Repent – Part 1
Read and Discuss:
Luke 13:3, John 5:14
Jesus makes it very clear that we must repent of sin or we will perish. People cannot live self-centered and sinful lives and be followers of Jesus Christ.
Repentance is a decision in our hearts to stop rebelling against God, His commands and His ways. No one can truly make this decision in their heart without showing it in their actions. If someone says they have repented, but refuses to change sinful habits in their lives, their repentance is imaginary, not real.
Matthew 5:29-30, Luke 14:33
In these verses Jesus is not telling us to actually cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes, He is illustrating how we should deal with temptation. When a person repents they have determined to live in obedience to God. There are many things in a person’s life that they will need to change, some of them will be hard to let go of even though they cause them to be tempted. They might have certain people, places or things that consistently lead them into sin. Jesus is saying that in order to leave sin, we are going to have to leave many things that cause us to sin, even though those things feel as precious to us as our right hand or our right eye. If we are going to walk with Christ we are going to have to be willing to leave everything behind that keeps us from obedience.
We can’t enjoy God and His benefits without coming back to Him. In our rebellion we have left God and chosen our own way. When we repent we make the decision to turn away from sin and submit to God. It is only by God’s grace through Jesus Christ that God accepts us when we return to Him, but without turning back to Him we can never be reconciled to Him. If we don’t come to Him, we cannot fellowship with Him. If we, like the sinful son in this Bible passage, refuse to leave our rebellion and return home, we cannot enjoy fellowship with God or share in the benefits of living in His house. We cannot be reconciled to God unless we are willing to leave our life of sin and submit to Him.
Summary: We cannot remain in sin without remaining under God’s wrath; we must repent of our rebellion towards God. A person who decides to turn from sin will show it in their actions; if their heart turns from sin, their lives will change as well. The key to leaving sin is being willing to leave behind everything that tempts us to sin. Repentance doesn’t earn acceptance with God, but we cannot be reconciled with God unless we turn from sin.
Discussion: Do you understand the danger for your soul if you do not repent of your sins? Do you want to repent of your sins? What things in your life must you stop doing in order to bear the fruits of repentance? What are the things that tempt you that you must get out of your life? Do you understand why repentance does not earn God’s forgiveness, but is still absolutely necessary?
Believe – Part 2
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We cannot be reconciled to God without repentance because we cannot be reconciled with God while we are still making war with Him. So, in this sense repentance is required for salvation. But it is only the grace of God that makes God willing to forgive us. And God has offered that grace to mankind in Jesus Christ. The grace of God cannot be found anywhere else except in Jesus Christ. In this Bible passage we read that the only way that we can receive the grace God offers us in Jesus Christ is by believing in Him. We must place our trust in Jesus to be saved. Faith is the condition God gives us for salvation.
Romans 4:17-25, John 1:29
In Romans 4 we see the nature of faith. Though Abraham and his wife were too old to have children, he did not focus on the weakness of their bodies, but on the promise and character of God. In the same way, saving faith looks away from our sin and inability to save ourselves and looks to Jesus Christ. In faith we believe that what Jesus did by dying for us and rising again is able to save us from sin and the wrath of God. We must believe that God offers us grace in Jesus Christ and we must believe that God is faithful to save us if we trust in Christ.
Romans 5:1, 2 Corinthians 5:19-20
We have lived in rebellion to God. We have been enemies of God by choosing our own way instead of His. But God has offered us peace if we will trust in Jesus Christ. If we remain hostile to Him, we will eventually face His eternal wrath. But if we trust in what Jesus Christ has done for us, we will be reconciled to God.
Acts 15:8-9, Hebrews 10:22, 1 John 1:9
Through faith in Christ we are reconciled to God, and all our past sins are washed away. Forgiveness comes through faith in Christ.
Galatians 3:26, John 1:12-13
Not only are we offered peace and forgiveness through faith in Christ, but God will even adopt us as His children. We will not just have our past forgiven and our guilt washed away, but we will be accepted as God’s very own children!
John 3:16-18, John 5:24
We are forgiven, reconciled, and adopted through faith in Christ. But we are also given the gift of eternal life. We will live with God and His Son forever if we trust in Christ.
Summary: God will save us when we believe in Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. We must trust not in ourselves, nor despair in our weakness, but we must trust in the promise God has given us in through His Son. Through faith we are reconciled to God. Through faith we are forgiven and cleansed. Through faith we are adopted as God’s children. And through faith we receive the gift of eternal life.
Discussion: Do you believe that Jesus Christ can save you from sin and God’s wrath? What makes you doubt the salvation that is offered you in Jesus Christ; do you believe your sins are greater that Christ’s sacrifice? Do you believe you can earn forgiveness in some other way?
Assurance of Salvation – Part 3
Read and Discuss:
Someone who truly trusts in Christ will know they have been forgiven. If someone doubts they have been forgiven, it is a clear sign that they do not believe. God promises that if we will believe on Jesus Christ we will be forgiven of our sins, reconciled to God and adopted as His children. If we say we believe what God says, but we don’t know if we have been forgiven, reconciled and adopted, it is evidence that we have not yet truly believed. True faith brings assurance that what God has promised is true.
Romans 8:15-16, Galatians 4:4-6, 1 John 4:13
True saving faith includes assurance that we have been accepted by God because of what Christ did for us. But God also gives us the testimony of His Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit confirms the testimony of our faith that we have been received by God. The Holy Spirit makes a clear impression on our hearts that we have truly been born again. By faith, plus the testimony of the Holy Spirit, we know that we know we have been forgiven. If we have not received this testimony, we should seek God until we receive it.
Romans 5:5, 1 John 4:19
When we believe in Jesus Christ and receive the testimony of the Holy Spirit that we are accepted as God’s children, we know that God loves us. This love changes our hearts. Since we know that He has accepted us we can love Him in return. This love for God also causes us to love others. Love sets our heart free to obey God’s two great commands, love God and love others.
Ezekiel 36:25-27, Titus 3:4-6, Philippians 2:13
God promises to give a new heart to those who trust in His Son. A person who has repented and believed will be born again and renewed within by the Holy Spirit. God will write His law on their hearts. This means that He will change their heart to desire to do what God wants. Their mindset will be firmly changed. They will not only desire to change, but they will continue to desire to change. A person who has no deep desire to change, or who only has such a desire for a season, has not be been born again. But those who have been born again can sense the change in their heart, perspective and attitude. They no longer want to live their lives for themselves, but they have a deep and firm desire to live for God. They now hate sin and love God.
John 14:15, 1 John 2:3-4
A love for God will lead us to obey Him. This doesn’t mean that we are perfect over night, but it does mean that we become habitually obedient instead of habitually disobedient. The person who can continue to consciously and habitually sin against God has not been born again. They must not deceive themselves; without repentance they will perish.
Summary: Faith assures us that we have been forgiven. God’s Holy Spirit confirms the testimony of our faith by giving us a divine impression that we have been accepted by Him. A person who has been born again will be changed by the love of God that God reveals to them. The person who has been renewed by the Holy Spirit will be able to see the change in their attitudes, perspectives and desires; they won’t be perfect, but they will be different. In response to the love of God they will love God, and this will lead to a life of habitual obedience to His commands.
Discussion: Have you been born again? Does your heart testify that you have truly believed in Christ? Do you feel assured in your heart by the Holy Spirit that you are a child of God? Do you sense a change in your attitude towards sin and obedience to God? Have you become habitually obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ?