Dialing the Wrong Number

If a man wants to call his father on the phone, several digits must be dialed exactly right, and in the correct order. If the last digit is an eight, and he dials a nine, he will not reach his father. Truth is often narrow, and missing only one detail can often cause complete failure. To reach the Father in Heaven, there are steps He has given man to follow. They are not difficult to understand, but they must be done exactly as He specified, and in the correct order, to reach Him. To further explain this, we will continue using the analogy of dialing a phone.

First, there could be no connection to God without the sacrifice of His Son. Though we have all sinned, the Word of God’s grace (Acts 20:32) has been extended to teach us how to be saved through Christ and how to live like Christ (1 Pet. 2:21-24). We would not have the ability to access God without God’s grace, God’s Word, and the sacrificial work of Christ to establish a reliable connection to God (Rom. 5:1-10). God’s grace does not exclude man’s obedience, but rather demands it (Titus 1:16; 2:11-14; cf. Rom. 1:5; 16:26). It is as if God supplied us with the phone, His phone number, and the connection through Christ, but we still must follow His instructions and dial the correct number to reach Him. There are Biblical accounts of people who thought they could access God differently than what He specified, but they found out they were wrong, as if they were dialing the wrong number:

  • The Jews who believed in Jesus but would not confess Him had the wrong number and could not reach God in that manner (John 12:42-43; cf. 8:30-44; 14:6).
  • The Jews who believed in God but killed His Son had the wrong number until Peter gave them the correct number: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38, cf. 2:36-41, 47). Verse 41 records that about 3,000 of them dialed the right number and obtained access to God by believing and being baptized on that same day (cf. Mark 16:15-16).
  • The Ethiopian who worshiped God in ignorance of Christ had the wrong number until Philip gave him the correct number: “Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing” (Act 8:35-39).
  • Paul, who prayed and fasted for three days before his conversion, was dialing the wrong number to reach God. Prayer did not save him. Ananias gave him the correct number to dial in Acts 22:16: “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Act 22:16; cf. Acts 9, 22, 23:1; 26; 1 Tim. 1).
  • Cornelius, who was considered a just and prayerful man, was dialing the wrong number until Peter told him what he must do to get to Heaven: “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him…believeth… And…be baptized in the name of the Lord…” (Act 10:35, 43, 48; cf. 10:6; 11:14, 18; Mark 16:15-16).
  • The Ephesians, who had been baptized with John’s baptism, were dialing the wrong number until Paul taught them the Truth and they were baptized correctly (Acts 19:1-5). Simply being immersed is not sufficient without truly understanding the identity of Christ and the steps in His plan of salvation.

Like the examples above, there are people today who want access to God but are dialing the wrong number:

  • Those who try to pray their way into a right relationship with God before water baptism are dialing the wrong number like Paul was (Prov. 28:9; John 9:31; Acts 9:10-19; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:12).
  • Those who confess their sins in prayer before water baptism are not dialing the correct number that the Ethiopian dialed in Acts 8:37. He did not confess his sins in prayer but confessed his faith to Philip (cf. Matt. 10:32). Prayer for forgiveness comes after water baptism (Acts 8:12-24; 1 John 1:9; 2:12).
  • Those who confess that “God, for Christ’s sake, has pardoned my sins” before being immersed are dialing the wrong number (Acts 2:38; 22:16). Remember the example of the Ephesians, demonstrating that a proper understanding is required (Acts 19:1-5; cf. Rom. 6:17).
  • Those who “confess Christ as their Lord and Savior” believing they are saved before water baptism are dialing the wrong number (Acts 2:36-38; 8:37; 1 Pet. 3:20-21).
  • Those who “ask Jesus to come into their hearts” are dialing the wrong number, because Jesus commanded water baptism for salvation and said to ask Him nothing in prayer (Mark 16:15-16; John 16:23).
  • Those who believe but will not repent of all sins are dialing the wrong number (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20).
  • Those who believe but are ashamed to confess faith in Christ to people are dialing the wrong number (Mark 8:38; John 12:42-43; Rom. 10:9-11).
  • Those who have water sprinkled or poured on them instead of being “buried with Him in baptism” are dialing the wrong number (Col. 2:12; cf. Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:3-5).
  • Those who believe they are saved and are later immersed to be added to a man-made church/denomination are dialing the wrong number (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:38-41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23-26).

To become a true child of God, 1) Hear God’s Word (Rom. 10:17); 2) Believe in Jesus, the sinless, resurrected Son of God (Jn. 8:24; Rom. 10:9-10); 3) Repent of all sins (Acts 17:30); 4) Confess faith in Christ in the presence of people (Matt. 10:32); 5) Be immersed in water in the name of Christ for the forgiveness of sins, to be added to Christ’s church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:38-41, 47; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Pet. 3:20-21); 6) Be faithful, even to the point of death (Rev. 2:10; cf. 1 John 1:6—2:6).

After we dial the correct number and initially gain access to God, we must “stay on the line” by following His instruction manual, the Holy Scriptures. We must walk in the light, maintaining our connection to God (1 John 1:6—2:6). In the New Testament we read of many who failed to maintain their connection to God, such as these:

  • Christians in Galatia who tried to mix the Law of Moses with the Law of Christ lost their connection to God: “For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:3-4).
  • Children of God like Hymenaeus and Philetus, who strayed from the pure teachings of God, lost their connection to God (2 Tim. 2:15-18; cf. Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 4:16).
  • Some Jews who had become Christians thought they could go to Heaven without faithfully assembling with other Christians, and they lost their connection to God (Heb. 10:25-31).
  • God warned that those who tamper with His Word will lose their connection to Him, having their names removed from the Book of Life (Rev. 22:18-19).

How does a child of God maintain a strong connection to God? Being faithful includes such things as: 1) Faithfully assembling with other Christians in one’s area (Heb. 10:23-31); 2) Worshiping God in spirit and in truth, according to the New Testament Scriptures (John 4:23-24); 3) Living a holy life (Gal. 5:19-23; 1 Pet. 1:15-16; 2 Pet. 1:3-11); 4) Helping others in need (Matt. 25:31-46; Gal. 6:10); 5) Studying God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:15-18); and 6) Teaching others the Truth (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 1:28; 2 Tim. 2:2, etc.). Those who sin after being Scripturally baptized must confess their sins in penitent prayer to the Father in the name of His Son Jesus and ask for forgiveness (Acts 8:22-24; 1 John 1:9).

Again, God has given us the phone, the correct number to dial, and the connection made available by our Savior. It is our responsibility to dial the right number and maintain our connection to God by following Christ faithfully. We must “stay on the line” with God, and we dare not hang up on Him!

One thought on “Dialing the Wrong Number”

  1. The way and the truth is written
    There for us to follow. Yes, be faithful and believe in His truth. The one and only way.
    Thank you Jason for reaching out , explaining and reminding.

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