Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category

It’s Easy to Be Racist When You See Men As Animals

Racism is always a hot topic.  I grew up in the South of the United States.  As most people know (who know history), the South was mainly where many of the Africans came when the US brought slaves over in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.  The North and South fought the Civil War (not primarily) over the issues of slavery.  The US Civil War brought a new history of racism to the South.  After the Civil War, Northern leaders forced Southern plantation owners to give up of their land to the new freed slaves.  The idea was to help former slaves become independent but what it brought was hatred from the Southern whites toward their former slaves.  After the era of Reconstruction ended just a few years after the Civil War, the South created “Jim Crow” laws which ensured segregation and when the US Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” rulings, the South created law after law to keep former slaves down.

I grew up long after the Civil War was fought of course and I grew up in a integrated society.  In the 1960’s, the Civil Rights movement begin in the South and brought down the Jim Crow laws.  This was a good thing in my estimation.  For the life of me, I can’t understand how Christians could hate people based on the color of the skin.  How in the world do you read John 13:34-35 or 1 John 4:20-21 and still approve of racism?

When I was in elementary school, my school was mainly white.  The black friends I had were great and we got along well.  When I got to middle school, they forced three schools to combine because of race (two of the schools were about 80% black or higher and the middle school I was suppose to attend was probably 80% white).  The whites who could went to private schools.  The school went from 500 students to over 1200 students (in middle school) with over 70% black.  It was here that I begin to see racism like never before.  This racism was aimed at me for my skin color.

Over the next 7 years of school (my high school today is 100% black but at the time was about 90% black), I was taught that I was guilty of many sins against the black man for it was my ancestors who had owned slaves.  I was taught that whites should be ashamed, forced to pay money to blacks for the sins of our fathers.  I was taught that the problems with the black community could be laid at the feet of whites.  I was hated for just being white.  And in turn, I begin to hate back.

Now to be fair, I played baseball in school and had black team mates and we got along great.  I also had black friends outside of sports who were dear to me.  Keep in mind also I was not saved.

At 17 I was saved.  This opened my eyes to my own racism and to my need to repent.  Our Bible study group was mainly white but we reached out to black pastors and black students to try to bring healing and show the power of the gospel to bring down divisions.  The church I attended had several black families in it and I loved them dearly.

My point here is that I saw where racism was (in our wicked hearts).  I saw how it was fed.  We were taught in school that we were products of naturalistic evolution.  We were just glorified animals.  We were not created in the image of God.  I could see how racism could grow in that environment.  We are nothing but animals.  You kill an animal, it just ceases to exist.  No right or wrong.  Only animals.  The whites use to point at the blacks and call them “monkeys” while I am sure black people called us names as well.  Racism was alive and well and why should it not be in such a wicked environment.

Look at our world today.  For the last 50 years we have been teaching nothing but secular humanism.  We have taught that people are animals, that evolution is true, that morality is based on individual liberty.  We have taught people to look to the Government for help, to fight your battles, to solve your problems, to take from your neighbor and give to you.  We have rejected the gospel as a foundation.  We have turned our back on our Christian heritage.  We have been taught to kill just for the sake of killing and there is no God so nothing will happen anyway.  And we wonder why racism still exists?  We wonder why wicked sinners kill?

When I begin to see that my black neighbors are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27 ) and that Christ died for them, that changed my views.  I would  be lying if I said that all racism is gone from my heart.  I have to fight it but I fight it with the gospel.  Jesus didn’t die for Jews only or for Gentiles only but He died for all sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:3-6).  The gospel goes out to all people (Matthew 28:19-20).  In Revelation 5:9-10 we read that God has His people from every tribe, tongue and nation.  God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:10).  The Bible is clear that whosoever can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:13).  Thus the gospel is not for Jews only but for all (Romans 11:32).

What our society needs is the gospel.  The gospel tears down the sins of our hearts.  The gospel brings people together in unity like nothing else (Ephesians 2:14).  The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and Jesus shed His blood for all races.  When we see that people are created in the image of God, we see that they are truly loved by God (John 3:16).  The Chinese person.  The Japanese person.  The white person.  The black person.  The Hispanic person.  They all are made in the image of God.  They are not animals.  They are loved by God and He desires to save them by His grace.

My prayer is that the gospel will go forth and save every racist.  The truth is that Jesus died for all sinners (Romans 3:23) and all sinners need salvation which comes not by skin color or by language but by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  The gospel is color blind.  The gospel is the cure for our society because the gospel transform a man into seeing that another man is created in the image of God.  The gospel shows us that despite our culture or our color, Jesus shed His blood for our salvation.  The gospel shows us that heaven will be full of all kinds of people (I rejoice to see that day!).  When we see people thorough the gospel, this transforms how we see people for we don’t see a person by their skin color or their creed or their language but we see them as people made in the image of Almighty God.

And That’s Why I Need Jesus

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
– 1 Timothy 1:15

I find comfort in reading in the Bible that I am a sinner and that Christ came to die for me and my sins (Galatians 1:4).  I know many people read the Bible looking for “keys” to a deeper life, keys to victory, keys to a happier marriage, keys to a stronger prayer life, etc. but I read the Bible looking for my sins.  I want the mirror of God’s law to show me my ugliness and my sins so that I can repent and be refreshed (Acts 3:19-20; 1 John 1:9).  There is something wonderful about seeing God’s holiness in the light of my sins.  There is something beautiful that comes from confessing my sins.

Psalm 32:15-18 reads:

15 The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.

16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.

17 When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.

18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.

When the Spirit of God confronts me about my sins, I love it!  I really do!  It shows me His great love for me, that He would not leave me as I am.  Hebrews 12:7-11 reads:

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Notice verse 10.  The Lord disciplines us so that we might share in His holiness.  Amazing!

Tonight I could sit here and write all about my sins.  I don’t need to.  The point is not about me.  The point is about why I need Jesus and you do as well.  If Jesus came to save only the righteous, none of us would be saved (Romans 3:10-18).  I have met people who think they never sin after getting saved but I have found that they were mostly prideful, arrogant, condescending, and full of their own flesh.  They focused so much on themselves “not sinning” that they lost sight of their sins.  I am not advocating living in blatant sin but I am calling us to recognize the truth that Jesus came to save sinners.  Of course there is truth that those whom He saves become saints in Him (1 Corinthians 1:2).  Jesus saves us out of a life of sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  That I know but He is also still saving me out of a life of sin.  Sin is not out of me yet completely nor is it out of you.  Let’s face it, we like sinning.  No, we love sinning.  That is why Jesus had to die for us.  Because we enjoy sin.

And that is why I need Jesus.  I like sinning.  I don’t want to like it.  In fact, I want to hate it.  Yet I find that I enjoy sinning.  I have sinned in many ways.  I have let many people down over the years.  Those who know me best know I am not perfect.  I never confess to be.  Oh there was a time I thought I was all that.  Not anymore.  I see my sins.  I know my sins.  I hate my sins.

It’s funny how people think that we Christians are suppose to be perfect.  I have yet to meet a perfect Christian.  I have met arrogant Christians.  I have met prideful Christians.  I have been those myself.  Yet I have never met a perfect saint.  Every person I have known who truly loved Jesus needed Him.  They knew it.  I knew it.  Jesus knows it.  Even the godliest people I have known, once you get close to them you can just smell the flesh.  They hate it.  I hate it.  Jesus still saves them.

So here I sit writing at nearly 2 AM in the morning.  I can’t sleep.  I am pondering the truth that Jesus loves me and died for my sins.  Yet I still struggle with sin.  I recently had lunch with a godly man and I asked him how about sanctification.  I want to be holy, I told him, but I struggle to be holy.  I see my sins and I see how far I am from being like Jesus.  Yet I still want to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  So how can I be holy?  His reply:  look to Jesus and love Him and obey Him.  He died for you while you were still a sinner (Romans 5:8).  His love hasn’t changed since the day I first believed the gospel and He saved me.

So tonight I issue this call to all who know me: you know I am a sinner.  You know that I sin.  Yet that is why I need Jesus.  I am not perfect.  I am not a perfect father.  I am not a perfect worker.  I am not a perfect saint.  I am not a perfect “deacon” (as a guy at work calls me).  I am a sinner in need of a Savior.  I thank God for sending such a Savior.  I cannot earn His forgiveness (Titus 3:5).  My salvation is based on the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9) and He alone is my salvation and assurance before a holy and just G0d (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  That is me.

Repentance is Not a Mere Recognition of Sin

Notice the contrasts in Scripture concerning repentance.  There are many examples in the Bible of people who acknowledged that they had sinned but a mere recognition of sin is not enough to qualify as biblical repentance.  Repentance involves the entire person.  The entire nature of the person is changed.  Jesus described this as a new birth in John 3:1-8.  Biblical repentance does that to a person, completely makes them a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).  This is why biblical repentance can only come from the Holy Spirit.  A person is simply unable to biblically repent without the aid of the Spirit of God.  We still preach repentance and we still call all to repent but the Holy Spirit is the one who enables people to repent.

In the Bible we have many examples of people who recognized their sins but did not truly repent.  This would include:

  • Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27-28)
  • Israel (Numbers 14:39-45; Psalm 78:34-37)
  • Balaam (Numbers 22:34)
  • Achan (Joshua 7:20)
  • King Saul (1 Samuel 15:24-30)
  • King Ahab (1 Kings 21:27-29)
  • Judas (Matthew 27:3-5)
  • The ungodly (Romans 1:32)

To truly repent is not to acknowledge that we are sinners (Romans 3:23) but a radical transformation of the entire person as we encounter the holiness of God.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/10/2014 at 4:39 PM

The Radical Demands of John’s Gospel

The following points come from the TMS Journal on the subject of repentance in the gospel of John.  Non-Lordship advocates and cheap grace advocates point to the Gospel of John as proof that one does not need to repent to be saved.  They point out that John’s Gospel was written for evangelism (John 20:31) and that belief and faith are the key points John makes in his writings.  However, an analysis of the fourth gospel reveals that John the Beloved was hard on his hearers.  While the word “repent” does not come to us in the Greek text, the Gospel of John is still a Gospel that demands a transformation to which repentance is necessary (Matthew 3:8; Acts 2:37-39).

Notice the tough demands in John’s Gospel:

(1) References to John the Baptist and baptism: 1:23–34; 3:23–29; 10:40.

(2) Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”: 1:29.

(3) The wedding at Cana: could the reference to the purification jars be a reference to repentance: 2:1–13?

(4) Born from above/anew and born of water and spirit: 3:3–7.

(5) The lifting up of the snake in the wilderness: 3:14 (see Num 21:4–9).

(6) Light and darkness motif throughout Fourth Gospel: 1:4–9; 3:19–21; 8:12; 9:5.

(7) The relationship of obedience and believing: 3:36.

(8) Jesus pointing out the Samaritan woman’s sinful life: 4:16–18.

(9) Jesus’ command to not sin: 5:14; 8:11.

(10) The motif of hearing and its relationship to obedience: 5:24; 12:47.

(11) The motif of “coming”: 5:40; 6:35.

(12) “die in sin”: 8:21.

(13) “continue to follow”: 8:31.

(14) obeying Jesus’ teaching equals never seeing death: 8:51; 17:6.

(15) “turn to me” from Isaiah: 12:40.

(16) Obedience and love: 14:15, 21, 23–24.

(17) Remain and bear fruit: 15:1–5.

(18) Peter’s restoration: 21:15–17, 19b

These are all tough.  One cannot read John’s Gospel and derive from that that he was preaching a soft gospel.  He was not asking people to “only believe.”  John, like the other Gospels, is calling for radical transformation.  Salvation is just that.  Salvation is not merely a change in minds.  It is a change in everything!  Jesus demands that we follow Him completely (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35) and this is no different in the fourth Gospel.  Salvation is not just looking once to Jesus but is always looking to Jesus to save us and keep us (John 8:51).  As John the Apostle show us in his Gospel, Jesus is not a plan but He is our Lord and our God (John 20:28).  He is worthy to be worshiped and followed completely and forever.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/20/2013 at 10:10 AM

Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Repentance

Found this great quote while reading John MacArthur’s excellent book, The Gospel According to Jesus:

Repentance means that you realize that you are a guilty, vile sinner in the presence of God, that you deserve the wrath and punishment of God, that you are hell-bound.  It means that you begin to realize that this thing called sin is in you, that you long to get rid of it, and that you turn your back on it in every shape and form.  You renounce the world whatever the cost, the world in its mind and outlook as well as its practice, and you deny yourself, and take up the cross and go after Christ.  Your nearest and dearest, and the whole world, may call you a fool, or say you have religious mania.  You may have to suffer financially, but it makes no difference.  That is repentance.

Amen.  Thank God for the gift of repentance (Acts 11:18)!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/01/2013 at 9:36 AM

Preaching Repentance

I was reading from Luke 24:47 this morning and noticed a difference between the NASB and the ESV over this verse.  The ESV reads:

47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

The NASB reads:

47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Do you notice the difference?

The difference is in the usage of the word “and” in the ESV and the word “for” in the NASB.  The NASB footnotes the verse as saying that later Greek manuscripts read “and.”  I prefer the NASB reading.  The NASB points to the repentance as bringing the forgiveness of sins.  The ESV makes the repentance and the forgiveness of sins as separate.  I agree with the NASB here.  Repentance produces the forgiveness of sins.  This is clear in the rest of the New Testament such as in Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20.  While Acts 5:31 does seem to separate repentance and the forgiveness of sins, it is clear from the Scriptures that repentance does secure the forgiveness of our sins.

Now there is some truth of course to the fact that God grants us both as separate.  God grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25) and He grants forgiveness of sins through Christ (Ephesians 1:7).  They are not exactly the same but you can’t have one without the other.  Repentance and forgiveness of sins go hand in hand.  One must repent to be forgiven.

This is needed preaching in our day.  Some churches will preach faith in God without talking about repentance.  My boys went to VBS (vacation Bible school) last week at another church and received “gospel tracts” one day.  These tracts talked about “steps to peace with God” but said nothing of repentance.  Not one word.  It talked about faith in Jesus but nothing about repenting of their sins.  Nor did it define sin.  It simply said, “All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) but didn’t show our own personal guilt before God (Romans 7:7).  This is the purpose of the moral law (Galatians 3:23-24).  The law reveals our need for salvation and shows that we are sinful before a holy God.  The law does not save us but it shows our need for salvation.  The law says, “You are guilty!” but leaves us there.  The gospel shows our Savior and our response to that gospel is faith and repentance of our sins.  This brings about the forgiveness of our sins.

We must then preach repentance.  We must preach repentance to all.  We must warn sinners to repent of their sins by showing them their sins by the Law of God.  Repentance is often used in a negative sense but it is in reality a positive event as we see our sins by the Law of God and come to repentance by the grace of God and the divine work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-11).  Repentance is the first message the great John the Baptist preached (Mark 1:4) and the first message of Jesus Christ Himself (Mark 1:14-15).  Should it not be ours as well?

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/30/2013 at 12:55 PM

%d bloggers like this: