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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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Friday, June 09, 2006
L'evangile... Sans Repentir!
(English: 'The gospel... without repentance!)

Christ said, "Salvation is of the Jews." (c.f. John 4:22) when speaking to the Samaritan woman. We should note that saying salvation is of the Jews was not the same as saying that salvation is of National Israel.

Paul taught that it was a mistake to presume that being circumcised in the flesh made you a Jew; "...he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter;" This idea is not something that Christianity added to Judaism - John the Baptist , the greatest OT prophet preached that it was repentance that made you a child of God and not ancestry (c.f. Luke 3:8) - and he was preaching that to Jews before Christ's ministry began.

Isaiah prophesied about John the Baptist's ministry in Isaiah 40:
A voice cries:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
" - Isaiah 40:3-5 (ESV)


John preached a baptism of repentance coupled with a message to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus (c.f. Luke 3:3; Acts 19:4)

These thoughts from scripture knit together seamlessly in my understanding. When Isaiah spoke of making a straight path in the wilderness - he was talking about preparing a person to receive Christ.

Follow me on this. It used to be that the wilderness was an unpassable barrier. You were sure to starve to death, or get lost, or perhaps attacked by some wild animal, or fall into a ravine - it really depended on the nature of the wilderness in question - but one thing common to a wilderness was the idea that you didn't travel through it, you went around it.

Because of the whole modern transportation system - roads, cars, plane, trains, boats, etc - we have practically forgotten what a wilderness is. We can expect that if we walk long enough in a straight line, we will eventually cross a road and thereafter follow the road unimpeded.

That is the purpose of a road - to overcome the impedance of the wilderness - making it easy to pass through areas that otherwise would be very difficult to navigate.

Perhaps the best modern example we have of a wilderness is the continent of Antarctica. Even if we had snow shoes, a sled full of provisions, a compass, and winter wear, we probably wouldn't live through the journey from the shore to the nearest camp - the "wilderness" is unpassable.

When scripture describes John's ministry as preparing a way through the wilderness for the Lord, it is really talking about preparing us so that the Lord finds no hindrances in us. The way of the Lord is "prepared" when all hindrances are removed - that is, when we begin to "repent."

Paul described the gospel he preached as "repentance towards God, and faith in Jesus Christ." Repentance prepares Christ's way into your heart - and unless the way is prepared, Christ cannot "enter in."

The Judaizers were Jews who thought of Christianity as a Jewish denomination. In order to be a Christian, you had be be an Israelite - that is, you had to be a Jewish citizen, since every Jew understood that salvation was of the Jews. They thought that one became a Jew through national Israel - but John the Baptist had already explained that God could make children of Abraham from stones - that is - being a Jew had nothing to do with being an Israelite - and everything to do with being circumcised in your heart (c.f. Romans 9:29).

The Judaizers didn't understand that being a Jew was a spiritual thing - and this misunderstanding was the root of their error. They rightly understood that Christianity was Jewish - only they were thinking circumcision of the flesh instead of the heart. Blinded thus, they thought that a Gentile could not become a Christian without first being joined to national Israel by becoming a Jewish Israelite.

Now you might be thinking - what does that have to do with "L'evangile... Sans Repentir!"

Well, the gospel of the Judaizers, the one that Paul pronounced anathema upon, was a gospel that replaced the circumcision of the heart (repentance) with the circumcision of the flesh (works) - and there are people to this day preaching a gospel that doesn't involve repentance:

This "new" gospel typically begins by pandering to our most cherished possession - "self"
"You don't want to go to hell when you die,... do you?"


It is hard to see the hook for the bait -but really this is saying, you don't want to suffer do you? That is the negative sales pitch - the "something bad is going to happen to you but you can avoid it if you act now" approach. You can go with a more positive sales pitch if you like:
God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.
here we are not avoiding something bad, but being sold on something good - that is a, "something good can happen to you if you act right now" kind of sales pitch.

Either way this particular gospel begins with, and centers on, what God can do for you - either what good thing you can get out of God, or what bad thing you can avoid receiving from God - this gospel is built upon the unbiblical notion that the chief purpose of God is to glorify man.

This same gospel is not about being reconciled to God - it is about getting into heaven so that you can avoid going to hell - and the way you get there is by "believing in Christ."

This "believing in Christ" is usually presented as acknowledgment that certain facts are true: [1] Jesus is who He said He was (God), and [2] Jesus will do everything He promised to do. If a person is willing to accept these articles as being "true" then they are pronounced saved from hell - and welcomed into fellowship.

They are told that the moment they agreed that these truths were true, they were saved from hell and God's Spirit entered into them and began to dwell there as the surety of their redemption.

Then they are encouraged to come to church, to tithe, and to spread this gospel (bibles are often thumped at that point - but never opened) so that others can come to (your) church and tithe.

Seriously.

But scripture teaches that the heart is a fallow wilderness that must be plowed in order to receive the seed - this plowing is what we refer to when we say "repentance."

I want to be clear as possible here. Repentance comes from two Greek words "meta" (change) and "noeo" (understanding/thinking) - which we take to mean changing you mind about what you purpose to do. Recall in Matthew 21, the two sons? The father asked them both to go and work in his vineyard, and both had purposed in their hearts not to go. The one son was more honest with his father and said, "I will not go" - but the other was dishonest, and feigned to go in order to temporarily pacify his father. Neither intended to go, that is, both of them (when they heard the request) had purposed in their hearts not to go - but the one son changed his mind about what he purposed to do - and went out and worked in the vineyard. This son "repented" - and that is what repentance is - changing your mind about what you purpose to do.

Keep that in mind as we think about "L'evangile... Sans Repentir!" - looking at the parable of the sower, the seed can be received in three kinds of "unrepentant" soil. When a man hears that Jesus is God's son and died to save him from sin - if that man rejects this, the seed had fallen on hard pressed ground, never taking root.

When a man does believe that Jesus is God, and that Jesus is the Savior, etc. - yet the same man does so while failing to purpose in his heart to obey Christ - only one of two things can happen:

[1] He may try and be pleasing to God in some other way - by reading the bible, praying, going to church, going to bible studies, doing good deeds, being generous, tithing - you name it - he may look more Christian than real Christians - except that all this seeming "growth" is counterfeit - a carnal facsimile that approximates Christ in him, because he knows how he is supposed to look, and imagines that acting this way validates his "conversion." Try as he might, this fellow cannot do anything in Christ's strength because Christ is unable to penetrate his unrepentant heart - and so he runs himself ragged and eventually, inevitably, exhausts himself - all his "growth" withers away. Scripture calls this one the "stony ground" hearer - he heard the truth, believing it to be true - but did so without ever purposing to obey God. His heart never desired to be reconciled to God - it just wanted to avoid hell - that is, the motivation was never reconciliation, but self preservation, and because of this the truth, even though it is believed, doesn't result in the salvation of the one who acknowledges that these things are true.

[2] The other way this pans out is that obedience is "put on hold" - this one believes the truths to be true, and even acknowledges that one should be obedient to Christ - but never gets around to obeying, having never committed themselves to obedience in the first place. The weeds of worldliness choke out any hope of repentance leading to life.

When a person determines however that they really do what to be reconciled to God. That is, they are not just trying to haggle their way out of hell, or get live better while they are here on the earth - they aren't trying to use God as a means to their own ends - but they see themselves as God's creation, they see God as being worthy of their obedience, and they understand that they were created to bring God glory and to take joy in doing so - then they might turn to God "for real" - they may begin to look at their fallen estate for what it truly is - unfixable.

They will begin to understand that the reason the gospel begins with repentance towards God and ends with faith towards Jesus Christ is because that is how it happens. John the Baptists ministry was to prepare the Lord's path into spiritual Israel - the circumcision of the heart - repentance - the only road upon which your Savior can enter in.

Now for those of you who think repentance is a work.

"Pfffft" - do your homework. ;-)
posted by Daniel @ 8:08 AM  
8 Comments:
  • At 8:09 AM, June 10, 2006, Anonymous Arlan said…

    I think this largely recapitulates our RP discussion, so I don't have a lot more to say. But I am curious if you mean this exactly as it sounds:
    "Christ is unable to penetrate his unrepentant heart"

    In the aforementioned RP discussion, when I criticized some of your terminology you seemed to feel that your choice of terms had not conveyed your intentions, and I wondered if that were the case here as well.

    My understanding would not make the wilderness a person's heart. I prefer the analogy of a dead corpse, which cannot do anything to make itself alive--Christ must make the person spiritually alive before that person can do any spiritual work (repentance).

    In the time of John the Baptist, the spirit of God was granting life (repentance) to the hearts of the people, and with this preparation they would receive the person of Christ when he came.

    If we were to compare the heart to the wilderness, Christ would be the only plow able to penetrate it. We could never plow what he could not.

    That would be my understanding, but many people have a different view, and I simply don't know where you are coming from--so I ask.

     
  • At 7:33 AM, June 11, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Ultimately it is God who quickens the "dead" sinner - giving them the desire, and ability to repent - it is this repentance that allows Christ to enter in.

    God initiates the repentance (though we are not puppets), and man responds by repenting. This same repentance opens the way of "faith" so that the sinner is able to exercise saving faith in Christ - it is more than an intellectual assent to the truth - it is an ability to genuinely trust Christ to do what He said He would do.

    Believing all the right truths has no effect when those truths are imprinsoned by a heart that refuses to yield to God.

    At Pentecost the Jews heard Peter speak all the truths they needed to be saved - and having all the truth, they asked, "what must we do" - and Peter answered, "Repent and be baptized."

    Let me know if that helps.

     
  • At 10:36 AM, June 11, 2006, Blogger bluecollar said…

    Daniel, I like what yousay here:

    "God initiates the repentance (though we are not puppets), and man responds by repenting. This same repentance opens the way of "faith" so that the sinner is able to exercise saving faith in Christ - it is more than an intellectual assent to the truth - it is an ability to genuinely trust Christ to do what He said He would do."

    Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology describes repentance as being the opposite side of the same coin as faith. One can't happen without the other.

    Man ( each individual) has gone his own way thanks to the fall. Each of us has turned aside, turned to our own way (Romans 3; Isaiah 53:6). Man has throughout history, since the fall, tried to eliminate God from our knowledge. He is neither thankful to Him nor does he glorify Him as God.

    Sounds like repentance is necessary to me. Isn't it strange that these clever little theological systems have arisen that de-emphasize repentance? How deadly. How deceptive.

    Good post, Daniel

     
  • At 3:05 PM, June 11, 2006, Blogger Even So... said…

    As the Viceroy of Verbosity, I could go on and on about this one, but I won't.....

    No repentance=no faith=no salvation. Period.

     
  • At 7:42 PM, June 11, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Daniel,
    Yes, it does clarify for me. To pick out the theme I would especially agree with,

    "Ultimately it is God who quickens the 'dead' sinner - giving them the desire, and ability to [...] genuinely trust Christ to do what He said He would do.

    "Believing all the right truths has no effect when those truths are imprisoned by a heart that refuses to yield to God."

    I think I do understand how my excisions change what you said--put another way, I think I understand what you said.

    Faith without works is dead, like a man without breathing; yet works do not make a man alive, any more than artificial breathing can revive one who has died.

     
  • At 8:43 PM, June 11, 2006, Anonymous bobby grow said…

    Daniel said:

    "Ultimately it is God who quickens the "dead" sinner - giving them the desire, and ability to repent - it is this repentance that allows Christ to enter in."

    Daniel, do you believe that post God's quickening of the elect's heart that man at this point "co-operates" with God in appropriating salvation (justification/sanctification)?

    In Christ,

    Bobby G.

     
  • At 11:44 PM, June 11, 2006, Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said…

    Good post Daniel.

     
  • At 12:12 PM, June 12, 2006, Blogger Daniel said…

    Bobby said - Daniel, do you believe that post God's quickening of the elect's heart that man at this point "co-operates" with God in appropriating salvation (justification/sanctification)?

    Because we have a high view of God's character, we say that God didn't at any time compromise Pharoah's free will when at the same time God was Himself orchestrating the hardness of Pharoah's heart. In that sense, Pharoah cooperated with God in hardening his own heart.

    We don't gain much by speculating "how" God was able to do this - it is enough to observe that God was able to do this.

    In the same way, we could speculate about how God is able to quicken us and draw us to himself without compromising our free will (such that everything we do freely finds its cause in the will of God) - and many a model has been suggested as to how this works - yet it is enough to say that this is what happens, even if we are not fully privy to the methodology behind it.

    Couching my answer in that framework, I am left to conclude that man obeys his own free will, and acts (from his perspective) entirely independantly from God throughout the entire process, yet notwithstanding, he does so in unfailing accordance to God's election, plan, and fore-ordained order - such that the process begins in the will of God, and the whole process thereafter plays out in complete and utter compliance with God's will.

    Let me know if that answers your question of seems like a dodge.

    Dan.

     
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