Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Grace Q & A: What about Repentance?

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NKJV

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NASB

 We've been in a study of the Grace of God. The Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. We've been getting back to basics and asking and answering simple questions about the Grace of God. So far we've discussed what Grace is. We've seen how we're no longer under condemnation. We've addressed the issue of cheap Grace and answered the charge that accused Grace teaching of being only for sinful people and the Lazy

 Today, it seemed good to address the issue once again about repentance. What is the relationship between Grace and repentance? Some accuse Grace teaching as being against the idea of repentance. Some say we teach we can sin all we wish and never need to repent? Is this an accurate assessment?

 This is not an accurate assessment because this assessment of Grace is based upon hearsay, conjecture and even some hyperbole. What we must consider is that among all denominations, churches, and Christians are differing theology on sin and repentance. Allow me to elaborate. Some simply feel repentance is a sense of "sorrow" over sin and then asking God to forgive it. Still, others, feel that true repentance is to turn from committing sinful deeds, that is if one is habitually sinning the same sin they still haven't repented.

 Still, in the face of differing views, Radical Grace is charged the same. We are accused of teaching that when you sin you need not repent. Or that we can freely pursue sin and never concern ourselves with sin. How should we respond to this charge?

 First, we must understand the enemy opposes the work of God. He brings these false accusations to deter us from proclaiming the glorious truth of the Good News Gospel of Jesus Christ. The enemy uses many voices to distract people from hearing the Good News. Religious tradition, legalism use the same accusations they charged Paul the Apostle with. That Grace teaches sin is acceptable. That Grace says it's good to sin without restraint and there is never the need to change. 

 I understand the need to bring clarity. I understand the need to qualify what we say at times. Certainly, no one should desire to be misunderstood. That is understood but at the same time we must not get so distracted we spend more time trying to explain to legalists what we are actually saying than actually proclaiming the Gospel truth. 

 To once again answer religion's accusative charge, what Gospel are they hearing? The truth is they can't grasp the concept of once and for all time sacrifice. The Finished Work of Christ. Hebrews clearly reveals it had to be a once for all time sacrifice. 

  Jesus bore the sin of all, once for all time. He paid the ultimate price. Once He shed His sinless perfect divine blood, that settled the sin issue once for all time. Once the sacrifice was made what other sacrifices are equal to it? Is it our apologies? Is it our sorrow? Is it our groveling? Is it our confession? Only His Blood bought us once for all time forgiveness and perfect righteousness. 

18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.  Hebrews 10:18 NASB

 This is the answer to the charge. When we sin we aren't confessing the sin or sorrowing over it, in order to receive forgiveness of that sin. That is what people selectively hear. They hear what they wish and discard the rest. No one said we should keep sinning that Grace will abound. No one said sin is ok or something to be pursued.

 In truth, no one is even saying we should never confess our sin. That we should never feel sorrow over sin. In reality, there are times when we blow it and it can affect others. In those situations, we may experience sorrow and remorse for how our actions were detrimental to others. Why? Because we have the Love of God shed abroad in our hearts. Our heart desires to bring joy and gladness to people. 

 That said, we stay with the Gospel. We know and understand our confession, or as it is really defined in Scripture, agreeing with God about our sin, acknowledging it, doesn't make us more or less forgiven. Sorrow may come about after we miss it but we can't allow that to dominate our thinking or dictate our identity. 

Some things to remember

1. Under Grace right and wrong are still right and wrong.
Truth hasn't changed under Grace. Meaning, right, and wrong is spelled out for us in the Scripture. It is still wrong to commit adultery or lie or steal. Because God's Love is our guide, He wouldn't direct us to sin. 
2. The Scripture is still the absolute highest authority and is the truth of God. 
If we disregard the Scripture as God's Word. If we do some mental gymnastics to dismiss clear warnings and clear statements of right and wrong because it messes with our emotional sentiments we've disregarded His Word, His truth. 
3. If we disregard His Word, then there are no standards and anything is "permissible".
Once we operate outside the perimeters of Scripture, feelings, unrenewed desires, ideologies become the foundation of right and wrong.

 With the foundations once again established, and this charge about Grace and repentance addressed, how then do we define repentance? Is repentance defined as turning from sin? How about sorrow for sin? Is groveling to our Father when we blow it the right image of repentance?

No, these are the definitions of men. Repentance is clearly defined in the Scripture. It means to change one's mind. It means to embrace right thinking and reject wrong thinking. Hence the need to reestablish the foundations. Right thinking is possible when we renew our thoughts to His thoughts. How do we know His thoughts? They're found in God's Word. 

 Religious traditional holiness concepts claim repentance is a turning away from sin. This may be the way repentance was seen and understood under the Old Covenant. Look at how the ministry of the New Covenant distinguished repentance and turning here.

 The issue with this turn and cease from all sin definition becomes a works oriented gospel. That is not good news and is not the Gospel. New Christians and those who've been a Christian for many years may be struggling with a sin. If the leadership holds this definition of repentance, it translates to them teaching these particular Christians either lost their salvation or were never saved. They did not truly repent. That's contrary to the simple Good News Gospel Paul preached.
30 Then he led Paul and Silas outside and asked, “What must I do to be saved?”
31 They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and all your family.”Acts 16:30-31 TPT

 What about repentance? What must we do to be saved? What about repentance and Grace? It is simple if we stay with the Scriptures. Follow New Covenant truth. 

 Repentance is a change of mind, that's it. What is the role of repentance in our salvation? Changing our minds about Jesus. Changing our minds about our condition. Changing our minds about the simplicity of the Gospel. This change of mind is not a conscious effort. It's a natural response to the hearing of the truth of His Word, the Gospel truth. 

 Salvation isn't a commitment to turn and cease from all wrong. It isn't a turning to good works. Good works and walking out our holy identity is a fruit of the Gospel not the root of our salvation. 

 Grace and repentance are always active in our relationship with our Father. We are constantly changing our minds about who we are and what He said about us. In other words, When our thinking contradicts His Word, that is what He said about us, our circumstance or our standing before Him, we change that thinking to align with what He said, not what we feel in our minds. 

 In summation, don't allow tradition to move you away from the simplicity of the Gospel. Don't allow man's words to define repentance. Stay with God's Word. Repentance isn't a scary word. It is part of the Good News that we can change our minds and think His thoughts. It's Good News because it shows us we can relinquish traditional religious thinking, wrong Worldy concepts, lies of the enemy, and embrace what our Father says. 
image courtesy of jesadaphorn @freedigitalphotos.net

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