Monday, September 29, 2008

Hang on ~ This is kind of heavy ~~

Faith and Repentance or Repentance and Faith or Faith or Repentance or…you get my point. Recently my readings have taken me to an old debate since the 2nd Century. “What are you writing about?” Well, since you asked I’ll tell you.
Christ said by faith alone are we saved; no one wants to dispute that. But does repentance come first or faith? Did not John the Baptist say, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2 and 4:7) Sure he did. There no one more known for saying, “Repent!” than John the Baptist. Are there others that said repent? Yes! Even Jesus said this. Compare the two passages between chapter three and four. Jonah also told the people of Nineveh to repent because of imminent doom upon them by God. But hey, did they get saved? Only from God’s destruction did they escape (Jonah 3:5-10). They did not repent unto salvation. God has mercy on all who repent. This is general love for all mankind, but it does not secure salvation. You can ask, “What’s the point in repenting?” If I told anyone to repent, what would they think of immediately? They would think, ‘Oh, this guy is talking about…God; oh brother.” But 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that, “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation.” Let’s observe that Paul says, “…leading…” He did not say repentance saves you but that it leads you toward.
To repent is to change one’s mind; to change a behavior is to be more exact. The good news is repenting does lead toward thoughts of God. Most people understand that in Exodus God gave us the Ten Commandment; but did that save them? Absolutely not! It only curbed their propensity to not sin. It pointed out what their sin was. God was saying don’t do that, do this instead. It was never about works even then; it was always about faith in Him. While repentance is not a condition of eternal salvation, God does reward those who seek after them. Look at Hebrew 11:6, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” That is good news for everyone who sincerely desires to know God. The rabbis had taught people that a condition to enter God kingdom was that they had to repent. Look at Luke 18:9-14. Come on! Get your dusty bible off the shelf and look at this passage.
Now we know why we are called to repent. What about Faith. Jesus said that belief was the only criteria. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (John 3:18).” How comforting. If there were any works involved at all many would be dead meat. God made it simple for anyone to enter the kingdom. Faith is what we hope for but we cannot see. Faith is a conviction that what He says will be. Jesus also said, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” But isn’t that great news to anyone who is disabled. Many cannot grasp deep understanding, but even a child can believe. Anyone can believe; that is the point.
Wow! I hope that wasn’t too much. Take it easy ~

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