Can it Really be that Simple?

This is a question that I, as a Christian, am often asked after verbally sharing the gospel with a nonbeliever. The word "gospel" simply means "good news." The essence of that good news is the historical truth taught in the Bible that Jesus Christ - the perfect, sinless, Son of God - bore God's punishment for our sin and in our place when He was crucified on the cross. Jesus also, by His resurrection from the grave, triumphed over sin and death, thereby guaranteeing the same for all those who have put their faith in Him. Yes, according to the Bible, all who truly believe in Jesus Christ and trust Him as their personal Savior are born again unto eternal life. They will not be among those who, having rejected Jesus Christ, will be punished for their sins in hell, destined ultimately to be cast into the Lake of Fire and thus eternally destroyed. For the unbeliever this is what the Bible calls the "second death." "Ah, come on" you say. "Can it really be that simple - just believe in Jesus and you're safe." That's a fair question. My answer to that question is two-fold: Yes, it is that simple; yet, at the same time, perhaps not so simple. Let me explain. You see, there's one aspect of becoming a Christian that is often omitted by Christians as they share the gospel with unbelievers, and that is the need for repentance. This gets to the root of the question on the card I gave to you. This is the part of becoming a Christian that is not quite so simple. Why? Because it involves a serious reversal and commitment of your will. Jesus said: "Except ye repent ye will all likewise perish." In another place in the gospels Jesus strongly commands: "Repent and believe the good news!" Yes, it is this need for repentance that is often ommitted by Christians as they share the gospel with unbelievers. When most people think of repentance, they envision someone weeping and wailing in remorse over their sin. While repentance certainly could include that, this does not accurately reflect the primary meaning of the Greek word "metanoeo," which means "to change the mind" (Greek being the original language in which the New Testament was written). Repentance, in the true, Biblical sense of the word, is not primarily an emotional experience of some kind, but rather a very decisive, cognitive commitment of your will that causes you to set your sail so as to move in a totally new direction in life - especially as it relates to sin! It means you have chosen a new course, a new direction, a new master. Your desire is to now follow your new Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ - the one who bore God's wrath for sin in your place and conquered death so that you too might one day do the same. Sadly, for many people this is the main stumbling block that keeps them from coming to Christ for salvation. People don't want to repent. People generally prefer to be their own master. Their mind is set in one direction, and that is to fulfill their own carnal desires and not God's desires. They want to be their own boss. They love their sin too much to repent - be it sexual lust, the love of money, the pursuit of power, prestige and pleasure or a host of other things. I want to be clear, however - and this is very important! A person can genuinely repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ, thereby becoming a Christian, and yet still struggle with sin. In fact, that is probably more often the case than not, especially in cases where a new believer in Christ may have what we sometimes refer to as "life-dominating" sins - such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, sexual addictions, etc. You see, one can become a Christian and settle his or her eternal destiny in a matter of moments if genuine repentance and faith in Christ take place. However, it often takes time to gain victory over sinful habits and desires that have developed perhaps over many years. God knows and understands this. Just as a new born baby grows physically over time, so a new born Christian must grow spiritually over time. Also, contrary to what some unfortunately teach, it's important to remember that no Christian will ever attain sinless perfection in this life. That's why the humble confession of sin to the Lord should be the regular habit of every Christian. If any professing Christian ever tells you they have now reached a state of "sinless perfection," don't believe him or her. The Bible makes it very clear that is not possible in this life.

Thank you for taking a few moments to read and reflect on what I have written here. More importantly, I hope you will seriously consider repenting and putting your faith in Jesus Christ. One final thought. While the Bible clearly teaches that repentance is necessary on our part in order to obtain salvation, we must remember that it is God who does the saving. The Bible reminds Christians: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God and not of works, lest anyone should boast." If you are interested in knowing more about what the Bible says regarding how to become a Christian, I would encourage you to follow this link.

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