What Does the Lord Require?
Yesterday I read a statement of faith from a church in my area regarding baptism. One sentence got me thinking about how we make up our own theology. It stated, baptism "demonstrates our submission to God." That sounds like something worthy of doing, i.e., submitting to and showing God we are submissive. But is it biblical? Could this and statements like it be man's philosophy? If so, we should beware (Colossians 2:8).
Why do I need to demonstrate anything to God? Am I not saved by grace through faith? Was I not given a gift but now God wants me to confirm my submission to him?
Should we be baptized to demonstrate our submission to God? If that's what baptism shows, then why not do it every day? What else can we do to demonstrate submission? How about beating ourselves (flagellation) with a stick? Or crawling up the holy stairs in Rome on our knees? Or, maybe a bit less obtrusive, sitting in our quiet place and never missing a day of devotional Bible reading? We could make a never ending list.
The whole idea of having to do something to get closer to God is a holdover from the Catholic Church's false doctrine. Charles Dickens wrote about such things as "dangerous reliance on outward observances."
Attempting to demonstrate submission to God outwardly weighs us down with the baggage of guilt. We can never quite express ourselves enough outwardly. To even try puts us in danger of developing a guilt complex; Woe is me, I didn't do enough, I must do more!
That's not a good place to be in our life of faith. Guilt paralyzes and discourages us. Guilt will often cause one to give up. And many do quit because they have found it impossible to demonstrate anything to God sufficiently. Some walk away and never look back.
What does the Bible teach?
- You are complete in Christ. In Christ dwells ALL the fulness of goodness and Godness. Because of that, when you believe "Ye are complete in him" (Colossians 2:10). Complete means--complete. It is a completed action done by God Himself to us. It's a passive word in Greek, which means we don't do it to ourselves; God does it to us. Attempting to demonstrate submission to God is an exercise in futility. God says, "I did it for you."
- The apostle Paul made it very clear to the Corinthian church, "Ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified" (1 Corinthians 6:11). Three extraordinary actions, which, like our completeness, are all done to us the moment we believe. Most agree with the washing part and justification (declared righteous) as being one-time actions (which they are), but many change the Greek tense from passive to active when it comes to sanctification. They say things like, "Sanctification is a process" or, "Sanctification is daily growth in your Christian life so I must do more." But that is not what Paul wrote. Upon belief in Jesus Christ, Paul states that each person is washed once, justified once, AND sanctified once. God sees each believer in that light!
If we are complete in Christ, if we are washed, sanctified, and justified, why do we continue to sin? Could it be because we are not yet glorified? We are trapped in our old bodies. But God solved the problem for us, and He sent His Son to die for the sins of the world.
Even though we still sin God doesn't hold our sin against us. Yes, everyone sins, and while we still sin, "Since there is no law," our sins are not imputed to us! Meaning, God is not keeping a list of sins. In the dispensation of grace, since He took care of sin, there is no requirement on our part to do anything about them. On the cross, the sins of the entire world were forgiven, Romans 5:13 (more about this incredible truth in another post).
Don't get stuck in the false teaching of the Catholic Church.
Does one need to demonstrate anything to God? No.
God did all the demonstrating (Romans 5:8); His Son did all the submitting on the cross! All one must do is believe and rejoice in His work, not our own. Praise the Lord!