Friday, May 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Many times when the New Testament is translated from the original Koine Greek into English we lose some of the depth of the word. These lessons are set up to teach us what the word mean including details
Obedience isn’t in the New Covenant is never devoid of relationship because that is what eternal life is…knowing intimately our God (Joh 17:3). Thus obedience in many mindsets is a matter of following the rules, a list of right and wrongs. But that is not what the word obedience in the original language portrays…it is relational. Obedience gives the picture of us listening to the voice of the One who paid it all…below is our Greek in 3 lesson today.
Rom 6:16 Do you not know that if you present (3936) yourselves to anyone as obedient (5218) slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey (5219), either of sin which leads to death, or of obedience (5218), which leads to righteousness? (ESV)
G3936 - present
From G3844 and G2476; to stand beside, to assist
G5218 - obedient
From G5219; attentive hearkening,
G5219 - obey
From G5259 and G191; to hear under (as a subordinate), that is, to listen attentively;
Dave’s Paraphrase from the Greek.
ROM 6:16 - - - Don’t you understand that if you stand side by side with anyone you are yoked with them. If you stand beside and listen attentively to sin, then you miss the mark and you wander from the path of uprightness well then that leads to death, or your can listen attentively to the One which leads to righteousness; correctness of thinking, feeling and acting
Monday, March 22, 2010
Old Self - Adamic Nature/ Sin Nature. This has passed away, been crucified with Christ and no longer exist. It is replaced with a new nature (2Cor 5:17), one that is totally righteous in the image of Christ (Rom 5:19)
Body of sin - This is where sin (sin=living independent of God) resides. Since you have been given a new heart, new mind and a new spirit that are in Christs likeness, that are holy and righteous sin can only reside in our bodies. Our body has gotten use to living in this "sin" manner, our feelings have gotten use to living contrary to trusting in a loving heavenly Father. We have gotten our significance, security and happiness from the world, the flesh and thus the devil instead of God and because of that we have trained our "body of sin" to live in that manner. But now we don't have to because of the finished work of Christ. Now we walk by faith and not feelings.
Flesh - This is living off of a lie. The lie is the self-sufficient "I" which in reality is not self-sufficient but is yoked with satan...so it is the "I/Satan" combination. The truth is we have now been united with Christ and anytime we live different then our new nature our "I/Christ" union then we are living in deceit instead of the truth or reality. When we live out of this lie we walk back into the flesh...flesh can be lascivious (Gal 5:19-21) or it can look good on the outside (Php 3:3-11)
As you read these chapters (Rom 6-8 and Gal 5) and you get to these references try using these definitions. If you need further clarity please let me know...
Saturday, March 13, 2010
If you are born again and are defeated by sin almost daily then it possible that you have not sinned enough yet. One reason you are sinning is you still think that there is some good in you or if you just pray and resist harder you will overcome. God wants to use your sin to teach you once and for all that you are truly rotten to the core, He wants you to see that you totally incurable without any possibility of improvement.
When a Christian sins he feels ashamed, embarrassed, guilty and condemned. He may experience joy when he finds the forgiveness of God but, this joy does not last long. Many believers find themselves stumbling over and over again in certain sins. Now their previous joy once more is gone. Then they find themselves committing the same sin they just committed before. Sin seems to have power over them and It seems so natural for them to keep sinning. It is as if a power from within has overpowered them in an instant; they are led uncontrollably to speak the wrong words and do the wrong things. Under such a condition, the believers invariably want to do better. They invariably make many vows and resolutions before the Lord. They set up for themselves many ordinances to bind themselves, in the hope that they will not commit the same error again. At the same time, they ask for the cleansing of the Lord's blood afresh and seek for another filling of the Holy Spirit by the Lord. After this, they seem satisfied and think that their last sin is behind them, that from now on they are on their way to holiness. However, the fact always turns out contrary to their wish. Soon, perhaps a few days later, they fail again! Once more they fall into deep remorse, bemoaning their own failure and feeling sorrowful at heart; their hopes for holiness have been dashed. All their resolutions and regulations cannot help them. Although they may receive the Lord's forgiveness after this, it becomes difficult for them to believe that they can keep themselves from sinning again. Although they still pray that the Lord would keep them, their heart is full of doubts. They begin to wonder if the Lord can really keep them from sin.
All our failures are caused by the tenaciousness of the sinful nature; we sink to such a low condition because of it. Hence, whether or not we will overcome depends on whether or not we are able to deal with this sinful nature, which is the flesh. Thank God that though we are helpless, He has the way. He has prepared a way for us on the cross. When the Lord Jesus was crucified on the cross, not only did He die for us, but He crucified our flesh with Him on the cross. Hence, all those who belong to Christ Jesus and are regenerated have their flesh crucified. When He died on the cross, our flesh was crucified there as well. Both the substitutional death and the identifying death have been accomplished by the Lord Jesus. Both are fully accomplished. Formerly, we believed in His substitutional death and were regenerated. Now, in the same way, we believe that our flesh is crucified with Him, and we are brought into the experience of the death of the flesh.
Many Christians try to overcome sin. Some think that if they try hard enough to renounce sin, they will eventually be free from sin. As a result, they try their best to reject the temptations of sin. Some realize that sin should be overcome, and they continually wrestle with sin in the hope of overcoming it. Others think that sin has made them a captive and that they must strive hard to free themselves from its bondage. However, all these are man's thoughts; they are not God's word or teaching. None of these methods lead to victory. God's Word does not tell us to struggle with sin by our own efforts. It says that we should be delivered from sin, that is, be released or freed from sin. Sin is a power which enslaves man. The way to deal with this power is not by destroying it ourselves but by allowing the Lord to free us from it. We have sin, and there is no way to separate ourselves from it. The Lord's way is not to vanquish sin. He is saving us from sin's power by moving us away from it. New believers should know from the start the right way to be delivered from sin. There is no need to travel a long and tortuous path to find deliverance from sin. We can take the way of freedom as soon as we believe.
New believers should accept what the Word of God says. If you have to wait to find out for yourself, you may have to commit many sins. Even after sinning repeatedly, your eyes still may not be opened. You will have to come to the point where you see that all your battles are futile. Paul said in Romans 7 that it is useless to battle, for who can overcome a law? Thus, at the start of Romans 8 he says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death" (vv. l-2). You have seen that sin is a law. You have also seen that it is not possible for man's will to overcome that law. Where, then, is the way of victory, the way of deliverance?
The way of victory is here: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus." The word "condemnation" in the original Greek has two different usages, one legal and the other civil. If the word is used legally, it means "condemnation" as found in the English translation. But in its civil usage, the word means "disabling" or "handicap." According to the context of this passage of Scripture, probably the civil usage is clearer.
We are no longer disabled. Why? Because the Lord Jesus Christ has given us deliverance. It is something the Lord has done. But how does He do it? It is very simple, for it is explained by the second verse: "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." This is the way of victory. Can you alter Romans 8:2 and read it this way: "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from sin and death"? I suppose ten Christians out of ten would read the verse this way. But what does it say? It says that "the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." Many have seen only the Spirit of life setting them free from sin and death, but have failed to see that it is the law of the Spirit of life which sets them free from the law of sin and of death.
To learn the lesson that sin and death is a law may take years. But even as it may take a great deal of time and resolution and failure to realize that sin is a law, so it may take years for many believers to discover that the Spirit of life is also a law. Sin has followed us for years and we have had a close association with it; yet we still do not know that it is a law. Likewise, we may have believed in the Lord for many, many years and have known the Holy Spirit in our lives, yet not known Him as a law.
It is a day of great discovery when our eyes are opened by the Lord to see that sin is a law. It is a day of even greater discovery when we are given the revelation that the Holy Spirit is also a law. Only a law can overcome another law. The will cannot overcome the law, but a higher law can overcome a lower law. We can never overcome the law of sin by our human will, but the law of the Spirit of life can set us free from the law of sin and of death.
We know that earth's gravity is a law which holds us. We know too that there is a thing called density. If the density of a thing is exceedingly low, such as in the case of hydrogen, then earth's gravitational force cannot hold it down. By pumping hydrogen into a balloon, we can make the balloon rise. The law of earth's gravitational force is a fixed law, but it only operates within a certain range or degree of density. If the density is too low, the law of gravity does not apply. Then another law takes over, even the law of buoyancy, which sends things upward. This upward surge needs no hand to push, no fan to stir. You just let go, and up it ascends. This law overcomes the other law. It is equally effortless. In a similar manner, the law of the Holy Spirit overcomes the law of sin.
Let us say it another way. To see sin as a law is a big thing, for it makes you decide against battling sin with your willpower. Likewise, seeing the law of the Holy Spirit in your life is another big crisis. Many seem to understand how the Spirit of life gives them life, but have yet to learn that the Holy Spirit in them, that is, the life which God has given them through Jesus Christ, is also a law. If you let this law operate, it will naturally deliver you from the law of sin and of death. When this law delivers you from the other law, it does not require an ounce of your strength. You need not make one resolution, spend any time, nor even lay hold of the Holy Spirit.
May I ask, does anybody need to hold onto the earth's gravitational force? Does someone need to pray that this force will quickly pull things down? No, there is no need to pray, for the earth most spontaneously attracts things downward. It is a law. All one needs to do is to remove his hand, to not purposely hold onto things. When the will is not working, then the law is manifested. When the will is not interfering, the law operates. In a similar way, the Spirit of the Lord in us does not need our help. If you are afraid that the Spirit of the Lord in you may not be responsible and so you rush to help when temptation comes, it shows that you have not seen that the Spirit of the Lord in you is a law.
May new believers see that the Holy Spirit in them is a spontaneous law. If anyone is to be delivered from sin, he has to come to that deliverance naturally. Should he try to get deliverance by exercising his willpower, he will again be defeated. But now those who are in Christ Jesus are no longer handicapped, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made them free from the law of sin and of death. It is all so simple and so natural. We have been given another law which naturally delivers us from the law of sin and of death.
Someone may ask how this comes about. I do not know, but have you not had some such experience? For example: someone comes to you; he scolds you, quarrels with you, and even beats you. He is utterly unreasonable in all that he does. You should be very angry with him, but somehow you let everything go without knowing why. Afterward you begin to wonder why it was that when you were scolded you forgot to get angry. After that person did so much, you ought to have lost your temper. If you keep on remembering all that he did to you, you will no doubt be very angry. Yet, to your own amazement, you just unconsciously let everything pass. Let me tell you, victories are all won unawares.
Why is it that you overcome without being conscious of it? It is because a law is working. If it were a matter of your will, you would have to think and hold on. But what the Lord does is to give the victory without your awareness. Such victories are real victories. If you have experienced this even once, then you will understand the revelation that the indwelling Holy Spirit is able to keep you from sin. He is able to make you victorious without the help of your resolves. You do not need to make resolutions, for the law in you will deliver you from sin. If you really see before God that since you are in Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life is also in you, then you will find that the Lord puts His Spirit in you in order to carry you through to victory quite naturally. You do not need to will or to grasp; you will just surprisingly be brought into victory.
To overcome sin does not require an ounce of strength, for it is the work of the law. There is one law which makes me sin without my effort, and there is another law which sets me free from sin - also without my labor. Only that which requires no exertion is true victory. I have nothing to do. Let me tell you, we now have nothing to do but to raise our heads and tell the Lord, "Nothing of me." What happened before was due to law; what is now happening is also due to law. The former law did a thorough work, for it made me sin continuously; this new law does an even better work because I am no longer handicapped by sin. The law of the Spirit of life has manifested itself; it is far superior to the law of sin and death.
If new believers can be brought to see this from the first day of their Christian life, they will then walk the road of deliverance. The Bible never uses the term "overcome sin"; it only uses the phrase "made free" or "delivered from sin." It is said here in Romans, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death." The law of the Spirit of life has pulled me out of the realm of the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death is still present, but I am no longer there for it to work upon. The earth's gravitational force is present, but if things have been removed to heaven, there is no object for it to act upon.
The law of the Spirit of life is in Christ Jesus and I am also now in Christ Jesus; therefore by this law I am made free from the law of sin and of death. "There is therefore now no disabling to them that are in Christ Jesus." The man in Romans 7 is labeled, "disabled." But this disabled person who is so weak and always sins is now, Paul says, no more disabled in Christ Jesus. How? By the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus which has set him free from the law of sin and of death. Therefore, there is no more disabling. Do you see now how this problem of deliverance is completely solved?
The Way of Deliverance and Freedom
The earlier a new believer knows the way of deliverance, the better it is for him. There is no need for a delay of several years before he can know deliverance and freedom. Within a few months he can have many experiences of learning. It is not necessary for him to suffer many wounds before learning. It is possible for a Christian not to be defeated. So, when you are faced with a difficulty, do not strive, using your willpower. If you are defeated, do not turn back. Learn the way of deliverance step by step. The first step is to see that sin is a law to you; the second, to see that the will cannot overcome the law; and the third, to see that there is another law which does overcome the law of sin. Upon experiencing these three steps, the problem is wholly solved.
May all Christians be able to sing the victory song of praise. How many miles are walked unnecessarily; how many tears are shed because of defeat. If believers see this way of deliverance and freedom from the beginning of their Christian lives, they will be saved many sorrows and tears. What is the way of deliverance? It is that the law of the Spirit of life has set me free. It is a law, perfect and powerful. That law is able to deliver me to the end. It does not require my help. As the law of sin in the world causes everybody to sin, so now the law of the Spirit of life in us naturally leads us into complete victory over sin. It naturally makes us holy, full of life, and full of its power.
You have already received life. Never think that the Holy Spirit sometimes manifests life and sometimes not. If this is your case, you do not know the Holy Spirit as a law. Since He is a law, He is always the same. He is the same wherever, whatever, and whenever it may be. He is the same, not because you make Him so, but because He is so. Do you believe He is a law? I have no way to persuade you to believe. If you have not seen this, you will not believe what we have said. May God open your eyes that you may see this. We have in us not only the Holy Spirit, not only life, but also a law. Thus we shall be delivered.
Having seen this law, our problem is resolved. It is not enough to see the indwelling Holy Spirit; we must see Him as a law in us. Then we shall begin to praise. Hereafter, we shall live a transcendent life. How wonderful it is.
We have already seen that Christ is our victory; but to let Him be our victory has its condition, and that is, we must first recognize that it is impossible with us. If you insist on saying in your heart that you are able, then Christ cannot live for you nor can He overcome for you. For victory is possible only to those who are completely defeated. Now, here is another problem: "Impossible" is one thing, "Not trying" is another. When is a leper cleansed according to Leviticus chapters 13 and 14? It is when leprosy covers all the skin of him who has the plague from his head even to his feet then he shall be pronounced as clean (see 13.12-13). Recall that our Lord called a dead man to arise, not a half-dead half-living man to arise. We must truly see that apart from Christ we can do nothing. So, the conditions for victory are first, seeing ourselves impossible, and second, ourselves not trying. For impossibility and trying are two different things. Some people know they cannot, but they still try. For example: Here is a weight of one hundred pounds, but you can only lift fifty pounds; yet you insist on trying to lift the hundred-pound weight. This is a vain attitude. God knows that we are so corrupted that to be crucified is the only way for us. Nonetheless, our corruption is so deep that we still want to try. So, we spend much time trying. Such people will never be delivered. "Try not" means that henceforth you not only acknowledge that it is impossible with you but also cease trying to use your own strength. You know that Christ is already living in you and that He will do what is impossible to you. His strength is not used to supplement your lack in work. His life does not serve to mend your hole in life. He desires to live in you and for you. Whenever you exert your own strength, Christ is unable to live for you. Hence, we need to see not only "impossible with us" but also to decide "not trying to do" ourselves.
The Lord wants us to fully realize that it impossible to overcome sin by any effort of ours. Many who are saved are able to overcome many of their old sins, except a few. Why could they not overcome their few old sins? The Lord allows this to happen in order to teach us the lesson of realizing that such overcoming is impossible with men. It can be likened to running a race of high hurdles. You can jump over every hurdle except one or two. God knows you cannot, but you do not realize your inability. You may be able to keep the Ten Commandments, but the Lord places before you the eleventh commandment which you are unable to keep.
With respect to us all, there seems to be one or two sins that we cannot overcome. Such sin or sins become our special problem. We seem to encounter the same sin frequently. We sin the same sin today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. We are so familiar with the same sin. Our sins seem to be special, not general. A hard person is always hard. A woeful man is always woeful. A proud man is always proud. A worrying man always worries. A despiteful man always despises. A man with a quick temper is always quick to lose it. Each person lacks at least one thing. And God wants us to see that it is impossible with men.
Many have prayed for victory over certain sins but do not find the victory over them. The Lord is using these sins to show us that It is impossible for us to overcome and that we are completely helpless in this matter. When you truly know that it impossible for you, you can thank God. You should understand that the Lord has allowed this impossible task, as it were, to remain in your life in order that this may serve as the litmus test of your victory. Let me tell you this: The Lord wants you to see your impossibility. When you realize it is impossible with you, then God will show His possibility to you." Do you see the principle here? Impossible with you, but possible with God.
As long as we think it is possible for us to overcome we will continue to try and fail. The reason why we fail is we are not trusting in HIM. This lack of trust is sin. If the Lord allowed us to overcome sin in this state we would believe that we did it and that would only further separate us from Him.
Here is a way to test yourself to see if you still need more schooling. If you sin and return to your old habit or lust once more, do you promise God that you will never sin this way again? Do you wallow in self-examination, trying to find some new measure of commitment to recover and move on?
If this is the way you react to a failure or sin, you are still living under the Old Covenant. Your cry may come directly from your flesh, not from God's Spirit in you. Your flesh feels sorry for itself because it did not accomplish the deliverance. And now it is asking for one more chance begging, "Hang in there with me God, let me try one more time."
This is an ongoing problem with many Christians. We look to the Holy Spirit as some kind of booster shot, to empower or energize our human will. We expect him to build up our power of grit and determination, so we can stand up to temptation the next time it comes. We cry, "Make me strong, Lord. Give me an iron will, so I can withstand all sin." But God knows this would only make our flesh stronger, enabling it to boast. Before we can really be strong in the Lord we have see how weak we are without HIM.
If the Old Covenant had truly done its work in you, you would already be "dead." You would not have any tears left, any strength to cry out, any confidence in your flesh whatsoever. The truth is, most of our weeping, begging and striving come from our continuing expectation that something good can rise up out of our human nature to offer the Lord. But that is simply never going to happen. We are always going to be too weak and frail in our flesh to produce holiness. Yes, we are commanded to be strong, but only in the power of God's might, and not our own.
Your prayer to God daily should admit, "Lord, I confess my inability to obey your commandments. I acknowledge my total helplessness to deliver myself from sin's dominion. In all my strivings to get free, I have failed again and again. So, now I come to you as a dead man, in full surrender. I confess my need to be delivered from my sin, and I admit I cannot do it on my own. Oh, Lord, your Old Covenant has accomplished in me two important things. I know in my heart I want to be free. I truly want sin's dominion over me to be crushed. I do not want to excuse my sin anymore, and I do not want to be given over to it. My heart's desire is to walk holy and blameless before you. Whatever it takes, father, I want to be delivered. I want to live wholly dependent on your power. I now abandon all hope of ever getting free by my own strength. I realize my only hope of freedom from slavery rests in YOUR mighty power. I come to you now by faith, Lord, casting myself into your loving hands. Show me the blessings and provisions of your New Covenant. I need a new revelation, a new plan. The old one has only brought me to despair."
This article is taken from the teaching of Watchman Nee.
Monday, March 8, 2010
2. What did Jesus mean in Matthew 7 about some who say, "Lord, Lord" not going to heaven?
3. As a staff person in church, how do I approach my pastor about the message of grace?
4. How do we approach evangelism under grace?
5. How should we respond to an authoritarin, overbearing pastor who insists that we obey what he says?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
There was a show on TV not that long ago that showed the "behind the scenes" magic...I think it was called magic revealed. What they would do is perform a magic trick, which was usually pretty amazing...then they would show you how the trick was performed...it was usually something very simple yet very tricky that made the illusion look real to the audience. Now satan is a master deceiver...much better then any of those illusionist and he makes things seem real, even feel real by deception and desires to steal, kill and destroy the abundant life that God has placed in His children.
One of the first things we have to realize is that our flesh (our soul and body living independent of God) has gotten use to living off of lies...it is like it's default setting. For years it has believed lies and lived according to those beliefs, it has gotten comfortable living in that which is a lie. We are like that proverbial frog sitting in the water that is about to start to boil taking little note of the heat. Let me give you an example…
For years I lived with the mentality of performance based acceptance…and the deceiver knew it. So when I became a Christian I brought that same mindset (fleshly pattern) into my relationship with God. I believed that I had to perform in order for Him to be pleased with me. I am sure it started back when I was a child and brought home a good report card and was praised for my “good work” but when I did something bad I was shunned. This created a sort of flesh pattern that must be broken by the truth. This played into other relationships also from high school to the job market to marriage these deep-seated patterns are just part of our “normal” life. Today, I realize that I am God’s beloved despite my behavior. And I am fully accepted in the beloved because of who God is and His great love for me. That there is no condemnation even when I fall and fail, and that He is right there with me in spite of me. Now when I go back to that “perverted default setting” God reminds me that it is a lie and that He has overcome that in my life and by faith to submit to the Truth. The truth is so much better then the lie even though our flesh fights against it because it has gotten use to sitting in the heated water.
Some of these fleshly patterns, if not most, are so deep-seated in us that we don’t even realize that we are doing something abnormal. In fact society perpetuates many abnormal things depending our cultural background and what is the norm of society at any given time. The good news is that we have a Counselor that wants and wills that we will walk in the victory that Christ has already purchased on Calvary. He has already overcome them in us and now, as we walk in the light (1John 1:7) He works with us and shows us these perverted fleshly patterns. He does so with love, which is patient, kind, is not irritable or resentful, and all that 1Cor 13:4-8 tells us about the nature of love thus the nature of God. He implores us to put on the new man and to renew our mind of the truth of who we are in Him and who He is in us. This is a process that each person is going through with the Lord and as their relationship with Him in it deepens they get to know Him more and more intimately (John 17:3).
As I pray I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me where I am living a lie. What part of me is living independent of God and believing the lie that I am not in union with Him. This may take some time and wrestling with God over such matters because the flesh doesn’t give up easily. Many times you may want to have victory in a certain area of your life but you are not willing to have the Holy Spirit shed light on it because you “like” the certain aspects of the fleshly pattern. I have found that it gets to a point that I actually hate the fleshly pattern before I am willing to let it go and walk in His victory. It never ceases to amaze me how deep these patterns run in our lives and what strongholds they have on us. After the lie is exposed and I stop believing it I then ask God to teach me the truth and start believing the truth. When I fail to believe it I simply repent and run back into the arms of God or as John says I abide in Him. The process is on going but I can honestly say that there is victory over that inward sin and that God desires for us to walk in it.
1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Monday, March 1, 2010
"I am on a journey from fear to love, from rules to relationship, and from religion to freedom." Chad Estes
"Religion is insidious and satanic. Thanks be to God that Jesus' grace is enough to cover even the very legalism within us which seeks to work against the very grace that saves and keeps us!" Jeremy White
“Focusing on our sin causes us to be sin-conscience, guilt-conscience and to pursue self-righteousness. Exactly, 180 degrees out!” - Ted Nelson
“If love doesn't propel your obedience to Christ all that people will ever see is lifeless, stale, putrid religion cloaked in "Jesus name"...aka Road Kill Religion” - Dave Geisler
"Grace is the enabling gift of God not to sin. Grace is power, not just pardon." - Jason Cole
"The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still." A W Tozer
“I am not a sinner saved by grace in the hands of an angry God but now I am a saint that sometimes sins in the hands of a loving God” Neil T. Anderson
"Far too often, presumption is what clouds the clear light of the truth" Don Feazelle
"Either sin is with you, lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, the Lamb of God. Now if it is lying on your back, you are lost; but if it is resting on Christ, you are free, and you will be saved. Now choose what you want." Martin Luther
“Grace does not place us in denial of our problem of sin. Grace points to the finished work of Christ as the solution to the problem” John Madden
“You don't need to Turn Away from your sins... Jesus has already turned your sins Away from YOU! His Blood did the job Once and for All” Cayce Talbott
“Authentic agape love does not have as its source guilt and shame. The source of all spiritual fruit is the Vine itself - Jesus/Spirit - who produces love in and through us, from Love itself.” Joel Brueseke
“Of course God knows what will happen if we use our freedom the wrong way. Apparently He thinks it's worth the risk” – CS Lewis
"A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down." Arnold Glasow
“Faith isn't believing without proof – it's trusting without reservation.” William Sloane Coffin
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Once we have identified this, we then begin to consider the various ways in which the word or concept is used Scripturally - since context ultimately determines meaning. It is clear that Scripture sometimes links repentance to a turning from sin. For example, the rough Hebrew equivalent of the Greek metanoeo is used to describe the Ninevites who "repented" at the preaching of Jonah (Jonah 3). There is no doubt that turning from sin can accompany repentance. The big question is whether or not "repentance" and "turning from sin" are in fact synonymous. This may sound like a technicality, but it is hugely significant in our understanding of the true Gospel of grace.
Much of the debate over "repentance" revolves around two theological "camps" within evangelicalism – The "Lordship Salvation" camp and the "Free Grace Salvation" camp. I once vigorously supported the former (which Greg Laurie also supports), and have since moved toward the latter as I’ve come to what I believe is greater clarity on these matters.
The Lordship Salvationists claim that "repentance" (defined as "turning from sin and surrendering to Christ as Master and Lord) is synonymous with what they call "saving faith." The most outspoken proponents of this view over the past 20 years include teachers like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul, Kenneth Gentry and others.
Free Grace salvationists like myself point out that if "turning from sin" were a requirement or ingredient of authentic "saving faith" - this would combine works as part of the Gospel, making Christianity essentially no different from any other legalistic religion. The Lordship theologians (most of whom come from a hyper-Calvinist viewpoint that I once espoused) get around this by their conviction that since salvation includes nothing of the will of humans, then "turning from sin" cannot be considered works-based salvation. In other words, since God essentially "forces" the turning from sin and submission upon the elect individual as a work of his elective process, it’s not really the human "turning" of his own volition – and therefore cannot be considered a human "work."
The bottom line is that the New Testament word "repent" literally means "a change of mind." It is always desirable that a change of lifestyle would accompany biblical repentance. This is why in the very first occurrence of the word in the New Testament, John the Baptist challenges the religious Jews to "produce fruit in keeping with (their) repentance" (Matt. 3). If repentance were synonymous with a changed lifestyle as Lordship Salvationists claim, then John’s words would seem a rather redundant since he in essence would be saying "change your lifestyle in keeping with your changed lifestyle." Clearly, it seems more reasonable to define repentance for what the word actually means rather than reading a pre-conceived theological idea into it that was not originally there. A change of lifestyle can (and should) accompany a change of perspective about God and Jesus and life – but it is dangerous to imprecisely use these terms in relation to the Gospel. If there is anything we MUST get right as Christians – it’s the Gospel!
When someone exercises faith in Christ (which the Scriptures repeatedly teach is the sole condition for salvation) - in essence, that person has repented by the true definition. They have changed their perspective. They have gone from unbelief to belief – from not trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross to trusting in Him alone for their rescue. However, if repentance (defined as turning from sin) is part of the Gospel offer - then it is no Gospel at all and no different from the basic ideas of Islam, Mormonism or any other legalistic faith.
When Paul was asked "What must I do to be saved?" he thunderously responded "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved!" (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus and the Apostles were united on this point - and we should be also. In his first edition of "The Gospel According to Jesus", John MacArthur makes the terribly inaccurate statement "True faith is humble, submissive obedience." (p. 140). I have benefitted from many of the works of Dr. MacArthur and those who espouse his views, and I choose to believe that he was not trying to be deliberately dishonest when he wrote this and other shocking statements like it throughout his book. But this is at best a gross misrepresentation of what biblical faith is. To be fair, MacArthur softened his words in subsequent revisions of this book.
The Bible repeatedly affirms that changing one’s perspective (repentance) often involves turning from sin. Often the very change of perspective itself is related to the emptiness of living in sin as opposed to living for God. It is also commanded and desirable that all people – including believers – exercise a lifestyle of repentance (which would include, but not be defined as "turning away from a sinful lifestyle wherever possible and living for God.") There are often horrible earthly consequences connected to living in rebellion against God.
I will conclude by stating that I am mindful of the fact that many sincere brothers and sisters in Christ disagree over this issue of the meaning of repentance. While I am presently convinced of my understanding as opposed to the "Lordship Salvation" camp, I respect much of what those theologians have articulated in other areas of theology.
Thanks for considering my lengthy (but hopefully helpful) thoughts... :) Keep the discussion going...!
Dave Geisler - Here is a simple illustration that I give on repentance.
If I am traveling South on I-75 to Naples from Tampa and I repent (change my mind) of going to Naples there becomes a point where I simply get off of the interstate and turn the other way. If this doesn't happen then did I really repent?
The fruit in keeping with repentance (change of mind) is now believing the gospel (not a partial gospel of forgiveness but the complete gospel of forgiveness and union with Him) and abiding in Him, allowing Him to bear fruit in and through you (Joh 15).
Friday, February 19, 2010
1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (New American Standard Bible)
9I wrote you in my letter (A)not to associate with immoral people;
10I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with (B)idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world.
11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called (C)brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or (D)an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler--not even to eat with such a one.
13But those who are outside, God judges. (G)REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.
Here is my response
Mat 18:15 "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses.
Mat 18:17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.