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April 05, 2007

The First Step

by Professor Robert J. Barth

What is the response of parents when their child takes the first step? Isn’t it one of joy expressed in clapping and words of affirmation? The Bible tells us that there is rejoicing in heaven when a person takes the first step into the Kingdom of God.

The First Step

What is the first step to entering the Kingdom? Is it going to church, reading the Bible, memorizing Scripture, or doing acts of service to help others? No, those actions may be evidence of the first step, but the first step is a matter of the heart. It is repentance. It is a heart-felt decision to acknowledge and turn from our sinfulness, have faith in Jesus as the atoning sacrifice for our sin, and to seek God and His ways.

Jesus said, “…there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:10). The Apostle Paul testified to the Jews and the Greeks, “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The gospel of John tells us that unless a person is “born again,” or born of the spirit, he or she cannot even see or perceive the Kingdom of God (John 3:3). Contrary to the view that there are many ways to enter the Kingdom, the Bible makes it clear that there is only one way. It is a straight and narrow path (Matthew 7:24). It is only through faith in Jesus, who is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and “no man cometh unto the Father, but by [Jesus]” (John 14:6).

The spiritual rebirth of entering the Kingdom is the first prerequisite to renewing your mind. After being born of the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul tells us to mentally and emotionally submit our bodies “a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is our reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). This means that we are to dedicate our bodies to God for His service. If our spirit is born of the Holy Spirit, and our body is surrendered for His service, then we need our mind renewed so that His thoughts become our thoughts. The very next verse says, “And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).

Renewing your mind is not learning information about God, the Bible, and theology. Renewing your mind involves a perspective on life. It begins with an attitude and desire to change. It is seeking to know the will of God by studying the Word of God, and asking the Spirit of God to give you understanding and wisdom.

It all begins with accepting as the undeniable and unquestionable truth that Jesus is the Son of God, who died to atone for our sins, and rose from the dead in the power of the Holy Spirit. The resurrection of Jesus and His ascension into heaven are the foundations of the Christian faith. For as the Apostle Paul said, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17).

The first step into the Kingdom of God, the doorway to renewing your mind, and the start of a life as a new creature in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17) begin with faith. Some have the attitude “show me and I will believe,” but God is saying to each of us, “believe Me and I will show you.” Faith may be unseen, but faith is real. Faith has substance; it is evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).

Contemporary legal study excludes as irrelevant any consideration of spiritual reality. The existence of God, the origin and nature of man, and the judgment of nations are considered only matters of one’s personal belief, and are not applicable to the “secular” function of law and government. Yet, our Founders had a different view. They held it to be “self-evident” that there is a Creator, and that He created all people equal in value. These “truths” are the basis for unalienable rights and the government’s role to protect those rights.

Renewing your mind in any area, even in science, law, medicine, or engineering, begins with accepting as truth the unseen reality of God. This is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs (9:10). Without this starting point, man’s thoughts and ways are only “foolishness with God” (I Corinthians 3:19). As declared in Psalm 1, the ultimate end of those who reject the reality of God is that they “shall perish.”

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About the Author

Professor Robert J. Barth
A graduate of the University of Illinois (B.S. 1976), Professor Robert J. Barth received his Juris Doctor from Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1979. He received his Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Regent University in 1986. From 1986 to 1995, Professor Barth was associated with Regent University School of Law in several capacities, including assistant dean for academic and student affairs, and editor of the Journal of Christian Jurisprudence. He has written several articles, and as the director for academic programs, he has authored Oak Brook College’s book, Renewing Your Mind as You Study Law.

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