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How to be Forgiven

Have you ever asked yourself, "How can I have a personal relationship with God? How can I know that all my sins have truly been forgiven by God? How can I be assured of eternal life in heaven?"

Understanding that the Bible is God's Word (2 Timothy 3:16) and has answers to these essential and ultimate questions, we are delighted to answer these questions from God's Word.

In fact, Jesus Christ Himself answered those questions with the simplest statement: (Mark 1:15) "Repent ye and believe the gospel." This truth is repeated and affirmed throughout the Bible. For example:

Clearly, the Bible informs us that the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal salvation is freely and graciously given by God to all who repent and believe the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9).

You may be wondering, What exactly does that mean? What does it mean to repent? What is this "gospel" that a person must believe?

The word "repent" is a word that forces us to face our sinfulness. The Bible says (and deep in our hearts we all know) that we are all sinners. "There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). To repent is to agree with God's summary verdict about you and to acknowledge to God that you are a sinner. More than simply admitting that you are less than perfect (after all, no one is perfect) repentance involves feeling the guilt and the weight of your sin, abhorring your sin and realizing that on your own you cannot fully abandon your sinful tendencies – not by moral deeds or charitable acts or even by religious rituals (going forward during an evangelistic invitation, signing a commitment card, praying the sinner's prayer, joining a church, or being baptized). Repentance simply means that if your sins are going to be forgiven, God is the One who must do it. Repentance is turning to God for forgiveness and salvation.

The "gospel" is wonderful good news that Jesus Christ (who is the One and Only God Himself in full humanity) died for our sins according to the scriptures and (as proof of His death) was buried yet arose from the dead and was seen alive by many eyewitnesses (proving His resurrection) (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Dying for our sins means that Jesus became our substitute and our sinbearer. Because we are sinners, we deserve to receive the penalty for sin (which is eternal death in hell – Romans 6:23). But Jesus took the punishment for our sins when He died on the cross.

This is what we must "believe" to be saved. To believe is more than a mere intellectual agreement. It includes that, but also goes further, meaning "to trust." Simply stated: a person must transfer their trust from themselves (and their own moral, charitable, and religious efforts thinking that they deserve the forgiveness of their sin) to Jesus Christ, trusting in Him, His death and resurrection as the only possibility of being forgiven and receiving eternal life.

"Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21) may sound like a two-step process, but, in fact, is actually a single step. Think of this as two sides of a single coin – one side is repentance and the other side faith in Christ. That single act is the moment of "conversion." When a person repents of sin and believes the gospel – turning from sin and turning toward Christ in faith – God gives new spiritual life to one who is in reality a dead spirit (Ephesians 2:1), or, as Jesus said, that is the moment when one is "born again" (John 3:3). Preaching on the day of Pentecost, Peter proclaimed (Acts 2:38) that we both receive the remission (forgiveness - pardon) for sin, and we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit Himself (who indwells us) when we repent and believe in Christ! Two amazing promises indeed!

God's Word offers these promises: Anyone and everyone who repents (turning from sin and self to God) and believes the gospel (trusting in Jesus Christ as God's only begotten Son sent to save by means of His death and resurrection) "shall be saved" (Romans 10:9-10)!

Will you do what the Bible clearly commands you to do?

If you have lingering questions or need further spiritual counsel, please contact Dearborn Baptist Church directly or send an email.