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The Conditions of Salvation

By Rev Dr Colin Peckham

Repentance

The importance of repentance cannot be over estimated. It is given prominence in Scripture. It involves the whole man, intellectually, emotionally and volitionally.

Intellectually it means a complete 'about face' in our thinking. The Greek word literally means 'a change of mind'. We change our mind about effecting our own salvation. Man has always been determined work out his own salvation or at least contribute to it. Repentance brings a change of mind so that he is prepared to relinquish that idea and accept God's free pardon. We must also change our minds about our goals. Our priorities will have to be reversed, our philosophy of life revolutionised. We must change our mind about sin. We cannot continue to pursue with relish our old ways and assume that God will unquestionably give us His salvation. The Bible knows no-one who is saved but unrepentant.

You cannot enter heaven clutching your sins. We must change our mind about God.

Whereas we had resisted God and refused to yield to His tender call we alter our attitude and thoughts about God and respond to His love.

Emotionally we see ourselves guiltily of punishment. God convicts us of our sin and brings regret and sorrow for having committed it and for having acted so shamefully towards so loving a God. 'Godly sorrow bring repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death' (II Cor. 7:10). Godly sorrow is not merely regret for the consequences of sin, for that which sin has brought upon me, but it is sorrow for the sin itself.

The sorrow of Judas was remorse, while Peter's sorrow was repentance. Repentance has been described as 'true sorrow for sin, with a sincere effort to forsake it.' It is being 'sorrow enough to quit'. Just how much emotion is necessary in repentance no-one can say. It will probably vary a great deal from person to person, but a certain amount of heart movement normally accompanies all true repentance.

Volitionally I become willing to forsake my sins. 'Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy on him and to our God, for He will fully pardon' (Is. 55.7). 'He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whosoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy' (Prov. 28:13). The attitude of the heart must now be translated into action. The prodigal son said, 'I will set out and go back - So he got up and went to his father' (Luke 15:18,20). The Holy Spirit helps us to repent by applying the Word to the mind and conscience, by touching the heart and by strengthening the will and the determination to turn from sin. Only as we turn to God will we be able to produce fruit in keeping with repentance' (Matt. 3:8).

'God - now - commands all people everywhere to repent' (Acts 17:30-31). Jesus began His ministry with the word 'Repent' (Matt. 4:17). Without repentance there is no salvation.

Faith

Without faith repentance recedes into indifference or changes into morbid remorse. Paul declares that the gospel 'is the power of God unto salvation of everyone who believes' (Rom 1:16) and the 'righteous will live by faith' (Rom 1:17) He says by grace you have been saved, through faith' (Eph. 2:8&9). 'Therefore it is of faith, that it may be by grace' (Rom 4:16). 'Without faith it is impossible to please Him; (Heb. 11:6). Faith therefore is absolutely essential.

What is saving faith? It is not natural faith. By that is meant the normal day to day trust in the many areas of life. I switch on the light, not because I understand electricity, but because I believe that it provides a means of lighting my room. I put the key in my car door because I believe that it will unlock the door. The agreement with accepted norm or doctrines is not saving faith.

It is not temporal faith such as God answering prayer for a sick child or for a husband to get a job. These answers are no proof of son-ship. Why Jesus even answered the prayer of demons on one occasion. They begged Jesus, 'If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs'. He said to them 'Go' (Matt. 8.31-32)

It is not merely knowledge. A Christian worker was once explaining the gospel to a man, but was stopped by the man who related the gospel to him with many biblical quotations. Unfortunately he was drunk. he knew all about the gospel but it had no effect upon him.

It is not faith in a book, even if that book is the Bible. It is not faith in a creed, however many hundred years it may have stood. It is not faith in an institution even if the institution is the church. It is not even faith in the being of God. 'Even the demons believe that-and shudder' (James 2:19).

Saving faith is trusting Christ alone for salvation. It is the sure confidence that Christ dies for my sins, that He loved me and gave Himself for me. It is the act of personal heart trust by which the sinner commits himself to God and accepts as his own the salvation which God freely offers him in Christ.

It is the act of the penitent only, aided by the Spirit, and resting upon Christ. The comment of the Amplified Bible is illuminating: 'For with the heart a person believes (adheres to , trust in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified' (Rom. 10:19).

To have faith we must have something in which to believe. A certain amount of intellectual faith must therefore precede saving faith. we must know that there is a God to whom we must give account, that we are sinners deserving punishment, that Jesus died as our substitute, and that He offers us eternal life. 'Faith come from hearing the message; (Rom. 10.17).

But giving intellectual assent only to these truths will never bring us salvation. We must trust them to be effective in or lives, and trust Christ alone to save us. It is all very well knowing and believing that if we walk across a bridge we will get to the other side, but if we do not put our faith into action and step out over the bridge, we will never get there. We can know that Jesus is the Son of God and the Saviour of the world; we can know that He can and will save us if we trust Him, but if we do not actually trust Him, we will be lost.

Let us exercise faith for our sins to be forgiven (I John 1:9), to receive Him as our indwelling Saviour and Lord (John 1:12) receiving from Him as we do so, eternal life (John 3:16).

Forsaking
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