My outline in preaching is "four things you need to know." The fourth point is, "We must believe in Jesus." In that point I say something like the following.
"Just because Jesus died for everyone doesn't mean that everyone goes to heaven. There is one response that we must make to what Jesus did for us on the cross and that is, we must believe in Jesus."
"A lot of people say they believe in Jesus, so I want to talk to you about what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. People may say they believe in Jesus, but that does not mean that they do. First of all though, the Bible does teach that the response we must have to what Jesus did on the cross is, we must believe in Jesus Christ."
I read or quote John 3:16, 18, and 36. I'll often ask, "So if we believe in Jesus Christ, according to these verses, we have what?" Answer: "eternal life" or "everlasting life." "Right."
"But the question is, what does it mean to believe in Jesus Christ? Part of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ is over in Luke 13:3, 5." Read or quote one of those verses. "There Jesus says that if we don't repent, we will perish. Remember in John 3:16 it says that if we believe we won't perish? Well, here it says that if we don't repent, we will perish. Repentance and faith, repentance and believing are two sides of the same coin. If we don't repent, we will perish, that is, go to hell. If we believe, we won't perish, that is, go to hell."
"Let's say that this pole (or pillar or wall or step) represents the end of my life, so, because I'm a sinner, it represents hell for me, since I deserve hell for my sin. The path from me to the pole is my life. I keep moving through my life without stopping until I go to hell, until I run into this pole. Just think about the pole now. If I can't stop, and I don't want to run into the pole, what is it that will have to happen, if I'm not going to run into the pole?
Often here the person doesn't know the answer. He sometimes might even say, "Repent," which shows he knows what I'm talking about. But usually he will not have an answer. So I give the answer.
"He will need to turn. If he can't stop and he doesn't want to run into the pole, that is, he doesn't want to go to hell, he must turn. And that's what it means 'to repent,' 'to turn.' If we don't want to go to hell, we must turn."
"The life I'm living is a life of sin, and it is not heading toward God, but away from Him. I must turn toward God, that is, repent toward God from my way. I must turn from my way to His way. My way is leading me to hell. That is what it means to repent."
"The problem often is that people want to keep going their own way. They like their way. They like their sin. But sin is not pleasing to God, and it is sending us to hell. If you remember from the second thing that we need to know, God is holy God and He hates sin. But we can't keep going our way, the direction of our sin, and be saved. We'll go to hell."
"We can see this same idea in Matthew 16:25, 'For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.' If we will save our life, we must lose our life. The word 'life' is the Greek word psuche, which means 'soul.' The next verse says, 'For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?' So we by faith offer our soul to God and He gives us eternal life. This is repentance. When we turn from our way to His way, we are losing our life for His life, our temporal life for eternal life. Psalm 23 says that God restores our soul. How does He restore our soul? Our soul is stained by sin and He restores it when we offer it to Him by faith through the cleansing of His shed blood."
"Men often don't want to give up their life. They want to hang on to it. Why? They don't trust God. Believing in Jesus Christ is losing your life to Him, trusting Him for eternal life. That is repenting and believing in Him."
"I want to look at one more passage. Romans 10:9,10, 13." Read those verses. "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus. Let's say that I had enough money to buy a billboard on highway 80 and on the billboard I put in big, bold, capital letters, JESUS IS LORD. And everybody stuck in commute traffic read my billboard. Would they all go to heaven?" Answer: "No." "You're right. Confessing Jesus is Lord is more than just saying words. It means that He is Lord and we are not. He is King and we are not. We get off the throne and He gets on the throne."
"Jesus is Lord. If we believe in Him, we also believe that He is Savior, He is God, and He is Lord. Since He is Lord, we don't go our way anymore, but His way. We leave our way for His way." (I have already presented Jesus as God and as Savior in my third point, 'Jesus died for us.')
"Verse 13 says, 'For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.' Let's say that we're both hanging on a rope from a cliff. Let's say El Capitan over in Yosemite. If we fall, we're going to die for sure. No chance of survival. And we are without strength. That's what Romans 5 says that we are, without strength and ungodly. There's no way we can get up on our own. There is no way we can save ourselves. But there is somebody on top of the cliff that can save us. What would we do?" Answer: "Scream? Yell?" "That's right. We would scream for help. Why? We know we're helpless. And we believe He can save us, because we know who He is. If we, recognizing Who He is, call upon Him to save us, He will."
"So why won't people call on Him to save them? Because they don't trust in Him. They don't believe in Him. And they think they can make it up on their own. They are too proud. But if you do call upon Him, He will save you."
This is how I explain repentance. People understand Who Jesus is. They understand repentance. They understand what it is to believe in Jesus. They know how to receive Him. When I get this far with someone, which is often, he understands salvation. At that moment, he will either receive or reject Jesus Christ.