Wednesday, December 30, 2015

What is the Gospel? (4)

This is the last part of the answer on what is the gospel. 
See No 1 here
No. 2 here and 
No. 3 here
In this article I seek to show you the biblical response to the gospel for a sinner to be saved - Faith in Christ, and repentance of sins to God.

1.     THE RESPONSE IN FAITH AND REPENTANCE

The question remains:  How do I enter into this eternal life?  The answer is: through faith.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31). Paul’s message in Ephesus demanded repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). 
The Spirit applies to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the Word.
Faith includes three elements: 
  • knowledge, 
  • belief and 
  • trust. 

Our faith is based on the knowledge given to us in God’s Word. When we come to understand what God says about Himself, our condition, and His provision in Christ, we unreservedly believe that truth by embracing Jesus Christ through faith. 
We must tremble at the Word of God and believe all it says about our need and God’s provision. Only the Word of God can truly diagnose our need - sin. Only the Bible can truly explain the good news of the provision of the Saviour, Christ. However, you must remember that intellectual assent to God’s Word and conviction of sin is not enough, we must go on to trust in that Word  by running to Jesus in repentance and faith. We take refuge in Christ and find rest for our souls. We rest in the promise that we have forgiveness through the atoning death of Christ our Savior.
True faith includes repentance, which is a complete turning away from our sinful ways and thoughts. We turn around, as it were, and forsake our sins and seek to please God with our whole heart and life. 
The saving repentance is an evangelical grace whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, does, by faith in Christ, humble himself to it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self abhorrency, praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor, by supplies of the Spirit, to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things. 
In repentance a man repents of his particular and known sins personally, with the understanding that there is no sin so small that it deserves damnation, yet there is no sin so great that it is greater than the grace of God in Christ.
We draw near to God through Christ with sincerity of heart, genuine faith, and assurance. Faith that is not accompanied by repentance is not true faith. The Holy Spirit helps us to repent and believe Jesus by regenerating the hitherto rebellious hearts and subduing them under the authority of Christ. It is through faith and repentance that we are saved. In other words, this is how we are made spiritually alive and come into fellowship with God. This is eternal life. The new birth results in a new desire to learn and obey God’s Word and a new hatred for that which is sinful and worldly.
When we repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we receive a new heart with new desires. The Holy Spirit now indwells us and we are made the temple of the living God. The Holy Spirit is the one who sanctifies us (makes us holy), producing in us love, joy, and peace. He makes to be fruitful as seen in patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
It is through the Holy Spirit that God assures us of salvation, enables us to understand the Bible, guides us, and keeps us. The Holy Spirit works in us as we meditate on the Word of God and call upon the Lord in prayer. As we read the Bible, meditating on it and seeking to obey its commands, we receive comfort, strength, encouragement, conviction of sin, and wisdom. As we daily call upon the Lord for all that we need, He hears us and grants our requests according to His promises.
If we sin, we must careful to quickly confess before God and He is faithful to forgive us for Christ’s sake. As we walk according to His Word we abide in Christ, and as we abide in Christ we receive assurance from the Holy Spirit.
After hearing the gospel, and the sinner has responded by faith and repentance, the visible indication of this wonderful heart transformation is to 
(1) be baptized; 
(2) become a part of a local church where:
  • the Bible is taught faithfully
  • there is biblical leadership
  • there is genuine membership
  • there is biblical administration of the ordinances of the baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and 
  • there is an informed and solemn exercise of church discipline; and 

(3) testify to others of our salvation. Every true disciple of Christ will not want to go to heaven alone. Rather he will seek to draw others to the same fountain of life to draw from the wellsprings of eternal redemption in Christ.
In witnessing you speak of these Four things – the infinite holiness of God, the universal sinfulness of man, the powerful salvation in Christ which is received by faith and repentance. These must never be absent in the gospel witness.
 Don't go beyond what is written by demanding more than this. Do not ask a repenting sinner to come forward or to lift up his hand, or to move an inch. Rather call a penitent sinner to repent of his sins to God and to believe in Jesus Christ alone.


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