When one is converted according to the gospel, his sins are forgiven and he is added to the Lord's church (Acts 2:47). But this is just the beginning of a lifetime of service to God. The Christian must live and grow in Christ. To fail to do so is to fail to bring forth the fruits of repentance and to return to sin.
I. The Importance of Faithfulness
Some churches teach as doctrine that an obedient life after conversion is not essential to salvation. They teach that a child of God cannot so sin as to be lost. Consider the Bible evidence that a faithful life is necessary for a child of God to please the Lord and receive eternal life.
>>> Please read Revelation 2:10. /strong>
*1* What must one do to receive the crown of life? Answer: One must be __________ unto (or until) death.
Those who cease to be faithful have no promise of eternal life.
>>> Please read Romans 6:12-18,23. /strong>
*2* What does Paul say about the idea that we can continue in sin since we are under grace (v12)? Answer: Do not let __________ reign in your body that you should obey it.
*3* Instead of serving sin, what have we become (v18)? Answer: Having been set free from sin, we become __________ .
If we continue in sin we will be lost (v23); this is true both of sins committed before we are converted or sins committed afterward.
>>> Please read Romans 12:1,2. /strong>
*4* What should we do with our bodies? Answer: Each convert should present his body as a __________ to God.
>>> Please read Matthew 6:19-21,24,33. /strong>
*5,6* What should be our primary goal in life? Answer: We should seek first God's ___________ and ___________ .
>>> Please read Matthew 16:24-27. /strong>
*7,8* To be a follower of Jesus, what must one do? Answer: He must __________ himself and take up __________ and follow Jesus.
Note that there is no profit in gaining the whole world, if we lose our soul at the judgment.
>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 15:58. /strong>
*9* What kind of work does God expect? Answer: We should be steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in ___________ .
The Lord does not expect just a little service from time to time. He expects a firm commitment to continued, faithful labor in His service.
>>> Please read 2 Peter 2:20-22. /strong>
*10,11* How does Peter describe people who escape sin but go back to it? Answer: Their latter end (last state) is __________ than the beginning, and they are like a dog that __________ .
>>> Please read John 15:4-8. /strong>
*12,13* What happens to a disciple who does not abide in Jesus and does not bear fruit? Answer: He is __________ like a branch and is withered and is thrown into __________ .
The Bible urges all converts to be faithful to Christ. To cease being faithful is to return to sin and be lost eternally. The decision to become a Christian requires a commitment to grow and become an active, useful servant of God (1 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 3:18).
[See also 1 Cor. 10:1-13; Heb. 12:15]
II. Forgiveness for the Child of God Who Sins
Although the gospel demands faithfulness, it also recognizes that Christians will sin. There is no excuse for sin, but there is forgiveness for those who repent and renew their commitment to overcome it and grow in God's service.
>>> Please read 1 John 1:8-10. /strong>
*14* If we say we have no sin, what is our condition? Answer: We __________ ourselves and the truth is not in us.
*15* What must we do to be forgiven? Answer: If we __________ He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
>>> Please read Acts 8:22. /strong>
*16,17* After Simon had been converted (vv 12,13), he sinned again. What was he told to do to be forgiven? Answer: He was told to __________ of his wickedness and __________ .
>>> Please read Matthew 6:12. /strong>
*18* What did Jesus teach us here to pray? Answer: We should ask God to __________ like we forgive those who sin against us.
>>> Please read Luke 18:13,14. /strong>
*19* How was this tax collector justified of his sins? Answer: He prayed, "God be merciful to me a __________ ."
God does not want His children to be lost. His Son's death provides forgiveness for us when we sin. But we must meet conditions to be forgiven, just as surely as we had to meet conditions to be converted.
But the conditions for a child of God who sins are different from those for an alien sinner who has never been forgiven. To become a child of God, one must believe, repent, confess, and be baptized. But the child of God who sins must repent of his sins and confess his sins to God in prayer. If he has sinned against other people, he must also confess his sin to those people and seek reconciliation (Matthew 5:23,24; James 5:16; Luke 17:3,4).
Those who try to hide or cover their sins will not proper; only those who confess and forsake them will find mercy (Proverbs 28:13).
III. Specific Requirements of Faithfulness
What does God expect after you become a Christian? Conversion must be the beginning of a lifetime commitment of total dedication to God's service. We cannot consider here all the requirements of faithfulness, but consider a few specific areas.
A. Study the Bible Regularly.
Diligent Bible study is our only way of learning God's will and avoiding error.
>>> Please read Acts 17:11. /strong>
*20* How did these people learn what God required of them? Answer: They searched (examined) __________ daily with hearts willing to accept it.
God has revealed His will in a way we can understand, if we are willing to study with dedication. Note that these people studied "daily" - a regular commitment to study is required.
>>> Please read Psalms 1:2. /strong>
*21,22* How diligently does the godly man study God's word? Answer: Because he delights in God's law, he meditates on it __________ and __________ .
>>> Please read Psalms 119:9-12. /strong>
*23* Why did the writer want to learn God's word? Answer: He hid (laid up, treasured) God's word in __________ that he might not sin against God.
Faithfulness in God's service requires regular, dedicated study of the Scriptures, so we can know how to please God and avoid error.
Do you study your Bible regularly so you can know God's will?
[Joshua 1:8; Hebrews 5:12; Deuteronomy 6:6-9; 1 Peter 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:15; Proverbs 2:1-20; Psalms 19:7-11]
B. Pray Frequently.
In prayer, we thank God, praise Him, and ask Him to meet our needs.
>>> Please read Acts 2:42. /strong>
*24* How diligently did these early converts pray? Answer: They continued (continually) __________ in prayer, etc.
>>> Please read Philippians 4:6. /strong>
*25,26* What should we do instead of worrying? Answer: We should let our __________ be made known to God by prayer and supplication with __________ .
>>> Please read 1 Peter 5:7. /strong>
*27* Why should we pray to God? Answer: We should cast our cares on Him because __________ for us.
Prayer is our avenue of speaking to God. When we neglect it, we are not praising Him as we should, and He has not promised to provide what we need.
Are you diligent in prayer as you ought to be?
[Luke 18:1; Ephesians 6:18; Colossians 1:3; 4:2,3; 1 Thessalonians 5:17]
C. Attend All the Assemblies of the Local Church.
New Testament Christians always were recognized as part of a local church - Acts 9:26-28; 11:26; Heb. 13:17. This church must be scriptural in worship, name, organization, salvation, etc. (see other studies for further specifics).
Local churches should arrange meetings for members to worship God, study His word, and grow in strength and knowledge.
>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. /strong>
*28,29* What is the purpose of the Lord's Supper? Jesus said the bread is His __________ and the cup is the new testament in His __________, which we eat and drink in remembrance of Him.
Note that disciples should meet on the first day of each week to do this - Acts 20:7.
>>> Please read 1 Corinthians 16:1,2. /strong>
*30* How should the church obtain financial income? Answer: Each local church should take up a collection on the __________ day of the week.
Each Christian is responsible to give according to his prosperity on each first day of the week to support the work of the local church.
>>> Please read Acts 11:26. /strong>
*31* What other purpose did this church accomplish in its meetings? Answer: When the church assembled together, many people (considerable numbers) were __________ .
In addition to the Lord's Supper and giving on the first day of the week, local churches met to study God's word and to sing and pray (1 Cor. 14:15). These last three activities are nowhere specifically commanded for any particular day of the week, so the church may arrange meetings for them on any day of the week. Whenever the church arranges to meet, Christians should do their utmost to come to benefit from the study and worship.
Are you regular in attending the meetings of a faithful local church whenever you can?
[Heb. 3:12,13; 10:24,25; John 4:24; Eph. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:11; Acts 2:42]
D. Practice Proper Relations with Other People.
Again we cannot here go into significant detail, but Christians should be willing to treat people around them according to God's standard. This includes proper conduct in the following relationships:
>>> Please read Colossians 3:18-21. /strong>
*32-35* For each verse, tell what group of people is instructed to treat other people properly. Answers: V18 - __________ ; V19 - __________ ; V20 - __________ ; V21 - __________ .
Conversion should lead us to follow God's teachings in our families. [See also Eph. 5:22-6:4; Tit. 2:4,5.]
>>> Please read Romans 13:1-5. /strong>
*36* To whom should we submit according to this passage? Answer: We should be subject to __________ .
[See also 1 Pet. 2:13,14; Matt. 22:17-21.]
Christians are also responsible to treat other people properly in business relationships (Eph. 6:5-9; Tit. 2:9,10; Col. 3:22-4:1; Psa. 37:21) and to help people who are needy (Luke 10:25-37; Acts 20:35; Jas. 1:27; Matt. 25:34-40).
Are you treating other people according to the standard of God's word?
E. Help Others Learn the Gospel.
When you have been converted, invariably there will be someone else who made some effort to help you learn and obey the truth. Then it becomes your responsibility to help other people to learn and obey.
>>> Please read John 1:43-46. /strong>
*37* After learning about Jesus, what did Philip do? Answer: He found _________ and urged him to come and see Jesus.
>>> Please read Acts 8:4. /strong>
*38* When the early Christians were scattered by persecution, what did they do? Answer: They went everywhere __________ .
Every convert should learn to become a teacher. This may require time, but meanwhile we can do like Philip did and encourage people to come to someone else who can teach them.
Are you doing all you can to help other people be saved by Jesus' gospel?
[Eph. 4:16; Prov. 11:30; 2 Tim. 2:2,24-26; John 4:28-30,39; Heb. 5:12]
F. Live an Upright Moral Life.
Besides the works of service that we have studied, Christians must work to remove from their lives the immoral conduct that so often characterizes people of the world.
>>> Please read Titus 2:11-14. /strong>
*39,40* What does God's grace teach us to do? Answer: It teaches us to deny __________ and __________ but live sober, righteous, godly lives.
>>> Please read Galatians 5:19-21. /strong>
*41* What can we know about those who practice these works of the flesh? Answer: They will not __________ .
Other passages list other immoral practices that Christians must avoid. If, as already discussed, we do commit sin, then we must repent, ask God's forgiveness, and make correction with those we have harmed. (See Mark 7:20-23; Rom. 1:26-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-11.)
Is your life morally upright before the Lord?
G. Do ALL God's Will
>>> Please read Matthew 28:18-20. /strong>
*42* After one is baptized, what should he be taught to do? Answer: He should be taught to observe __________ .
This includes developing good qualities the Lord requires (2 Peter 1:5-11) and eliminating unacceptable conduct, speech, and attitudes. God requires complete and total commitment to serving Him. We must be willing to make any sacrifice necessary to please Him. Conversion is not just a means to seek forgiveness of sins; conversion requires committing oneself to serve God for a lifetime, seeking to please God as the convert's primary purpose in life.
Personal application questions:
How diligent are you in your Bible study, prayer, and help others learn the gospel?
Do you attend diligently whenever the local church meets?
What improvements can you make in your family life, in relationships with other people, or in living a godly, moral life?
Have you been living a faithful life in God's service, or do you have sins in your life that you need to correct?