We have learned that we must repent to be saved. The question that now remains to be answered is personal: Have you repented? Are you repenting? The following exploratory questions will help you determine if genuine repentance is a reality in your life.
- Do you now think differently about God? Do you see that God, rather than you, should be at the center of all things? Do you lament your neglect of God? Are you beginning to recognize His worth? Do you desire to seek Him and know Him?
- Do you now think differently about sin? Do you see that sin is vile and a terrible offense to God? Do you feel regret and shame for your sin? Do you long to be free from both the condemnation and the slavery of sin? Are you determined to confess your sin and turn to God for mercy?
- Do you now think differently about the way of salvation? Do you fully agree that you cannot return to God by your own merit, but only through the person and work of Christ? Do you acknowledge that your best deeds are like filthy rags before God, and have you rejected all hope in your own righteousness?
If you are able to affirm these questions, and if these things are growing realities in your life, it is an indication that God has been and is working in your heart, illuminating your mind to see the truth and granting you repentance unto salvation.
If you are unable to affirm these questions but desire salvation, then continue to seek God in His Word and in prayer. Reconsider the Bible verses that we have studied and examine your life in light of them.
Continue to cry out to God, and seek Him in His Word until He has wrought a change in your heart.
With repentance unto life comes saving faith. Faith is more than a belief in the existence of God; it also involves a trust, confidence, or reliance upon His character and the truthfulness of His word. The Bible declares, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). People with genuine faith do not merely believe there is a God but they trust what He has said and rely upon it.
The Bible defines faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). This leads us to a very important question: How can a reasonable person be assured of what he or she hopes for or have the conviction that what he or she has never seen actually exists?
The answer to this question is found in the character of God, the trustworthiness of the Bible, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. We can be assured of forgiveness of sin, reconciliation with God, and the hope of eternal life because God has promised these things in the Bible (Titus 1:2–3), and the Spirit of God testifies to our hearts that they are true (John 16:13; Romans 8:14–16; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 2:20, 27).
Saving faith especially consists of trust that Christ is our Savior, our only righteousness with God. One of the greatest evidences of genuine repentance is that we are not only turning away from sin but we are also turning away from trusting in our own virtue, merits, or works to gain a right standing before God. We realize that all our supposed personal righteousness and good deeds are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), and we firmly reject them as a means of salvation. We know that if we are to be reconciled to God, it will not be as a result of our works for Him but as a result of His great work for us through Jesus Christ. We agree unreserv-edly with the following Bible verses.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. (Galatians 2:16)
Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness. (Romans 4:4–5)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)
In the life of Abraham, the Bible provides us with a wonderful illustration of genuine faith. When Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were far beyond the age of having children, God promised them a son. In response to this promise, the Bible declares that Abraham was “fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform” (Romans 4:21). Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3).
With regard to the gospel, genuine faith involves believing in and relying upon what God has revealed about Himself, about us, and about His work of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To believe is to be fully assured that what God has promised through Jesus Christ, He is really willing and able to perform. The fol-lowing Bible verses are a good representation of what God has promised.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have ever-lasting life. (John 3:16)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
[Jesus said,] “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.” (John 5:24)