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Discovery Magazine 6/1/2005

Repent and Pray

If you have ever watched a NASCAR race, you know that when drivers make certain kinds of mistakes (like bumping another car or spinning out), they don’t have to begin the race all over again from the starting line in order to complete the race successfully. Even when drivers have mechanical problems, they are able to simply go into the pit area and have their crew work on the car, and then they can continue the race right where they left off. This is similar to the spiritual race that Christians run.

According to the Bible, for a sinner (who has never become a Christian) to have his sins forgiven by God (and start the Christian race), he must confess belief in Jesus as the Son of God (Romans 10:10), repent of his sins, and be baptized (Acts 2:38). According to the Bible, baptism (immersion) in water is the final step that a non-Christian sinner must take in order to have his sins forgiven (and begin the Christian race).

One question that many people ask is: “How does a person who is a Chris-tian (and thus has already been baptized ‘for the remission of sins’—Acts 2:38) get forgiveness from God when he sins? Does he have to be baptized again? Does he have to start the race all over again?” The Bible gives us the answer in Acts 8. In this chapter, the story is told of a man named Simon (a magician) who became a Christian.  Sadly, shortly after getting baptized, Simon did a wicked thing and tried to purchase miraculous powers from the apostles. According to Peter, Simon’s heart was not right with God. He had committed a sin. But notice that Peter did not tell Simon to “repent and be baptized” (like he instructed the non-Christian Jews to do on the Day of Pentecost). Simon did not have to start over at the very beginning of the Christian race and be re-baptized. Since Simon had already been baptized properly, Peter instructed him to “repent…and pray” (Acts 8:22).

God is so merciful that He has provided a way for Christians to have our sins cleansed continually without needing to be baptized over and over again. Instead, when Christians sin, we must repent, and pray to God, confessing our sins to him (read 1 John 1:8-9).

Copyright © 2005 Apologetics Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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