Vital Decision: The Decision of Faith/Repentance
I Corinthians 15:11 “And so ye believed.”
To be sure we don’t miss this vital decision, let’s analyze four biblical truths:
Offer of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Universal
Who can believe?
Romans 10:13 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
“Whosoever” includes you. But what does it mean to “call upon the name of the Lord?” People around the world pray. The next verse explains what this means:
Romans 10:14a “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?”
The real issue is not the act of prayer, but belief (faith) in the heart.
Meaning of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Transferring Your Dependence/Changing Your Mind
Mark 1:15 “Repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
What does it mean to repent and believe?
To believe is the verb form of the noun faith. What is “believing?” Believing is not simply an acknowledgment of God. Unfortunately we commonly use the word “believe” to mean that you understand something and agree that it is so. Here, it would be understanding the three truths (problem, penalty, payment) and agreeing with them. But the Bible word “believe” means more than that. You may want proof.
Luke 4:41 “And the devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of God.”
The devils or demons acknowledge Christ. Obviously the demons know about God and the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet the demons are not on their way to Heaven! This is believing about Jesus without believing in Jesus.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
The story is told of a famous tightrope walker who had a tightrope stretched 1,000 feet across the Niagara Falls. The tightrope was 160 feet above the raging waterfall. After crossing the rope once with great crowd delight, the tightrope walker advanced again, pushing a wheelbarrow. When he crossed, the crowd cheered wildly. He then approached the crowd, got their attention, and asked something to the effect of “How many of you believe that I could put a man in this wheelbarrow and take him across?” The crowd cheered, “I do! I do!” He pointed to a man cheering “I do!” and said, “You, sir, please get in.” The man bolted in the other direction!
What was wrong? That man believed that the tightrope walker could put another man in the wheelbarrow and take him across. But he was not willing to place his dependence totally on the tightrope walker to take him across. This dependence is the essence of believing. We must place our dependence only on Jesus Christ to save us from sin and Hell. Thinking back to the Grand Canyon illustration, Christ is the only way across the chasm between a sinful man and a holy God. We must depend on Christ. That is believing.
Believing in Jesus is taking your confidence out of yourself and placing your confidence into Christ. It is not merely trusting God to help you in a crisis, although that may be real. It is trusting Jesus Christ to save you from the problem of sin and the penalty of Hell. Also believing is not just asking Jesus to save you; it is trusting Him to do it. This is a matter of asking and then taking God at His Word.
Believing is dependence on Christ alone to save you from sin and Hell. Just as straddling one's weight on two halves of two adjacent chairs would reveal a mistrust in either one of the chairs (as a single object), so depending on Jesus plus something else reveals a mistrust in Christ alone. A split trust is mistrust in Christ alone and reveals one has never believed in Jesus.
Believe corresponds to repent, which means to "change your thinking." Thinking corresponds to understanding. Your corresponds to the agreement. Change corresponds to the transfer of dependence. Sin is the problem. Hell is the consequence. Christ is the answer. So repentance is turning to Christ for deliverance from sin and Hell. This turn of trust is dependence.
Simply put, this transaction is the decision of faith/repentance.
Promise of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Forgiveness of Sins, Credited Righteousness, and Eternal Life
Acts 10:43 “Whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission [forgiveness] of sins.”
Romans 4:5 "But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness."
John 6:47 “He that believeth on Me [Jesus Christ] hath everlasting life.”
The Bible says that the moment you believe in Christ, you are given eternal life. Eternal life is forever. If you have eternal life in your possession, can you have eternal life just for a little while? No, it is forever. Therefore, it cannot be lost—another proof that salvation is not based on what we do, but on what Christ did for us. Of course, once you have eternal life, you do not need to keep asking for it. To think you need to indicates that you are not believing God did what He said He would do.
Also in I John 1:2, Jesus is called that Eternal Life. The Christian life is receiving the Life of Christ. So the promise for the decision of faith/ repentance is that your sins—past, present, and future—will be covered, Christ’s perfect righteousness will be credited to your account, and you will be given eternal life as a possession. What a promise!
Necessity of the Decision of Faith/Repentance: Mandatory
John 3:18 “He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
If you have never transferred your dependence to Jesus only to save you from sin and Hell (not just help you in a crisis), then you are presently under the sentence of judgment.
But based on God's Word, if you depend on Jesus Christ to save you from sin and Hell, He will forgive your sins, credit His righteousness to your account, and give you eternal life. It is a matter of eternal life in Christ or eternal death in Hell.
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