Thursday, March 1, 2012

Repentance and Faith and Works

Repentance and Faith and Works 

If you watch a lot of news, you are probably afraid to leave the house.  If you really watch a lot of news, you are probably afraid even when you do stay in the house.  No one is safe anywhere.  If you aren’t robbed or murdered by gang members or drug addicts, you may get attacked in a different way by the EPA or some other out of control branch of your own government. It is time for Christians to stand up and do something.  But what is there to do?  What can be done to make this a better world where people have the freedom to enjoy those inalienable rights with which were endowed by our Creator? (inalienable = unchallengeable, absolute, indisputable, undeniable, unassailable…..) 

We can definitely say that 2 Timothy 3:1 is coming to pass.  It says, ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.’

In these perilous times the duty of the Christian has not changed.  The duty of every Christian remains EVANGELISM.  The hearts of those who know Christ are changed.  The world needs at least a chance to hear about Jesus.  Many haven’t heard at all.  Others need someone to tell them again.  What an individual does with Jesus is up to that individual.  It is the job of Christians to tell others about Jesus.

 Christians do want those living apart from reconciliation with God to understand their need to make peace with God Almighty and to be saved.  Christians also understand that any reconciliation between an individual and God must be a free will choice of the individual.  Forced conversions are not conversions at all.

 There is currently a growing danger to evangelicals around the world.  Consider the Christian pastor in Iran who has been jailed for more than two years for being a Christian.  He is under a death sentence because he won’t renounce his faith in Jesus Christ.  The Christians of the world have been praying for his safety and release.  He has made national news on numerous occasions.  He has a wife and two little boys.  (Youcef Nadarkhani  Please take a moment to pray for our brother in Christ and his family.)

And – numerous news stories over the past few years regarding the ‘terrorist threat’ of fundamental Christians and those with traditional conservative views.

 Christianity is definitely not the religion for cowards.  And, evangelists seems to be really asking for trouble.  Yet, those working to spread the Gospel keep on preaching Jesus Christ even in the face of death. 

 On our own, we Christians have no more courage than anyone else.  The pastor in an Iranian prison awaiting execution is just a human being like the rest of us.  I know it is the Lord who has strengthened him to refuse to renounce his faith.  Non-Christians who are watching this news story may wonder what it is that strengthens him to cling to his faith in the face of death; and we can hope that some watching this man will seek out Jesus Christ for themselves.  I expect our brother in Christ has had times of despair, times of overwhelming loneliness, times of terror over the fate of his family.  Probably his worst nightmare is that his sons would be forced into Islam.  Of course we can’t know what thoughts are going through his mind, but we do know he is a human being, subject to the same weaknesses as everyone else. 

 I love the old hymn ‘Just as I Am’.  One line says, ‘fightings and fears, within without, O Lamb of God, I come’.  That pretty much describes us all. The hymn was written by a woman describing her journey to faith in Christ.  It is also appropriate when describing a Christian beginning a work for Christ.  Evangelism is often thought of as a preacher or missionary preaching to a congregation.  This is true.  However, it is also one on one.  It is a Christian like you or me telling someone else that God Himself has made a way for people to be reconciled to God and to escape hell.

 When Christians set their minds to take Christianity seriously, evangelism on some level becomes an integral part of their lives.  Their hearts desire becomes that others will be saved.  But, they recognize their own frailties.  We Christians have no power to compel others to be saved.  The evangelist must witness by faith in the mighty power of God to convert the lost soul.  

Here is a very good quote from an Author Pink sermon on faith.  If we are going to witness by faith, then a better understanding of faith is necessary.

 ‘In order to please God, four things must concur, all of which are accomplished by faith.

First, the person of him that pleaseth God must be accepted of Him (Gen. 4:4).

Second, the thing done that pleaseth God must be in accord with His will (Heb. 13:21).

Third, the manner of doing it must be pleasing to God: it must be performed in humility

(1 Cor. 15:10), in sincerity (Isa. 38:3), in cheerfulness (2 Cor. 8:12; 9:7).

Fourth, the end in view must be God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

Now faith is the only means whereby these four requirements are met. By faith in Christ the person is accepted of God.

 Faith makes us submit ourselves to God’s will.

Faith causes us to examine the manner of what we do Godwards.

Faith aims at God’s glory: of Abraham it is recorded that he “was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).’  Author Pink

 From a selfish point of view, faith is necessary for our own comfort. 

First, faith that God is with us and will help us gives us courage to go forward into whatever the future holds. By faith we Christians know we have a traveling companion who will never leave us nor forsake us. 

Second, faith in God takes the pressure off the Christian to bring about a specific outcome.  Christians are bound by duty and love to do the things Christ says to do.  Christians are to do the things Christ says to do with all their might.  But the ultimate outcome of our efforts is not in our hands.   

 Those wanting to have greater faith can follow the example of the apostles who requested, ‘“And the apostles said unto the Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 18:5).  Of many examples worthy to be followed in the Bible, this is one of the stands out to those seeking to please God.

 Faith leads us to follow the instructions in Colossians 3:2 which says, ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.’  Christians understand that we will not ‘transform’ this earth into a utopian paradise through evangelistic efforts.  The lives of Christians in the United States have certainly been blessed by God.  God has provided us with a stable government and blessed the efforts of His children to prosper.  But, as we watch or freedoms erode we are reminded that our citizenship is in heaven.  That is the place where we will life eternally. 

 The more your affection is set on things above the more you are moved to act on your faith and to do the things Christ says to do.

 The more your affection is set on things above, the more you work to lay up treasures in heaven instead of here on earth.

 For Christians, their first ‘repentance’ is repentance that leads to salvation.  It is acknowledging their sins have separated them from God, turning from a life apart from God, and setting their face to walk in the narrow way.  Then, individual sins require repentance. This is not repentance to salvation, but repentance that maintains or restores fellowship with God.  As Christians grow in maturity, specific sins are brought to light.  They repent and turn from them.  Christians also realize there are things they should be doing, or should have been doing that have not been done.  Something often left undone is evangelism.  Perhaps they have not spoken out for Christ when the opportunity presented itself.  Perhaps they have not supported missionary and evangelistic efforts.  Perhaps they have not lived in a way that represents God in a manner pleasing to Him. 

 When a Christian begins to take his or her faith seriously he or she begins to work for the Lord full time.  I don’t mean they go into full time service as a missionary or evangelist or preacher, although that may happen.  I mean they begin to take very seriously doing the things Christ says to do every moment of every day. 

 I want to encourage you to do things Christ puts in your path today.  Often it will be a very normal day, filled with the same people and problems you had yesterday.  Honestly, repetitive days are really good.  On days that are pretty much the same as yesterday, you have an opportunity to ‘tweak’ things a little bit.  You can be kinder to the difficult person.  You can manage a recurring difficult situation a little better.  Your day-dreams can be put to better use.  You can think on the good things of God instead of the problems you are facing.  You can change your schedule to find more time to pray.

 ‘I Surrender All’

All to Jesus, I surrender;
 All to Him I freely give;
 I will ever love and trust Him,
 In His presence daily live.


I surrender all, I surrender all,
 All to Thee, my blessèd Savior,
 I surrender all.

 Alll to Jesus I surrender;
 Humbly at His feet I bow,
 Worldly pleasures all forsaken;
 Take me, Jesus, take me now.


All to Jesus, I surrender;
 Make me, Savior, wholly Thine;
 Let me feel the Holy Spirit,
 Truly know that Thou art mine.


All to Jesus, I surrender;
 Lord, I give myself to Thee;
 Fill me with Thy love and power;
 Let Thy blessing fall on me.

All to Jesus I surrender;
 Now I feel the sacred flame.
 O the joy of full salvation!
 Glory, glory, to His name!

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