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Daniel of Doulogos Name:Daniel
Home: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
About Me: I used to believe that evolution was reasonable, that homosexuality was genetic, and that people became Christians because they couldn't deal with the 'reality' that this life was all there was. I used to believe, that if there was a heaven - I could get there by being good - and I used to think I was more or less a good person. I was wrong on all counts. One day I finally had my eyes opened and I saw that I was not going to go to heaven, but that I was certainly going to suffer the wrath of God for all my sin. I saw myself as a treasonous rebel at heart - I hated God for creating me just to send me to Hell - and I was wretched beyond my own comprehension. Into this spiritual vacuum Jesus Christ came and he opened my understanding - delivering me from God's wrath into God's grace. I was "saved" as an adult, and now my life is hid in Christ. I am by no means sinless, but by God's grace I am a repenting believer - a born again Christian.
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Daniel's posts are almost always pastoral and God centered. I appreciate and am challenged by them frequently. He has a great sense of humor as well.
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His posts are either funny or challenging. He is very friendly and nice.
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[He has] good posts, both the serious like this one, and the humorous like yesterday. [He is] the reason that I have restrained myself from making Canadian jokes in my posts.
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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
The nature of Repentance


I should like to answer a misconception regarding repentance....

If those witnessing to me would have attached repentance to the message of salvation, I believe I would not have listened.

Here is where some seem to stumble, and I wonder at it.

The gospel is called an “eternal” gospel in the book of Revelation - that is, the gospel that saved Abraham is the same gospel that saves you and I. We are saved by grace through faith, and that not of our selves, it is a gift of God, not our work for if it was, we could boast about. -That- is the gospel, and has always been the gospel. If God saves a person, that person is saved through the eternal, unchanging gospel.

The New testament writers describe John’s ministry as preaching repentance. Isaiah prophesied about him as the voice in the wilderness “Prepare, all of you, the way of the Lord. Make, all of you, His path straight”. I can think of no better definition of repentance than the one Isaiah gives – a repentant heart is one that is prepared (willing) to walk in the way of the Lord.

When Jesus cried out, "Repent and believe in the gospel!" (Mark 1:15), He wasn’t changing the gospel – that is Jesus wasn’t “attach[ing] repentance to the message of salvation” – as though it hadn’t been there before. He was describing the process of salvation – that is the seed of the gospel takes root only in prepared soil. Likewise, when Paul explained that the gospel he preached was “repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ: (Acts 20:21) he wasn’t “adding repentance” to the gospel either, but understood that the seed that falls on hard, thorny, or stony ground will not produce a salvific faith.

When we therefore talk about the gospel, we are talking about a faith that is born of repentance. Not that we are to instruct the one who receives the gospel to “repent” as though it were a work they do in their own heart (c.f. Acts 11:18, "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, "Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.", and 2 Timothy 2:25, "in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth,"). Repentance, according to scripture, is something that God grants.

I want to stress that this is not my "take" on it either – as though I had mined this nugget out of my own imagination – this is, as far as can be seen - the gospel plain and simple, just as it appears in both the Old and New Testaments.

The error that some seem to make, is that they think of faith and repentance are two separate things – as if one could have the one without the other. But the two are related in scripture, and we do well to remember that. They are inseparable entities combined together inseparable in the greater context of grace.

Repentance in the context of salavation must not be confused with the Catholic notion of penance.

When I (or any soundly reformed person) speaks about “repentance” in the context of salvation - I am not talking about arresting our sin habit - GOOD GRAVY!! If we could do that, Christ wouldn't have had to come and save us! We would all just choose not to sin, and wait for the day of His coming. We are helpless to deal with the sin problem.

I should digress here for those who have never thought of it. Think hard on this, and don’t stop until you see it. You cannot heal your corrupt nature by “resisting” sin. Did you get that? You CANNOT heal yourself. No amount of clenching your fists or biting your tongue, or singing “la la la la la” in your head – or whatever little thing you do to try and resist sin – none of these will change even a smidgeon of that part of you that loves to sin. You may be able to keep yourself from sin for a whole week – but it won’t change you a lick.

In the wake of that awesome truth re-examine what you think repentance means. Is it possible for you to repent? Can a leopard change his spots? Think hard here. Can you repent?!?? Stay here until you understand that you cannot repent in and of yourself – and that you never could, nor could anyone else.

That is what it means to inherit Adam’s corruption – however it came to us, we recognize this in ourselves (if we are alert) – while we may be able to resist “a sin” – that resistance is not the path to defeating the corruption of sin.

So when I (or any reformed believer) speak of "repentant faith" I am not suggesting (as is continually, but erroneously inferred) that the gospel I preach begins with demanding a person stops sinning so that they can receive the gospel. It may be painted such by well meaning, but otherwise ignorant people – but that is not the gospel that I preach. The gospel I preach recognizes that repentance and faith are indivisible – that without repentance a man can no more receive the gospel than hard packed earth can receive a seed. I don’t demand that people stop sinning - I simply tell them to have faith in Christ, knowing full well that the seed may fall on good soil – soil prepared beforehand by God Himself – or it may fall on other soil. That is not to say that I shy away from preaching repentance, but rather to say that when I preach repentance I am not preaching some “work” that more than anything else resembles Catholic penance.

In Catholicism they introduce the idea of penance - that is, that in order to be forgiven you must "repent" of the sin. In Catholicism you sin, confess, then agree to do penance to demonstrate your “repentance.” If you fail to do penance, you should not expect to be absolved of your sin. In this way forgiveness is yoked to works.

Some Evangelicals are still mired in Roman thinking – they replace "penance" with “repentance” – and shuffle a few ideas, such that at their heart they are still following a form of Catholic penance. Some never see through the disguise, and I write this paragraph here that the veil might be lifted. In these circles, a person sins, confesses, then "repents." As though they had the capacity to even do so.

Oh wicked heart, let’s drag you out into the light of day for a moment – look here. See that you have never been able to generate real and lasting “repentance” of this nature? If you could stop yourself, you wouldn’t have sinned in the first place. This sort of “repentance” is an illusion. If we could muster within ourselves enough remorse to stop sinning a sin – we wouldn’t have sinned it in the first place! Let the light of God’s truth come down like a hammer on the shackles of those still in bondage here! No amount of profundity will bolster your “sincere” commitment to never sin that sin again! Oh wicked liar that I am – why do I play games here with God? If I refuse to be “poor in Spirit” and refuse to admit that I am a wretch, to admit that I am hopeless, helpless, and without strength – How will I find peace? If I continue to regard “repentance” as something -I- do then I remain a liar and my walk is, by definition, in darkness. I lie, you see, because I think I have repented, when I most certainly know I have not. This same liar that I am is not "practicing the truth" - and must remain in darkness until I give up playing games with God.

How many souls are in this jail I wonder? Souls whose conscience whispers the awful truth - that their “repentance” is a sham that they mustn't ever admit to. They tell themselves that it’ll “have to do” for now. Are they not like a man who stands between the law and grace who at the same moment is unable to sustain a grip on the one nor let go of the other.

No, children - repentance in the context of the gospel, is a change of mind so that one's views, values, goals and ways are changed so that they are now lining up (sincerely) with God's plan. It in no way implies some sort a "preamble" as though the gospel in a nutshell were this: “Stop sinning then believe in God.”

Repentance is an ongoing change of heart, and not a momentary work. It is so closely mixed in with our faith and God's grace, that it is almost ridiculous and near impossible to discuss it in a vacuum. Repentance is perhaps understood more fully by regarding what repentance isn't - apathy.

So when I talk about repentance being a part of the gospel, I am not talking about some work that has to be performed, I am talking about the nature of the faith expressed. Repentance is something God grants - not a work that we do. A repentant faith hates what God hates and loves what God loves, and consequently an unrepentant faith (the kind that doesn’t save) is indifferent to what God loves or hates - and is in fact, indifferent to God - other than having a misplaced sense of “appreciation” in believing that God is going to save that one.

I don't wonder that people resist the idea of repentance when it is painted the way some have painted it. I would to!


posted by Daniel @ 11:32 AM  
17 Comments:
  • At 12:03 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Sorry - I loved that picture - soooooo over the top! It says much about my sense of humor!

     
  • At 12:07 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Rose~ said…

    Well, thank you Daniel for explainig how you see that. That is not repugnant to me at all. (Some of the things I have read elsewhere are). I have to read that again and chew on it a bit, but I will say that the "wrong idea of repentance" that you have explained ... is exactly what I was thinking that most of the reformed were meaninig by it. I know some of them do think it, or that is how they express it ... and perhaps this is why it is so troubling. I have been thinking your thoughts when reading a lot of the talk around the blogosphere on this issue ... like here:

    Is it possible for you to repent? Can a leopard change his spots? Think hard here. Can you repent?!?? Stay here until you understand that you cannot repent in and of yourself – and that you never could, nor could anyone else.

    That is exactly the way I feel about it. Sin is to our core, it is not just a few isolated acts. We can't really "put it off" and it will never leave us until we leave this earth. But ... God puts His Spirit in us and we can change somewhat if we walk in the light. The real dramatic change will be when the flesh dies.

    I also appreciated this:

    This sort of “repentance” is an illusion. If we could muster within ourselves enough remorse to stop sinning a sin – we wouldn’t have sinned it in the first place! Let the light of God’s truth come down like a hammer on the shackles of those still in bondage here! No amount of profundity will bolster your “sincere” commitment to never sin that sin again.

    I can't say "amen" to everything here, (like you care!) but I really appreciate you clarifying what you DON'T view as repentance. :~)

     
  • At 12:16 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Rose I am pleased that I haven't offended!

    As soon as we understand that we are helpless - we are on the road to "Calvinsism."

     
  • At 1:05 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel, was that Calvinschism or Calvinism? :)

    Jim

     
  • At 1:09 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    har har! ;-D

     
  • At 1:28 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    I couldn't resist, forgive me. I promise to repent and do some serious penance. :)

     
  • At 2:37 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    Daniel,

    Very good explaination!! You are right on and well thought about on the topic. Prepare yea the way of the Lord, Amen!!!!

     
  • At 3:31 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Shawn L said…

    By the way I love that picture as well in a weird sort of way. I got it at the puritan site with the tee shirts.

    I liked Matthew's comments about none of us being that good at exegesis who were calvinists on Antonio's blog.

    I probably agree with that in my own life sometimes. I'm so good at just spending time on the verse in trying to understand and applying it in my family's life and in bible study with friends in the real world but not good at communicating it in writing sometimes. I think it might be time to stop blogging for awhile.

    You seem to be good at communicating it well.

    I have alot to learn in Christ and it is more important to be hungerly and passionately pursuing Christ in His Word rather than always debating and the last 2 months have left me so surprised by Antonio was affecting my sleep and people then began to compare my thoughts with infused righteousness. Then I noticed there were people in my own congregation I needed to just get together with.

    I wonder if most calvinists don't talk to Antonio because of personal reasons, plus we must focus on our own walk in the Lord and continually seek His Face.

    I still find it interesting from Antonio that he doesn't seem to study much else or at least doesn't talk about much else online. I don't know how he does it!!

     
  • At 4:07 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    What I want to know is why I've never heard this in a church before. Does any church preach this?
    These are the very issues that have been poison to my soul over the past year. When I failed in a fast early last year, and then failed when I tried again, and yet a third time, I began to harken to the inner voices telling me that I was a hypocrite as a Christian, that I was failing God, that He wasn't interested in hearing from someone (me) who couldn't measure up, etc.
    This only lead me further down a miserable and wide road to more of self and less of Him. I slid down that slippery slope into more of the world and less of the Word. Til my heart hardened more and more. But still...
    God was tugging at me because I was miserable without Him. He wouldn't leave me alone.
    I just didn't know how much it didn't depend on *me.*
    I know so many people in church who are suffering this same misery in various ways - not feeling like they're measuring up in 'works,' beating themselves up, just dragging along...
    The inadequacy and inability of us all is truly GOOD NEWS to me! And it is a revelation that is verified time and again as I see the Scriptures in new light ("saved by grace through faith and that not of yourself...," along with Acts 11 and 2 Tim. 2 as you've cited here), but the spin as I've heard in churches over the past few years has emphasized what we "need to do" and less on His finished work and how it relates to our destinies in Him.

     
  • At 9:13 PM, January 31, 2006, Blogger Bhedr said…

    Great post friend.

    You explain it well. Better than I. All I know is that Paul preached it and sometimes did not go into such exegisis, but it is good that you have.

    It is only the Holy Spirit that can open eyes. You have done well though.

     
  • At 1:01 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Antonio said…

    To the readers of Daniel's blog, I request that you read my response to Daniel's previous post of his which I have published on my blog. The link to my response to Daniel is here:

    Response to Daniel of Doulogos

    Antonio

     
  • At 8:04 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    Excellent post Daniel. I totally agree.

    But I imagine some saying the following: repentence as you see it requires some kind of change in volition, change is measured, one could look at this change as assurance of salvation, this requires works salvation, therefore repentance cannot be apart of salvation because it ends in works salvation.

     
  • At 8:50 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    During my time in the Word this morning (in John 1, where he calls the people of Israel to repentance, preparing the way for the Lord), I was wondering how one could even have faith without repentance? Is it possible? Or vice versa? Is repentance possible without faith? Seems to me they are inextricably entwined.

     
  • At 9:52 AM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jonathan - I also imagine that some would say that - but I would remind such that scripture teaches repentance as something that God grants (c.f. Acts 11:18, 2 Tim 2:25), and not something that men produce - which is enough to convince me of the emptiness of that position.

    Susan - I also marvel how someone could miss it. But I remember that I am not the one who opens and closes someones understanding. If I understand something and another doesn't, I have nothing to boast about, since I understand it only because God has granted me that grace and witheld it from them.

    Truly, my best assurance that I am walking in grace, is that I am submitted to God. If I ignore God in all my dealings, or if my Christianity is merely an intellectual exercise - I can expect to be deluded in many places.

    Grace doesn't come because one is well versed in theology (or atheological for that matter), but through humility. The one who walks humbly with God can expect light. The one who fails to walk humbly can expect no such thing, and is in danger of being deluded on account of his or her pride.

    I personally see faith as "the seed," and repentance as the "fertile soil." Both are needed for the seed to grow - they are related parts of a process, and when we speak of the process we ought to include both soil and seed. In the case of the gospel, it is the faith that saves, but the faith that saves is only produced in the fertile soil of repentance.

     
  • At 3:03 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Jim said…

    Daniel,

    What comes first? The soil or the seed?

     
  • At 3:38 PM, February 01, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Jim - briefly, they go together, since until a seed finds soil it serves no purpose.

     
  • At 12:35 PM, February 08, 2006, Blogger Julie said…

    This is beauty, truth and goodness. Pure gospel and purely regreshing to my spirit. Thank you.

     
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