This is the time of the year when we begin to think about New Year resolutions. I am sure that the majority of people wait until after the Christmas Holidays to get serious about considering anything. I dare say that a large percentage of people wait until New Year’s Eve to develop new goals, aims, plans, commitments, obligations, or resolutions. Of course we all know what the number one resolution is of the majority of people. That is to go on a diet or to lose weight. The number two resolution is probably financial matters, to cut out being so wasteful, or to do more saving, or to invest wisely. Some folks make a commitment to be a better spouse or parent. Perhaps we make the resolution to never be late getting to work or to go to bed earlier. It used to be that quitting smoking or some other bad habit was at the top of the list.
Jan. 1 represents a time when we make commitments with sincere intentions, but soon these intentions are weakened and even totally disregarded. Many often fail at these resolutions. However, I am sure there are many who live up to the resolutions they have acknowledged. It takes great discipline to live up to these plans, desires, and commitments. The great thing is that these items are dealing with ourselves. I am trying to improve myself, my actions, speech, or habits. I cannot make these for other people even though I would love to do so. It is easy to see the flaws in others. But now today, Dec. 31, I am making plans for myself to improve myself, starting tomorrow. It can be hard and difficult to look at myself honestly as someone else may see me, but I try. Plus, I want that self-image that gives me confidence in who I am or what I do. I try to look at the whole person of who I am, spiritually, physically, and mentally. Who am I and what improvements do I need to make for myself?
I especially want to focus in on the spiritual improvements that I can make for myself. Perhaps as a non-Christian I am confused about what to do and fail to understand because of the tremendous conflict in beliefs and teachings. There is too much division in the faith of which Jesus prayed that we would all be of one faith, John 17. Even as a Christian, I need to set goals. The number one goal of either group should be to read, know and understand more of the word of God, the Bible. This amazing book contains the directions for eternal life. Upon reading and understanding is the knowledge that we do not live under the Old Testament. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ, that ye should be married to another, even to Him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God, Romans 7:4. We are not required to offer animal sacrifices to God at Jerusalem, or for the males to be circumcised as under the Old Covenant. The death of Christ on the cross of Calvary made the Old Testament obsolete. Now we must be faithful to Christ and serve Him.
When we began serving Christ then we experienced a new birth, spiritually speaking, John 3:3-5. Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new, II Corinthians 5:17. In Christ, there is a new beginning in my relationship with God. So how do I get into Christ? For ye all are the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, Galatians 3:26-27. I realize that there is a great controversy about baptism among Christianity which is causing division in the faith. I simply ask what does this passage teach? Are you willing to deny any part of it? But there is so much more than this one verse. There are dozens of verses dealing with this subject. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit, I Corinthians 12:13. That one body is the Church, Ephesians 1:22-23, or the one body of faith. All this is in plain English, straight out of the word of God. Furthermore, we have recorded through inspiration, the like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I Peter 3:21. Plus the fact that baptism is for the remission of sin, Acts 2:38.
The term baptism comes from a Greek term that if correctly translated means immersed. This term was made from the Greek word, baptizo, into an English word, baptize. It was transliterated or used letter for letter practically into an English word. Furthermore, the definition of immersion in New Testament times was understood and practiced in the early church. It was several hundred years later that sprinkling or pouring was being used. So now hopefully we understand the importance of reading the Bible for ourselves. A good Bible dictionary is very helpful and also a concordance with the Greek and Hebrew in the back of the book.
You are responsible for what you believe. The beautiful thing of Christianity is that you can become a child of God any day of the year. You do not have to wait until Jan. 1. You have 365 days a year to become a Christian. If you need further study, please feel free to contact me. I will make myself available in any way possible or put you in contact with someone who can study with you. May you make plans spiritually for today and yes for the New Year also. There is no greater self-improvement item that we can do for ourselves, family or friends. Please come worship with us.
Larry Graves is the minister at Riceville Church of Christ. He can be reached at 865-300-0642.