Archive for the ‘repentance’ Category


In the process of looking through a box of papers (I was trying to fond something to use in one of my classes), I ran across an article by Wayne Mack called “The Bible’s Answer to the Question: “What is A Christian?”

In short, here is his answer:

  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has been radically changed by the power of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has become and is becoming increasingly aware of his own unworthiness in the sight of God.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who believes that Jesus Christ is God manifested in the flesh and the only Savior and substitute of sinners.
  • The Bible declares that a Christian is a person who has repented of his sins and believed on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mack’s use of Scripture in answering the question is especially important. If we were to ask ten people “What is a Christian?”, we’d most likely get five or six different answers, he says. The only answer that ultimately matters is God’s, and we find it in His Word.

So, using the Bible’s definition, are you a Christian?

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Repentance and faith are not the same thing, but they’re linked together and can’t be separated.

In Scripture, the gospel is the objective good news of salvation. It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. That message is declared to mankind in a way that summons us all to do two things—repent and believe. This repentance and belief are all the same fundamental and entirely fluid motion. Repentance is turning away from all that is not Christ, and belief is turning toward all that is. Repentance turns away from sin, and faith embraces Christ. This is the way it is by definition, and so it is not possible to turn to Christ actually without turning away from not Christ actually. This means true and real repentance.

To be given an opportunity to do this is good news indeed. However, there are two kinds of good news. One kind is the “out of the blue” sort. You get word that you have inherited millions from a distant relative you never even knew about. The other kind of good news is the kind that presupposes some awareness of antecedent bad news. The governor signed the pardon and you won’t be executed in the morning. A further review of the tests shows us that you do not have cancer. This is the kind of good news that shows us how turning away and turning toward can essentially be the same thing. This is good news that displaces the bad news.

Douglas Wilson, “Gospel for Snowflakes” blog post at Blog and Mablog (Dec. 20, 2017).

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I had the privilege of preaching on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 this morning. A one-sentence summary of my sermon is: God’s design for gender and sexuality is being restored in those whom He has graciously saved and who are in the process of being sanctified.

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Rosaria Butterfield’s follow-up to The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert is excellent. The subtitle says it all: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ. 

She gives her thoughts on some of the hottest issues in the world and the church today – same-sex marriage, homosexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Her strong (and correct) contention is that one of the major lenses through which all of these issues should be viewed is that of identity – not the way we see ourselves, but the way God sees us. According to His Word – the Bible – we are either “in Christ” or “in Adam.” There are no other options available to us. All that we are, including, but not limited to, our sexuality is wrapped up in one of those two categories.

Butterfield calls conversion “the spark of a new identity.” A Christian’s new identity is based on our union with Christ – we being in Him and He in us. She says that sexual orientation (at least as the world understands it) is a false concept introduced by Sigmund Freud  in the Nineteenth Century. Her chapter on repentance is one of the best I’ve ever read on the subject. A chapter called “Community” presents the virtue of hospitality as representing Christ to the world by giving us a look at what she, her husband, and children do regularly.

I highly recommend this book, but with one caveat: read The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert first. When you do, you’ll understand better her conversion to Christ and her growth in Him. Tolle lege!

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This morning, I had the privilege of preaching on Genesis 20:1-18 (Abraham lies to Abimelech about Sarah). Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: When Christians sin, suffering inevitably follows, but so does forgiveness and restoration!

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“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when it was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes formed my unknown substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” (Psalm 139:13-18)

The womb of the mother is a holy of holies where God is at work. How tragic that we turn that womb into a tomb, that holy of holies into a holocaust. (Warren Wiersbe, Be Obedient)

May God have mercy on us for the evil of abortion. May we repent of our sin and believe the gospel – it’s our only hope.

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Submitted for your approval: three links to articles that make interesting points. I hope you enjoy them, and am certain they’ll cause you to think.

“The Importance of Repentance” by Kevin DeYoung. Repentance is often overlooked, but it shouldn’t be. Read his post here.

“Beyond ‘Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin'” by Tim Challies. Tim has good thoughts on a phrase we hear quite often, but may not have thought through well. Read it here.

“10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate is Never Asked by the Media” by Trevin Wax. The media asks pro-life candidates all kinds of questions (in the form of moral dilemmas), but never ask pro-abortion candidates similar questions. Here are ten good questions. Read it here.

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I’ve misapplied one of Jesus’ parables for years. I understand it, but when I “put myself in the story,” I was the wrong person. I thought I was the tax collector, when actually I was the Pharisee.

The parable is in Luke 18:9-14 and reads as follows:

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt. “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

When I read the parable and reflect on it, I realize that the Lord Jesus is setting up a contrast – the Pharisee is the “bad guy,” the example we do not want to follow, and the tax collector is the “good guy,” the example we do want to follow. The clear implication is that the tax collector “went down to his house justified,” while the Pharisee did not.

All of that information was a large part of why I misapplied it for so long. Jesus told this parable to “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous,” and I don’t trust in my own righteousness as the basis of my standing with God, therefore I wasn’t the target of His parable. I recognize my sin just like the tax collector, so doesn’t that mean I’m following the good example rather than the bad one? Not exactly.

I know that I was following the bad example of the Pharisee because every time I read this parable I thought to myself (never out-loud), “God, I thank You that I’m not like this arrogant, self-righteous, holier-than-thou Pharisee. I don’t do any of those things! Not only that, but I thank You, Lord, that I’m not like the people the Pharisee talks about, either – the bottom of the barrel. Look at all I do for You.” Who am I in the parable? I am the Pharisee and I ought to be the repentant tax collector.

After discovering my misapplication, I realized that I “play the Pharisee” on more occasions than I’d like to admit. I thank God for the fact that I’m not like other people based on what I eat or don’t eat; how committed to the Lord I think I am as opposed to how uncommitted I see others to be; what kind of books I read compared to the kind others read; how I dress for church compared to what other people wear; and dozens of others.

Realizing that you’re the Pharisee should cause you to pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” It did for me. The parable shows us that we should move from Pharisee to tax collector – it’s a large step and a small step at the same time, but it’s one that can be made. If we humble ourselves, we’ll be exalted by God. All of this, of course, is predicated upon understanding and applying the parable correctly.

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Jonathan Edwards connects his twelfth resolution with his eleventh. He says:

Resolved, If I can take delight in it as a gratification of pride, or vanity, or on any such account, immediately to throw it by.

Edwards made a point to know as much theology as he could and to try to understand as much as he could – even the hardest questions. He made that clear in the previous resolution.

What he wants to avoids in the twelfth is getting a “big head” as a result of his knowledge. As he grew in knowledge, he didn’t want it to “puff him up” (1 Cor. 8:1) and cause to him to be proud. If that ever happened, Edwards wanted to be aware of it and repent of it.

Good words for us all.

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Resolved, if I ever shall fall and grow dull, so as to neglect to keep any part of these Resolutions, to repent of all I can remember, when I come to myself again.

That’s Jonathan Edwards’ third resolution. If he should falter or fail in any of his resolutions, his desire is to repent and return to them, thus obeying and glorifying God.

The phrase “come to myself again” reminds me of the younger son in the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15. At a certain point, Jesus said, “he came to himself,” which means that he repented and returned to his father.

Remembering and repenting – together – are mentioned by the Lord Jesus Himself in Revelation 2:4-5. In His letter to the Ephesian church, He said, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

It seems certain that Edwards had these passages in mind when he wrote Resolution # 3. The Christian life is a life of remembering and repenting. When we realize that we have fallen into sin, or a sinful pattern, we need to remember from where we have fallen, repent, and return to the Lord. That’s a good resolution for any year.

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