The word “unless” (or “except”) means that what is mentioned must be done! It is not something that can safely be left out of our lives. In this lesson, we shall notice five things our Lord taught must be done!

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish” (Luke 13:3). Repentance is the decision to change from the wrong way to the right way. If I am a drunkard and continue to drink, I will go to Hell to be punished forever when I die (Galatians 5:19-21). I must turn away from drunkenness, and turn to Jesus Christ for the true refreshment ( John 4:14) just as many have done before me (I Corinthians 6:9-11). But if I make the foolish choice to keep on drinking beer and other alcoholic beverages, I am sinning and rebelling against God. I will be destroyed because that is the way sin leads (Galatians 6:7-8).

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except one be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God!” ( John 3:5). Jesus taught that we must be born again in order to enter the spiritual kingdom (the church) in which the blessings of salvation from sin and eternal life are found ( John 3:3). But what does it mean to be born again? It has nothing to do with a physical birth, for that is a completely different matter ( John 3:6). Some have taught that the new birth is something which cannot be understood. This is not true. Just as the wind can be understood by its effects, so can the new birth, even though it cannot be seen ( John 3:8). We are born by the Spirit when we hear, believe, and obey the truth which the Holy Spirit has revealed in God’s Word (Ephesians 6:17; I Peter 1:22-23; James 1:25). We are born of the water when we come forth from being buried in water in baptism (Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 1:13-14; 2:12).

Verily I say unto you, Except ye turn, and become as little children, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). Little children learn many things in the early years because they want to learn. We cannot be saved without this desire to learn from Jesus Christ, the greatest teacher of all (Matthew 11:29; 28:19-20). We must also be like children in our trust in Jesus Christ and our loyalty to Him.

No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day” ( John 6:44). Our own wisdom and strength are not enough to save us. God had to put something in this world that would actually move people in the right direction. This drawing power is the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16; 10:14-17; Acts 2:37-38). We are drawn to Jesus by the gospel when we are taught ( John 6:45). Until we are moved by hearing the gospel, there is no chance for us to be saved.

I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins” ( John 8:24). The Greek language in which the New Testament was first written does not have the word “He” in it. It just says “I am.” This was a title for God. It suggests that God has no beginning or ending (See John 8:56-59). The Jews understood that Jesus claimed to be of the same nature as God, the Father; that is, He ever lives. If Jesus is not such a Being, but just another man like you and me, He is not powerful enough to save us. If we do not believe in Him strongly enough to obey Him in all things, we cannot be saved (Hebrews 5:8-9)!