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Thursday: Repent and Be Converted — 8 Comments

  1. The issue with preaching the message, "Repent" to the religious is that most religious people think they are right already and have no need to repent. When you are religious you often hold very strong views about who is right and who is wrong. And it is the wrong people who need to repent. We, the right people have already repented and therefore the message is for the others.

    This little interchange between Jesus and the Pharisees illustrates it well:

    But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Matt 9:12,13KJV

    The problem, of course, is that repentance is not a static position but a lifestyle. I used to be fat, so I went on a diet and lost a lot of weight. Somewhere during that period of weight-loss it dawned on me that the aim was not just to lose weight but to retain that weight loss for the rest of my life. My quick diet was not good enough. I had to change my lifestyle forever. That was the hard bit.

    Recognising that repentance is a lifestyle decision is really the message of Deuteronomy, and John the Baptist. It is easy to repent in the heat of the moment; after a big camp meeting, in a special prayer meeting, or when there is an altar call. But the spirit of repentance has to live on throughout the rest of our lives, not just until we get it right!

    Amen!(69)
  2. There are portrayals of God that work for some people. But those same portrayals provide barriers for other people. Yesterday I referred to the portrayal of God having a line that, if we cross it, God will then be required to essentially turn on us in 'wrath'. This view of God is what is behind many who struggle with shame and guilt - believing and therefore feeling that they have done things that are too bad for God to forgive and therefore that they are too bad for God to want to restore.

    Today's lesson mentions another common and related portrayal of God that feeds into a similar view of God when it states that all of us are "sinners who have offended God". Personally, I do not believe that God experiences the emotion/state of offence at all. Why?

    What I am continuing to see more and more and more is the 'dominance', pervasiveness and mind-blowing abundance of God's compassionate nature*. Yes, God is love (1 John 4:8) - but that love is not the shallow form (of sentimentalism) it is often perceived to be. Rather, it is a radically deeper and more encompassing form that is compassion-based, other-focused, and other-benefiting all wrapped up inseparably together. You can't get a sense of what these words are conveying by merely reading the previous sentence - you have to actually take time to 'enter' the experience that each of these are referring to and attempt to 'imagine' their purest form.

    If you reflect deeply enough on true compassion, you will begin to see that it is based upon deep understanding of another's experience. As such, it is other-focussed rather than self-focussed. And its aim is to better understand another in order to optimally benefit the other. Because of all of the above, true compassion 'births' empathy. We see expressions of this other-focussed compassion in Luke 13:34; Luke 23:34; Genesis 6:6; Hebrews 4:15; Isaiah 53:3; etc). In each of these instances, God's heart is breaking - so to speak - with deep grief for the pain, sorrow and loss we are experiencing: pure other-focussed compassion.

    The more I consider and try to begin to understand Gods 'higher ways' (Isaiah 55:8,9; Jeremiah 9:24), the more I find that God does not take things personally because taking things personally comes from both insecurity and a self-focussed reference. You might have to think about it deeply, but not taking things personally doesn't mean God doesn't care - it actually means the opposite - nothing gets in the way of God experiencing full and complete care for and towards us - every single one of us with no exception.

    Putting all of the above together, I do not find evidence - and therefore do not believe - that God is "offended" by "sinners" (I also do not believe He sees us as "sinners" - but as His children who are struggling with/ensnared in sin). Rather, out of eternally-deep compassion-based love, born of pure and intimate understanding for how we are ruining ourselves and others (including what is driving us individually to do so), God's heart is grieving for us as His children who are struggling with/entangled by sin. Born of this compassion, God is therefore 'desperately' longing (mi-yitten) for us to allow Him to help and heal us - by awakening longing for healing (mi-yitten) within us (Romans 2:4; Psalm 51:10; Psalm 42:1).

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    * In Exodus 34:6,7 where God directly reveals His nature and character to Moses, the first attribute God reveals is 'rachum' which is translated both compassionate and merciful (because these two attributes in their pure/true form are in fact inseparable). Functionally, all subsequent attributes that God continues to unpack to Moses in these verses flow from and are underpinned by this foundational attribute of 'rachum'. Unfortunately, the last part of Exodus 34:7 is typically poorly translated and understood in terms of the 'visiting' failing to convey the notion of working to limit rather than impose negative consequences.

    Amen!(19)
  3. though christ came to save sinners is a must for us to repent of our sins whether as a backslider or a faithful christian who fall into sin or as a new convert;we must acknowledge our sinfulness and expressing repentace for our sins themselves and not just the consequences of them.thank you

    Amen!(10)
  4. Romans ◦ Chapter 1....18God's wrath against human selfishness, godlessness and wickedness is being revealed from heaven: God is showing what he does and how he responds to those who are infected with selfishness, yet refuse his antidote. These sick-of-heart and twisted-of-mind humans reject the Remedy and suppress the truth of God's character by their wicked and godless lives.19For God has clearly revealed himself and his principles of love, beneficence, and giving in all he has created.20From the very moment the earth was created, God’s true self has been constantly revealed: his eternal life-giving power, his loving nature, his respect for freedom, and his methods of gracious giving; his character is seen in everything he has made, so that humans are not left in darkness, and have no excuse for remaining in their terminal state.

    21For although they knew the truth about God and his methods, they did not appreciate his gracious, humble character nor did they honor him by trusting him and incorporating his methods into their lives. Therefore their reasoning was damaged, their consciences seared, their thoughts became illogical and irrational, and their minds were darkened with lies and falsehoods.22They deceived themselves and claimed to be wise, but were actually fools who lost the ability to discern the right from the wrong, the healthy from the unhealthy, the true from the false,23and exchanged the values, methods and principles of the immortal God for man-made figurines of mortal humans, birds, mammals and reptiles, and even developed theories that humanity evolved from such lower creatures.

    24Therefore, because they persistently refused the gracious Remedy freely offered, God gave them up to reap the consequences of the unremitting infection of fear and selfishness. As the sensual desires took greater control and self-governance was lost, they degraded themselves in sexual perversions with one another.25They exchanged the truth of God–his loving and forgiving character, his respect for freedom, his willingness to sacrifice for his creation–for Satan's lies about God, and worshiped and served false gods (who required payment to appease their angry wrath) rather than the Creator, who alone is worthy of our praise. Amen.

    26Because they rejected the truth–the Remedy for their twisted and deceived minds–God gave them up to reap the results of unrestrained selfishness, and they became debased and practiced shameful lusts. Even their heterosexual women exchanged natural relations for homosexual ones.27Likewise, their heterosexual men rejected natural relations and became inflamed with homosexual lust. Men committed all kinds of perverse and disgusting acts with each other, and thus their characters were distorted and their minds warped.

    28Furthermore, since they abandoned and rejected the truth about God–the only solution capable of healing their minds–he gave them up to experience the consequence of rejecting truth, and their minds became filled with lies and were horribly depraved. They did evil and called it good, and they rejected goodness and called it foolishness.29They have become filled with every kind of selfishness, wickedness, evil, greed, and lustful perversion. They think only about themselves and are jealous of others, they destroy anyone who gets in their way, they lie and cheat and exploit, they spread rumors and gossip,30they destroy reputations and hate God and everything for which he stands, they deny creation and call those who trust God "fools," they are arrogant, proud and boastful, they constantly think up new ways to do evil and disregard authority by following their own impulses, they call their parents "fools" and reject their guidance,31they are unreasonable, irrational, mean-spirited, hard-hearted, and they trust no one.32Although they know God's righteous law–to love others before oneself–and realize their lifestyle leads only to death, they not only persist in their self-destructive ways, but throw parties and give awards to others who practice them.........What is Paul saying that he is preaching?

    Amen!(3)
  5. A change of heart seems to be apropos to many of our lessons. What was written a week or two ago would fit right into today's lesson. "Create in me a clean heart Oh God, and renew a right Spirit within me." Psalms 51:10.

    It is by a change of heart that Saul became Paul. In an instant he was willing to be made willing. He followed the Lord's directive for his new life in Christ. After 3 days becoming filled with the Holy Spirit Ananias came along under the directive of God, healed Saul's blindness, and seeing Saul filled with the Holy Spirit baptized him. Born again, of the Spirit and the water. Acts 9:3-18. John 3:5.

    The Philippian Jailer and his family, seeing the faith and testimony of Paul and Silas, made the decision to go all the way with Christ, within the same hour he and his family were baptized. Acts 16:29-34.

    Simular story of Philip and the Ethiopian. Acts 8:26-40.

    They all saw themselves as sinners in need of a Saviour. Sin is offensive to God. When David said, I have sinned against God, he is expressing that he offended God. Psalms 51:4. "against Thee God, have I sinned." Like the one worshiper of the two worshipers, he saw himself offensive to God. Luke 18:9-14.

    "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
    Luke 18:14.

    Humble me, humble me oh Lord, humble me to due thy will.

    Amen!(6)
  6. Repent means what turns your heart to do something. When John was preaching he said repent for your sins. Sometimes we want go and preach the good news but we don't how to start. But the bible tell how to tell people the love of God when we read the bible. 😋

    Amen!(2)
  7. I'd be interested to hear what people think of the difference between "a backslider or as a faithful Christian" as put forward in Thursday's lesson. These categories are cringe worthy in some respects. Aren't the boundaries blurred when a faithful one sins = instant backslide? Perhaps a backslider isn't even trying to 'return' anymore, and the faithful Christian is? In any case, the presence or lack of the Holy Spirit would be evident. I shall understand this for myself, and try not to categorize others!

    Amen!(1)
  8. Hi Amy

    I find that the distinctions such as those you are referring to in the lesson do not actually have practical relevance and therefore are essentially unnecessary - which is hopefully the point the lesson was trying to make. Bottom line is that being in harmony with God and the Ways He has outlined (because they are the reality of true life) is the only way we can be part of true life. How much harmony is needed (50%, 75%, 99%, 100%?) does not appear to be the issue - though we typically tend to consider things this way as humans.

    Rather, from what I can see, while man looks on the outward appearance (because that is all we can see), God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7 summary principle). What is God looking for? A heart that is authentically committed to other-seeking as opposed to self-seeking. Like we have already seen at the flood (as per Genesis 6:5 diagnostic statement by God), self-seeking does not authentically want/"desire" 'salvation' at all because it does not desire what true life is actually about - other-seeking.

    We have, for example, King David who allowed himself to get caught up in some terrible stuff yet, when the crunch came, more deeply desired a clean heart and right spirit (Psalm 51:10). So although David lapsed badly, it doesn't appear he reached Genesis 6:5 condition.

    Heart condition therefore appears to be an all-or-nothing phenomenon rather than a percentage-based one that we typically (albeit subconsciously) tend think in terms of. Put another way, there is a line that we ourselves cross with that line being the point that we no longer want to change our way - because we have hardened our heart against God's drawing. Whether we do this while we seem to others - in terms of outward appearance - to be a 'backslider', 'faithful christian' or 'new convert' makes no difference.

    Amen!(3)

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