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The Essential Gospel

What constitutes a sufficient presentation of the gospel? What essential information do people need to know in order to be saved?

In the first of the video series of Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life",  Warren has people pray a prayer at the end of the first session that goes like this: "Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for" Then Warren goes on to say: "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God." But is that really a sufficient presentation of the gospel according to the Bible? No it is not. It's missing elements which are essential to the gospel. Yet this sort of presentation of the gospel is common these days.

Now some may point out the in Acts 16 when the Philippian jailer asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and Paul and Silas answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.", that would seem to be rather minimalist. But consider the context. The context indicates that the jailer had previously been listening to Paul and Silas. For why would he have asked about them about salvation if he didn't know anything of the gospel they preached. And indeed he must have come to the point where he realized that he himself was in need of salvation in light of their gospel. This was all prior to him asking the question. Secondly it goes on to say, "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house." So more information concerning the gospel was given to him beyond just the expression, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved".

But many of the minimalist attempts to present the gospel today don't even go so far as this single expression, which brings up the issue of the Lordship of Christ. For what does "Lord" mean in "believe in the Lord Jesus"?

Now let us consider the essential elements of the gospel.

Words Save

Perhaps one of the most fundamental concepts essential to the gospel is that people are saved by words.

In Acts 10 we learn of Cornelius, "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always." Acts 10:2 His men described him as "a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews" Acts 10:22 An angel visited him and said, ‘Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon whose surname is Peter, ‘who will tell you words by which you and all your household will be saved.’" Acts 11:13,14

Despite being devout, generous, a just man in the eyes of men, yet Cornelius was not saved apart from hearing essential words. And not only that, Cornelius already knew some information about Jesus. Peter said to him, "You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—  how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him." Acts 10:36-38 Yet that was not sufficient information to saved him, for Cornelius already knew that, and yet was not saved. It may not be enough to know just some things about Jesus for a person to be saved. There are essential things to know for one to be saved.

Peter adds this information to save Cornelius. He speaks of the resurrection of Christ testified to my eyewitnesses and thus provides a forensic basis for believing in him. And he adds, "He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.  All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name." Acts 10:42,43

All these and their implications constitute a sufficient presentation of the gospel to save a person. These ideas will be elaborated upon.

Rom 10:13,14
"whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved."
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?
And how shall they hear without a preacher?

The Resurrection of Christ

Identifying God's Messenger

If someone claims to have a message from God, on basis would God expect us to believe such a person? Mohammed claims to have had a message from God, why not believe him? Is simply the claim that one has a message from God sufficient? What is proposed in the Bible is counter-culture with regards to this issue. There's an expression, "Let's raise s flag and see if someone salutes it!" In fact many will pledge allegiance to ideas, whether they be religious ideas or otherwise, with little more basis than that. Many pledge allegiance to religious ideas based upon their culture, what their parents believed, how they were raised and such. In contrast the Bible gives reasons to believe which have nothing to do with such things. It gives reasons like those given in a court of law; Forensic evidence upon which one can base their faith. We'll see that Biblical faith is not blind faith. It doesn't cater to the gullible nor to the indoctrinated, but rather to the reasonable mind. The message in the Bible is about what is actually, factually true and requires us to think about it and to consider the implications.

Now how do we know that Jesus is a teacher who has come from God? Nicodemus tells us the answer in John 3:2. He said to Jesus, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him." Likewise Jesus himself said, "Do not believe me unless I do what my Father does. But if I do it, even though you do not believe me, believe the miracles, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father." John 10:37,38 Jesus tells us not to believe someone who claims to speak for God, but has no miracles to show for it. Mohammed is disqualified as a prophet. Miracles are necessary to affirm such a person is speaking for God, though not alone sufficient. Peter said,  "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know." Acts 2:22 John records some of Jesus' miracles in his gospel saying, "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." John 20:30,31

The eyewitness testimony of the miracles of Christ recorded in gospels are presented as the rational basis for faith in Christ. The miracles of Christ including his resurrection from the dead are almost always included in the examples we find of the gospel being preached throughout the New Testament. Much of the New "Testament" is devoted to eyewitness testimonies of Jesus' miracles and of his resurrection from the dead which validate his message.

Jesus' Credentials

As mentioned previously, Peter spoke of miracles in his first sermon as Jesus' credentials. Jesus' miracles are his credentials. We need to present Jesus' credentials when we present the gospel of Christ, so that people have a rational basis for believing in him. In his second sermon in Acts chapter 3, having healed a lame man, Peter says among other things, "You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this." Acts 3:15 Jesus' resurrection from the dead provides forensic evidence validating his claims. And it was this claim that got them into trouble. For just after this it says, "As they spoke to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came to them,  being upset because they taught the people and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." Acts 4:1,2 So Peter preaches his third sermon and says among other things, "know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." Acts 4:10 The basis for faith was miracles. Indeed even their enemies admitted, "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it." Acts 4:16 People believed on the basis of miracles, and for those who didn't believe, it was not due to the lack of such evidence.

And it is appropriate to demand such evidence, such credentials, from those who claim to speak for God. When the Jews demanded of him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." John 2:18,19 Jesus gave them the necessary evidence. Shouldn't we?

And again Peter preaches in Acts 10, this time to a Gentile and among other things says,  you know "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen." Acts 10:38-40 And these things were apparently common knowledge, even to Gentiles. These things were not done in secret.

Did people come to faith in Christ back then on the same basis as many do today? Is the resurrection of Christ and the miracles he did included in gospel presentations today, or if so are they utilized in the same sense as when the gospel is preached in the New Testament?

A Proven Gospel

What of Paul's presentation of the gospel? In Acts 13 in Pisidian Antioch on Paul's first missionary journey to Asia Minor Paul preaches in a Synagogue and says among other things, "Brothers, children of Abraham, and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent. The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. Though they found no proper ground for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead, and for many days he was seen by those who had traveled with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to our people." Acts 13:26-31 And later in preaching to the Athenians he says among other things that "he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." Acts 17:31 Shouldn't we give proof? And what was of first importance to Paul in his presentation of the gospel? He says to the Corinthinans, "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also" 1Cor 15:1-8

How to be certain of the gospel

Luke mentions proofs of Jesus' credentials, not only in his gospel but in the book of Acts. "After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God." Acts 1:3 And both Acts and the gospel of Luke were letters written to a man called "Theophilus". Why? Luke tell us why at the beginning of his gospel saying, "Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." Luke 1:1-4 It was to impart a sense of certainty.

The reason why faith comes from hearing the message is because the message itself provides forensic evidence, evidence in the form of eyewitness testimony of miracles, evidence which gives a sure foundation for faith, evidence of validating Jesus' testimony, evidence constituting Jesus' credentials.

"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."  John 14:11 

"if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom 10:9

Miracles Alone Not Sufficient

However, as I mentioned, while miracles are necessary to establish the credentials of a prophet, they of themselves are not sufficient. And this in fact was the basis for why the religious elite rejected Jesus despite being well aware of his miracles. For it is written in the Law, "If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’ —which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the LORD your God is testing you to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut 13:1-3 Jesus' enemies reckoned him a false prophet not due to the lack of evidence of a miraculous nature, but because they viewed his teachings as heresy. Conversely even the anti-Christ performs what appear to be miracles. "The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing." 2Th 2:9,10 So miracles are necessary, but secondly what is also necessary is for the prophet's teachings to be consistent with what God had already said through prophets prior to him. (Which is yet another reason to conclude Mohammed, among others, is a false prophet)

However today, as we can read through the whole Bible free from the prejudices which blinded the religious elite of Jesus' day, while it's easy enough to view Christ's teachings as being consistent with the rest of the Bible, does the miraculous nature of Jesus credentials hold the same weight today? Though the evidence is old, it appears we are to treat it as not any less valid. In fact Jesus said to his disciples, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29 We believe not because we see, but because we hear. The written eyewitness testimony of the apostles is apparently sufficient such that on the judgement day people cannot excuse themselves claiming that it was not sufficient. This means also that to become a Christian a person must not only believe in Christ, but even prior to believing in Christ, they have to believe the apostles. They have to come to the conviction that the gospel accounts are reliable historical accounts.

Rational Faith versus Wishful Thinking

If one is expected to come to faith as the Bible appears to indicate, through a forensic analysis of the evidence, reasonable doubt should come into play. Faith in Christ is not to be a presumptuous thing, like wishful thinking. It is reasonable in the process of considering such claims, to think through how difficult it would have been to fabricate such accounts. As in any court of law one neither presumes an eyewitness claim to be true on the basis of the claim itself, nor does one simply discard it outright. But I think if one were to subject the eyewitness claims contained in the Bible to such scrutiny as one would in determining the factual nature of any testimony in a court of law, one would conclude that it is beyond reasonable doubt that these were in fact true. Few actually need help in thinking these things through.  Reasonable people who read the accounts will come to see that they are convincingly historical. While for skeptics, nothing is ever sufficient because they're blinded by the implications of what Jesus said.

But unbelief is not limited to such skeptics. For why don't Christians include the testimony of Jesus's miracles and of his resurrection from the dead in their presentation of the gospel? It's one thing to present God's plan. But making historical claims of miracles is a different matter. Unbelievers may be entertained at your presentation of God's plan. Oh what an interesting idea! But if you claim that such ideas are validated by Jesus's miracles and by his historic resurrection from the dead as testified by eyewitnesses, they'll think you're just plain nuts. Consider Paul's speech to the Athenian intellectuals. They liked hearing about new ideas. "(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)" Acts 17:21 So he began to tell them the gospel. But when he said, "He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead." When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered. Acts 17:31,32 And perhaps this is why many Christians, indeed even preachers today, avoid including Jesus' miracles and his resurrection in their presentation of the gospel. One wonders if such people actually believe the accounts themselves.

The Lordship of Christ

Again it says, "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom 10:9 What does it mean by "Jesus is Lord"? What are the implications? And what constitutes confession?

To be saved one must accept Jesus as more than just a prophet. No prophet refers to themselves as Lord. One will not be saved by accepting Jesus merely as a good teacher or prophet. One must accept him as Lord. There are two aspects of Jesus being Lord, and I would argue that one follows from the other. The first is that to confess Jesus as Lord is to pledge our intention to obey him. Jesus said, "Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?" Luke 6:46  So what is Jesus saying here about the implications of calling him Lord? And likewise he says, "Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." Mt 7:21 There's an obedience that comes from faith. Paul writes, "Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Rom 1:5 And "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus." 2Th 1:8  And Peter writes, "For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" 1Pe 4:17  So believing in Christ involves obedience to him, which is why we call him "Lord".

However there is a subtle difference between pledging our allegiance to Christ as Lord and our intention to reform our lives. For a person, entrenched in habitual sin, may desire escape from the corruption the world has had on them, and may reform their lives to a degree. But while those who pledge to follow Christ do likewise, the former may not have the same attitude, viewing Christ only as a savior not really as Lord. Peter writes of such people, "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'" 2Peter 2:20,21

Likewise there are those who have no intention of repenting from sin, but view Jesus simply as a savior who gives them a license to sin. Jude writes of them saying, "Certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude 1:4

 Paul writes, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5:19-21 And "of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person— such a man is an idolater— has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient." Eph 5:5,6 For a person to be saved they must pledge their intention to obey Jesus as Lord.

The Deity of Christ

Jesus' Deity: New Testament Propositions

Now a second aspect of the Lordship of Christ is the very foundation of the first. Jesus is to be obeyed as Lord because he is the LORD. "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." John 1:3 For "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1 Of Jesus it says, "Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything." Heb 3:3,4

You see, "in the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Heb 1:1-3  This same passage also goes on to say of Jesus, "In the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands." Heb 1:10

Jesus' Deity: Old Testament References

In fact consider the context of the verse we've been looking at Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is LORD,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Just a couple of verses later he says, "For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile-- the same LORD is LORD of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.'" Romans 10:12,13 That phrase, which Peter also uses in Acts 2:21 in preaching the gospel, comes from the prophet Joel.  Consider Joel 2:27-32 "Then you will know that I am in Israel, that I am the LORD your God, and that there is no other; never again will my people be shamed. 'And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people ... And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the LORD has said, among the survivors whom the LORD calls."  In quoting from this passage in Joel, Paul is saying the Jesus is the LORD your God.

Likewise consider what John says of Jesus in John 12:40,41 First he quotes Isaiah 6:10 "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them." Then he says, "Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him." What he's saying is that prior to Isaiah 6:10 Isaiah saw Jesus' glory and spoke of him. Look at Isaiah 6:10 and then go back from there. What do we find? This is what Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6:1-3 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.  Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.  And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." That was the LORD Jesus he saw and spoke of. Jesus is the LORD Almighty according to the New Testament.

Jesus' Deity: Analogies

Now granted that Jesus is not God the Father. The two are as distinct as one's body is from one's soul. "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." Mt 10:28a One can suffer death, the other cannot.  And likewise one is subordinate to the other - the body being subordinate to the soul. And yet the body is considered essential as to what constitutes the person, as is the soul.

Or Jesus is as distinct from the Father as the light that comes from the sun is as distinct from the sun. And "He is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being" Heb 1:3 And Jesus said, "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" John 14:9 For just as one refers to the light that comes from the sun "the sun" and yet the light is not the sun, so we call Jesus "God" though Jesus is not God the Father. For he is like unto God's body - what can be manifest of God in exactness. Nor is Jesus the Holy Spirit. The two are distinct as one's body from one's spirit. Even after his resurrection Jesus said, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." Luke 24:39  Nonetheless, just as a person has a spirit, soul and body, so does God. "May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Th 5:23b

Jesus' Deity: Evidence from the Greek

More evidence is found in examining verses in the orginal language that contain phrases like "our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father ", that is "A and B" and then followed by a verb. One difference between Greek and English is that in Greek, the person and number of the verbs are specified by the greek endings. So if I say "He went to the store", in greek I'd have to use a singular ending for "went". But if I said "They went to the store", I'd have to use a plural ending. Whereas in English I use the same word "went". Thus when we read the Bible in English, there are some details clearly showing in the Greek which we can't see in English. Now consider this verse from 2Thess 2:16,17
"Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, (who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace,)  comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work."
In Greek would you expect the word "comfort" to use the singular or plural ending? Well since he's referring to person A AND person B you would expect it to be plural. But it's singular as is "establish"! For to Paul the apostle "our Lord Jesus Christ Himself AND our God and Father" are one person. Here is another example where this is true:
1Thess 3:11  Now may our God and Father Himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct (singular) our way to you.
Counter examples:
1Tim 3:8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted (plural) Moses,
Rom 16:21  Timothy, my fellow worker, and Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my countrymen, greet (plural) you.

Jesus' Deity: Essential to the Gospel

Now getting back to Rom 10:9 which says that it is necessary to acknowledge that Jesus is Lord to be saved. Yet as we have seen both from the context of that verse and from other verses, its is apparently that by "Lord" it is saying that Jesus is the LORD God. Must a person believe in and acknowledge that Jesus is the LORD to be saved? Yes, in order for a person to be saved they must accept the diety of Christ. And it's also logically necessary in order to understand the value of his blood. If a person doesn't accept the diety of Christ then neither will they really accept his atoning work on the cross. For even the scriptures argue that if Jesus were merely a man his sacrifice would not be of saving value. "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—  the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough" Ps 49:7,8 Thus you will find that those who reject the deity of Christ also reject the value of his atoning work on the cross.

The Essential Attributes of God

For a person to be saved, they must first realize that they are lost. But they can't realize that in the sense the Bible speaks of it unless they first accept that God exists and that he has certain attributes.

When Paul preached to the Athenians in Acts chapter 17 he first brought up these attributes of God.
  • vs 24 God made the world and everthing in it - this in contrast to their polytheistic ideas. God's existence itself is self-evident as Paul also wrote in Romans 1:20 "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities— his eternal power and divine nature— have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." People are without excuse because God's existence is self-evident.
  • vs 24 God is Lord of heaven and earth - "Lord" means that he demands our obedience and compliance and consequently we will be held accountable for our actions.
  • vs 24,25 God does not live in man-made temples or in need of human assistance - This in contrast to the Greek gods and such idols as are contained in temples in need of human assistance. And perhaps Catholics also need to know that God does not live in ornate church buildings built by human hands. 
  • vs 26 God is sovereign, involved in human affairs - like when each individual would be born and where they would live.
      Paul's elaboration on this point is very significant. vs 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him. This is in contrast to the fatalistic philosophies such as what some Christians preach today in conformity to the fatalistic aspects of Reformed Theology in which men are viewed as incapable of seeking God, let alone reaching out for Him, but rather are viewed as mere puppets. Why is it that God had you born at such a time and at such a place? It was so that you would seek God and maybe reach out and find him. "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near." Is 55:6 The significant point is that God wants you to seek him. But if you seek God it doesn't necessary mean that you will find him. "You will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul." Deut 4:29, but not necessarily otherwise.  Thus if we go back to Paul's sermon, the word in the NIV used in Acts 17:27 is "perhaps". In the NKJV more literally it's "in the hope that". God in his sovereignty limits his sovereignty on this point. (And who are those Calvinists to say that God is not allowed to do that?) God's sovereignty grants people free will to seek after Him and to reach out for Him. Reach out and you will find Him.
  • vs 27 God is not far away - Realize of course the sense in which Paul is speaking. Afterall even Jesus addressed his Father as being in heaven. But Paul's point is that unlike the Greek gods who were more like glorified humans, they couldn't be everywhere at the same time, whereas God is omnipresent. Furthermore, yes God is transcendent in a sense, but he is also knowable to the degree to which he allows himself to be known. For God has given us His Word so that we would know him.
  • vs 27-29 God is personal - that is God's nature is reflected more in human nature than that in material objects - Paul alluding to idols. This is of course somewhat an understatement in that God's nature is much more than even super-human, let alone human. But Paul was merely trying to show them the folly of idolatry.
These are some aspects of God which Paul found to be necessary to grasp, but somewhat foreign to his Greek audience. These attributes of God are likewise foreign to many today. But they are necessary to grasp to be saved. Paul goes on to propose another essential attribute of God, namely

God is Lord God

Acts 17:30b-31a "Now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice"

There's a difference between believing in God simply as a Creator than believing in him as one who will judge us. For there are many who believe in a Creator who places no demands on us and to whom there is no accountability. The Lord God as portrayed in the Bible is not simply the Creator. A person cannot be saved if they only acknowledge God as Creator. For what would they even have to be saved from if that were the case? Such a person may only think of salvation with regards the corrupting effect of sin, but not consider the judicial guilt that sin incurs and thus disqualify themselves from accepting the gospel.

God will Judge and God is Just

"You have come to God, the judge of all men" Heb 12:23 And "everyone must die once, and after that comes judgement" Heb 9:27 For a person to realize that they are in need of salvation, it is logically necessary for one to accept the idea that God will hold them accountable for their actions. But unlike the viewpoint of some Christians, God is not arbitrary or whimsical in his judgement. "God is just:" 2Th 1:6a And since God is just, he will hold people acccountable only for those things over which the person has control. For to do otherwise would be unjust. As such this disqualifies some historically popular heresies from a legitimate presentation of the gospel. For example to say that God hold's people accountable for Adam's sin presents God as unjust, and as such is contrary to the gospel. Likewise to say that God has made us in such a way that we have no choice but to sin, again portrays God as unjust. For in these cases he would be condemning those who had no control over what they are being judged for.

Besides being contrary to the Bible, to present God as unjust makes the atoning work of Christ irrelevant. For in such a case Christ's death would not be appeasing God's judicial nature, since in this case God would have no judicial nature to appease. Like many concepts of God today, God could just whimsically forgive sin without require any compensation, which is contrary to the gospel. The Bible says, "God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus." Rom 3:25,26 Otherwise God would be unjust according to the Bible.

It is an essential part of saving faith for a person to accept the idea of God being just and as such acting judiciously, and that we are to be held accountable to him.

God's Wrath - Hell

Eternal Suffering is hell is clearly preached in the Bible, especially by Jesus.

Luke 12:5  But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

Mt 13:41,42 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mt 18:34,35 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Jude 1:7  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

Despite the fact that eternal suffering would seem contrary both the God's judicial nature and his mercy and would seem to portray God the Father as the God Father, Jesus didn't shy away from portraying his Father in this manner because first of all this is the way God actually is. And secondly, from God's perspective, this a just sentence. Now as for the eternal nature of hell, or more precisely the lake of fire into which hell transitions at the final judgement, God sends people to hell to satisfy the demands of justice in light of their many sins. They remain there because they don't stop sinning, adding on to their sentence indefinitely. 

Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

Rev 20:15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Now there are those who would say that it's ineffective preaching hell. It turns people off. And so we hear little of hell today. But this is not an issue of effectiveness. This is an issue of what constitutes the essential elements of the gospel. To remove the wrath of God from the gospel is to preach a different gospel. If people won't accept the idea that God sends people to hell, if people can't accept that such judgment is condoned by the Lord Jesus Christ, then they have yet to believe the gospel of Christ.

"Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels." Mt 25:41

"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars— their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." Rev 21:8

People are Guilty

It may not be necessary to belay this point as it is rather self-evident to most who grasp the character of God. In fact most people recognize that they fail to live up to their own standards, let alone God's. However this is where the Law is effective. The Law is a necessary part of the gospel in this sense. "through the law we become conscious of sin." Rom 3:20b In this sense "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith." Gal 3:24 For even if a person is aware that God exists and that God will judge them and that God is just, they may not feel they need to be saved if they have no conviction of sin. The fact is, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Rom 3:23 And the gospel teaches us that when people sin, they incur guilt. So when the gospel is preached, one of the first points concerning salvation is to convict people of sin. For this reason John the Baptist came before Christ. He came preaching repentance from sin. The angel described John's purpose quoting Malachi 4:6 'to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous-- to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.' This is how to prepare people for the Lord - by convicting them of sin.

Make no mistake about it, "The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal 5:19-21

But there are also allegedly "good" people who feel they don't need to be saved. If a person is indeed "good" he need not be concerned. Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 5:31,32 But then again there are many who deceive themselves about their "goodness". Jesus spoke to such a man in Luke 18 where  A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good— except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’" "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. Allegedly "good" people need to be humiliated to show them they are sinners so that they may see that they need to be saved. It is for this reason Jesus speaks of the hypocrisy of religious elite of his day in places like Matthew chapter 23 so that they may be saved.

However God has so orchestrated the way to salvation as to bar the proud from the kingdom of God. This is the primary hinderance to being saved - one's pride. The Lord says, "This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word." Is 66:2 And as we read how the proud are spoken to, both in the New Testament by Jesus and his apostles and in the Old through the prophets, little if any concession is made to accomodate the proud. Consequently I would argue that in our preaching of the gospel, we should make little concession to accomodate people's pride. Entering into salvation in an undignified manner is really the only legitimate way to enter. Luke 18:17  "Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." One enters lowly in fear of condemnation, shamefully placing the guilt of their sin at the cross. This is no place for proud dignitaries but for humble sinners in need of salvation from the wrath of God in view of the guilt they have incurred due to personal misbehavior. This is not a place for those who blame their sin on someone else, like Adam. The foot of the cross is for those who have taken personal responsibility for their sins and seek reconciliation with God in accordance with God's plan for salvation revealed in the gospel.

God's Plan for Salvation

Preaching God's plan for salvation is an essential part of the message for people to be saved. However it tends to be the only thing which is shared today by Evangelical Christians, as if the audience were pre-churched. While that may have been the case more in the past, today's audience needs a more comprehensive presentation. In fact even in the New Testament times you ask John to share his gospel and he would go on for 21 chapters.

God's plan for salvation would seem to be very simple to understand. But there are implications which may be difficult to grasp for those who weren't brought up in a Christian environment. As I had mentioned earlier Paul summarized his gospel by saying, "that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures" 1Cor 15:3,4 He then goes on to mention eyewitness of Christ's resurrection. The eyewitness accounts of Jesus' miracles culminating in his resurrection from the dead constitute the forensic proof validating the message. And what is the message in a nutshell but that Christ died for our sins.

What does it mean that Christ died for our sins?

Very simply, God's judicial nature demanded sin be penalized and as such sin had to be paid for. It would be contrary to God's nature to simply forgive sin without satisfying His sense of justice. Even among human judicial systems there is the common expression, "Justice must be satisfied." Christ paid for the sins of the world on the cross so as to allow God to forgive sin, having satisfied the demands of justice. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:14-16  God sent his Son on what may be classified in a military sense as a suicide mission in order to save people. "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit" 1Peter 3:18  For "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice" Rom 3:23-25a And "since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" Rom 5:9 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace" Eph 1:7

"Grace" is an important concept here. We see the word used abundantly in the New Testament. "Grace" is that virtue whereby one shows mercy to the undeserving. "Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions— it is by grace you have been saved." Eph 2:4,5 In the gospel we learn that God is gracious to his enemies by providing them a way to be saved from his wrath. "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Rom 5:8 "For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!" Rom 5:10 One implication here is, as I said, to be saved one must first recognize that they are God's enemy, a sinner in need of reconciliation with God.

How Christ's Death Justifies

Now there are those who may want to go deeper into the issue as to how Christ's death atoned for sin, in view of certain implications. And in fact it is helpful to understand why God needed to do it that way.

Of course God was under no obligation to save people. God implemented his plan out of a sense of grace and not out of a sense of obligation. However seeing as in order to save people he had to satisfy the demands of his judicial nature, he was limited to working within the bounds of justice. This is important to understand because God cannot arbitrarily violate his judicial nature.

God could not simply create some being and use that being as a sort of substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of sinners. "No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him— the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough" Ps 49:7,8 But Jesus was more than just a man. He was the Lord Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth. Born but not created. As such his value was of infinite worth compared to created beings. Salvation could only be accomplished through Jesus Christ.

Secondly, because God is just, he is not going to condemn the innocent. Jesus was innocent. Even his enemies, Pilate and Judas, admitted that. And Peter writes of Christ being "a lamb without blemish or defect" 1Peter 1:19, analogous to a sacrificial lamb. What God did was to orchestrate the circumstances such that out of their own free will Jesus was murdered by evil men. So Jesus died as an innocent victim of a crime committed against him. It was God's will to cause him to suffer in order to pay for sin. As I said, he was essentially sent on a suicide mission. But actually "wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross." Acts 2:23 This occurred in accordance with God's set purpose and foreknowledge. And Jesus knew this. He said, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise." Mark 9:31 Jesus was a willing sacrifice. He had the option of opting out. But he prayed, "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!" John 12:27,28

But how did his death actually atone for sin? When the Bible speaks of Jesus dying for sin or paying for sin, it's talking about the end result. The judicial process I believe to be the following. When the innocent suffer they are entitled to compensation. This is understood in human judicial systems. Justice demands that victims of crime be compensated. Now consider this. On the one hand God's judicial nature demands that people's sins be paid for. On the other hand God's judicial nature demands that Jesus, being an innocent victim of a crime committed against him, be compensated. So you can see how this goes. These two demands of God's judicial nature cancel each other out. And thus in essence we can say that Jesus' death paid for the sins of the world. This is how God's judicial nature was satisfied.

What must we do to be saved?

What is the necessary and essential response which qualifies us for salvation. Jesus paid for sin. He could have made salvation automatic and universal, having satisfied God's judicial nature. But the gospel tells us that he made salvation conditioned upon our response to it. In fact someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." Luke 13:23,24 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Mt 7:13,14

The Philippian jailer asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" and Paul and Silas answered, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved." Acts 16:30,31 There is volition involved in being saved, but more than just one's volition. One cannot simply will oneself to believe something. They have be convinced of it. They first have to hear. For "faith comes from hearing the message". Rom 10:17 The message itself contains the forensic evidence validating its legitimacy, as I mentioned previously. One has to hear; one has to reason; one has to embrace the message with conviction. And also one has to consider the implications of the message.

Peter preached the gospel in Acts chapter 2. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"  Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:37,38 And Peter went on with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation." Acts 2:40

Evidences of Saving Faith

The requirement to be saved is faith in Christ. But what kind of faith? The faith that saves is application oriented. It takes the message to heart and considers the implications. Thus repentance and baptism are natural outworkings or expressions of such faith. As is a lifestyle geared towards devotion to Christ as LORD. For "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 Paul noted the effect the gospel had on the Thessalonians saying, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." 1Th 1:3 Notice he mentions "endurance". This is another attribute of saving faith. Paul said, "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 Vain belief does not save.

Concerning perseverance in faith, Jesus likewise said, "he who endures to the end shall be saved." Mt 24:13 and he was speaking of enduring in faith in the midst of severe trials, severe opposition. Persevering in the faith is so characteristic of saving faith that John writes of those who fall away, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19 Thus "we have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14


"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 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 freely pardon." Is 55:6,7

Paul preached to the Athenians saying, "God commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice" Acts 17:30b-31a In describing his ministry to King Agrippa Paul says, "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." Acts 26:20  A call to repentance is an essential part of the gospel. But in terms of a condition for salvation, it is the INTENTION to conform one's deeds to God 's which is a part of saving faith. The actual deeds, the carrying out of one's intentions, is not the condition for salvation, but rather the evidence that one has been saved. Thus changing one's behavior is as a saved person. Doing good works is as a saved person. This in contrast to those who view deeds as a precondition for salvation. Salvation is not by works, but intention is not a work. It's an attitude. And it is an attitude which is inherent in saving faith. 

What are examples of deeds indicative of repentance? Jesus visited a tax collector named Zacchaeus. It is written that "Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house" Luke 19:8-9a Well there you go! John the Baptist also commanded, as the apostle Paul did, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." Luke 3:8 "What should we do then?" the crowd asked. John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same." Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?" "Don’t collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?" He replied, "Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely— be content with your pay." Luke 3:10-14 And again - there you go! These are examples of proving ones repentance by their deeds.

Public Confession  and Baptism

Paul writes, "If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." Rom 10:9,10 If a person has an alleged faith in Christ, but is not willing to make a public confession of that faith, such faith is not saving faith. "And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed and therefore I spoke," we also believe and therefore speak," 2Cor 4:13 The faith that saves is the faith that leads one to publicly confess Christ. And this is also largely the purpose of water baptism. 

When the gospel was preach, baptism was included as a sign of one's new allegiance and as a pledge of a good conscience of one's intention to treat Jesus as Lord.

When Peter preached the first Christian sermon in Acts 2, he ended saying, "Repent and be baptized ..." Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day."  Acts 2:38,41 Philip preached to the Ethiopian starting with the prophet Isaiah, it is recorded, Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Acts 8:35,36 How would the man have known about baptism? It was included in Philip's presentation of the gospel. So if you are preaching the gospel and the person comes to believe, and then happens to see some water, they should respond just as the Ethiopian. And for those who claim to believe in Christ, but have yet to get baptized, what hinders you?  Likewise after Peter preached to Cornelius, a Gentile, and he and his family became believers, they were baptized. After Paul preached to the Philippian jailer and he and his family believed, they were baptized. When a person comes to believe in Christ, they are to be baptized.

Those who get baptized are pledging to have a good conscience before God.  Peter writes that "the baptism that now saves you also— is not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God." 1Peter 3:16 Baptism is symbolic of our being buried with Christ. "Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?" Rom 6:3  So if you've come to believe in Christ, get baptized.

What Salvation Incorporates

Forgiveness of Sins

This is the most essential aspect of salvation. And it is guaranteed. Eph 1:7 "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace." Sin is not only forgiven but forgotten as God has promised, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Heb 10:17 And yes this forgiveness comes apart from any works, for "to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: 'Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.'" Rom 4:5-7 For while good works are an outworking of faith, the Christian is forgiven even prior to taking any actions, though of course the intention to repent is inherent in saving faith.

Consequently we are saved from God's wrath. "Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!" Rom 5:9 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." John 5:24

Adoption into God's Family

Having believed in Christ, one is given the right to become a child of God. John 1:12,13 "Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God." and "Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God" 1John 5:1a 

Citizens of Heaven

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household" Eph 2:19

A Promised Inheritance

One aspect of this sonship is the promise of an eternal inheritance: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." 1Peter 1:3,4

Rewards for Services Rendered

God would not have been obligated to hand out rewards seeing as we pledge allegiance to Jesus as Lord and therefore reckon ourselves slaves of God. And this is what Jesus spoke of in Luke 17:7-10 of parable of the unworthy servants. However out of his graciousnes God has promised rewards nonetheless for services rendered. For example Jesus said, "if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matt 10:42 And he said, "Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys." Lk 12:33 And "love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great" Luke 6:35a

The Reception of the Holy Spirit

Gal 4:6 "Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, <"Abba>, Father."  Peter declares, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:38 When a person comes to faith in Christ, they receive the Holy Spirit. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9b And all have been baptized by the Spirit. "For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body— whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free— and we were all given the one Spirit to drink." 1Cor 12:13 

By the Holy Spirit we are regenerate, which affects our behavior. This is part of the New Covenant. "This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds." Heb 10:16 Consequently, "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 The Holy Spirit works in concert with the Word of God. "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." 1Peter 1:23

There are many roles the Holy Spirit plays in the Christian's life. Among other things, He helps us to pray, "We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us" Rom 8:26b He gives us spiritual gifts to serve God effectively. "Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good." 1Cor 12:7 And he sanctifies us to become better Christians. "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." Gal 5:16

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