Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for sin is essential for salvation! In fact, it is the very first step in God’s plan of salvation for mankind. But Christ’s sacrifice is not the entire plan. The Bible is clear on this point. And yet there is confusion about this topic. Some think Christ’s sacrifice is all that is needed. Some believe that once they accept Christ as their personal Savior, there is nothing else to do. But Christ’s sacrifice is just the beginning.
After the death and resurrection of Christ, the Apostle Peter preached a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost. He told the audience that “God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
This really pricked the hearts of many of those listening. What did they do then? Did Peter tell them to just accept Christ’s sacrifice and leave it at that?
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do” (verse 37).
They asked the right question! They wanted to know what their responsibility was. And Peter, inspired powerfully by God’s Holy Spirit, gave them the answer. It is the same answer given to us today.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit]” (verse 38).
Peter told them to repent and be baptized. To repent means to stop breaking God’s laws and to start living by them. God intends that we accept Christ as our personal Savior through repentance and baptism. And then we are to live according to God’s laws.
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Christians are to forsake their old, dead works of sin. Christ’s shed blood pays the penalty for those past sins when a person repents. And then a Christian is to go on and live according to God’s law.
“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (verse 4).
Walking in newness of life means that we live according to the law of God. What good is it to accept Christ’s sacrifice and then just keep living in sin, not repenting of dead works?
“But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid” (Galatians 2:17).
Christ didn’t pay for our sins so we could just keep sinning and not repent. He wants to forgive us of our sins. But in order to be forgiven, we must first truly repent. This is the same message Peter preached: Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.
Salvation would not be possible without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Nothing else can pay the penalty for sin. But God will only forgive those sins that we repent of. Christ’s sacrifice is the essential first step in God’s masterplan of salvation for mankind.
To learn more about the steps in God’s plan, request our free booklet Pagan Holidays—or God’s Holy Days—Which?