In the previous lecture, we emphasized that the true faith that leads to our salvation is the acceptance of the life of Christ and not merely the belief that Christ is the Son of God. In this lecture, we will answer the critical question that has been addressed to christ from a certain ruler in the gospel of Luke chapter eighteen, saying, “ O good teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). The Lord answered him: "You know the commandments, do not commit adultery. Do not kill. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother." (Luke 18:20) Later the same question was asked to St. Peter and the Apostles on the Day of Pentecost when they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. People were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”.(Acts2:7). When St. Peter saw them confused, he started to talk to them about the gospel of salvation and testify about Christ’s redemptive work on the cross, saying “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”(Acts 2:36). When they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).
Why was Jesus’ response to this question different from St. Peter’s?
The Lord Jesus answered this ruler with the commandments of the law because this man was a Jew who knew only the law of Moses; that is what he learned and lived. Also, the plan of salvation that Jesus came for, that is, He was crucified and raised from the dead, has not been fulfilled yet.
So St. Peter’s answer to this question gives us very essential and vital concepts to how to receive the salvation of Christ and His eternal life. Here we see the difference in teaching about salvation between preachers in our churches these days and between teaching the gospel of the New Testament. The preachers say that we are saved if we only believe in the Name of Jesus as our Lord and Savior who saved us from the thorn of death and sin by His death on the cross and His resurrection. In the book of Acts chapter two, the Apostle Peter told us that faith that saves is not simply a word to utter, “I believe in Christ," but there are other steps inherent in faith and must be side by side to lead us to the salvation and the eternal life of Jesus. He also gave us the keys that change our mindset of the Old Testament, that is, the shift from relying on the works of the law to attain salvation, into the mentality of the New Testament, that is, the acceptance of the life that is shown in Christ to be saved.
What are these practical steps that lead us to salvation and eternal life in Christ?
When Peter saw the people troubled and worried asking what to do to be saved, he answered them saying, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”(Acts 2:38). He drew their attention to the fact that a genuine faith in Christ must be bound by repentance. Sincere repentance from all the heart must be side by side with faith.
Why did Peter put repentance as a sign of true faith?
Because repentance is a voluntary decision and a choice by free will to reject sin and the lusts of the world. Repentance is the change of man’s will and his intention. When I repent, I make a pledge to live in God’s love and obedience to His commandments. Then St. Peter continued to say that they must be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ.
According to the New Testament baptism does not mean just immersion in water but a union with Christ’s death and resurrection. We read in St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans, “ Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so, we also should walk in newness of life.” (Romans6:3-4). Baptism is the union of Christ, who was crucified and raised from the dead. The goal of our faith in the Lord Jesus, which is based on true repentance and an actual decision to change, is to have unity with Him, and be saved by the cleansing of sins by His death, and also to have the power of the new life and nature by His resurrection. The consequence of all this is that we will be ready and qualified to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Holy Spirit, Christ’s life, which prevails over sin and death, overflows in us, and we receive the new nature.
What is the New Nature?
The fall of man has corrupted his human nature because he has become prone to evil. His mind and will are lost; they are united with sin. On the cross, the confrontation took place between death in Satan and the life in Christ. Life in christ prevailed and abolished death. This confrontation on the cross made the new nature. The nature that was corrupted, made a renewed version of the humanity of Christ. The acceptance of Christ’s life, which prevailed over death and corruption by resurrection, conveys to humanity's corrupt and fallen nature the power of the predominance of sin and death in the Holy Spirit. The nature of humanity changes and renews and thus becomes a new nature similar to the life of Christ.
How do I receive the new nature in the Holy Spirit?
The question here is, how does this renewed version, which is the nature of Jesus Christ, pass on to the sinner? The new nature that Christ has done for us with His death and resurrection, is transmitted to us by the Holy Spirit when we ask him for it with repentance and confidence. In the epistle to the Romans chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul affirms that we have a role in receiving this new nature by renewing our minds and thoughts “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans12:2-3). The gift of a new life will be given to us when our mind and thoughts transform to submit to Jesus and unite with Him instead of subjecting our minds to the world’s lusts and sin. We must obey the word of God, reject Satan’s ways and choose to receive the new nature. God, the examiner of hearts, will see our sincere repentance and respond to our earnest request to give us the new nature. We will feel the power of life, joy, and enlightenment in our being when we receive this new nature.
What Are the Signs of Receiving the New Nature ?
1- A constant joy will enter our hearts, and lasting peace will have our minds.
2- We will feel God’s overwhelming love that fills our hearts.
3- We will feel the grace of the power of change in us, and also, people around us will witness the remarkable change in us.
Brothers and sisters, we must pay attention to something fundamental and essential: When we accept the grace of salvation, the unity in the life of Christ, and we receive the new nature, we must abide in the eternal life that we have received, and also grow in it day by day until we change to the likeness and image of Christ. Amen