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"Top Shelf Christianity" -
A handbook to becoming a Christian

"but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." Jn.20:31

Chapter Eight

…………................................................................ by ric justiss

You could be baptized today.  And why wouldn’t you?
You are a believer.  You believe that Jesus was and is the Son of God.  And that is all
anyone is asked to believe.  

Acts 22:16  And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy
sins, calling on the name of the Lord

Acts 8:26-40
And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Get up, and go toward the south
unto the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. And he got up
and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace
queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to
Jerusalem to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Isaiah the prophet.
Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and stay close to this chariot. And Philip ran up
to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, Do you understand what
you are reading? And he said, How can I, except someone should guide me? And he
invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read
was this,  “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his
shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away:
and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.” And the
eunuch answered Philip, and said, I ask you, of whom is the prophet speaking? of
himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same
scripture, and preached to him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came to
some water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what keeps me from being
baptized? And Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may. And he answered
and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot
to stop: and they both went down into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and
Philip baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord
caught away Philip, and the eunuch saw him no more: but he went on his way
rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the
cities, till he came to Caesarea.

Baptism is…

Baptism is how we get into Christ.
Baptism is always accompanied by faith and repentance.
Baptism is God’s terms of surrender.
Baptism is our signal to God we have accepted Christ’s gospel.
Baptism is the external washing with water and the internal washing away of sin by
Baptism is “calling on the name of the Lord.”
Baptism is being unified with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection.
Baptism is “clothing” ourselves with Christ.
Baptism is “accepting” Christ (on His terms, not ours)
Baptism is when our sins are forgiven.
Baptism is when we receive the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is how and when we come into contact with the blood of Christ.
Baptism is when we are reborn.
Baptism is an act of faith.
Baptism is how we enter the kingdom of God.
Baptism is when we are added to the body of Christ (the church).
Baptism is when we exchange our life for His.
Baptism is when we die to ourselves and come alive in Christ.
Baptism is the washing of regeneration, and renewal of the Holy Spirit.
Baptism is the starting gun of a race of a new life.
Baptism is proclaiming in Christ the resurrection of the dead.
Baptism is when the old dies and the new arises. In this manner we become saved.
Baptism is the point in time when we become saved.
Baptism is when we stop living for ourselves and start living for Jesus.
Baptism is how and when we scripturally make a conscious decision to dedicate our
lives to Christ.
Baptism is how we scripturally enter into a relationship with Christ.
Baptism is the gavel striking the bench proclaiming forgiveness of sins, the end of the
old and the birth of the new.

is done FOR the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38)
is done to SAVE us (1Peter 3:21, Acts 2:40, Mark 16:16)
Is done to WASH AWAY OUR SINS (Acts 22:16)
is done to be  REBORN to new life (John 3:5, Romans 6:3-6)
is done to CLOTHE ourselves with Christ (Gal 3:26-27)
is done so that  GOD will RESURRECT us from death (Colossians 2:12, Romans 6:3-6)
is done as a REQUIRMENT to enter heaven (John 3:5, Mark 16:16)
is done to put us INTO CHRIST (Romans 6:3-6, Galatians 3:26-27, 1Corinthians 12:13)

When accompanied by faith and repentance, baptism (immersion) is how and when
our sins are washed away. It is done for the purpose of washing our sins away (Acts
22:16), it is the ONE baptism of the New Testament (Ephesians 4:4-5) and therefore the
“baptism” is the act every believer of Jesus Christ must submit to..

When Jesus died on the cross, He, who had no sin, paid the death penalty for our sins.
Through baptism we are united, or joined with Christ in paying the death penalty for
sin. We are baptized into His death, into the death penalty for sin. We, who are unable
to return from death because we have sin, are joined to Christ—and since Christ is
sinless and was victorious over death, we, now being united with Him through
baptism, are made victorious being united with Christ in His resurrection.

Now if God allows us to participate in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
Christ (an event which occurred 2000 years ago), through baptism, it can truly be said
we are saved through faith and God’s grace!

Baptism can be likened to the Israelites coming up out of the land of slavery, passing
through the Red Sea and entering the Promised Land. Baptism can be likened to
passing through the flood of Noah. Baptism is about leaving our old sinful, worldly
ways behind and taking upon our shoulders the yoke of Christ. It is about lifestyle
change and dying to ourselves and doing God’s will instead of ours. Our reason and
purpose for living changes after baptism. Afterward is a new way of life. Baptism is
about heart, faith, total commitment, surrender, self-denial, death, resurrection,
repentance, and seeking God’s mercy through Jesus Christ and the work He did on
that cross on that day of infamy 2000 years ago.

Romans 6: 3-5

Baptism IS the gospel!

  Death                            Burial                            Resurrection

The work of the cross is God’s offer of life…
Baptism is our acceptance.

Romans 6:3-5
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were
baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so
that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in
newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall
certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.

When we are baptized into Christ, we are baptized into His death, and therefore into
His burial and resurrection as well. Through baptism we are united with Christ in His
death, burial and resurrection; and being united with Him in this manner we rise to
new life, leaving behind our old self and rising to a new. Baptism is when our old self
dies and our new life begins. Baptism is when we stop living for ourselves and start
living for Christ. Through baptism we die to ourselves and exchange our life for His.
Baptism is also when we come into contact with the blood of Christ. It is in baptism
that we “die” with Christ…and so we therefore will live with Him as well.

In other words, what happens in baptism is that God takes Christ’s death, burial, and
resurrection and transposes it onto our life. Our old, sinful self becomes united with
Christ in His crucifixion and death through baptism and we rise from the water to new
life. This is how we “obey the gospel” (2 Thessalonians 1:8) and how we “put on
Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).

Faith + Repentance + Baptism = Salvation

If we died with him, we will also live with him;” –2Timothy 2:11

Once you have crucified your old ways (sins) and you repent, the dead person must
be buried. Baptism, a burial in water, equates with the death, burial, and resurrection of
Jesus Christ. This is the Biblical way to be born again to new life.

To cling to this life and this world is but to cling to a speck of dirt that is swirling down
the bathroom drain. For this world in its present form is passing away. And when the
Lord of Glory is revealed the earth and the sky and the stars above will melt away in
the fervent heat and fire of His judgment. But those that are found in Him and clothed
with him will pass through the flames in the same way that Daniel and his companions
passed through the fiery furnace without even so much as a singed hair. Those who
have believed and been born of water and the Spirit and remain faithful will pass
through the flames and will receive the crown of life, their eternal hope-- the salvation
of their souls. And when we have been there 100 billion years, we will have no less
days than when we first begun.

Now to the only wise and true God, the faithful and true witness, to him who is able to
do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at
work within us, to him be glory, honor, power and praise in the church and in Christ
Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be
grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in
human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to
death-- even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above
every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth
and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory
of God the Father.



Chapter 1 - Once we understand the grandeur of heaven, nothing will be more important to us
than being sure we have a home in heaven awaiting us at the end of this life.

Chapter 2 - If we want to go to heaven, we will have to change.  We have to change, or convert,
from living one way to living another way.

Chapter 3 - Once we do change, we will find out that we are much happier.

Chapter 4 - The Christian life is more than a set of rules that must be followed, but rather is a
process of  slowly  building and developing certain attitudes and character qualities which
prepare you and mold you into a person pleasing in the eyes of God.

Chapter 5 - Jesus had a way of expressing great truths simply.  Seek and ye shall find. An
enormous amount of truth is crammed into those few words.  Seeking and finding go together
according to Christ.  The implication is that we find what we seek, and nothing else

Chapter 6 - In our own personal lives, we need to learn the importance of telling the truth,
believing the truth, and living the truth.  If you want to be a Christian...if you want to be righteous
in the eyes of God, you cannot lie and deceive.

Chapter 7 - Unless we become as little children and put all of our trust in God, we will not inherit
eternal life.

Chapter 8 - He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.