The first response of faith
We are sinners. God in Jesus Christ has given us a solution to our problem to fix it. What, then, should be our response?
This is the situation that all of us had faced or will face. Faced with how bad we actually are, there is no solution that we can see. But God has given us a way out in the Gospel, calling on us to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). This is what we are called to do in light of the Gospel message, in order to be saved.
First, we have to repent. In repentance, we admit that we are wrong and agree that what God says is correct. Therefore, we admit how bad we are. We agree with God that our good deeds are really wicked before God according to God's high standard. We agree with God's judgment that we deserve punishment in death and hell. We agree that we are helpless to save ourselves.
Next, we believe in Jesus, the opposite side of the coin of repentance. We agree with God of the truth of the Gospel message. We accept Jesus' life and death on the Cross as a fact. We accept Jesus as a person and all that He has ever said and did. We accept that He died to save sinners, of whom I am one of them. This act of belief is to put our trust in the person of Jesus, and in what He has done for us.
Secondly, the command is to be baptized. Baptism is the ceremony involving water whereby a person tells everyone by his or her participation that he or she is now a Christian and part of the community of Christians. Before baptism, a person can claim to be a believer but he is not officially considered as one. Baptism brings a person officially into the community of believers and thus the Church.
This then is the first response of faith, Through repentance and baptism, the person has indicated that he or she has believed in the truth of our sinfulness and the Gospel message. He has now started the journey of coming to know the God who has given His Son to save him from his sins (Mt. 1:21b).
[to be continued]