Christian Churches of God
Repentance and Baptism
(Edition 2.1 19940903-19980505-20070626)
This paper deals with the doctrines concerning predestination and the calling of God. Repentance and conversion are shown to be prerequisite to baptism and also follow it in the life of the Christian.
Repentance and Baptism
The doctrines concerning predestination
To enter the Kingdom of God is an act of favour. No man comes to God by his own understanding. It is not an intellectual process. If it were then the academics would enter the Kingdom of God first. That they do not is evident by what they say.
All people sin. Mankind is without the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the human mind is at odds with God. Hence the Scripture saying that the carnal mind is enmity towards God (Rom. 8:7). This is translated as: the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God in the RSV. The reason is that God's nature is conveyed through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit we are at odds with the Law because we do not have God's nature. That nature is derived from God as the centre of goodness. God is truth, and only the truth can set us free (Jn. 8:32). The truth is thus a concept that flows from the Spirit, sanctifying the elect (Jn. 17:17-19).
Thus, we cannot be part of the Kingdom without being given the Holy Spirit. That Spirit withdraws from sin. God therefore has to make a conscious decision to expose the elect to the Spirit knowing that they will not fail. He does this from His divine omniscience. We were thus called into His rest, beginning with Christ (1Pet. 1:20), and written into the Book of Life from the foundation of the world (Rev. 17:8). His works were finished before the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3). The elect are the work of God.
It is God through Christ, by means of the Holy Spirit, that opens the mind of all the elect beginning with the Apostles, so that the Scriptures can be understood (Lk. 24:45). It is for this reason that Christ spoke in parables, so that those who were not chosen would not understand. Thus, they would turn and be saved (Mat. 13:10-17) before they were capable of entering into judgment. God is merciful and does not wish anyone to perish (2Pet. 3:9). So, by His divine prescience, each is called according to His purpose. For those He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Those whom He predestined, He also called; those whom He called, He also justified; and those whom He justified, He also glorified. What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us? (Rom. 8:28-31).
Repentance and conversion
For humanity to live, or have eternal life, God requires that it repent. Unless it repents, it will perish (Lk. 13:3,5). Christ was sent to call mankind to repentance (Lk. 11:32). Christ began his ministry after the imprisonment of John the Baptist (Mat. 4:12,17). John's imprisonment took place some time after the Passover of 28 CE (Jn. 3:22-24; Mat. 4:12) being the Passover after the commencement of John's ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius (Lk. 3:1). From that time, Jesus began to preach saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat. 4:17). Christ charged his disciples to preach the gospel of repentance, giving them authority over the demons or unclean spirits (Mk. 6:7,12; Lk. 10:1,17-20).
Two things are essential to repentance. The first is a knowledge of sin and that one has sinned (Rom. 3:23). The second is to be able to turn to God, through His word. Thus, we must be given the capacity to understand the nature of sin and the content of the Mysteries of God. The elect are given power over the demons merely to demonstrate that their names are written in Heaven and to control the actions and circumstances that surround them in the spiritual battles that they face. They are thus confident in being stronger than the power of the demons.
Repentance was taught as the prelude to the blotting out of sin (or wickedness; Acts 8:22) so that the time of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, so that He might send the Christ who was appointed for us (Acts 3:19-20).
Christ is thus not sent to us until repentance. This is a continual process. Christ is sent on an individual basis as well as once and for all. Trinitarians have difficulty with the understanding of this process because of the misunderstanding of the Godhead.
The times of ignorance, as it is called, God overlooked but, after Christ, He commands all people to repent, having fixed a day of judgment for them (Acts 17:30). Thus repentance is extended to the Gentiles (see also Acts 15:3).
The awareness of sin and the worthlessness of the sinner is the major factor in repentance. Thus, self-righteousness is the worst of sins because the sinner cannot see his own inadequacy. It is self-delusion.
God removes our transgression as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). Note the general sense of Psalm 103:6-14.
Psalm 103:6-14 The LORD works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger for ever. 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. 13 As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (RSV)
From repentance and turning to God, the repentant sinner must then perform deeds worthy of repentance (Acts 26:20). We must modify our behaviour. Sin is not accidental; it proceeds from the conditioning of the mind. The mind becomes set in long-term memory which is a physio-chemical reaction in the brain. That is why it is difficult for people to battle with sin. They must alter the very processes of the mind. This is the basis of the text: Give your works to God and He will establish your thoughts. This is expressed in the RSV as: Give your works to the Lord and he will establish your plans (Prov. 16:3; cf. also 2Cor. 10:5).
The KJV perhaps captures the broader meaning of the action of the brain. It is an ongoing process. Some social structures are so far gone that they cannot overcome their problems. God destroyed Sodom because it could not be rectified given the time-frame and operation of the Plan and their capacity to be reached for repentance. In other words, they were too far gone, mentally, to react to the messages that they were being given. Thus, the Lord is not permitted by the people to rehabilitate the nations in these Last Days, even though the witness of prophecy and Scripture is before them. That is why Sodom will condemn our people (Mat. 11:23-24; Mk. 6:11; Lk. 10:12) – because we have the message of Christ and they did not.
So, the call of God according to the predestined sequence of events is the first stage or phase of the process of entering the Kingdom of God. God knows the end from the beginning. He will not predestine people who will fail. Thus, many are called but few are chosen (Mat. 22:14).
God deliberately does not bring people into judgment until they are able to be subjected to the process. Thus the called but not chosen simply revert to the Second Resurrection. For example, all those who are baptised in the Church at present and who lapse into Trinitarianism go to the Second Resurrection. They simply are not brought into judgment. God is not revealing Himself to them. The requirement for being in the First Resurrection, that is to have eternal life, is to know the One True God and His Son Jesus Christ (Jn. 17:3). John 17:3 applies to both resurrections and to all people. No worshipper of a false god, either one that purports to be Christian, as does the Trinitarian, for example, or of other false gods, will inherit eternal life even in the Second Resurrection. They will be educated out of their error, by the elect, who will be their teachers as spirit beings. If they do not repent in the Second Resurrection, they will die and be burnt in Gehenna. They will be faced with the choice over the hundred years (Isa. 65:20). They will repent or die!
That applies to every sin within the category of the Commandments of God. The First and Great Commandment – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind (Mat. 22:37; Mk. 12:28; Lk. 20:27-40, cf. Deut. 6:5) – embraces the first four of the Ten Commandments. The Second Great Commandment – You shall love your neighbour as yourself (Mat. 22:39, cf. Lev. 19:18) – embraces the last six Commandments. On these two great or central Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets (Mat. 22:40). Thus, the Ten Commandments are not exclusive; they are the expansion of the two and the core of the Law as given by Messiah to Moses through the Holy Spirit. Repentance is the process of returning to God within His structure (Mal. 3:6-12) (cf. the Law series in the paper The Law of God (No. L1)).
This process of return to God occurs as a part of the action of knowing or coming to know God (Jn. 17:3; 10:37-38). Christ reveals the Father to the individual after the Father gives them to Christ to commence the process (Jn. 6:44,57,65). Thus, the calling takes place from the beginning of the world and is systematic. It is the first of three phases, the second phase being baptism and the third ongoing repentance.
All authority was conferred on Christ following on from his resurrection (Mat. 28:18). He commanded that his disciples go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Mat. 28:19), teaching them to do all that Christ commanded. Thus, he would be with them always until the end of the age (Mat. 28:20).
Repentance must be accompanied by baptism for the conferring of the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). We cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless we repent and are baptised, thus being born again. Unless we are born anew, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God (Jn. 3:3,5). Repentance is conditional to baptism and receipt of the Holy Spirit. Thus infant baptism is logically precluded as contrary to the Bible. Baptism is the first of only two sacraments of the Church. The other is the Lord’s Supper (see the paper The Sacraments of the Church (No. 150)).
The pre-condition of repentance was emphasised by the mission of John the Baptist, who was the precursor to the baptism of the Holy Spirit in Christ (Mk. 1:4,8). John stated that Christ would baptise with the Holy Spirit and with fire, concerning the unrepentant (described as chaff) (Lk. 3:16-17).
The Holy Spirit is conferred at the direction of God. By request, signified by the laying-on of hands, the Holy Spirit enters the individual. The Holy Spirit is not conferred by the person laying hands on the individual. The person or persons laying-on hands does so as the representative of the Church asking the Holy Spirit to honour the request of the Church and the individual, and enter the recipient for whatever activity is involved. That is why the condition of the officer of the Church is irrelevant to the validity of the process. Christ said whatever two or three of you bind on Earth is bound in Heaven (Mat. 18:18-20).
Matthew 18:18-20 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." (RSV)
The Spirit is thus conferred for every aspect of the work by God and is not conferred by any man. The Holy Spirit operates from before baptism in dealing with each individual. The Spirit draws the elect to God through Christ (Heb. 7:25). The first-fruits of the Spirit is given to the individual at baptism, from Romans 8:23, which clearly states that the adoption does not occur until the redemption of the body. Thus we are born again but continue to grow in the spirit daily in Christ Jesus until we come into the glory of God (see the papers The Spirit of Adoption (No. 34) and Born Again (No. 172)).
This conferring of the Holy Spirit on baptism is the water of the wells of salvation promised by God through His prophets (Isa. 12:3). This water of the Holy Spirit was God's promise to Jacob recorded in Isaiah 44:3. The Lord God is the fountain of living water (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; also Zech. 14:8). This is the river of the water of life (Rev. 22:1). Christ, speaking of the Spirit (Jn. 7:39), said from him living waters flow (Jn. 4:10-14; 7:38, cf. Isa. 21:3; 55:1; 58:11; Ezek. 47:1). Israel is spiritually cleansed by water, from Ezekiel 36:25, which is the water of life or the Holy Spirit. The elect take of this water without price (Rev. 22:17).
Repentance is an ongoing process and should become deeper as the years progress after baptism. The Church in Ephesus was called on to repent and to remember what it was from which it had fallen, and to do again the works it did at first (Rev. 2:5). Likewise, the Church at Pergamum was called upon to repent (Rev. 2:16); so also was the Thyatiran Church (Rev. 2:21-22) which had apostates thrown onto a bed with the false religious teachers. The Church in Sardis was also called on to repent, or Christ would come on them like a thief in the night and they would not know what hour he was coming (Rev. 3:3). Those whom Christ loves, he reproves and chastens. He demands that they (in this case the Laodiceans) are zealous and that they repent (Rev. 3:19). Repentance is thus ongoing for all the Churches of God, being the responsibility of all (Jas. 5:19-20).
Repentance is thus the pre-condition to the Kingdom of God. If it were not for the elect who are the Temple of God (Lev. 26:12; 1Cor. 3:16-17; 6:19; 2Cor. 6:16; Eph. 2:19-22) and part of the process that God set into motion from the commencement of the world, there would be no flesh saved alive (Mat. 24:22). God would have allowed all Adamic humanity to die out as He willed the Nephilim be exterminated (see the paper The Nephilim (No. 154)).
God is acting to deal with humanity through Jesus Christ and the elect who were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. The elect were predestined to be called. They were called to repentance. Repentance was conditional to the receipt of the Holy Spirit, which could only be symbolised by baptism. Repentance is ongoing from baptism so that we may grow in the Spirit until we come into perfection and the adoption, which is the redemption of the body.
Those who have fallen asleep must be resurrected in the flesh so that they might be translated as was Christ as the wave sheaf offering. Messiah was the first of the first-fruits. He became a son of God in power from his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). We are also the first-fruits: given the Spirit at Pentecost and redeemed at the Advent. The Holy Day sequence represents these aspects of our calling and reconciliation with God the Father through Jesus Christ.
See the papers The Feasts as they relate to the Creation (No. 227) and The Holy Days of God (No. 97).
Christian Churches of God
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