God is good. Considering the general meaning of “to be good”, to say “God is good” can be interpreted to ‘God is kind’. When the Bible says “God is good” it refers to God as one who is immutable. God is the same from eternity past to eternity (Heb 13:8).
For humans their start and end are very different. When a man and woman get married, they make a vow to each other saying, “Till death do us part”. However as time goes by, their vows becomes uncertain. Unlike humans who are so changeable, God shed His own blood in order to fulfill His will to save the fallen mankind (Nu 23:19).
There are two things which are impossible for God. First, God cannot change. Second, God can not lie. Therefore, God is the true God (Jn 17:3). Jesus said, “I am the truth”, and this means He is true. Jesus Christ is the truth that is the same yesterday and today and forever, for every deed of Jesus Christ followed the will of the true God (Jn 6:38). What is will of God? It is that He shall lose none of all that God has given to Jesus, but raise them up at the last day (Jn 6:39). Jesus became obedient to death on the cross to achieve God’s will.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save Him from death (Heb 5:7). What would have happened if God’s will to save Jesus had changed after Jesus died, or if It had been a lie? If so, Jesus would have been forever abandoned by God. However, Jesus had faith in God that He will save Him, and thus died on the cross according to God’s will.
Our faith is to believe the fact that God doesn’t lie and doesn’t change. This is the reason why we can devote our life to God. God raised Jesus Christ to life. The same God will also raise us at the last day.
What shall we do?
On the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came to the disciples. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he testified that Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and the Jews who heard Peter’s testimony were cut to the heart. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” This is the question that we should ask ourselves now, and we should have an answer for it. Because the answer to this question determines the outcome of our spirit.
“What shall we do?” Peter confidently gave an answer to this question. He replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:38)”. There are three important factors in Peter’s answer. First is to be baptized. Second is to be forgiven of your sins. Third is to receive the Holy Spirit.
Being baptized is to be set apart from the world. To be holy means that you are set apart from the world. Our Lord said, “Be holy, because I am holy” (1 Pe 1:16). Like all other people, Jesus walked and lived on the earth, but Jesus was distinguished from all others. Likewise, we are the ones that have been set apart. Even though we eat food at restaurants, take the bus, and shop at the market in the same way that those who belong to the world do, we are holy. It is because we are baptized.
When Israel was in Egypt, they ate the food provided by Pharaoh. Egypt was a place full of idols. God called Moses to separate Israel from Egypt. Israel was baptized when they crossed the Red Sea as they came out of Egypt. Therefore, Israel was completely separated (1 Co 10:1~2). Even though they reached the desolate desert after they passed through the Red Sea, Israel started the journey as a holy people of God.
Similarly, we were also baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, and thus became the holy ones. Baptism is not a ceremony, but what the Son of God commanded us. The Son of God received all authority of heaven and earth from the Father. Since He has commanded this, how important is baptism! It is that important that we are separated from the world.
Worldly people live according to their own will, but we subdue our own thoughts according to God’s word instead. God commanded Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Ge 2:16~17). God permitted Adam to freely eat the fruits of every tree, but limited his freedom by forbidding him from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Likewise, God gives people freedom to use their income from their hard work, but limited his freedom on one tenth of it. Being a holy man means to have their freedom limited by God’s word.
Ephesians 2:2 defined those who belong to the world as the people who follow the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, which is the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. Our lives in the past were not that different from the unbelievers’. But now we are holy because we belong to Jesus Christ through baptism. Therefore we should not be yoked together with unbelievers (1Co 6:14).
Those who belong to God have ears that are different to those who belong to the world. 1 John 4:5~6 says, “They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” What are your ears listening to now? Are you hearing what the Holy Spirit is saying to churches?
There is something that people shouldn’t misunderstand. Man’s physical attributes or actions don’t change completely just because he has been baptized and now belongs to God. Baptism changes our spiritual identity, not our physical nature. Therefore, Paul grieved and said, “I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin” (Ro 7:25).
Those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues may have a fight with their wives or husbands, and even hate others if they feel angry. Such things don’t need to be considered strange. The flesh can fail at anytime (Mt 26:41). Being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ doesn’t change our flesh, but our spirits become grafted in to Jesus Christ.
To receive forgiveness means to be free from the Law, and for the gentiles this means to be free from their conscience. One can never be free from sin as long as he is under the Law, because the Law exposes sin. God told man that he will die if he eats the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but the devil deceived man into eating the fruit by saying he can be like God. The wisdom to judge good and evil belongs only to God who is the judge. But man took that. And as a result, man continues to accuse others as well themselves.
Some people misunderstand that being conscientious is what faith life is about. However faith is not to live conscientiously, but to live by God’s grace. Even though a person is self controlled in his deeds, there is no avoiding condemnation before his conscience. That is why Jesus said to those who tried to deny this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Mt 5:27~28).
Galatians 3:10~11 says, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’ Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith’”. Therefore we should stop trying to come to God by the Law, and receive the grace instead.
How can we defeat the devil? Revelation 12:11 says, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the world of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death”. Even though people devote themselves to church diligently, they abandon their faith and go back to the world once they are condemned by their conscience. Whatever the circumstance, we should not be fall into the devil’s temptation and keep our souls by testifying, “I am saved by the blood of Jesus Christ. I have been forgiven.”
Receive the Holy Spirit
Those who are baptized and forgiven of their sins will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the advocate who guarantees the grace we received through Jesus Christ. Those who don’t receive the Holy Spirit cannot be set free from the Law. The Holy Spirit is also a type of law – one that is more powerful than Moses’ Law. Roman 8:2 says, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” When the sun rises, the candle becomes useless. Likewise, when the law of the Holy Spirit comes, the Law becomes meaningless.
To those who ask, “Brothers, what shall we do?”, Peter cried out, “Be baptized! Receive forgiven of your sins! Then you will receive the Holy Spirit!” Be baptized! You should be separated from the world to enjoy God’s happiness. Be forgiven of your sins! Accept God’s grace, and be liberated from the condemnation of your conscience. Then you will receive the Holy Spirit, and He will testify of the grace you have received. Be filled with the Holy Spirit! Only with the support of the Holy Spirit, can we abide in grace, and testify of the grace to other souls.