Jesus said plainly, "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) Even though the Bible clearly teaches that baptism is essential to salvation, many try to get around its necessity. These questions were asked to me, "Since you say that baptism is essential to salvation, what happens if I sin after becoming a Christian? Do I have to be baptized each time I sin?" These very important questions provide an opportunity to look at God's two laws of pardon. God has a plan whereby one who has never become a child of God can be forgiven of sin. That plan is very simple. It includes hearing the gospel (Mark 16:15), believing in Christ (Mark 16:16), repenting of sins (2 Peter 3:9), confessing Christ (Acts 8:37), and being baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3-4). According to the Bible these things are essential if one is to become a Christian. But the question is, "What happens if a person sins after becoming a Christian?" For the Christian who has sinned; God has a second law of pardon. Please consider the following: If a child of God sins he must repent of that sin. If a child of God sins and will not repent he will be lost. A child of God who is in sin and will not repent is in a worse condition than before he ever had a knowledge of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. "For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire." (2 Peter 2:20-22) In order to have forgiveness of sins the child of God who sins must repent and pray to God. "Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you." (Acts 8:22) Peter did not consider Simon's sins to be hopeless, even though his motives were of the lowest kind. The doubt was not in the fact that Simon would or would not be forgiven if he repented. He would be forgiven if he repented and prayed. The doubt was in the fact that he might not repent. The goal of every Christian should be to avoid sin. A child of God should never willingly give in to sin, but should constantly walk in the light. The wonderful promise of God says, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 John 1:7) We are taught, "Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God." (1 John 3:9) Let us thank God for Jesus; our Advocate, our Mediator and our friend. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5) Let us also thank God for our faithful Christian brethren who can pray to God for us. "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16) Thank you for being a Christian. Thank you for being faithful. If you are not a Christian I beg you bow in humility before the Mighty God of Heaven. If you are not a faithful Christian you should be. To be saved from sin hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus (Mark 16:16), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), confess Jesus as Lord (Matthew 10:32), and be baptized into Christ. (Romans 6:3-4) After baptism, live in Christ and have Christ in you. (Galatians 4:19) God bless! Keep the faith!

By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, 306 Walnut Street, Greenville, Alabama 36037