TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Intermediate Edition

I.  Getting Right with God

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Chapter 21  Part I

Getting Right with God

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There are are two prominent themes in the NT regarding how to get “right with God”. These are repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.

Bear in mind that in using the expression “right with God”, this chapter largely has in view being deemed righteous in God’s eyes, which involves the forgiveness of one’s sins. As such, it also means that we are at peace with God.

God’s Invitation

God invites all people to come to him and be saved

[God:] Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.   Isaiah 45:22  ESV

God wants us to earnestly seek him

[Paul, preaching to the Athenians:] God began by making one person, and from him came all the different people who live everywhere in the world. God decided exactly when and where they must live. 27God wanted them to look for him and perhaps search all around for him and find him, though he is not far from any of us: …   Acts 17:26-27  NCV™

We must believe in God and what he says

Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.   Hebrews 11:6  NET

[Jesus:] I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life.   John 5:24  NET

Jesus’ words were from God, who sent him. It is critical that we believe God’s words.

We need to be open to believing and responding

He [Jesus] called a child, had him stand among them, 3and said [to his disciples], “I tell you the truth, unless you turn around and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven! 4Whoever then humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.   Matthew 18:2-4  NET

Here Jesus refers to the humility, openness and receptiveness of little children. These characteristics are required to believe and respond to Jesus’ message – and so enter God’s kingdom.

Repentance

The words in the Bible that are translated as “repent” speak of: changing one’s mind, regret and consequently turning around. When people are called to repent, they are called to change their mindset and turn away from sin to God.

We must repent

Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, …   Acts 17:30  NET

Confess your sins . . .

But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9  NET

. . . Turn from sin and do what is right

Turn away from evil and do what is right!   Psalms 34:14a  NET

Turn to God in repentance

[Paul:] I testified to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus.   Acts 20:21  ISV

Repentance is required for the forgiveness of sins

Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, …   Acts 3:19  NET

Belief in Jesus Christ

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Believe in Jesus Christ

Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires – to believe in the one whom he sent.”   John 6:29  NET

Believing in Jesus involves believing what the Bible says about: who he is; his teaching and deeds; and his death and resurrection – including their significance. Key matters concerning who he is and the significance of his death and resurrection are mentioned below. Regarding the latter, primarily we are to believe that as a result of his death and resurrection, Jesus provides forgiveness of sins (and consequently righteousness, leading to eternal life). As such we are to trust in him for the forgiveness of our own sins.

Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

[Martha, to Jesus:] Martha said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was expected to come into the world.”   John 11:27b  GW

“Christ” and “Messiah” are Greek and Hebrew terms respectively, meaning the “anointed” or the “Anointed One”. The OT tells of a coming anointed one of God, and on occasions speaks of him as God’s Son (cf. 2Sam 7:11b-14a; Ps 2:6-7; Ps 89:27).

Belief in Jesus Christ brings forgiveness of sins

About him [Jesus] all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.   Acts 10:43  NET

Belief in Jesus Christ makes one righteous before God

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.   Romans 3:21-22a  ESV

Belief in Jesus Christ brings eternal life

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.   John 3:16  NET

Reasons for Assurance

The verses in this section give reasons for assurance of things such as being saved and being in a close relationship with God – and consequently give assurance of being made right with God.

Having the Holy Spirit

[Paul, to believers:] For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children.   Romans 8:15-16  NET

Note that we can be confident that God has given the Holy Spirit to us through evidence such as: indications of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit in our lives (cf. Galatians 5:22); having a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit (some of which are more obvious than others); and recognition of the Holy Spirit’s help, such as his empowerment or guidance. Moreover, we can sense or have an inner awareness of God, which is constant evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Obedience to God

We can be sure that we know God if we obey his commands.   1 John 2:3  NCV™

Love for other Christians

[John, to believers:] We know that we have left death and come over into life; we know it because we love our brothers and sisters.   1 John 3:14  GNT

Further reasons

But if we confess our sins, he [God] is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness.   1 John 1:9  NET

[Jesus:] Everyone whom the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never send away.   John 6:37  NET

Jesus assures us that he will not reject anyone who comes to him.

Pray for persecuted Christians