Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Grace of Repentance

Pathetically, Repentance is Not Correctly Emphasized in Christian Preaching and Teaching


"Grace" - The Triune God's undeserved mercy and kindness to the sinner - John 3:14-21

Perhaps, least preached and taught about from “Christian” churches, is the Biblical subject of “repentance.” Repentance defined, is that deep sorrow over personal sin which then seeks (in faith) the mercies of Almighty forgiving God. Some examples of Godly repentance are easily spotted in the historical accounts of Scripture:

The Apostle Peter after having betrayed Christ – Luke 22:31-34 ; Luke 22:25-62

King David after having been convicted of his sins of adultery and murder - 2 Samuel 12:1-14 ; Psalm 32:1-11 ; Psalm 51:1f

The ancient city of Nineveh - Jonah 1:1-2 ; Jonah 3:1-10

The Cheating Tax Collector, Zacchaeus – Luke 19:1-10

The Thief on the cross next to Christ - Luke 23:39-43

Remember John the Baptist’s ministry?

Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, - Matthew 3:4-8 - NKJV

Remember Christ’s ministry?

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” - Matthew 4:17 – NKJV

Also reference the following Scriptures on repentance:

Isaiah 55:7 ; Jeremiah 4:14 ; Matthew 9:13 ; Mark 1:15 ; Luke 5:32 ; Luke 10:13 Luke 13:3 ; Luke 15:7 ; Luke 15:10 ; Luke 24:47 ; Acts 2:38 ; Acts 3:19 ; Acts 11:18 ; Acts 17:30 ; Acts 20:21 ; Acts 26:20 ; 2 Timothy 2:25-26; Hebrews 6:1

Why is Repentance a grace?

Simply put, repentance is something outside the human soul’s capacity. Repentance from sin stems from God’s pure grace. God requires repentance – that is, a change of mind and direction on the part of the sinner. But, that change of mind and direction (toward God) cannot be possessed by the sinner. He cannot of his own will or doing drum up repentance anymore than he or she can drum up belief in Christ! Repentance is a divine gift showered upon the needy soul which is always “hell-bent” to do the sinful action. Isaiah 53:6 ; Romans 5:12

Please take a look at the following Scriptures. These Scriptures deal with God leading a soul to repentance. In other words, genuine (true) repentance is initiated by God and is His work:

When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. KJV – Acts 11:18

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. – KJV - 2 Timothy 2:25;26

"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." KJV - Acts 5:31

Also note:

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing."- KJV - John 15:5

"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." – KJV - Philippians 2:13

See also: Psalm 80:3;7;19

Repentance and belief go together

It is preposterous to claim you are Christ’s disciple and not to have repented. It is a sham to say that you are a believer and not have your lifestyle behavior conform to Godly standards according to the divine revelation! The New Testament Book of James makes this very clear. The Christian New Testament speaks of “fruit” – results of faith:

"But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire." - KJV - Matthew 3:7-10

Those who trumpet God’s forgiveness and by-pass repentance

Those church members who think that their generous church offerings and church activities will stand them in good stead with the Lord and do not repent of their sins will not gain God’s favor. Scripture tells us that God looks for faith in the individual. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him.” – [Hebrews 11:6] It also states that faith is dead and useless without the evidence of faith:

"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." - KJV - James 2:26

Note: Read the whole chapter for context.

Those who sit in their church pews and think that a confessional prayer every Sunday and a blanket absolution of forgiveness spoken by the minister will stand them in good with God, are mighty mistaken! Repentance on the part of a soul is to be an everyday affair. When the soul believes in Christ as his forgiving Savior from sin, that soul will naturally live a continuous life of repenting of daily sins of thought, word and deed.

The description, “Cheap Grace” has often been attributed to the controversial, Christian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German born WWII casualty. He is best known for his book, "The Cost of Discipleship" (1937) and his resistance to Nazi Germany. Hence, he was hanged by Hitler shortly before the war ended.

I suppose that Bonhoeffer’s phrase “Cheap grace” could be summed up by something that he said when describing Christian discipleship. He stated [paraphrase]: “He who believes, obeys; and he who obeys, believes.” In Bonhoeffer’s view, a Christian just couldn’t be a genuine Christian by [only] intellectually subscribing to the teachings of Christianity as found in the divine revelation of Scripture. One had to evidence such belief and subscription. In other words, “faith without works, is dead.” – James 2:26

Sinner – You will not go eternally unpunished for your sins against God; His Commandments and your fellowman

Time is ticking away for you to die and your soul to experience a literal hell because you have not repented of your unbelief. You oppose the God of the Holy Scripture divine revelation and haplessly think that you can go it alone in this world. You devise for yourself your own measure of goodness and moral goals. The Scripture says that you have a “form of godliness” but “deny the power of it.” [1 Timothy 3:1-5] You are dead in your sin. You have no hope of freeing yourself from your sinful self and from your own proud machinations of self goodness. You stink in the nostrils of God. You are putrid because you will never attain goodness this side of your Creator’s perfection.

In short, you need cleansing from all your sins. God has already provided that with the birth, life, sufferings and death of a holy substitute on your behalf. He not only was God’s sacrifice for all your sins, but He rose from the dead to proclaim His supremacy over all.

However, unless God grants you the grace of repentance, you are much worse than a ship without a rudder; and passenger in a canoe without a paddle. Hell is your destiny because you haven’t repented of your sins and believed on the Savior Christ.

However, there is hope of you. Take every opportunity that you can to learn of the Triune God and His Son and Savior as revealed in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. God says that His faith can be had upon your soul through that Word of God, that perfect gift He has offered to all of humanity. Study, read and hear that Word of God. It is His means to impart to you the faith to repent of your sins and believe in Him. May God the Holy Spirit, illuminate your sinful soul! Romans 1:16 ; Romans 10:17 ; 2 Timothy 3:14-17 ; Acts 3:26-39 : 1 Peter 1:23


Note also: The confessional “Book of Concord” highlights repentance, as well: AC - Augsburg Confession XII; also Article VII of the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, with its lengthy emphasis on repentance; and, also Article VI: Of Confession and Satisfaction

Related Scriptures [above] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:
Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
The Order of Morning Service
The Order of Matins

Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel

Please also note:

The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.

The Christian Faith: Parts 1-3

1 -- What is meant by “Believing” and / or, being, “Saved?”

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