The New Mexico Department of Health sponsors television commercials about the dangers of second-hand cigarette smoke. In one commercial, a glass of milk has lipstick from a previous user at a restaurant, while in the other, a fork is dropped on the floor. In both cases, a replacement is requested. In background, someone is smoking.
Then comes the punch-line that second-hand smoke kills 53,000 people each year, but no one ever died from eating with a dirty fork or drinking from a glass with lipstick on it.
One might presume that the commercials’ sponsors verified the statements by confirming the cause of death of all who have died. That would be an unreasonable presumption. However, we might also presume that the statement is correct, because it has gone unchallenged. Nobody from the medical community has said, “Wait a minute! What about James Poisonedpucker in Elsewhere, USA, who succumbed to the dreaded ‘lipstick on a glass’ syndrome?”
Now for the point of this column. Anyone who reads my column, and the accompanying scriptures (never take my word for it, John 7: 16-18; 1 Thessalonians 4: 8), knows that the Bible says that baptism (immersion in water, in Jesus’ Name, for the forgiveness of sins, Acts 2: 38, 39) is necessary in becoming a Christian (a disciple, one who identifies him/herself with Christ by following/obeying his teachings/commands, John 14: 15; Matthew 28: 18-20; Romans 6: 17, 3-7). However, I still hear the question, “6But, what if he dies on his way to the baptistry?” Anyone out there ever heard of that happening? I thought not. You can bet that if anything like that had ever happened, the “religious” community would document it at least as well as the first century Christians documented the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15: 3-8) and it would be similarly advertised (Acts 8: 4).
The reason I can boldly say that no one has ever died on his way to the baptistry is that I believe God when he says that he rewards those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11: 6). Paul became a believer after he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. He fasted and prayed for three days, seeking God, but that didn’t save him. Ananias was sent to tell him to be baptized, which he did even before he ate (Acts 9: 1-19; 22: 16). Cornelius believed in God and served him (Acts 10: 1, 2), but he wasn‘t saved. He was t6old to send for Peter, who would tell him how to be saved (Acts 10: 3-6; 11: 14). He already knew about Jesus (Acts 10: 36-38). He was commanded to be baptized (Acts 10: 48), which he and his household did.
God spared each of these men for at least three days so that his messenger could tell them what they needed to do to be saved, all because they were diligently seeking him. Then, they proved their faith in God by doing what he told them to do. That’s how man is credited with righteousness (James 2: 20-24; Romans 2: 13). No man has his own righteousness, it has to come to us from God (Romans 3: 10, 21-31). The righteousness comes by faith as we are circumcised in the heart by God as we are obedient to New T6estament law through baptism (Romans 2: 28, 29; Colossians 2: 11, 12). When Jesus was baptized, he told John the Immerser that it had to be done to fulfill all righteousness (Matthew 3: 13-15).
By the way, I look at eating utensils at restaurants before I use them, but I’ve probably used dirty ones unbeknownst and survived. I know that God has also looked out for me at other times while I was seeking the truth. The one thing I did not do when I learned the truth was waste any time obeying (Philippians 3: 15, 16), similarly to Paul, Cornelius, and John the Immerser. I am thankful that God was patient with me, but I also know that God’s patience has limits (2 Peter 3: 1-9). Do you want the righteou6sness that comes from God by faith in Christ Jesus? “What are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name” (Acts 22: 16; Romans 10: 11-13). Any questions? Okay, we’ll talk about the thief on the cross in a couple of weeks.