. For I say  to  you that God  is able to raise up children to Abraham out  of  these stones" (Lk.3:7-8 KJV Para.).

True repentance is much more than an emotional feeling of  sorrow or remorse. A person who is truly repentant must not only  regret having  sinned but also they must stop sinning. One  who  is seeking to please God should strive with  all  their being  to obey God.  True repentance requires a change of  heart, mind, attitude, and behavior.

For a person to truly repent they must change the way they  live  and  begin  to follow a new way that leads to eternal  life  and immortality.

A Sincere Effort to Change

Can  a  person perfectly obey God before they have  received  his spirit?  No, they cannot. However, if a person is truly  sincere, they will make an honest effort to change and obey God. By making this effort, a person proves to God that they are  sincere  and are  trying with all their might to obey everything that  he  has shown them. If  a person is a thief, they should stop stealing; if  they are committing  adultery, they should stop; if they are a  liar,  they should stop; if they are breaking the Sabbath, they should  start observing it.

God the Father and Jesus Christ understand that sin is  difficult to overcome without their spirit; however, the Father does expect and require that an honest effort is made to stop  breaking his law before one's baptism. If no effort is  forthcoming, the Father will not give his spirit (See Acts 5:32):

"For  not  the hearers of the law are just before  God,  but  the doers of the law shall be justified" (Rom.2:13 KJV).

Lip Service

Just saying one is sorry for violating God's laws and asking  for forgiveness  of one's sins is not enough. True repentance is  not just a fleeting emotional experience; true repentance requires  a real change  in a person's attitude, thought process,  and  lifestyle. Yes, words are important; however, words must be backed up with action.

"Hypocrites,  well  did Isaiah prophecy about you,  saying,  This people  draws  near to me with their mouth, and with  their  lips honor me;  but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship  me,  teaching  as  doctrines  the  ordinances  of   men" (Matt.15:7-9 KJV Para.). See Isa.29:13; Ezk.33:31-32.

"What benefit did you reap at that time from the things  you are  now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But  now  that you  have been set free from sin and have become slaves  to  God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life" (Rom.6:21-22 NIV).

The  overall plan of God for salvation has not changed  from  the foundation  of the world. Part of this plan is that  humans  must come  into conformity with his laws   of behavior. A  fundamental teaching of both the Old and the New Testaments is that one  must put forth a serious, heartfelt effort to change from  disobedience to obedience before being granted salvation.

A CHANGE IN LIFESTYLE

Accepting  Jesus Christ involves a change of heart,  mind,  attitude, and lifestyle; it involves a change in what we are and  in the direction of our lives:

"Therefore also now, says the Lord, Turn you even to me with  all your  heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with  mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn to  the Lord  your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow  to  anger, and of great kindness, and  repents him of the evil" (Joel  2:12-13 KJV).

This is what God is looking for in someone he calls and is  leading to repentance. He wants that person to change from  disobedience to obedience. This type of change requires a total commitment:

"For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been,  says  the Lord: but to this man will I look, even  to  him that  is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word" (Isa.66:2 KJV).

Does  this mean that God wants people to be terrified  when  they think of what he says? Does he get pleasure from people living in fear of him? The answer to both questions is No. God derives  no pleasure  from  people living in fear of him. Having  a  contrite spirit means being truly humble before God.

God has patience and mercy towards those who understand that  his words are goodness and life and to violate his instructions leads to  death. Therefore, God is pleased with the person who has great reverence and  respect  for his words and seriously considers the consequences of violating his laws, precepts, and principles.

God  wants  a  person to have a  humble attitude  before  him  (a sincere  desire to obey him). He does not want them to have a spirit of  arrogance, pride, or rebellion. God wants someone  he calls and is leading to repentance to change from disobedience to obedience:

"The  Lord is near to them that are of a broken heart; and  saves those  who have a  contrite spirit" (Psa.34:18 KJV para.).

True repentance and conversion is an event of monumental  proportions. It is not just a philosophical change. It is not  only  a  change in the attitude but also in what the  person 'is' physically and spiritually.

COUNT THE COST

Some  time before making the decision to commit one's  life  to God the Father and Jesus Christ, a person must count the cost  of making such a decision. There  is a price to be paid, because  it does cost something to change one's life from living  in  rebellion to living in obedience to God's law.

Jesus  cautions  those who receive the  call  to  repentance  and salvation from God the Father to count the cost:

Luke 14:25-35

"And  there  went great multitudes with him: and he  turned,  and said to them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and  wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters,  yes, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple" (vs.25-26  KJV). See Matt.10:34-39.

Jesus  says that, in order to follow him, a person must be  willing  to put  him first above all else. Nothing else is to have  a  higher priority  than obedience to God's way of life.  The phrase 'hate not' is a powerful Greek expression, which means, 'Love not  less  by comparison'. Any person who considers anyone or anything, including their own physical life, more important than their commitment to God cannot be a son of God.

"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot  be my disciple" (Lk.14:27 NIV).

This  is not some ethereal or philosophical statement.  Jesus  explains  that each person who follows him must be  willing  to fulfill  the  responsibilities that they will be  given,  because there  are major responsibilities to be carried out  by  everyone who is called to become a son of God:

"For  which of you desiring to build a tower does not  first  sit down  and  count the cost, whether he has the things  to  finish; lest having laid a foundation, and not having strength to finish, all those  seeing begin to mock him, saying this  man  began  to build  and  did  not have strength to finish"  (Lk.14:28-30  KJV Para.).

"Or what king going to attack another king in war does not  first sit  down and take council whether he is able with ten  thousands to meet those coming upon him with twenty thousands? But if  not, he being still far off, sending a delegation he asks the  things of  peace. So then every one of you who does not abandon all  his possessions  is  not  able to be my disciple"  (Lk.14:31-33  KJV Para.).

A  person should very carefully consider the awesome  opportunity that is being offered to them and the kind of life and  performance  that will be expected of them once they become a  child  of God.

A SERIOUS DECISION

Accepting  the  call  of God the Father to sonship  is  the  most important  and serious decision a person will ever make in  their entire life, because this decision will affect the rest of  their life, now and in the future:

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be  made salty  again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for  the  manure pile;  it is thrown out "He who has ears to hear, let  him  hear" (Lk.14:34-35 NIV).

"He said to another man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father. Jesus said to him, "Let  the dead  bury  their dead, but you go and proclaim  the kingdom of God. Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family. Jesus replied, "No  one who  puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for  service in the kingdom of God" (Lk.9:59-62 NIV).

Once  a person understands that they have been called to  repentance and have been given the opportunity to become a son of  God, they need to seriously count the cost. God requires a total commitment;  there can be no turning back once a person  commits  to becoming a part of the God family.

The Rebellious

There are many stern warnings to those who after they have accepted the call of  God to salvation decide to rebel and  depart  from the faith. Notice that their fate is the same as the incorrigible wicked:

"For  it is impossible for those who were once  enlightened,  and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of  the holy spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of  the  world to come, If they shall fall away,  to  renew  them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God  afresh, and put him to open shame. But that  which  bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is near to cursing; whose  end is   to  be  burned"  (Heb.6:4-6;8 KJV).  See  also   Heb.2:1-3; 2.Pet.2:20-21; Ezk.18:24,26.

"For  if we willfully sin  after receiving the full knowledge  of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice concerning sins, but a certain  fearful expectation of judgment and zealous fire being brought  about to consume the adversaries. Anyone  not  regarding the law of Moses dies without pity on the word of two or  three witnesses:  How  much worse punishment do you think  he  will  be thought worthy to receive having trampled on the Son of God,  and having counted the blood of the covenant in which he was  sanctified   common,  and  having insulted  the  spirit   of   grace?" (Heb.10:26-29 KJV Para.)

A  son  of God who breaks their baptismal agreement and  makes  a practice  of violating his laws, principles, and precepts,  willfully refusing to obey him, will die an eternal death.

If there is no sustained effort to live according to God's  ways, God  will  not grant eternal life; instead, he will destroy  the wicked  person  with fire: "For the wages of sin  is  death" (Rom.6:23).

"It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living  God" (Heb.10:31).

SUMMARY

If God the Father is calling and leading you to  repentance  and salvation, you must seriously count the cost involved in  accepting the call. Once you make the commitment to follow God and  are placed within his spiritual family, there can be no turning  back to your former life without a horrible penalty being paid.

Are  you  willing to forsake everyone and  everything,  including your  own physical life, in order to accept the offer  of  salvation? Do you have what it takes to follow through with a  commitment to place God first in your life?  Only you can answer  these questions.

If you have counted the cost and want to obtain salvation, the  next  step  is to be baptized in order to  have  your  sins forgiven and be transformed by the holy spirit into a son of God.

By B.L. Cocherell, file b6w1