A Fatal Mistake - Part 2

Scripture: Acts 2:37-38, Mark 16:15-16, John 14:15-21
How do we handle ignorance about truth? If we do not know a certain Bible truth does God hold us accountable? What if we do know about truth, then what? We have a responsibility to accept truth when it is presented. One example of this is baptism. Can you willfully sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth?
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During the Second World War over 600,000 men were rejected for military service in the United States army because they could not read or write, and during the Korean War another 300,000 were rejected for the same reason. It is an amazing fact that about eleven percent of American adults are illiterate for all practical purposes, which means they can't even read street signs or look for a job in the help-wanted columns of the daily paper. Ten million of these people are over twenty-five years of age, and they can't read about disease and its prevention, or learn any new facts or truth from the millions of printed pages that are published daily.

Here is a good question to ask: how responsible can these illiterates be held for a knowledge of law? And what about right and wrong? Does God hold people accountable for truth that they are not able to read about or do not understand?

An important thought on the sin of ignorance. In Bible times God forgave sins of ignorance until the knowledge of truth came to a man. Then, he was required to bring immediately a sacrifice to atone for his past sins of ignorance, else the past forgiveness would not stand. How different people react today when they find they've been breaking one of God's commandments ignorantly. The majority take the attitude, "Oh, I've been living the other way so long, I can't change so abruptly now. If I'd known it before when I was younger, it would be different. But I'm sure God has accepted me, and will not hold me accountable." Oh, what a tragic mistake! When a sin of ignorance comes to a man, he must confess his past error and change his ways else he will be responsible and liable in the solemn day of judgment.

There are parts of the Bible that have been neglected, have been overlooked. But God in His glorious plan has revived those great truths in the last days and the light is shining out in greater fulness than ever before. But I'll tell you, friends, it is a very solemn thing to reject, or neglect one single part of what God has written.

Now another thing in the matter of the Holy Spirit. That brings in the matter of baptism. When does the Holy Spirit plan to take over the life fully and completely without reserve? In Acts 2 when Peter was preaching that great sermon at the time of Pentecost, the people came under great conviction and cried out under the impress of the Holy Spirit, "men and brethren, what shall we do?" Acts 2:37. "What shall we do? How can we be saved? How can we find salvation?" They had come under conviction, and that was the direct work of the Holy Spirit. Peter told 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). I want you to see, friends, that is the call to every man, woman and child. No man, knowingly, can reject or neglect baptism and expect to be saved. The Holy Spirit comes into the heart without reserve when that individual has turned his back upon sin and has gone forward into the watery grave and has died to the old way of living, is buried and rises to walk in newness of life.

There are many individuals, friend, who are neglecting baptism, are just satisfied with a baby baptism, or sprinkling, Satan's counterfeit, which means nothing in the eyes of God. It is not found in the Bible, it is man-made entirely and is founded upon the sands of tradition and that alone, and an individual who knowingly puts off baptism, is resisting the Holy Spirit. Peter insists, ". . .every one" of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus. And then the individual will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God stands waiting to enter that heart more fully at the time he is baptized to take possession of that life and guide him on step by step.

It is no wonder, I guess, that Satan is trying to keep people from taking their stand for baptism. It is no wonder also that he fools a lot of good people into thinking, "Oh, I don't need to worry. I was baptized, you know when I was a baby;" or "I was sprinkled," or "I was poured and I meant well. God has answered my prayers since and I have been a good person. I think it is all right; I don't need to worry." You do need to worry! Jesus commissioned the disciples, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." Mark 16:15,16. We can't go halfway.

No wonder Satan is trying to get individuals to commit the sin against the Holy Ghost by refusing baptism. That is when the Holy Spirit is to come and take complete charge of the life in a special way.

There is another thing about this matter of the Holy Spirit's coming in. It is also upon condition. That condition we find in John 14:15-21. Christ is speaking: "If ye love me, keep my commandments." There you see, friend, that the keeping of the commandments is the love of God wrought out in our daily lives through Christ, and is the condition of the Holy Spirit's full entrance into the hearts.

We have talked quite a bit about the commandments of God. You can hardly get away from it and read any page of the Bible. But why do I mention it today? I want you to notice again, "If ye love me, keep my commandments, AND. . .", Ah, there is the next part. And what? "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the spirit of Truth;. . .He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him." I want you to see that the reception of the Holy Spirit in the life is upon the basis, the promise, of keeping the commandments of God. I wish we could realize that more fully. How many, many individuals are being deceived on that very point. They feel that they can know that they are saved, and yet they go right ahead and each week break the commandments of God. Why, my friend, it is bad enough to break God's commandments now and then. That is bad enough. But to plan to, Next week I'll not be able to keep the fourth commandment, and the week following I'll trample His commandments under foot, and the next week, and the next", leading right on to eternity. Why, there is no hope of salvation, absolutely no hope of salvation, for it says in Hebrews 10:26, "For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."

That is a fearful text, my friends. That is like a great warning STOP sign in the path of every individual leading on to eternal life. It says, "HALT!" Wait a moment! If you are breaking the commandments of God knowingly, remember this; you stand accountable in the eyes of God and there is no way that Jesus' blood can atone for one's sins. "If ye love me" do what?, keep the commandments." How many of them should we keep? We have to keep them all, for if we keep them all but one, it says, we are guilty of all. (James 2:10). I would to God we could realize it, friends, it is that premise upon which the Holy Spirit enters the heart, "If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will send you the Holy Spirit, the Comforter." Then, do you remember that very sad, that very solemn text? "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." I John 2:4.

I don't know, friends, how to get around these texts, do you? You would hardly believe what we as preachers have to listen to sometimes as we practically see people sinning against the Holy Ghost. I've had people come up to me and boast of how they had had the so-called baptism of the Spirit many years ago. Boastingly claiming it, and then with the next breath turn right around and say, "Oh, I can't keep the commandments of God." It is a fearful thing, friends, bringing down judgment upon themselves. It is utterly impossible to have the Holy Spirit in the life unless the life is fully surrendered to the will of God and that individual willingly and knowingly conforms to the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

One lady said, "I know that I'm not keeping the commandments, I know it." But then she defended herself: "But I don't feel that I am lost for I had the baptism of the Spirit." I'll tell you, friends, I think it is high time that we begin to check on this thing that people are calling the baptism of the Spirit and find out what kind of a spirit it is, don't you think so? There is danger there. The Holy Spirit today is going to agree 100% with what He wrote back there in Bible times. A man cannot stand up and preach in the name of Jesus Christ and claim the power of the Holy Spirit, when he is knowingly breaking God's commandments, any part of them. It cannot be! A house divided against itself is going to fall. Jesus put that very clearly. There must be a uniformity in the message.

Here is an illustration: A man had heard about true Bible baptism for the first time. He said, "I can see that baptism is right, but I was sprinkled when I was a baby, or I think I was. And my mother's dead and I'm afraid I might be going against my mother's will if I was baptized."

Friends, isn't it God's will that counts? When the truth is plain, how can we say "no" and expect eternal life? Our mothers and loved ones that have died will be judged by the light of the truth that they had opportunity to see. And if we expect to see our loved ones on the resurrection morning, then we must be willing to follow the truth that God brings to us. I cannot see how a soul would dare come up to eternity, come up to death's door without being baptized by immersion if he understood the truth of the matter. Surely that would be fatal.

The Spirit of truth will agree with what the Holy Spirit wrote in the Bible. Remember the great yardstick of the Bible; Isaiah 8: 20, "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."

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