Question 78


Can you repent* and believe in Christ by your own power?


No, I must have the help of the Holy Spirit*.

Before I came to Jesus*, I was bound up in my sin* and blind to the truth.[1] I was not looking for God.[2] I did not know God. And I did not want to know him. The good news about Jesus did not sound like good news to me. I could not respond to God. It was like I was dead to God and God was dead to me. I had no way to react to God because my spirit* was dead. I could not help myself. All of these problems needed to be solved or I could never have believed.


One of the prophets* named Jeremiah* said it this way: ‘You are in the habit of doing evil.* Do you think you can change your ways? You have as much chance of that as a leopard has of changing his spots.’


Paul* said the same kind of thing in a letter many years later. ‘Some people do not have the Holy Spirit,’ he said. ‘So, they do not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. Those things are foolish to them. They cannot understand them’.[3]


So how do I explain how I have gone from not believing to believing in Jesus? How did I go from going away from God to being a follower* of Jesus?


The answer is: the work of the Holy Spirit.


God the Holy Spirit is one with God the Father and Jesus, God’s Son. All of the persons, Father, Son and Spirit, are the one true God. It is God who, by grace*, has made salvation* possible.[4] God the Father planned a way to rescue sinful* people. Jesus, the Son of God, did all that needed to be done to complete this plan. He lived a perfect life. He died on the cross.* God raised him from the dead. God the Holy Spirit applies the work that Jesus did to people’s hearts.* Paul says that no person can say Jesus is Lord* except by the Holy Spirit.[5]


The Holy Spirit made sure that I heard the gospel.* Then He made me able to understand that the story of Jesus is true. He helped me see that my sin did not please God. I saw that I would be judged by God for the bad things that I had done.[6] The Holy Spirit gave me a desire to find out how I could be changed. The Holy Spirit gave me eyes to see.


I must make a decision. I must choose to confess* that Jesus Christ is Lord. But I am not able to say that without a work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit freed me from being a slave to my sin to being free to choose and follow Jesus. I went from being dead in my sins to being alive in Jesus because the Spirit gave me life.[7] Every step in the journey from being an enemy of God to being received into God’s family is a gift from God.


When we believe in Jesus, many things in our lives change. God forgives us for all the bad things we have done. God welcomes us into his family. The Holy Spirit works in us to make us more like Jesus. He leads us and comforts us and helps us know when we need to repent and turn back to God.[8]


The Prophet Jonah* found himself inside of a fish. There he prayed to God for help. He said in his prayer, ‘God is the one who saves’.[9]If I am a Christian, I must never forget to thank the Holy Spirit.

[1] 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
[2] Romans 3:10-18
[3] 1 Corinthians 2:14
[4] Ephesians 2:1-10
[5] John 6:44
[6] John 16:8-9
[7] John 3:6-8; John 6:63
[8] 2 Timothy 2:24-26
[9] Jonah 2:9