Before we get into the Word, I would like to remind you that if you need prayer or a prophecy, contact me (no strings attached) today. If you need continued prayer, add me on Facebook (no strings attached), and I will pray for all my Facebook friends every day.
In this week’s Bible teaching, we will answer what it means to be in Christ, be saved, be forgiven of your sins, and receive the Holy Spirit. So now let us open the Bible and get into the Word:
In 2. Chor 5:17, we read; If any man is in Christ, He is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
In 1. John 2:6, we read; Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did
2. Chor 5:17 gives us a wonderful promise, if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. Old things will have passed away; all things will have become new. So, according to the Apostle Paul, if you want to have a new life and a changed life, all you have to do is to be in Christ.
But what exactly does it mean to be in Christ?
1. John 2:6 gives us a clue when it says all who claim to live in Christ must live as Jesus did.
As Christians, we know how Jesus lived His life; He went about doing good, healing people, waking people up from the dead, and casting out demons. He was the sinless lamb of God (John 1:9) because He kept every commandment in the law, applicable to Him, perfectly.
Did you notice something?
1. John 2:6 does not say all who claim to be in Christ get to decide what parts of Jesus’s life they can imitate. Instead, it says that all who claim to be in Christ must live as Jesus did. In other words, living in Christ means we have to imitate every part of His life, not just the parts we like. Most Christians like the idea of replicating all the miracles and doing good, but they do not want to keep the law of Moses. The truth we need to accept is this: we dont get to decide what to imitate; if we are to be in Christ, we have to live our lives the way He did 100%.
An essential aspect of imitating the life of Christ is to have the mind of Christ.
Throughout the Gospels, we find Jesus as a loving Son whose only concern in life is to love His Father. He knows His Father’s love language is the law of Moses, so His mind is constantly focused on following the law and loving the law because this is our only way to show God we love Him. If we claim to be in Christ, we have to imitate the mind of Christ loving the law because we love Yehovah, our Father.
Having the mind of Christ is what repentance is all about, and it is crucial for our salvation.
In Acts 2:38, Peter says, “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.”
The Greek word used here for repentance means to change the way you think and accept the will of God for your life. We know from Ecclesiastes 12:13 the will for our lives is to fear God and keep His law, the law of Moses. So, according to Peter, repentance is what we do when we start to think of and obey the law of Moses, just as Jesus did. Why is it important to think on the law of Moses and keep the law on our minds? The Bible says; because as a man thinks in his mind, so is he. When our minds focus on the law, we will live by the law and become the law.
When Peter says we should be baptized, he is not referring to Christian baptism. As a Jew preaching in the temple to other Jews, he referred to the Jewish ritual bath called a mikvah.
So what Peter is saying here, in Acts 2:38 is this is how you are saved:
- Think on the law of Moses.
- Make sure to obey it.
- Cleanse yourself in the mikvah as Jesus commanded us.
Then you will receive forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Did you notice something important?
Peter is trying to tell us how to live as Christ lived. Christ was constantly focused on the law of Moses; He always obeyed it, He went to the mikvah and taught his disciples to do the same (John 13:10). We will be a new creation if we imitate His life because we will be in Him. We will have forgiveness of sins; we will receive the Holy Spirit, have eternal life, and as a bonus, we will get to do all the other things Jesus did, things like; healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out demons.
Did you catch what Peter said?
The Gospel, according to Peter, is not: belief in the cross, and you will be saved.
The Gospel, according to Peter, is: come back to the law of Moses.
Peter does mention the cross; at the beginning of Acts 2. But the focus of Peters’s message is not the cross; it is the fact that Jesus is raised from the dead. Why is this important? We are going to see why in a moment. What Peter is preaching is consistent with the great commission. In the great commission, Jesus never says: Go out into all the world and tell them I died for their sins. Instead, He says, go out into all the world and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. What did Jesus teach His disciples? Matt 23:2-4, Jesus taught them to obey the law of Moses.
Is the cross unimportant?
No, the cross is essential; Paul says in his letters we are reconciled to God by the cross. But there is a difference between reconciliation and righteousness. The Bible teaches us we are reconciled by the cross and made righteous by what we do. The law can not reconcile us to God; the cross can not make us righteous. This is why we need both the cross AND the law to be reconciled and become righteous. This is also why Jesus says, in Matt 7, He rejects those who are reconciled to Him by the cross but have never become righteous by the law.
Why is the focus of Peter’s message on the resurrection of Christ instead of the death of Christ? Because Peter identifies Christ as the Messiah.
We Christians tend to see Messiah as meaning “anointed to die for our sins.” On the other hand, Peter saw Messiah as the promised King of Israel, a descendant of King David. Peter believed Jesus fulfilled the role of the two Messiahs, Messiah Ben Yosef and Messiah Ben David. In the first coming of Christ, Jesus came as Messiah Ben Yosef, the suffering Messiah. In the second coming of Christ, He will come as Messiah Ben David, the ruling King of Israel who will wipe out all enemies of Israel.
So one of the reasons why Peters focuses on the living Christ, resurrected from the dead, has to do with Peter identifying Jesus as Messiah Ben David. Peter saw Jesus as the ruling King of Israel who would soon return and judge every enemy of Israel. When He returns, those who are citizens of His Kingdom will rejoice with good reason too. In Isaiah 56, Romans 2, the Bible says everyone can become a citizen of His Kingdom; the only thing you have to do is accept the law of His Kingdom, which we call the law of Moses, and become reconciled by the cross. Those who are enemies of His Kingdom will have great cause for fear. They will be killed, judged, and thrown into hell for having rejected His law and His Kingdom. This might happen at any moment, so Peter tells the crowd to repent and become Israel before it’s too late.
There are, of course, those who will argue, Christ has not returned yet. Was Peter wrong when he urged the crowd to repent as soon as possible? No, because every day, 10 out of 10 people die. When a person dies, they will meet Jesus either as their King or their enemy. If He is their King, they will hear, “welcome home, you great and faithful servant.” If He is their enemy, they will hear, “depart from Me, I dont know who you are, your workers of lawlessness.”
Jesus might return as Messiah Ben David today; it might be another 100 years or more. You might die today, or you might live to be 120 years old. One thing for sure, we dont know when we will die or when He will return. So dont wait, repent, and become a citizen of His Kingdom while you have the time. Reconcile yourself to Yehovah by the cross. Then you can know for sure that if you die today, you will see your King, and He will welcome you home. If you get to live to be a 120, you will live in Christ and have a brand new life filled with the Holy Spirit.
Now that you know what it means to be in Christ, you know how to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit’s gift. You also have learned how to identify a spirit-filled believer; they are in love with the law of Moses AND Jesus their Lord.