Editor’s note: Part two of a two-part series. The first part appeared in the July 11 issue of the B&R.
By Johnnie Godwin
Contributing Columnist, B&R
Jesus gave examples of sin and wickedness. In the story of the rich young ruler, he asked Jesus, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Luke 18:18, CSB). Jesus replied that no one is good except God and then referenced the “negative” Commandments. The ruler was proud to answer he had kept all those from his youth. Then Jesus told him what he had to do — not what he had to inherit — to get eternal life: namely, to sell all he had, give it to the poor and then follow Jesus. The ruler was downcast and turned without following Jesus, getting forgiveness, or receiving eternal life (Luke 18:19-23). Then Matthew 25:14-30 gives the parable of the talent, and Jesus taught that wickedness is the sin of doing nothing with what you have.
These teachings of Jesus and others help us to grow in our awareness of the seriousness of sin. Further, the teachings help us to see beyond what we have done wrong to what we have failed to do right. To know what to do and fail to do it is sin.
So, as we grow older, we ideally come to a fuller understanding of what we have done wrong that is sin; and we more fully understand what we haven’t done that is sin. And we find a need to have a change of mind and heart that we call repentance and get fresh forgiveness — no matter what age we were when we were saved.
Conclusion. Only God knows what the age or condition or stage of accountability for sin before God is. If a person of sound mind lives, that committing of sin comes into every life because of personal choice — not because of inheritance. If anyone ever went to hell for Adam’s sin, it would only be Adam. Each person is responsible for his own. Each person will trust Christ as Lord and Savior and get saved from his sin. Or the person will remain in his sin and suffer eternal separation from God and an eternity in hell. So, you see, age is not the critical factor. Rather, the essential and critical decision of trusting Christ as Lord and Savior is what each person has to decide for himself. “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (John 3).
It is also a conclusion and observation of mine that many people in mid-teens to early adulthood — or later — often reflect on their salvation experience and doubt that it was real, valid, actual and that they got saved. For similar reasons, they may feel that they didn’t understand their salvation fully or their baptism fully and need to get “re-saved” and “re-baptized.” There is only one salvation and only one genuinely true scriptural baptism. Chances are that others’ experiences are much like my own. I got saved at age 7 and baptized at age 7 and never doubted that the total experience was eternally real and that God had saved me and sent His Holy Spirit to live within me. But at age 15, I had a deep rededication experience as I realized with freshness that God had a calling for me for all the rest of my life. I received that call and committed to it at age 15. With what old theologians called “the expulsive power of a new affection,” I doubled-down and committed to that calling for the rest of my life. In answering the call with my life, I found that my envisioning of God was really “God’s Amazing Maze of Grace.” In other words, God led me through many turns and ways and pauses and re-starts in His calling of grace. And God is still doing that. And I’m still listening.
So my conclusion and observation isn’t to suggest to others that they not get the security of feeling in stating their commitment to Christ as Lord and Savior and even going under baptismal waters a second time. If you feel insecure in your first and earliest salvation and baptismal experiences — get secure by taking whatever steps you need to now. But for all life, know your salvation is secure in God’s grace and not in your feelings. Your commitment lets you know “whom you have believed.” There is not even a preposition between it all. Now, choose Christ as Lord and Savior. Be faithful all of your life. But repent and rededicate even if your sin after salvation is like that of Peter denying Jesus with cursing but coming back in repentance, forgiveness, and then preaching the Sermon of Pentecost and being the Prince of Apostles. Do it in faith!
— Copyright 2018 by Johnnie C. Godwin: firstname.lastname@example.org.