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Posts Tagged ‘Repentance

What Does Repentance Look Like?

In Luke 3:8 John the Baptist preached, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.”  What does repentance look like?  How can we know if someone is truly repenting?

Luke 3:10-14 offers experiential proofs of repentance.  John stated:

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

In this text we see that repentance is not merely feeling sorry for our sins.  It is turning from them to a different life.  As one writer put it, repentance is a cosmic change of mind and heart.  This cosmic change produces a transformation in the person.  The person is no longer the same after the Holy Spirit regenerates them (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Jesus called this regeneration as being “born from above” (see John 3:3).  Salvation completely changes the person.  They are no longer dead but now alive in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-10).

Repentance then is not merely feeling regret for our sins.  Worldly sorrow over our sins only leads to death.  Godly sorrow produces salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).  Godly repentance is not wrought in our souls by mere reformation or discipline but through the Spirit of God (2 Timothy 2:25).  While God does command all men to repent (Acts 17:30), the Lord works in the human heart by His Word and His Spirit to produce true repentance.

Arminius wrote this about repentance:

According to this distinction of the various conceptions, have been invented different definitions of one and the same thing as to its essence. For instance, “repentance is a change of mind and heart from evil to good, proceeding from godly sorrow.” It is also “sorrow after the commission of sin on account of God being offended, and through this sorrow a change of the whole heart from evil to good.” And “It is a true conversion of our life to God, proceeding from a sincere and serious fear of God, which consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man, and in the quickening of the Spirit.” We disapprove of none of these three definitions, because in substance and essence they agree among themselves, and, sufficiently for [the purposes of] true piety, declare the nature of the thing. But a more copious definition may be given, such as the following: “Repentance, penitence, or conversion is an act of the entire man, by which in his understanding he disapproves of sin universally considered, in his affections he hates it, and as perpetrated by himself is sorry for it and in the whole of his life avoids it. By which he also in his understanding approves of righteousness, in affections loves it, and in the whole of his life follows after it. And thus he turns himself away from Satan and the world, and returns unto God and adheres to Him, that God may abide in him, and that he may abide in God.”

Arminius distingues between the first and secondary causes of repentance.  Arminius held first that repentance is a work of God.  He wrote:

The primary efficient cause of repentance is God, and Christ as he is through the Spirit mediator between God and man. (Jer. xxxi, 18; Ezek. xxxvi, 25, 26; Acts v, 31; xvii, 30.) The inly moving cause is the goodness, grace, and philanthropy of God our creator and redeemer, who loves the salvation of his creature, and desires to manifest the riches of his mercy in the salvation of his miserable creature. (Rom. xi, 5.) The outwardly moving cause, through the mode of merit, is the obedience, the death and the intercession of Christ; (Isa. liii, 5; 1 Cor. i, 30, 31; 2 Cor. v, 21;) and, through the mode of moving to mercy, it is the unhappy condition of sinners, whom the devil holds captive in the snares of iniquity, and who will perish by their own demerits according to the condition of the law, and necessarily according to the will of God manifested in the gospel, unless they repent (John iii, 16; Ezek. xvi, 3-63; Luke xiii, 3, 5; Isa. xxxi, 6; Jer. iii, 14; Psalm cxix, 71; in the prophets passim; Rom. vii, 6, 7.)

Then Arminius noted the secondary cause of repentance:

The proximate, yet less principal cause, is man himself, converted and converting himself by the power and efficacy of the grace of God and the Spirit of Christ. The external cause inciting to repent is the miserable state of the sinners who do not repent, and the felicitous and blessed state of those who repent — whether such state be known from the law of Moses or from that of nature, from the gospel or from personal experience, or from the examples of other persons who have been visited with the most grievous plagues through impenitence, or who, through repentance, have been made partakers of many blessings. (Rom. ii, 5; Acts ii, 37.) The internal and inly moving cause is, not only a consciousness of sin and a sense of misery through fear of the Deity, who has been offended, with a desire to be delivered from both, but it is likewise [an incipient] faith and hope of the gracious mercy and pardon of God.

In other words, while the Holy Spirit works on the human heart to produce repentance and without His aid, none of us could repent, the man himself must humble himself under the conviction of the Spirit to produce true repentance.  Again, true repentance is not reformation.  It is regeneration that begins the process of walking in repentance and bringing about sanctification.

Repentance and forgiveness of sins is part of the gospel proclaimed (Luke 24:47).  Peter preached repentance in Acts 2:38 and 3:19.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and the gospel produces true salvation, true regeneration and true repentance.  Arminius wrote:

The instrumental causes which God ordinarily uses for our conversion, and by which we are solicited and led to repentance, are the law and the gospel. Yet the office of each in this matter is quite distinct, so that the more excellent province in it is assigned to the gospel, and the law acts the part of its servant or attendant. For, in the first place, the very command to repent is evangelical; and the promise of pardon, and the peremptory threat of eternal destruction, unless the man repents, which are added to it, belong peculiarly to the gospel. (Matt. iii, 1; Mark i, 4; Luke xxiv, 47.) But the law proves the necessity of repentance, by convincing man of sin and of the anger of the offended Deity, from which conviction arise a certain sorrow and a fear of punishment, which, in its commencement is servile or slavish solely through a regard to the law, but which, in its progress, becomes a filial fear through a view of the gospel. (Rom. iii, 13, 20; vii, 7.) From these, also, proceed, by the direction of an inducement to remove, or repent, a certain external abstinence from evil works, and such a performance of some righteousness as is not hypocritical. (Matt. iii, 8; vii, 17; James ii, 14-26.) But as the law does not proceed beyond “the ministration of death and of the letter,” the services of the gospel here again become necessary, which administers the Spirit, by whose illumination, inspiration and gracious and efficacious strengthening, repentance itself, in its essential and integral parts is completed and perfected. Nay the very conviction of sin belongs in some measure to the gospel, since sin itself has been committed against the command both concerning faith and repentance. (Mark xvi, 16; John xvi, 8- 15.)

So we end where we began.  What does repentance look like?  Luke 3:10-14 records that true repentance brings about not just change in our thinking but in our ways.  I read Galatians 5:22-23 and can’t help but see the work of the Spirit in repentance producing these results.  Repentance, again, is not feeling sorry about our sins.  It is turing from them and turning to transformation of our entire beings.  This is why this has to be a work of God.  Who can produce repentance like this other than the Spirit of God?

Our job here is to preach repentance to the lost.  Jesus Himself preached repentance as part of His first preaching (Mark 1:15).  He told the crowds to repent (Luke 13:5).  The Apostles followed the command of the Lord Jesus and preached repentance throughout the book of Acts.  Paul the Apostle wrote in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness leads us to repentance.

I pray that the Lord would continue to work out repentance in my own heart.  I hate my sins.  I see them often.  The mirror of God’s Word has a way of doing that (James 1:22-25).  When we see the holiness of God in light of our sins, we see the need to repent.  Repentance brings about salvation, forgiveness.  I long for that.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/21/2016 at 1:06 PM

Under the Wrath of God

The Scriptures teach that God is impartial in His judgments (Exodus 32:33; Deuteronomy 10:17; Romans 2:9; 2 Corinthians 10:6; Colossians 3:25; 2 Peter 1:17; 1 John 3:15; Revelation 21:8; 22:15).  God is opposed to the wicked (Isaiah 52:15; Hosea 13:2; 2 Peter 2:14).  God is just in His punishment of sin.  The person sins because they use their free will to rebel against God and against His will so that the sinner is convicted by God’s law of their sins (Romans 7:7).  The law of God shows them they are sinners and have rejected the law of God by living in rebellious sin.  Thus God does not make people sin but rather He allows people to choose to sin by misusing their wills against God and His law.

The act of the cross is an act of mercy where God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  A true loving relationship exists where the disciple of Jesus humbles himself and repents of his sins and turns to Christ alone for forgiveness and reconciliation to God.  This is not a force relationship but one in which God, who first loved us despite our sinning (1 John 4:10), and we in turn freely love Him (Ephesians 1:13).  The beauty of salvation is that God has provided atonement for those who repent of their sins (1 John 2:1-2).  God truly wants to have a relationship with sinful humans (Romans 3:23-24; 1 Timothy 2:3-4).

The Calvinist understanding of the atonement is that the wrath of God is satisfied by the cross.  I would agree.  But Calvinists teach that the atonement was meant to save only the elect.  They believe this brings true glory to the work of Christ.  After all, they reason, the Arminian understanding of the atonement saves no one but only makes men savable.  In Calvinism, they assert, the atonement is not a failure but actually saves when Christ died to save the elect of God on the cross.

Of course, Calvinist evangelists often preach the atonement much as an Arminian would.  How often have I heard Calvinist preachers calling for sinners to repent, to embrace the Lord Jesus, to turn from their sins, to place their faith in the saving work of Jesus Christ.  I have no problem with this whatsoever.  I preach the same thing.  Some Calvinists will even plea with sinners saying that Christ died for them or that God loves them and has shown His love though the cross.  They will preach that men are under the just wrath of God for their sins.  They will preach that all sinners are in danger of the eternal judgment of God.  I agree with this all!

Yet I ask this question: when are the elect under the wrath of God?  If Christ truly died for the elect then the wrath of God cannot be against the elect since the elect were justified when Christ died on the cross.  Some hyper-Calvinists teach this.  They teach the doctrine of eternal justification.  They are consistent in their view though I completely disagree.  Their logic is that since God knew the elect before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), in the eternal decree of God, the elect were already justified in Christ who is the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20).  This view holds that God chose the elect and then He ordained the fall.

The logic of eternal justification makes sense if you hold to the divine determinism of Calvinism.

Let us go back to the issue of God’s wrath.  Are the elect ever under the wrath of God?  Most Calvinists that I know would argue that the sinners they are preaching to and pleading with to come to Christ are indeed under the wrath of God.  Yet if election is true, the Calvinist is preaching the judgement of God to those who are not under His wrath.  After all, the atonement did not fail right?  The atonement accomplished redemption for the elect.  Jesus laid down His life for His sheep (John 10:14).  The Calvinist then pleading with sinners to repent as the means to salvation is wrong.  The sinner is not under the wrath of God.  The sinner is already part of the elect even before time (or at least when Christ died to save the elect) in the mind of God and so the Lord was not angry with the wicked since they are part of His elect that He saved in His Son.  This is logical.  This is not biblical.

The Bible teaches that sin brings the wrath of God.  Again, the Lord is not partial in His judgments.  The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4).  All who sin are under the wrath of God because of His absolute holiness and righteousness.  Scripture is clear that anyone who sins, rebels, or fails to live up to God’s perfect standard is under His condemnation (John 3:19; Romans 1:18; 2:6-11; Hebrews 10:26-31; 1 John 3:8, 15, 20; 2 John 1:9).  God is opposed to the wicked (Psalm 5:5; 7:11).

One need only consider the preaching of the gospel in the book of Acts to see whether the Apostles preached whether people were under the wrath of God.  In each sermon the Apostles preached against the sin of the people.  For example, Acts 3.  Here Peter the Apostle preaches that the Jews killed the holy and righteous one (Acts 3:14) and he called their acts “wickedness” (Acts 3:26).  He called them all to repent (Acts 3:19) and said that all who refuse to listen to the prophet will be destroyed (Acts 3:23) who is Jesus (Hebrews 3:1).  Notice that he was not partial in his judgment of the people.  They had all sinned (Romans 3:23) and all were under the wrath of God.  All needed salvation.  The call was for all to repent.

Again, I ask, if the Calvinist view of the atonement were true, the elect would not be under God’s wrath nor would they be guilty of wickedness since the sins of the elect are placed on Christ.

The answer, of course, is that Calvinism teaches that the atonement is only effectual for the elect and thus while the elect are wicked sinners before Christ saves them, the atonement is only applied to the elect when the elect believe the gospel.  This is based on logic and not Scripture.

Scripture is clear when the atonement is applied to the wicked sinner and that is when the believer repents and believes the gospel.  Before this, the sinner is under the wrath of God but after the sinner repents, the wrath of God is turned aside through the propitiation of Christ.  The atonement is available for all but only affective for those who repent and place their faith in the work of Christ.  The cross saves no one apart from faith (Romans 3:22-27).  Without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is what saves us (Romans 5:1).  Notice in Romans 5:1 that we are not justified unto faith (as in Calvinism) but through faith.  Plus our faith is in Jesus and not a theological construct about Jesus.  We are not saved by faith in faith or by faith in the faith but faith in Jesus (Acts 4:12).  So many think that their system saves when no system saves.  Faith in Jesus and His saving work is what saves us (1 Timothy 1:15).

The Calvinist evangelist is correct to call sinners to repent and turn from their sins.  He is correct to preach that Jesus will save all who come to God through Him.  He is correct to preach that the blood of Jesus will wash away all our sins (Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:14).  The Arminian would do the same.  The key difference lies in our theology.  The Arminian is preaching out of their theology while the Calvinist is preaching counter to their theology.

The Free Offer of the Gospel With Provision

I was blessed to read a local Free Presbyterian Church site that wrote of the free offer of the gospel.  The site maintained that it is the duty of the Church to preach the gospel and that they were fervent in their evangelism because of the call of God to take the gospel to all.  I was encouraged by this.  They are absolutely correct in avoiding the hyper-Calvinism tendency to avoid preaching the gospel to all because the hyper believes that the gospel is only for the elect and the elect will be saved by the sovereignty of God no matter what and all this protects the glory of God and His grace.

Charles Spurgeon battled this in his day.  Many Calvinists accused Mr. Spurgeon of being an Arminian because of his constant call for all to come and be saved yet Spurgeon maintained his belief in unconditional election.  Spurgeon believed that both were truths in Scripture: that God calls all sinners to repentance but the elect alone will come and be saved.  John 6:37 was Spurgeon’s favorite passage.

My issue as an Arminian with all this is not the call to salvation.  I agree that God calls all to salvation.  John 3:16 is clear that God loves the world and desires the world to be saved.  1 Timothy 2:4 says that God desires all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.  Ezekiel 18:32 says that God does not delight in the death of the wicked.  Acts 2:38-39 says that the promise of salvation is for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.  This call, as the Free Presbyterian site agrees, is to all.  Revelation 22:17 says that all may come and drink of this water of life.  Matthew 22:9 says that we can invite all to the wedding feast.  Because of the nature of Jesus’ authority (Matthew 28:18) we can go into all nations and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).

In my estimation, the nature of the call goes hand-in-hand with the provision that God has made for our sins.  The Calvinist replies while the call goes out to all, only the elect respond and repent and God has only provided for the elect’s sins.  The rest of humanity is passed over and reprobated to hell by their own sins (though their nature has been predestined by God as well as their sins but the mystery is how God can hold sinners punishable for their sins that they committed by His sovereign will).  The Arminian viewpoint is that both are true: the universal call and the provision therein for the atonement.  I see both as true.

The atonement only makes provision for the one who repents (Romans 3:23-25).  The elect are those who repent.  When a sinner repents, they become part of the elect of God (1 Timothy 4:10).  The elect are those who are in Christ Jesus (“His elect”).  Jesus shed His blood for His sheep (John 10:11), for His Church (Acts 20:28), for our sins (Galatians 1:4), for Paul the Apostle (Galatians 2:20).  Yet He also shed His blood for the world (John 3:16; 1 John 4:14).  Through the blood of Jesus, sinners can come before God and be saved (Hebrews 9:14).  This salvation has come for all people (Titus 2:11) but only those who repent and believe the gospel are saved (2 Thessalonians 2:12).

A key verse here is 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 which I think holds all these truths together.  The verse reads:

13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.

Three truths are presented here.  First, the sovereignty of God is seen in verse 13 with “God chose you.”  God chooses us in Christ Jesus who is the provision for our sins (John 3:14-15).  Jesus is the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.  He is the one who bore our sins before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  This is by the sovereign will of God (Acts 2:23).  The Father sent the Son to die for the sins of the world that whosoever may come and be saved.

Secondly, the provision must come by the proclamation of the gospel as we see in verse 14.  Even my Calvinist brethren agree with me here.  The elect are saved by hearing the gospel and repenting of their sins.  This is the truth of Romans 10:14-17.  The command of Jesus is to go and preach the gospel to all (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47-49).  The Lord has given us the power of the Holy Spirit to accomplish this truth (Acts 1:8).  As we preach the gospel, the Lord is faithful to save those who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).  As we preach the gospel, the gospel opens the sinners hearts to the truth of salvation in the Lord Jesus.  The Spirit of God works through the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  The conviction of the Spirit prepares the sinner for the gospel and for true repentance.

Lastly, not only do we see provision and proclamation but we see perseverance in verse 15.  After we are saved by the sovereign hand of God working through the gospel, we must stand firm in the gospel.  This is a biblical truth found through the Bible.  God’s warnings to the Israelites was to remain faithful, stand firm in true worship, teach the children the truth of God, don’t abandon Yahweh for false gods, etc.  This is equally true for the New Testament disciple.  Jesus said that if we keep His word (present active sense), we will never see death (John 8:51).  Paul beat himself to make sure he was a slave of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).  Paul also warned the Corinthians to remain in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  Paul also warned the disciples in Colossae to remain steadfast (Colossians 1:21-23).  If Israel could be cut off, so can we (Romans 11:20-22).

All these truths: provision, proclamation, and perseverance are the keys of salvation in the Arminian understanding.  The focus is always on Jesus and what He has done for us.  We preach Him (2 Corinthians 4:5).  We call all to repent and believe the gospel.  We preach that Jesus demonstrated His love for lost sinners by dying for them on the cross.  We proclaim this truth to lost sinners.  We preach that God does love sinners because He has demonstrated His love on the cross through His Son.  We don’t mind preaching this truth to sinners and to saints.

The Contrasts in John 3:36

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
– John 3:36

There is a clear contrast here in John 3:36 between the child of God (Romans 8:15-16) and the child of Satan (John 8:44).  The child of God does just what Jesus commands them to do here: believes in the Son and the result is clear, we have eternal life.  This wonderful assurance of our salvation is based on the finished work of Christ (1 John 5:11-12) and not ourselves.  Even “faith” is by the gracious work of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).  I have no problem preaching that the work of salvation is all of God and His marvelous grace (Romans 11:6).

On the other side are those who disobey or refuse to believe in the Son.  The NKJV has “does not believe” here instead of “does not obey” as in the ESV.  The Greek word here is Apeitheo which would be literally translated as “no persuade” from “a” meaning “no” and “peitho” meaning “persuade.”  The Greek has more than a mental persuasion but one in which the hearer is unpersuaded in both their mind and life.  The unbeliever then is not just a sinner in mind (mentally) but in their actions (physically).  The sinner is corrupted through and through (Ephesians 2:1).  They are sinners in both their thoughts and actions (Genesis 6:5; Romans 1:28-32).

Some have wondered about why John would not speak of good works here in contrasting the saint and the sinner?  The truth is that the saint does obey the Son when the saints repents of their sins and comes in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.  The saint understands clearly that our sins have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and that we deserve the just wrath of God against our sins yet the saint trusts in Christ alone to save them and thus we do the work that God desires for us to do (John 6:29).  Our good works then flow from our salvation and to bring about our salvation (Ephesians 2:10).  Good works can never produce salvation (Titus 3:5-7) but good works show our true salvation (James 2:14-26).

The sinner proves their rebellion against the Lord God in both their minds and actions.  They don’t just ignore God but they despise Him in their sins.  Their only hope is the same as ours: faith and repentance.  We must preach the gospel to the sinner for them to be saved (Romans 10:14-17).  No one comes to faith apart from the preaching of the gospel to the sinner (Matthew 28:18-20).  We must warn sinners that they are under God’s just wrath apart from faith in Christ.  A time will come for them to die and face judgement before a holy God (Hebrews 9:27).  As one commentary I read stated about this wrath from God: the failure to believe in the Son of God does not bring condemnation but rather continuation in this wrath (Romans 1:18).  The sinner faces God’s condemnation now for their sins and not merely for their rejection of the Lord Jesus.  The sinner is storing up for themselves wrath (Romans 2:5).

The saint then has many reasons to rejoice that Jesus has saved us!  Let us be thankful for His kind sacrifice for our sins.  Let us also warn sinners of the wrath to come.  They must repent and turn to Christ alone to save them by His grace alone though faith alone.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/09/2015 at 7:30 PM

Don’t Be Holy In Theory Only

I think that most disciples of Christ acknowledge that God calls His people to holiness.  1 Peter 1:15-16 is clear enough that we understand that God calls me to holiness.  Psalm 24:3-4 is also clear that the only one that can approach the holy throne of God is those who have clean hands and a pure heart.  Jesus blessed those who are pure in heart by saying that they would see God (Matthew 5:8).  The Bible also calls us to follow the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and His example was one of perfection (1 Peter 2:21-22).  Paul said wrote that the Corinthians were to follow his example as he followed the example of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

So in theory we know that God calls to holiness.  We know that the people of God are to flee from sin (Romans 6).  We know that we are to set our affections on Christ above (Colossians 3:1-4).  We are to strive for holiness without which no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).  We read passages such as 1 Peter 2:11-12 and agree that they are good and right.

Yet theory is not practice.  To simply hold to a theory of holiness is not enough.  Strange how I have met “holiness” people who are not holy.  I have met people who ascribed to a theology of holiness yet were not living holy lives.  They looked, acted, loved, adored, and were striving for the same things as the worldly-minded church.  They wanted to sip their latte and shake their head to some “worship” music but they didn’t want to be holy.  They wanted to read their study Bible but never practice what the Bible says.  They wanted to “share their testimony” with the lost but didn’t even have the strength to exhort sinners to flee the wrath to come.  They want to have a theory of holiness in which they say that Christ is their holiness and He is their salvation without actually repenting of their sins and being holy themselves.  They talk about holiness in some circles but then they sit at their computer screen or movie screen and fill their minds with filth, compromise, and worldliness.

Oh to be holy!  Oh for a people of holiness to rise up and preach the gospel!  Oh for saints to truly be saints (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  I am so thankful for Jesus shedding His blood for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  I rejoice in Isaiah 53:11, that I am justified before God because of the work of the Lord Jesus.  Nothing can take from His work and nothing can add to His work (Galatians 1:6-9).  Truly Jesus is my salvation (John 19:30; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

However, this doesn’t negate holiness.  Holiness is still required.  Just as God called His people to holiness in the Old Testament (Leviticus 11:44-45), so He calls His people to holiness in the New Testament (1 Peter 1:15-16).  The blessing of the gospel is that holiness is now accomplished not by my keeping the laws of the Old Testament but by keeping the law of Christ (Galatians 5:24-25).  We now are empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:16-17) to be holy.  We have been crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20; 6:14).  We are to be dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11).  The wages of sin remains death (Romans 6:23) and we are to flee from sin (Galatians 6:7-8).  The one who lives for their flesh will die (Romans 8:12-13).

The call then must be repent of our sins!  We must bear fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8).  We must turn from our wicked ways (Ezekiel 18:30-31).  We must call sinners to repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31).  We must reveal to sinners the greatness of God in His giving of His Son for our sins (Romans 2:4).  We must call sinners to repent and take up their cross and follow Jesus (Luke 14:25-35).  We must call the people of God back to holiness not just in theory but in practice.  Theory is useless with the practice of holiness (1 John 2:3-6).  We must warn the saints of God to flee from sin (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) and to be holy (1 John 3:6-10).

I pray to God that He would empower us to holiness (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  Oh for holiness to be preached in the power of the Holy Spirit!

Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

– Hebrews 12:2 (NASB)

One of the characteristics of cults is that they do not focus on Jesus Christ.  They may mention Him and use His name but often the focus is not on Jesus but upon either a man or a group such as a church.  Salvation is generally tied to Jesus (sometimes) but always somethings is added such as Jesus plus a church or Jesus plus a prophet or Jesus plus baptism into that church.  The focus is not on Jesus alone.

The message of cults is not on Jesus either.  It is usually on good works or keeping the commandments of the group (or church).  That list can be short or long depending on the group.  Most cults spend most of their time looking at themselves and what they do with just a casual glance at Jesus and what He has done.

Salvation, however, in the New Testament is focused on Jesus Christ and what He has done.  Hebrews 12:2 is clear that the disciple is not to be focused on the group, the church, their works, their repentance, their lack of sinning, their discipler but upon the Lord Jesus.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  Jesus is the One who sits at the right hand of God praying for the saints of God (Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is the One who died for our sins and brought us peace with God (Ephesians 2:14-15).  Jesus is the only One who bore our sins on the cross (Galatians 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24).  Jesus has sat down at God’s right hand until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; Hebrews 1:3, 13).

Adam Clarke writes about Hebrews 12:2 and Jesus as our example:

Looking off and on, or from and to; looking off or from the world and all secular concerns to Jesus and all the spiritual and heavenly things connected with him. This is still an allusion to the Grecian games: those who ran were to keep their eyes fixed on the mark of the prize; they must keep the goal in view. The exhortation implies, 1. That they should place all their hope and confidence in Christ, as their sole helper in this race of faith. 2. That they should consider him their leader in this contest and imitate his example.

Jesus is our focus for the redeemed.  Our focus is not on us.  Our focus is not on our church.  Our focus is not on our prayer life.  Our focus is not on our evangelism.  Our focus is not on what we have done but upon the Lord Jesus and what He has done.  Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith.  He has finished this work (John 19:30).  We cannot add to His work nor take away from His work.  Salvation is accomplished through Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  Good works do not save (Ephesians 2:8-9).  A church or group does not save.  Jesus alone saves by His grace and for His glory.

If your salvation is dependent upon what you do or what a group does for you, repent!  Repent of your dead works (Hebrews 9:14).  Repent of seeking to save yourself when you cannot (Isaiah 64:6).  The only hope we have is Jesus.  He alone is the One who is able to deliver us from our sins (Matthew 1:21) and He alone is the One who is able to give us peace with a holy God (Romans 5:1).  Our faith must be in Him alone and not in us or our group.

If you are your group spends their time focusing on anything or anyone but Jesus Christ and His cross, I urge you repent or leave.  Flee idolatry (1 John 5:21).  Flee works salvation.  Flee from focusing on anything or anyone but the only One who can save us from us and the wrath of an Almighty God (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

11/13/2014 at 10:10 AM

What We Learn From Robin Williams

Robin Williams is dead at age 63.  He died, according to news sources, from suicide.  He joins a list of over 300 actors who have committed suicide.  Ironically, the world longs to be like these “stars” and to have their fame and fortune yet Williams struggled his entire career with various “demons” including cocaine abuse, alcohol, and depression.

I don’t want to make light about Williams’ death.  After all, we all will face death unless Christ returns (Hebrews 9:27).  All of us are going to die (Romans 6:23).  This is the way of humans.  We have sinned against a holy God and thus we have earned what we deserve, death.  Your death and mine are coming.

Yet what we learn from Williams’ death is much.  Here was a wealthy man, a man whom the world loved and adored.  Here was a man who made many laugh with his comedy and many cry with his acting.  His movies ranged from funny to weird and everything in-between.  I was not a big Williams fan but enjoyed him the most in the 1992 Disney film, Aladdin.  I also give him some credit for his acting in Good Morning Vietnam and Dead Poets Society.  Williams’ films were not always wholesome such as his vulgar language in Good Will Hunting or even Mrs. Doubtfire.  

As far as Williams’ religious views.  He was raised by an Episcopal father and a Christian Science mother.  Yet he seems to have embraced agnosticism (as there are not true atheists according to Romans 1:21).  Williams mocked Christianity at times and made many jokes about God.  He said that cocaine addiction was God’s way of telling you that you have too much money.  His comedy routine was full of vulgar and sexuality.  Williams was a long-time supporter of the Democratic Party and poured thousands of dollars into liberal causes such as abortion rights and homosexual marriage.  In essence, Williams was just what the world wants from a Hollywood actor.  Sinful.

In the end, Williams died depressed.  A man who had used his humor to entertain millions dies depressed and lonely.  He had struggled nearly his entire career with drugs and alcohol abuse yet he never repented of his sins.  He tried and tried to overcome his “demons” but they controlled him (Genesis 4:6-7).  Williams could have found peace.  He could have found victory over his flesh.  He could have had the power to fight those demons yet he never repented, never turned to Christ Jesus in saving faith.  Instead he mocked the Creator of all.  He mocked the Bible.  He mocked the truth that could have set him free.

Williams now knows there is a God (unless you believe in soul sleep).  His life is over.  His time is gone.  Some are seeking to find mercy in the Lord and some have been posting on Twitter and other social sites that God could have given Williams grace at the last-minute.  Therefore, they argue, we should not be quick to cast Williams into hell.  After all, he did so much good.  But I remind you friend that the Bible says that there is none righteous (Romans 3:10).  I remind you that all our good works are nothing before a perfect and holy God (Isaiah 64:6).  I remind you that our only hope for salvation is found in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5-6).  I remind you that are only time of repentance is now (Luke 16:27-31).  There is nothing in Scripture to suggest that we have hope once we die apart from trusting in Christ now.

The lesson we learn from Williams’ death is that we too will die and nothing can stop that.  Further, your money will not bring happiness.  Success will not produce peace.  Having women or men will not bring satisfaction in this life.  We must repent of our sins to find peace (Romans 5:1).  We must not love this world (1 John 2:15-17) but instead we must love Christ above all else (Luke 14:25-35).  The promise we have is His presence no matter what we face (John 16:33).  Jesus promised us that He would never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  No matter what may come, I have the assurance that Jesus is my strength and that nothing can separate me from His love (Romans 8:31-39).

In closing, let us pray that God sends a revival to Hollywood and that many of them will repent and trust in Christ alone to save them.  Let us pray that the “demons” that controlled Robin Williams (and many others in Hollywood as well) will be cast out by the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2014 at 4:21 AM

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