A Culture Of Gentle Repentance

Sometimes, when God wants to teach us, a theme starts cropping up wherever we Go.  We aren’t looking for it, but it seems to be looking for us.  So it has been for me lately.  Many of my friends, who like to center on the unconditional love of God, are suddenly wrestling with the role repentance should play in our coming to Jesus for the frree gift of eternal life.  How free is it?  Many of us are struggling to see how repentance and grace fit together.

 

Meanwhile, I’ve just started writing another book:  ITwelve Things The Blood Of Jesus Has Done For You.   So far, I’ve written only the rough draft of the introduction, but I’ve found that words like “repent” or “believe” can get lost in a worldview that predominated at a point in history.

Somehow, today’s church seems to have a hard time believing that repentance may be a gracious gift from a loving God.  Instead, many of us seem to see repentance as a last-ditch desperate measure some of us my need as we try to negotiate with God the Father, who seems to be an exceptionally thorough and zealous prosecutor who is looking for every possible reason to scuttle us into hell.

Yes, Jesus has paid a huge price to enable us to escape our well-earned death sentence, but believing the gospel seems too easy.  Surely God demands our repentance.  At the very least, He would expect us o be sorry for our sins, especially since it was our sins that nailed Him to the cross.

And with the stories we’ve all heard of revival, many of us have fixated on the angry evangelist who preaches for a God who is angry with transgressors.  How dare we tell them the good news of Jesus until we’ve first told them the bad news that they’ve broken God’s law and are on the way to hel

Perhaps our model for the fire-breathing evangelist is John the Baptist.  He commanded people to repent, lest they drop into hell.  But then Jesus came with “good news,” that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near.  Then He called people to repent and believe the good news.

What is repentance?  The Greek word used here also means a change of mind – a change in how we see ourselves, how we see God, and how we see one another.  This inner change will necessarily cause us to change our actions.

The repentance John demanded was repentance that might avert a threat.  The repentance Jesus preached seems to be an invitation to embrace an overwhelmingly positive transformation.

Do you think I’m overstating it?  For John’s style, read Matthew 3:1-12.  Then, for Jesus’ style, read Matthew 4: 12-25.  But as Jesus called His first disciples, He called them with the language of transformation:  “Follow Me, and I will make you. Into fishers of men.”

Their repentance therefore would work itself out as they simply followed Him, sand Jesus would transform them.

So whom do we feel called to follow?  If we’re John’s disciples, we need to warn people to repent before they drop into hell.  But if we feel called to follow Jesus, we will find ourselves inviting people into a transformational repentance that will empower us to learn to live as Jesus lived, at the intersection of heaven and earth.

Paul would write later about this transformation in Romans 12:2.  “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

The whole new covenant is a covenant of transformation.  Wheneever we repent, we get to make choices that speed this transformation along.  And as we follow Jesus closely, He will make us into a heavenly people, into something we could not become merely by our own efforts.

Stan Smith  ::  © 2011, GospelSmith  ::  http://www.GospelSmith.com

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2 responses to “A Culture Of Gentle Repentance

  1. Randall Wolfshield

    This is one of those articles that clearly shows why God teaches us to meditate on His Word: In simple Truth, there is great power and vast treasure that the Spirit leads us to explore—Thank-you, Stan—-Revelation and Illumination are such beautiful Godly crafts in the hands of truly yielded artists.

  2. There is the law, and then there is grace and truth.
    The law would have us to do the works of repentance, whereby we can stand and declare that I am justified because I did all I needed to pay for my sins and strengthened myself to the point that I will never do that sin again.
    Grace and truth tells me that there is no work I can do to pay for the sins I have committed. The truth is, sin is universal: if you are breaking one sin, you are guilty of breaking all sin (the whole law). The truth is, no one has ever stood sinless before God on his own merits except Jesus Himself. And even as sinless as He was, in death He took on ALL sin of everyone for all times. Jesus died a sinner, yet God then raised Him sinless because His death pay the price for all (you, me, Jesus, and everyone for and from all time). The truth is, we stand blameless before God because He sees us sinless because the judgment, the verdict, and the sentence were already carried out once and for all.
    The Legal system has a law of double indemnity. This law states that a person once tried for a crime and found guilty or innocent cannot be tried again. Jesus stood trial for us all, once. God will not, God cannot hold a trial again or everything Jesus lived for, died for, and stood for would be for nothing.
    By grace of Jesus we were and are freed from sin and death once and for all times.
    So were does repentance come in? The pat Christian answer is, ‘to turn from your sin’ and ‘do whatever it takes not to sin no more’. But that would be re-penitence. Repent carries more of a meaning of sorrow for what you do or have done or (in some cases) what you are thinking of doing.
    So what do we do with sorrow for doing something, we as child of God, should not have done, are doing, or will do? The truth is, there is nothing we can do because Jesus did it all. So, all we can do is thank Him for what He has done and that at this time, in our history, he is letting us know that this is not how want us being (existing) any more. His grace was sufficient enough to free us from the law of sin, His grace is sufficient enough to convict us (cause us to be sorrowful) of our sin, His grace is sufficient to change or redirect our live away from sin.
    Another way to look at it is: We gave our live to Him and it is His job to redo this life in Him image.
    Will we sin again? Yes. Can we turn completely away from sin? History says no: from Moses to now, no man ever completely been able to turn. But, by and through the grace of Christ Jesus, we will hopefully finding ourselves sinning less and less as we yield to His Spirit.
    Let me close with what Jesus in John’s Revelation says to the church of the Laodiceans: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and [that] the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
    As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
    Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
    Jesus gives this very sinful church of believers a long list of things to do in repentance to come to a place where they find themselves freed from their sin: Jesus consuls them to bye of him: gold, white raiment, and eye salve.
    All are gifts of the Spirit and all are free for the asking and receiving. So what Jesus is saying is repent (become sorrowful for your state) and ask and receive those things of the Spirit that you need to overcome those things in the natural that you place higher than me.
    Selah…

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