What is a Christian? part 7
When Christ died on the cross, He paid the debt of our sin. Christ, however, did not remain in the tomb. He is the mighty God and on the third day He arose from the dead.
This every true Christian believes. He believes that Jesus Christ is God and man united in one person who went to the cross to die in the stead of sinners and then rose again that sinners might be justified.
Fourthly, the Bible teaches that the Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the one who saves. The faith and the repentance of the Christian do not save him. The Christian recognizes that his faith and repentance do not merit him the favor of God. He comes to God saying,
“Not the labors of my hands
can fulfill thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
could my tears for ever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and thou alone.
Nothing in my hands I bring,
simply to Thy cross I cling;
Naked, come to thee for dress,
helpless, look to thee for grace;
Foul, I to the Fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.”
But while the Christian realizes that his repentance and faith do not merit him the favor of God, he still recognizes that faith and repentance (which are gifts of God) are the means by which that salvation becomes his own personal experience and possession. Jesus Christ said, “He that believeth on him is not condemned but he that believeth not is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten son.” “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life and he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life but the wrath of God abideth on him.” “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live, and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye and believe the Gospel.” “Thus it is written and thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance unto remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations beginning at Jerusalem” (John 3:18, 36; 10:25, 26; Luke 13:3; 5:32; Mark 1:14, 15; Luke 24:46-48; Acts 3:19,26; 10:36-43; 11:18; 17:30; 20:17-21; 26:19,20; Revelation 3:17-20).
The Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ. What does it mean to repent? To repent “is to be sorry for sin and to hate and forsake it because it is displeasing to God.” True repentance involves sorrow for sin and a hatred of sin—both internal and external sin—a sorrow for what I am, as well as what I do—for the corruption of my heart as well as the perversity of my conduct—for the attitudes which prompt the actions as well as the actions themselves. Isaiah cried, “Woe is me, for I am undone” (Isaiah 6:5). The publican prayed, “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13). The thief on the cross said to the other thief who was mocking Jesus: “Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed are condemned justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss” (Luke 23:40, 41; II Corinthians 7:9-11; Joel 2:12; Jeremiah 31:18; Psalm 119:104; Ezekiel 20:43).
True repentance involves sin. It involves not only a change of attitude toward sin but also a change of action in regard to sin. The Bible says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him: and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:7). “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Furthermore, true repentance involves sorrow for sin and a forsaking of sin because it is displeasing to God. The person who is truly repentant doesn’t sorrow over sin and forsake it just because he is afraid of the consequences, but primarily because he has displeased God. This grieves him and causes him to turn from sin. More than anything else the truly repentant person wants the smile and the favor of God. He hates sin and forsakes it because he knows that God hates sin (Ezekiel 36:25-32; Zechariah 12:10; Luke 15:18; Psalm 51:1-12; Luke 22:59-62). The true Christian has repented of his sin. He is sorry for his sin. He hates his sin and he is constantly forsaking his sin because it is displeasing to God. Unless a person has done this, he has no right to believe that he is a Christian. Jesus said, “Except ye repent; ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
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