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There are various ways to study the Bible: by word, verse, chapter, book, or topic. This book on topical Bible studies will provide answers to questions we encounter every day. But no topical study is complete without an explanation of how to be reconciled to God. If the Bible is true and Jesus really is God in the flesh who died for our rebellion against him and then rose again, why should it matter to us? And what was that all about, anyway?

God originally created humanity with direct, face-to-face communion with him. But that relationship was broken by the rebellion of the first human, Adam, resulting in mortality and a cursed world. Every person since Adam and Eve has been born into this world of suffering and death, unable to directly relate to God. But God provided a way for us to be reconciled: He himself would become human and pay the ransom with his own blood to restore that relationship. But just as it takes two to reconcile, so also God has made the offer but it’s up to each of us to accept it or reject it. Here is what the Bible says:

If anyone belongs to Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone and the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ. He gave us this message to pass on: that through Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them. So we are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin in our place, to make us righteous before God. (2 Cor. 5:17-21)

That’s the gospel (good news), the message of salvation, the way to heaven: Be reconciled to God by trusting Jesus Christ. And accepting Jesus by faith is the only way that can happen. To put your faith in someone is to have a deep conviction about them, to put all your weight on them. You can’t just say the words, I believe Jesus is God who died for us and rose again, you have to accept this as a personal conviction. You don’t just believe about him, you believe in him. You want to be reconciled to God.

Once you have as a personal conviction that Jesus is God who died and rose again to reconcile you, you are guaranteed to go to heaven after this life. Yes, guaranteed!

Now this God is the one who has given us the Spirit as a down payment. (2 Cor. 5:5)

When you heard the true Word, the good news of your salvation, you too were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, the down payment guaranteeing our inheritance. Praise and honor to him! (Eph. 1:13-15)

There is no other requirement, no hidden fine print, no organization to join:

By the grace of God you have been saved through faith. This is a gift from God, not something you earned, so no one can boast. (Eph. 2:8-9)

A worker’s wages aren’t considered a gift, but rather payment owed for work we did. Instead, we simply trust in the One who made ungodly people righteous; our faith is what clears us of all charges. (Rom. 4:4-5)

But doesn’t this amount to a license to sin? Of course not!

So what should we say in response to all that? Should we keep sinning so God will be even more gracious? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Ridiculous! You just don’t get it. Whoever is immersed into Christ Jesus is immersed into his death, and we were buried along with him as well. Just as by the grace of God he was raised from the dead, we too will walk with him in a new life. (Rom. 6:1-4)

We wouldn’t dream of living a life that angers or insults a person we claim to have reconciled with, so neither should we do this to God. This isn’t about meeting some minimal requirement to buy our way into eternal happiness, but an honest desire to be reconciled to God; it’s all about the relationship. We have this guarantee of eternal happiness because of the love of God for all the world (John 3:16), so love is the meat of that relationship.

Naturally, the next thing to do is to find out more about God, to know what pleases him and what does not. That means studying the Bible and getting instruction from the spiritually mature, who can be recognized by how well they model the life of Christ and the disciples He chose to write the Bible. Good deeds will follow from the truly transformed life. They can be faked by the lost, and the saved are certainly spiritually sick if they have not changed or have fallen back into a life of sin. But we are to focus on our own spiritual health, not on whether others meet our personal level of spirituality. Spiritual maturity is not a means to a high position of rule, but a low position of service, of being an example to others, of slowly becoming like our Master and Savior. One very important factor in our spiritual growth is to hang around with other believers (Heb. 10:24-25). And this is the only way we can use the spiritual gifts God gives each believer (1 Cor. 12:7), since their purpose is to help other believers and be helped in turn by them.

So even though the only requirement to be saved is faith in the risen Jesus, this rebirth is not the end but the beginning, the start of a new life. But don’t think that an easy life awaits you. This life is a temporary testing ground, and the test is not always pleasant or easy while you are taking it. But the reward is happiness for the rest of eternity. We live to please Jesus, in gratitude for salvation, to be His hands in this world.

Here is a list of all the changes that take place spiritually when we place faith in Jesus. It’s good to refer to whenever doubts may arise, since every one of them would have to be undone in order for us to lose our salvation. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

What happens the moment we are saved?

  1. declared righteous– Romans 3:28, 4:5, 24, 5:1, 9, Gal. 3:24, Phil. 3:9
  2. become children of God– Romans 8:14-17, Galatians 3:7, 26
  3. clothed with Christ– Galatians 3:27
  4. belong to Christ, not ourselves– 1 Cor. 6:19-20
  5. heirs according to the promise– Galatians 3:29-4:7
  6. the flesh was crucified– Galatians 5:24
  7. redemption through Jesus’ blood, forgiveness of our sins– Eph. 1:5
  8. became God’s own possession– Eph. 1:11
  9. sealed with the Holy Spirit who guarantees our inheritance– 2 Cor. 1:22, Eph. 1:13-14
  10. made alive with Christ– Eph. 2:5
  11. raised up and seated with Christ in heaven– Eph. 2:6
  12. brought near to God, have peace with God– Romans 5:1, Eph. 2:13
  13. citizens of God’s household– Eph. 2:19
  14. sealed for the day of redemption– Eph. 4:30
  15. buried and raised with Christ– Romans 6:4-6, Col. 2:12
  16. made alive and forgiven– Col. 2:13
  17. died but life now hidden with Christ in God– Col. 3:3
  18. protected from the evil one– 2 Thes. 3:3
  19. given eternal life– Romans 6:23, 1 Timothy 1:16, Titus 3:7, 1 John 2:25, 5:12-13
  20. set free and purified– Titus 2:14
  21. born again– Titus 3:5, 1 Peter 1:3,23
  22. given an imperishable reservation in heaven– 1 Peter 1:4
  23. ransomed– 1 Peter 1:18
  24. kept from falling– 1 Cor. 10:13, Jude 1:24
  25. are God’s temple– 1 Cor. 3:16
  26. washed, sanctified, justified– Romans 3:24, 1 Cor. 6:11
  27. are a new creation– 2 Cor. 5:17
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