My five year old son and I have our best conversations either in the car or at bed time. Wednesday in the car we had our best one yet!
After telling me that he is not God and I am not God, he told me that God was in heaven. I told him that actually God is everywhere. He said that God is in everyone’s hearts, “Everyone in the whole world, Mommy!” While I assured him that God has love for everyone in the whole world (according to John 3:16), that people must make a decision to have God in their lives. This brought up some big words–conversion, repentance, and salvation.
Although many of you reading are familiar with those big words, we’re going to walk through them together. The message of the gospel is easy enough for a child to understand by faith, yet deep enough for theologians to study for decades. Let’s dig deeper, friends!
Wayne Grudem writes, “Conversion is our willing response to the gospel call, in which we sincerely repent of sins and place our trust in Christ for salvation. ” The word conversion means “to turn.” We turn from our sin to Christ. “The turning from sin is called repentance, and the turning to Christ is called faith.” So the two key steps in conversion (or salvation) are repent and believe. But what exactly are we repenting of? And what must we believe in? These are the “so what” questions in our “So What Doctrine” series. They are the questions I must answer for my son. They are the questions we have to answer when witnessing to our family and friends. And ultimately, they are the questions we have to answer for ourselves.
Repent: We repent of our sins. For salvation, I must know that I’ve done wrong, I’ve broken God’s law. Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” God’s standard is perfection. None of us are perfect. We must take personal responsibility for our sins, and recognize that we sinned against God. Psalm 51:4 says, “Against You, You only, I have sinned.” When we repent we turn from our sin.
Believe: We believe in Christ, who paid the penalty for our sins. As the sinless sacrifice, He took our punishment. Romans 4:8, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Then Christ conquered death. Hebrews 1:3, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Grudem defines saving faith as, “trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God.”
Repent and believe–that is the heart of the gospel message. It caused my son to bow his head and pray in the back seat of our minivan, “Dear God, thank you for this day. I am sorry I am a sinner. Thank you that Jesus died for my sins and came back to life.” Does he get the depth of his sin, the amazing grace God gives, or the true sacrifice of Christ on the cross? No. But he repents and believes. And that’s what God asks us to do!
For more, be sure to check out our previous series on salvation. You can read Kathy’s “Salvation Theme Review” for a summary!