Religion vs. Repentance
# Many think the word repent means "to get your act together" or to "get religion" or "fly straight"; as if we could. Repentance requires taking in a whole new point of view; looking at it God's way. God simply asks us to turn. This is the way we accept His gift. When we do, certain outcomes are promised. If we don't, or we "turn back", alternate outcomes are promised.
Look And Live
Numbers 21:8-9 (NIV) The Lord said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." ...Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
# Let's imagine ourselves in this situation. Poisonous snakes have bitten everyone, and while we are not dead yet, the prospects do not look good. Suddenly a voice yells out: "We must do something. We must save ourselves!" But how? Various ideas surface such as: "If you run around in frantic activity it will work out the poison!" A few people try this, and die trying. Others, by staring at their bites, go totally berserk into a frenzy of panic. Alternately, some try to convince themselves that they are not bitten, or that the snakes were not poisonous, and form little groups to delude each other while dying. And here's a person selling "snake oil" which purports to be an antitoxin, but makes people even worse.
# Enter Moses who says, "If you look at the bronze snake that has been lifted up on this pole, you will live. If you do not, no matter what else you do, you will die." Now let's really picture how we might react, having been given this revelation. "He must be kidding," we would think. "Do nothing? Just look? How insulting a solution! What part do we play in it?" Moses responds, "Cease your activities. Just look, and live!" Really now, if you had been there, would you have believed it? Do you believe God's solution today?
John 3:14 (NIV) [Jesus:] "Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up."
# We all have been bitten, and sin is coursing through our veins. It will most certainly lead to death. There is only one solution, but it is an offense to our ability to save ourselves.
John 6:40a (NIV) "For my father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life."
John 6:29 (NIV) Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
Turn Or Burn
Luke 13:3b (NIV) "But unless you repent, you too will all perish." [This is often termed the "Turn or Burn" passage.]
Matthew 4:17 (NIV) From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Matthew 3:2 (Phi) "You must change your hearts and minds, for the Kingdom of Heaven has arrived!"
Mark 6:12 (TEB) So they went out and preached that people should turn away from their sins.
Acts 2:38 (NIV) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
The Two Ways
# The "way" we are looking: 1) will make sense if we look long enough; 2) will create desire to move in that direction; and 3) will lead to something. First, we will look at how this applies to man's way.
Proverbs 14:12 (NIV) There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
# If our line of sight is along our own way, or the way of the world, then this will begin to make sense to us as we continue to meditate on it, even if the way we are looking is really stupid. With this mind set, desire will spring up, which is the fuel that will lead us to destruction.
# Any sin would do as an example, but let's take bitterness. If someone has done evil to us, the more we think about it, the more it will make sense to hate them, to burn with anger, to feel again the hurt. As we focus on the way of revenge, desire takes root and bitterness sets in. And where does this all lead?
James 1:14-15 (NIV) But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Ezekiel 18:23-31 (NIV) "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked?" declares the Sovereign Lord. "Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?... Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die... Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel?"
Ezekiel 33:11 (NIV) ... "I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways!..."
Man's Way And God's Way Contrasted
Ephesians 4:17-24 (NIV) So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more. You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off the old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 2:1-3 (Phi) You were spiritually dead through your sins and failures, all the time you followed this world's ideas of living, and obeyed the evil ruler of the spiritual realm, who is indeed fully operative today in those who disobey God. We all lived like that in the past, and followed the desires and imaginings of our lower natures, being, in fact, under the wrath of God by nature, like everyone else.
Galatians 5:16 (NIV) So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.
What Are You Looking At?
# It has been said that "a righteous man does whatever he wants , but only wants to do the will of God." The "only wants" part comes from reckoning our carnal selves crucified with Christ. We do this by quickly repenting when we are caught meditating on sin, turning to God. If we do not, and give the "way of the world" its chance, our desire to sin will grow. Unconsummated carnal desire is corruption and death, even if we do not actually commit the sin.
Matthew 5:28-29 (NIV) "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell."
# Desire itself is not the problem. The problem is the object of our desire. Desires are meant to be consummated, not to burn on uncrucified or spent on sin. Knowing how we function, God promises and gives us new desires by His Spirit, which makes righteousness an "easy yoke" to the repentant. We turn; He empowers. We lose "our" lives; He makes us new creations with a new mind, new desires (heart), and new works (fruit).
Romans 8:5-9 (NIV) Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. You, however, are not controlled by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you.
Looking At It God's Way
# So how can we break out of the death-spiral of the way of sin seeming right, creating desire, and leading to destruction? We must repent; we must turn or perish. But to what? If we turn to just another of "man's ways" we have just set our sights down another road to death. Instead, we must find out what God's will, God's way, is and turn to that.
Ephesians 5:15-17 (NIV) Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is.
# Back to our example of bitterness, if we turn from fantasizing about actually hurting the perpetrator in some vengeful way to just wallowing in hurt, pain, and pity instead; this is not repentance. Repentance is taking in God's point of view; looking at it His way.
Ephesians 5:8-10 (NIV) For you were once in darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord.
# Note that if God by His grace reveals something to us that we can turn to, it may not make sense right away. In our example of bitterness, God's will is forgiveness! "Ridiculous, that would not be right," is our first reaction. (Again, any sin will do as an example.) But if we do not allow our eye to flinch as we take in God's perspective, if we keep staring at it, we will find that it is good, pleasing, and perfect. Beyond "seeming right", it really is right.
# In our example, if we move from bitterness to forgiveness, we find out that God's way is the best "revenge", that forgiveness is like "pouring coals over the heads" of our enemies. If we forgive instead of wallowing in bitterness, the perpetrator's grip over us is broken, and we find that we were only hurting ourselves. If we continue to take in God's point of view, then after time we will look back at the old way and say "What was I thinking? Ridiculous!" So do not grow impatient if God's way does not immediately appeal to you; keep staring at it.
James 1:25 (Phi) But the man who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and makes a habit of so doing, is not the man who hears and forgets. He puts that law into practice and he wins true happiness.
Ps 34:5,8 (NIV) Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame... Taste and see that the Lord is good.
The Gift Of God That Goes With Repentance: New Appetites
1 Peter 2:2 (NIV) Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Ps 119:104-105 (NIV) I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore, I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Ps 16:11 (NIV) You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
2 Peter 1:3-4 (NIV) His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
Rom 12:1-2 (NIV) Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
The Urgency Of Repentance
Isaiah 55:6-7 (NIV) Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Rom 2:4 (Phi) Are you, perhaps, misinterpreting God's generosity and patient mercy towards you as weakness on his part? Don't you realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
Acts 17:30 (NIV) In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.
James 5:19-20 (Phi) My brothers, if any of you should wander away from the truth and another should turn him back on to the right path, then the latter may be sure that in turning a man back from his wandering course he has rescued a soul from death, and in so doing will "cover a multitude of sins."
Rev 3:3 (Phi) "Remember what you were taught. Hold to those things and repent."
The Object Of Desire
1 John 2:15-17 (Phi) Never give your hearts to this world or to any of the things in it. A man cannot love the Father and love the world at the same time. For the whole world-system, based as it is on men's desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all of its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die.
Matthew 6:32-33 (Phi) That is what pagans are always looking for; your Heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Set your heart first on his kingdom and his goodness, and all these things will come to you as a matter of course.
Col 3:2 (NIV) Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Ps 101:3a (NIV) I will set before my eyes no vile thing.
Rom 13:14 (NIV) ... clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of your sinful nature.
Ps 105:4 (NIV) Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.
Ps 119:36-37 (NIV) Turn my heart toward your statutes and not towards selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Acts 2:38 (TEB) Peter said to them, "Turn away from your sins, each one of you, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, so that your sins will be forgiven; and you will receive God's gift, the Holy Spirit."
Turn Or Burn
2 Tim 2:19 (NIV) "The Lord knows those who are his," and "everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."
# When at first we hear "repent or perish", it seems harsh. But as we turn, we see that it is an incredible gift to have something to turn to. If not for God's love, our only option would be to perish. But the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has appeared. To have the option to turn is sweet indeed.
Acts 3:19 (NIV) "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
Hebrews 12:2a (NIV) Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.
C.H. Spurgeon once made the statement: "Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age, but the age to the Bible."
We are living in a day and age where man is taught to think good thoughts, high thoughts, wonderful thoughts about himself. Within the last 20 years or so there has been a covert invasion in Christianity in America without hardly a whimper of protest. This invasion can best be described as "Christian" psychology, which is nothing more than watered-down humanism. While there are millions of people searching for answers to their complicated problems created by their increasingly complex lives, psychology comes along and attempts to answer and solve man's sin problems and its consequences through the building up and restoration of man's self-esteem and self-image. We are told today to get in touch with our inner self and ask the question: "How do you feel about yourself?" The bottom line is, it doesn't amount to a hill of beans what we think or feel about ourselves, but what does the Bible say and teach.
This matrimony between psychology and Christianity has created an unholy alliance which is producing some strange children that are permitting, promoting, and preaching deceiving, dangerous, and damnable false doctrines. This diabolical psychobabble of self-love is sweeping through churches today among self-seeking men in a self-centered society whose greatest problem is a desire to worship at the altar of self. The apostle Paul warned us that one of the characteristics of the last days would be that "men shall be lovers of their own selves" (2 Tim. 3:2).
I'm afraid many so-called fundamental/evangelical churches and preachers have fallen into the trap of teaching this mushy self-worth propaganda that seeks to camouflage itself in robes of charity and tolerance. Churches and preachers alike are abandoning their God-called purpose of holding up the mirror of God's Word and graphically revealing to man what he really looks like in the sight of a holy God. The missing message in modern-day preaching is the Biblical doctrine of repentance, where a sinner is convinced and convicted of his exceeding sinfulness and lost condition.
Christ Preached Repentance
"Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).
When the very Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared upon the scene in His public ministry, He came preaching the narrow and exclusive doctrines of repentance and faith. If Jesus felt compelled to preach such a message before a lost and dying world, so should we. Galatians 1:6-9 teaches that there is only one gospel, and if any gospel message leaves out the doctrine of repentance or faith or both, you can be assured it is a false gospel.
Meaning of Repentance
The words "repent," "repentance," and "repented" are mentioned over 100 times in the Bible. There has been a lot of misunderstanding and confusion over what the word repentance means. When the word "repent" is used in the Word of God in the context of Biblical salvation, it is referring to a truly God-given, Spirit-led change of heart and mind toward God about sin.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ..." (Acts 3:19).
The greatest need for any sinner is have his sins blotted out, but a man will never have the pardon of sin while he is in love with his sin. There must be a hatred of sin, a loathing of it, a turning from it. Repentance is a revolution in dealing with our attitude and view towards sin and righteousness. Repentance is not something one does with his hands, but it is an inward attitude of the soul. Sin must become, in the eyes of the sinner, exceedingly sinful.
the word “repent” means to "change your mind." The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full Biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.
What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regards to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah, to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.
Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection, or repentance from ignorance or disinterest – it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ, to faith in Christ.
It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Him (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives – it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God's drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God's longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).
While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.
All Sinners Are Condemned
Everyone knows they are not perfect, but for most sinners that is consolation, not condemnation. But the Bible declares all sinners are already condemned:
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God" (John 3:17-18).
The problem is "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23). Man, in his lost, sinful, condemned state, has failed to glorify God. Until a person becomes personally exceedingly sinful in his own eyes, he will never see his need for repentance. Eph.2:1 says man is spiritually dead; Rom.3:10 and Isa.64:6 tells us no one is righteous before a holy God; Rom.3:19 says all stand guilty and condemned before God; Eph.4:18 declares all sinners are separated from God whose hearts and minds are blinded so that they cannot understand God or the things of God.
Repentance basically involves two facts: the fact of sin and the fact of God's grace. If a person is not a sinner, he would not need to repent, and if God was not the God of all grace, it would do no good to repent. Repentance implies sin, sorrow for it, and a changed attitude towards God about it.
It should also be stressed that repentance itself is not a human act, but comes only from God (Rom.2:4) -- it is a divine gift of God (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25).
The Nature of Repentance
In true Biblical repentance, there will be three things to occur as God does a work of grace upon the sinner's heart:
1) Conviction -- where sin is admitted. Man must see himself as a lost, ruined, guilty, desperately wicked sinner without hope or help, in danger of hell. In repentance, a lost sinner not only sees himself as a sinner, but he recognizes the fact that he has sinned against a righteous and holy God. The message that Paul preached was: "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). In repentance, there will be confession of sin to God (Psa. 32:5; 51:1-4).
2) Contrition -- where sin is abhorred. When one sees himself as he appears before God, he is brought to a place where there is godly sorrow for his sin and hates it altogether.
"For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin." (Psa. 38:18); "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of ..." (2 Cor. 7:10).
To hate sin is to love God. In true repentance, there is not only the desire to escape the consequences of sin, but to be rid of sin itself as a thing displeasing to God.
3) Conversion -- where sin is abandoned. Repentance involves the forsaking of sin:
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isa. 55:7); "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy" (Prov. 28:13).
Repentance is not only a heart broken for sin, but also from sin. We must forsake what we would have God forgive.
It should be stressed that it is not enough just to turn away from sin; one must also turn to God for salvation:
"... to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins ... should repent and turn to God ..." (Acts 26:18,20).
In true repentance, there is conviction, contrition, and conversion as one turns from his sin to Christ for salvation. Salvation is deliverance of a person from his sin, not merely from a sinful environment. Jesus Christ is the Saviour from not only the penalty and punishment of sin, but also the power of sin.
Why Did Jesus Come?
"... I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matt. 9:13).
The reason Jesus came to this earth was to call sinners to repentance. Those who did not see themselves as sinners, deserving God's wrath, were not candidates for God's salvation. The sinner must reject his own righteousness, because Jesus did not come to call the righteous, not even the self-righteous. The only way a sinner will come to reject his own righteousness is by coming face to face with his own wickedness. You can take it from the lips of Jesus Himself as a settled issue that He will not call the righteous. Only those to whom it is revealed (by God's Spirit) that they are lost, depraved, ungodly sinners will respond to the calling of the Saviour in salvation.
All Sinners Commanded To Repent and Believe
Jesus soundly declared the message in His day: "repent ye, and believe the gospel." Repentance and faith are inseparable and occur simultaneously in a sinner's heart; you cannot have one without the other. The order as given in the Bible is repentance and faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21; 26:20; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 6:1).
Repentance is turning from sin; and faith is turning to Christ. Repentance comes about through the convicting power of the Spirit of God using the Word of God to cause a change of attitude, action, and affection.
Saving faith is trust in and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and Saviour. Saving faith is believing with your heart; it is coming to Christ, receiving Christ, looking to Christ, calling upon Christ to save your soul.
Yes, Jesus said you must repent and believe the gospel, because the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes (Rom. 1:16). The gospel, the good news for every sinner, is that Christ died on the cross for our sins, as our Substitute, and shed His precious blood to wash away our sins, and arose from the dead on the third day in order that we might have the forgiveness of sins and have eternal life through Him. Salvation of one's soul is the most important thing in this whole world.
But repentance without faith is nothing more than remorse or regret. And faith without repentance makes Christ nothing more than a fire escape. There must be a work of repentance and faith upon the sinner's heart before salvation can become a reality. Repentance is caused by the working of the Holy Spirit who takes the Sword of the Spirit and slays the sinner's self-righteousness, self- goodness, self-decency, self-esteem, and causes him to cry out: "God be merciful to me a sinner" (Luke 18:13) and "what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30).
Serious Questions To Consider
Is the preaching of repentance important?
Jesus thought so enough that He preached it. John the Baptist preached it (Matt. 3:1-2). The apostles were commanded to preach it: "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).
Who is commanded to repent?
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:" (Acts 17:30).
The good, the bad, the rich, the poor, the old, the young, the educated, the uneducated -- every man must repent because we are all sinners. Notice it is God's command that
is to be obeyed, now.
What happens if you don't repent?
"I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5).
The worst thing in the world for any person is to perish in their sins without Christ as their Saviour and spend an eternity in the lake of fire, to be tormented and suffer forever and ever.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved" (John 3:16-17).
Turn from yourself and sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ to save your soul -- that is the sinner's only hope.
The Blood of Christ
John 19:34-35a (Jer) One of the soldiers pierced his side with a lance; and immediately there came out blood and water. This is the evidence of one who saw it.
Rev 5:9 (Jer) ... with your blood you bought men for God.
How Much Are You Worth?
# Sandy Gregory's Car Parable: If I offer a car for sale, which I think is worth 7K, and offers are made ranging from 2K to 9K, how much is the car worth? The 7K that I think it's worth? The "low-ball" offer of 2K? No. The car is worth what the highest bidder is willing to pay in the open market. People are "traded" in a spiritual and eternal market. We are not worth what we happen to think, or any "low-ball" offer. We are worth what the highest bidder will pay. The highest bidder is God, and the price-tag is the Cross. God looked out across the eternal ages and said, "I'll take that one, even though the price is steep!" Our worth is established once and for all, and can never change or diminish. God has made the ultimate offer and paid the highest price.
Matthew 10:29-31 (NIV) "Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father... So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
1 Peter 1:18-19 (Phi) For you must realize that you have been ransomed from the futile way of living passed on to you by your traditions, but not by any money payment of this passing world. No, the price was, in fact, the life blood of Christ, the unblemished and unstained lamb of sacrifice.
1 Cor 7:23a (Phi) You have been redeemed, at tremendous cost.
# NIV Study Notes: "'Redemption' is a word taken from the slave market; the basic idea is that of obtaining release by payment of a ransom."
1 Cor 7:23 (Jer) You have all been bought and paid for.
John 19:30 (NEB) Jesus took the wine and said, "It is finished!" Then he bowed his head and died.
# Bible Knowledge Commentary: Tetelestai is the word in Greek translated here 'it is finished'. Papyri receipts for taxes have been recovered with the Greek word tetelestai written across them, meaning 'paid in full'.
We Are God's Possession
# Imagine yourself in a sweatshirt with a giant red SOLD written across it. "Sorry, no more offers being accepted!" SOLD to the highest bidder.
Revelation 1:5b (JNT) To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood.
# Since Jesus has purchased us with his blood, we should recognize the fact that we are no longer in control of our lives. We have been bought, and are now under the Lordship of our new Master.
1 Cor 7:23a (Liv) You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him.
1 Cor 6:19 (Phi) You are not the owner of your own body.
1 Cor 6:19b-20a (NIV) You are not your own; you were bought with a price.
1 Cor 6:19b-20a (Jer) You are not your own property; you have been bought and paid for.
Bought For What?
1 Cor 6:18-20 (NEB) Shun fornication. Every other sin that a man can commit is outside the body, but the fornicator sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a shrine of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Spirit is God's gift to you? You do not belong to yourselves; you were bought at a price. Then honor God in your body.
Titus 2:14 (NIV) [Jesus Christ,] who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Rev 5:9-10 (NIV) And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."
Eph 1:13-14 (NIV) ... In him, when you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession, to the praise of his glory.
Rev 12:11 (TEB) Our brothers won the victory over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the truth which they proclaimed; and they were willing to give up their lives and die.
Rom 14:8 (Jer) If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.
We Belong to The Lord
Rom 6:20-22 (Jer) When you were slaves to sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness, and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behavior ends in death. Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life.
Rom 6:23 (Phi) Sin PAYS its servants: the wage is death. But God GIVES to those who serve him, his free gift is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Keep in Mind the Price Tag!
Rom 3:24-25 (NIV) [For all] are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him a sacrifice of atonement through faith in his blood.
Col 1:14 (Liv) ... who bought our freedom with his blood and forgave us all our sins.
Acts 20:28 (Liv) "And now beware! Be sure that you feed and shepherd God's flock--the church, purchased with his blood--for the Holy Spirit is holding you responsible as overseers.
Eph 1:7 (NIV) In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
Heb 10:29 (TEB) What, then, of the man who despises the Son of God? Who treats as a cheap thing the blood of God's covenant which cleansed him from sin? Who insults the Spirit of grace? Just think how much worse is the punishment he will deserve!
Protected By The Blood
Ex 12:7,12-13 (NIV) "... they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs... On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn--both men and animals--and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt."
Rom 5:9 (Wey) If, therefore, we have now been pronounced free from guilt through His blood, much more shall we be delivered from God's wrath through Him.
Purchased Under What Contract?
# A new contract (agreement or covenant) "redeems" us from our previous master, the Law and sin.
Ex 24:8 (NIV) Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words."
Jer 31:31,34 (NIV) "The time is coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel... For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
Isaiah 53:5 (NIV) He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
1 Pet 2:24-25 (NIV) He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
Heb 8:13 (NIV) By calling this covenant "new", he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.
Heb 9:15-22 (Phi) Christ is consequently the administrator of an entirely new agreement, having the power, by virtue of his death, to redeem transgressions committed under the first agreement... For, as in the case of a will, the agreement is only valid after death. While the testator [the person named in the will] lives, a will has no legal power. And indeed we find that even the first agreement of God's will was not put into force without the shedding of blood... "This is the blood of the agreement God makes with you." And you will find that in the Law almost all cleansing is made by means of blood; it implies again and again "No shedding of blood, no remission of sin."
Life In The Blood
Lev 17:11a (NIV) For the life of a creature is in the blood.
# Which is more "real" and permanent: the world we see or the spiritual world? What mystery are we participating in, what truth is being revealed in the Communion elements?
John 6:41-60 (Phi) At this, the Jews started grumbling at him... "Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose parents we know? How can he now say that 'I have come down from Heaven'?"... Jesus answered and said, "I myself am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, AND THEY DIED!... The bread which I give you is my own body, and I shall give it for the life of the world." This led to a fierce argument among the Jews, some of them saying, "How can this man give us his body to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Unless you do eat the body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, I assure you that you are not really living at all. The man who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up when the last day comes. For my body is real food, and my blood is real drink." ...Many of his disciples heard him say these things and commented, "This is a hard teaching indeed; who could accept that?"
Mat 26:27,28 (Phi) "Drink this, all of you, for it is my blood, the blood of the new agreement shed to set many free from their sins."
Mark 14:24 (TEB) Jesus said, "This is my blood which is poured out for many, my blood which seals God's covenant."
Luke 22:20 (JNT) "This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by my blood, which is being poured out for you."
1 Cor 11:25 (NIV) "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me."
1 Cor 10:16 (NIV) Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
The Result: Near God
Col 1:19-23a (NIV) For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation, if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.
Heb 9:12,14 (NIV) He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption... How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Job 33:28 (NIV) He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to enjoy the light.
1 John 1:7 (NIV) But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from every sin.
Heb 10:22 (Phi) Let us draw near [to God] with true hearts and fullest confidence, knowing that our inmost souls have been purified by the sprinkling of his blood just as our bodies are cleansed by the washing of clean water.
Eph 2:13 (Phi) But now, in Christ Jesus, you who were once far off are brought near through the shedding of Christ's blood.
Heb 12:24 (Phi) You have drawn near to God, the judge of all, to the souls of good men made perfect, and to Jesus, mediator of a new agreement, to that cleansing blood which tells a better story than the blood of Abel.
Are you dead to yourself?
Death to Self
Take Up Your Cross
Mark 8:34-35 (NIV) Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
# Bible Knowledge Commentary: "When the Roman Empire crucified a criminal or captive, the victim was often forced to carry his cross part of the way to the crucifixion site, carrying his cross through the heart of the city."
Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it."
# NIV Study Notes: "The picture is of a man, already condemned, required to carry the beam of his own cross to the place of execution. Disciples from Galilee knew what this meant, for hundreds of men had been executed by this means in their region."
Mat 10:38 (NIV) ... anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
Are We Really Following Christ?
# The modern equivalent would be to walk down a hallway toward an electric chair. Death is the destiny, and we are in a grim death processional. At least we are not first and, hopefully, we are not alone. If we "deny ourselves", and commit ourselves to death, we can no longer place any hope in this world. By "taking up our cross", it is as if all our natural passions and desires are doomed.
Luke 14:25-33 (Phi) "If anyone comes to me without 'hating' his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple. If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn't he first sit down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, 'This is the man who started to build a tower but couldn't finish it!'... So it is with you; only the man who says good-bye to his possessions can be my disciple."
# A.W. Tozer: "Among the plastic saints of our times, Jesus has to do all the dying, and all we want to hear is another sermon about his dying."
The Death Sentence
Gal 5:24 (Jer) You cannot belong to Christ Jesus unless you crucify all self-indulgent passions and desires.
Gal 5:24 (TEB) And those who belong to Christ Jesus have put to death their human nature, with all its passions and desires.
1 Pet 2:24a (Phi) And he personally bore our sins in his own body on the cross, so that we might be dead to sin and be alive to all that is good.
Consider Yourself Dead
# T. Austin-Sparks: "We have not to die; we are dead. What we have to do is to accept our death... [In] baptism... we simply step in there and say, 'That position which God has settled with reference to me is the one which I now accept, and I testify here in this way to the fact that I have accepted God's position for me, namely, that in the Cross I have been brought to an end.'"
Col 3:3-7 (Phi) For, as far as this world is concerned, you are already dead, and your true life is a hidden one in God, through Christ. One day, Christ who is your life, will show himself openly, and you will all share in that magnificent revelation. Consider yourselves dead to worldly contacts: have nothing to do with sexual immorality, dirty mindedness, uncontrolled passion, evil desire, and the lusts for other people's goods, which amounts to idolatry. It is because of these very things that the holy anger of God falls upon those who refuse to obey him. And never forget that you had your part in those dreadful things when you lived that old life.
Rom 6:11a (KJV) Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead...
Rom 6:11a (TEB) Think of yourselves as dead to sin.
Rom 6:11 (NIV) In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:11-14 (Phi) In the same way, look upon yourselves as dead to the appeal and power of sin but alive to God through Christ Jesus our Lord. Do not, then, allow sin to establish any power over your mortal bodies in making you give way to its lusts. Nor hand over your bodily parts to be, as it were, weapons of evil for the devil's purpose. But, like men rescued from certain death, put yourselves in God's hands as weapons of good for his own purposes. For sin can never be your master; you are no longer living under the law, but under grace.
Rom 7:4-6 (Phi) So, my brothers, the death of Christ on the cross has made you "dead" to the claims of the Law, and you are free to give yourselves... to another, the one who was raised from the dead [Christ], that we may be productive for God. While we were "in the flesh", the Law stimulated our sinful passions and so worked in our nature that we became productive--for death! But now that we stand clear of the Law, the claims which existed are dissolved by our "death", and we are free to serve God, not in the old obedience to the letter of the Law, but in a new way, in the Spirit.
Rom 8:12-13 (NEB) It follows, my friends, that our lower nature has no claim upon us; we are not obligated to live on that level. If you do so, you must die. But if by the Spirit you put to death all the base pursuits of the body, then you will live.
Death To Self is NOT Optional for Christians
Jn 12:24 (NIV) "I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life."
Rom 12:1-2 (Phi) With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God remake you so that your whole attitude of mind is changed.
# T. Austin-Sparks: "The unalterable basis of an open heaven is a grave, and a crisis at which you come to an end of your own self-life. It is the crisis of real experiential identification with Christ in His death."
Rom 6:2-4 (Phi) We, who have died to sin--how could we live in sin a moment longer? Have you forgotten that all of us who were baptized into Jesus Christ were, by that very action, sharing in his death? We were dead and buried with him in baptism, so that just as he was raised from the dead by that splendid revelation of the Father's power, so we too might rise to life on a new plane altogether.
Gal 6:14 (Phi) Yet God forbid that I should boast about anything or anybody except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, which means that the world is dead to me and I am a dead man to the world.
# Let the appeal of sin strike you like it would a corpse.
Rom 6:5-7 (Phi) If we have, as it were, shared his death, we shall also share in his resurrection. Let us never forget that our old selves died with him on the cross that the tyranny of sin over us might be broken, for a dead man can safely be said to be free from the power of sin.
Rom 6:8-10 (Phi) And if we were dead men with Christ we can believe that we will also be men alive with him. We can be sure that the risen Christ never dies again; death's power to master him is finished. He died, because of sin, once; he lives for God forever.
Rom 6:11 (LB) So look upon your old sin nature as dead and unresponsive to sin, and instead be alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Life After Death
Col 2:12,14,20 (Jer) You have been buried with him, when you were baptized; and by baptism, too, you have been raised up with him through your belief in the power of God who raised him from the dead... He has overridden the Law and canceled every record of the debt that we had to pay; he has done away with it by nailing it to the cross... If you really died with Christ to the principles of this world, why do you still let rules dictate to you, as though you were still living in the world?
2 Tim 2:11 (Phi) I rely on this saying: "If we died with him we shall also live with him."
2 Cor 5:15,17 (Phi) We look at it like this: if one died for all men, then, in a sense, they all died, and his purpose in dying for them is that their lives should now be no longer lived for themselves but for him who died and was raised to life for them... For if a man is in Christ he becomes a new person altogether; the past is finished and gone, everything has become fresh and new.
Titus 2:11 (NIV) For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.
Eph 4:22-25 (TEB) So get rid of your old self, which made you live as you used to, the old self that was being destroyed by its deceitful desires. Your hearts and minds must be made completely new. You must put on the new self, which is created in God's likeness and reveals itself in the true life that is upright and holy. No more lying, then! Everyone must tell the truth.
Gal 2:19-20 (Phi) For under the Law I "died", and I am dead to the Law's demands so that I may live for God. I died on the cross with Christ. And my present life is not that of the old "I", but the living Christ within me. The bodily life I now live I live believing in the Son of God who loved me and sacrificed himself for me.
Col 3:1 (NIV) Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above.
Counting The Cost, By C.S. Lewis:
"The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self--all your wishes and precautions--to Christ.
"Christ says 'Give me All. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half measures are any good. I don't want to cut off a branch here and a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down. I don't want to drill the tooth, or crown it, or stop it, but to have it out. Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked--the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: My own will shall become yours.'...
"When I was a child I often had toothache, and I knew that if I went to my mother she would give me something which would deaden the pain for that night and let me get to sleep. But I did not go to my mother--at least not till the pain became very bad. And the reason I did not go was this. I did not doubt she would give me the aspirin; but I knew she would also do something else. I could not get what I wanted out of her without getting something more, which I did not want. I wanted immediate relief from pain, but I could not get it without having my teeth set permanently right. And I knew those dentists; I knew they started fiddling about with all sorts of other teeth which had not yet begun to ache. They would not let sleeping dogs lie. If you gave them an inch they would take a mile.
"Now, if I may put it that way, our Lord is like the dentists. If you give Him an inch, He will take a mile. Dozens of people go to Him to be cured of some one particular sin which they are ashamed of... or which is obviously spoiling daily life (like bad temper or drunkenness). Well, He will cure it alright: but He will not stop there. That may be all you ask; but if once you call Him in, He will give you the full treatment. That is why He warned people to 'count the cost' before becoming Christians. 'Make no mistake,' He says, 'If you let me, I will make you perfect. The moment you put yourself in My hands, that is what you are in for. Nothing less or other than that.'
"'Whatever suffering it may cost you in your earthly life... whatever it cost Me, I will never rest, nor let you rest, until you are literally perfect--until my Father can say without reservation that He is well pleased with you, as He said He was well pleased with me. This I can do and will do. But I will not do anything less.'
"The goal toward which He is beginning to guide you is absolute perfection; and no power in the whole universe, except you yourself, can prevent Him from taking you to that goal. That is what you are in for. And it is very important to realize that. If we do not, then we are very likely to start pulling back and resisting Him after a certain point. I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do. And we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone.
"But this is the fatal mistake... The question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us....
"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on: you know that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself!"