It is glaringly apparent that the world is becoming increasingly hostile to Christians. That should come as no surprise, as Jesus warned us of this very thing:
“Brother will betray brother to death, and the father his child; and all children will rise up and rebel against their parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by everyone because of [your association with] My name, but it is the one who has patiently persevered and endured to the end who will be saved.” Mt. 10:21, 22. AMP
The world hates us just because we follow Christ. Why? Because if we do our best to emulate Him, we are vicariously heaping judgment upon it as He did:
“…it (the world) does hate Me because I denounce it and testify that its deeds are evil.” Jn. 7:7
“For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” Jn 3:20 NKJV
And so it is with us:
“…and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.” Mt. 24:9 AMP
All you have to do is pick up any issue of the Huffington Post to validate that. Indeed, we are entering tumultuous times, where we will see both persecution and a falling away of many of the faithful:
“At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another. Many false prophets will appear and mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, the love of most people will grow cold. But the one who endures and bears up [under suffering to the end will be saved.” Mt. 24:10 – 13. AMP
The time will come when Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats. You definitely want to be in the sheep crowd. (Mt. 25:31 – 33.)
Sometimes, Christians are their own worst enemies, by letting their flesh take precedent over their spirit. For example, you have people playing with snakes, denying their children medical care, protesting outside of military funerals, killing abortion providers, advocating war over peace and putting politics over the kingdom.
We all have our human side, and fall repeatedly. This is where we must stay humble in the face of our sinful nature, take Jesus by the hand, and get up over and over to once again try our best:
“…he who comes to the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Jn. 3:21 NKJV
And we mustn’t lose sight that Jesus is depending upon God’s children to spread the gospel message for the salvation of the world:
“You are the light of [Christ to] the world…Let your light shine before men is such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Mt. 5:14 & 16. AMP
“What I say to you in the dark (privately), tell in the light (publicly); and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim from the housetops [to many people].” Mt. 10:27 AMP
So, it is both what we say and do for the kingdom that matters; and the more that we can do that publicly (teach the word, evangelize, volunteer, etc.) the larger the net we will cast for Christ.
Our public outreach begins humbly, but powerfully, with our first public declaration of our faith – our baptism. Why is that an important deed to undertake?
“I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a person is born again [reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified], he cannot [ever] see and experience the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:3 AMP
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” Jn. 3:5 NKJV
This was Jesus’ first ministerial teaching – laying out the entire reason that He came, i.e. that there is nothing that we can do in and of ourselves that will get us into the kingdom of God. It is only open to those who allow God to birth them anew by changing what is in their hearts. Then, the continued presence in that kingdom is assured for those who do their best to live by those changes.
Water baptism is a requirement from God, through Jesus – not only for ourselves, but we are also called to help facilitate the baptism of as many people as possible:
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” Mk. 16:15, 16. ESV
When we get baptized, our example of faith in God and our obedience to His word can potentially draw others to do likewise. It is an outward sign that our faith is both growing and being reinforced. Without the faith, the act of baptism would be worthless. The water is just water. It is the connection of the water to the word of God, by faith, that fulfills our requirement.
Water baptism by itself however, is not the way to salvation. It is a declaration of one’s faith in salvation through the Spirit. Baptism in water is a metaphorical demonstration of being re-birthed as a newly cleansed child of God, through the forgiveness of sins – confirming that your old ’worldly self’ has been buried (symbolized by your immersion in water) and that your ‘spiritual self’ has been resurrected and cleansed from the stain of original sin (portrayed by your rising out of the water).
The act of water baptism begins with your repentance of the actions of your flesh and ends with the declaration of your faith in the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.
True salvation (having been made righteous from the cleansing blood of Christ) comes when you ask God for your Spiritual new birth by petitioning Him to fill you with the Holy Spirit – changing you into a new child in Christ. Only then, does God provide kingdom guidance and eyesight so that you can walk in His ways.
This is so BIG:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Pt. 1:3 – 5. ESV
Goodnight and God bless.