The New Testament is God’s contract with man for our age. It reveals the requirements for our receiving remission of sins. How utterly disappointed many individuals will be in the Day of Judgment when they are turned away from heaven due to sins which they suppose have been forgiven.
It is not enough to pray. A man named Saul, from Tarsus in Cilicia, learned on the way to Damascus that he was a sinner. He asked what to do, only to be told, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told you what thou must do” (Acts 9:6.) He had to wait until someone was dispatched to make known to him the terms of forgiveness. In agitation and without food and drink, he waited. Most men in such condition would pray. When the Lord directed a disciple named Ananias to go to Saul, the observation was made, “Behold, he prays.” We dare not doubt the sincerity of Saul, the genuineness of his repentance, nor the fervor of his praying, but all of that was not enough to wash away his sins. Ananias addressed him in this manner: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16.)
It is not enough to be charitable. A benevolent disposition is commendable. Jesus taught, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35.) At Caesarea, there once lived a man named Cornelius, an officer in the Roman army, a man of excellent character and reputation. Cornelius was devout, God-fearing, prayerful, just, of good report among all the nation of the Jews, and he gave much alms to the people (Acts 10:2, 22.) Some would not hesitate to pronounce such a person a “Christian” in this modern world. On the basis of his charitableness alone, some would suppose Cornelius was already saved, but all the good in this man’s life could not remit a single sin. He needed Christ. To receive Christ he needed the gospel. Consequently, he was told by an angel to send for Simon Peter, “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all your house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14.)
It is not enough to worship God. The belief seems widespread that men who worship God are saved and it matters not how they worship, provided they are sincere. While God seeks men to worship him (John 4:23), not all worship is accepted, and not all who attempt to worship are redeemed. In Acts 8:27-39 there is an account of how a man who had been to Jerusalem to worship was converted on his way home. He worshiped God to the best of his knowledge, but that was not enough. Many Jews and proselytes continued to worship God after the manner of Moses, even though the old law was fulfilled. This man, the treasurer for the queen of Ethiopia, was enlightened by Philip the evangelist who preached unto him Jesus. The man believed, was baptized, and went on his way rejoicing in the assurance of salvation through Jesus.
It is not enough to hear the word. In my personal experience, I have known several people who seemed to delight in hearing the word, attending church services with some regularity, yet showing no interest in personal submission to Jesus. It is an enigma to me that anyone who shows interest in the gospel over an extended period of time would not obey it. Perhaps such persons are deceived into thinking that hearing alone will bless them. The Bible says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (Jas. 1:22.) To hear and not obey is comparable to building a house on sand, according to our Lord in Matt. 7:24-27.
It is not enough to believe on Jesus. The living oracles state plainly that faith in Jesus Christ is indispensable to one’s obtaining salvation. (Heb. 11:6.) Many who believe that Jesus is God’s Son do nothing more than give the assent of the intellect to that fact. They do not subject their wills to His will, their lives to His doctrine, or their consciences to His divine standard. During Christ’s earthly ministry, many among the chief rulers believed on him, but because of the Pharisees, they did not confess him, lest they be put out of the synagogue, loving the praise of men more than the praise of God. (John 12:42, 43.)
It is not enough to be baptized. Some folks at Ephesus were baptized, but not according to the terms of the New Covenant. (Acts 19:1-7.) They had to be taught and then baptized in the name of the Lord. Some who are baptized do not obey from the heart. (Rom. 6:3-5, 17-18.) One may submit to the wrong baptism, or not be a proper subject when baptized, or submit to an improper action called “baptism.” One must be baptized scripturally to be saved from his sins.
It is not enough to do good works. Religious people frequently give liberally of both time and money to support humanitarian endeavors. Their works are heralded as “wonderful.” In some cases, these works are connected with the name of Jesus. But the Lord said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7:21-23.) Wonderful works are not enough. One must do the will of the heavenly Father.
Let no one suppose that his sins have been remitted because he has done one or two good things. God forgives sins when men fully obey the gospel and keep it (Lk 11:28). We appropriate to ourselves the benefits of the blood of Christ and become heirs of grace when we cheerfully yield to the faith once for all delivered (Jude 3).