Imagine receiving an invitation to dine with a king! How would you feel? Honored? Excited? Would you be checking to make sure the invitation was really addressed to you? What would you be thinking? Would you be wondering what you would say to a king? Would you be wondering what to wear for such an important occasion?
Open a Bible. You have a greater invitation. It is real. You have been invited by the King of kings, the Creator and Sustainer of all, to become a citizen of His kingdom. You have been invited to sit at the table of the King of kings–not as a guest but as His child! Talk about an honor!
The Bible teaches that this invitation is given freely to all men. It is not offered to a select few. It is not offered to the rich and important only. It is for all. “…Come. And he that is athirst, let him come: he that will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17). One must have a desire to come. One must be thirsty. We are all thirsty. However, not all have come to realize the source of satisfaction for their thirst. Just as one may dine on only junk food and lose the taste for nutritional food, one may imbibe the world’s water and have no desire for the water that provides the greater and ultimate satisfaction, the water that truly quenches the thirst. If you become satisfied with the lesser things of life, you will have no thirst for God and you will ignore the invitation. Don’t settle for the glitter when you can have God. Are you thirsty for God? Accept the gracious invitation.
How does one accept the invitation the King has offered? If you listen to the religious world, you will hear all kinds of confusing responses to that question. “Just believe” or “God must choose you–you can’t come of your own free will”, and “you can do nothing” — these are just some of the responses you will hear. The truly important question is: “What does God say I must do to accept His invitation?”
There is a set standard of measurements–no one can arbitrarily decide the size or length of an item. There is also a standard to measure religious statements and practices with–and that is the truth of God’s Word.
The author of Hebrews declares, “without faith it is impossible to please God; for he that would come (or draw near) to Him must believe that He is (that He exists) and that He rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Is faith simply giving mental assent? No. Seeking implies more than mental assent. If you continue to read this chapter, you will understand the Biblical definition of faith, of trusting God and seeking Him in faith. Every person that is mentioned in this chapter acted upon their belief. They trusted God which led them to act. Noah believed and built an ark to the saving of his family. When Abraham was called to leave his homeland, he obeyed and went. By faith Abraham offered up Isaac. Throughout the Bible when someone had faith in God, they acted upon His commands. Faith is taking God at His Word, and acting upon that faith.
What does the King say one must do to be saved? “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16) But someone replies, ” my preacher said that if we believe, we are saved right then”. That statement is equivalent to saying that “whoever believes and is not baptized will be saved”. Who will you believe? The King who is over the kingdom or man? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Another man quotes Ephesians 2:8 in protest against “whoever believes and is immersed (baptized) will be saved”. This man declares that we are saved by grace and not by works. He asserts that baptism is a work of man and an attempt to earn salvation. Let’s look at what the Bible says about this matter.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
These words were written to the church at Ephesus. Notice the past tense…they had been saved at some point in the past. Read Acts 19:1-5. The disciples at Ephesus had been baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ. They had been saved by the grace of God. Everything is by God’s grace. The air you breathe, the food on your table, the clothes you are wearing, family, friends, –and most importantly spiritual blessings–all come from God. Take a piece of paper and write down all the good things you have that have not come from God’s gracious hand. Your paper is blank. Yes, (glory to God) salvation is by His grace. It is His grace that grants us the opportunity to repent, to turn to Him in faith and love. It is His grace that allows us to be clothed with Christ in baptism (Galatians 3:26-27). It is His grace that provided a way for us to be created new in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). Praise Him for His mercy and His goodness toward us! Give Him all glory! But do not use that glorious truth to negate the rest of this passage. It is by grace through faith–faith takes God at His Word and submits in love.
How is faith in God and surrendering to Him in baptism an attempt to earn salvation? Does your child earn your love when he obeys you? No. He demonstrates his love and trust in you when he obeys you. If you truly have faith in God, you will not hesitate to accept His invitation by believing in Him and being immersed into Him (Romans 6:3-5).
The passage continues that salvation is not a result of works. It is not of ourselves. Amen. God, out of His great mercy and kindness, provided for our salvation. We were helpless. There was no way we could do anything to undo the curse of sin and death. Christ did it for us. So, why would we refuse to submit to such a wondrous Savior and King? When one submits to immersion into Christ and His death (Romans 6:3-5), one has nothing to boast about. His boasting is in Christ.
The Bible says that we demonstrate faith in God when we are buried with Christ in baptism. The Bible declares baptism (immersion) is a work of God, not of a work of man. Listen to God’s Word:
In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:11-12)
Do you have faith in God? Do you trust the Word of the King: “whoever believes and is baptized will be saved”? Do you want to be rescued from the kingdom of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Light–the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13)? Do you possess the kind of faith that takes God at His Word? Do you believe in the working of God? Accept His invitation to be buried with Christ in baptism to obtain salvation in Him. Die to sin and live for Him.
The King of kings has sent you an invitation. You don’t have to wonder what to say to this King. He has told us to come confessing our faith in Him by being buried with Him in baptism. He has provided for our clothing. Put on Christ in baptism through your faith in Him and His Word (Galatians 3:26-27).
Oh, the joy of belonging to Him. Oh, the joy of casting all your care upon Him, knowing the King of all cares for you. With what joy we anticipate the King’s return when all things will be put right and death will be no more. God will fill all in all and He will be our delight– world without end.
Don’t settle for fool’s gold. Seek the ultimate treasure– Deity.
Are you thirsty? Come! Drink!*
*This post was inspired by a sermon by Gantt Carter that was preached to the Northside church of Christ in Cordell, Oklahoma on February 7, 2016.