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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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Daniel, nicely done and much more original than Frank the Turk.
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There are some people who are smart, deep, or funny. There are not very many people that are all 3. Daniel is one of those people. His opinion, insight and humor have kept me coming back to his blog since I first visited earlier this year.
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Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Faith and Repentance.
Some Christians today argue that we are saved by faith working through grace, even though the scriptures paint it the other way around, that it is grace that saves us, working through faith.

What is the difference?

To be saved by faith (through grace) is to make faith the means by which we appropriate grace. To be precise - when we link the two together, so that one cannot appear without the other, we are saying, not only in essence, but in practice, that God is obliged to give grace to those who come to Him with faith.

To be saved by grace (through faith) is to make grace the means by which we appropriate faith. To be precise - when we link the two together so that once cannot appear without the other, we are saying, not only in essence, but in practice, that saving faith cannot exist without God having first extended grace to the one exercising faith.

What does the grace that leads to faith look like? Consider Luke 13:1-5 for a second:
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." - [ESV]
We should see here, the link our Lord links makes between repentance and life. It echoes what scripture records our Lord as having both said and especially preached, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (c.f. Matthew 4:17). Paul, whom Christ set apart as an apostle and minister of the gospel - in describing that ministry that Christ had given him uses this language, (c.f. Act 20:20-21), that he was "teaching [them] in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ."

I say, the link between repentance and life, and the subsequent link between faith and repentance, and again the link between faith and grace can all be easily understood if one truly believes in the depravity of man.

You see, if a man truly is the way scripture paints him to be: he cannot seek God. It isn't that he wants to seek God, but God won't let him, it is that he doesn't want to seek God on God's terms.

The one who draws near to God has to have clean hands, and a pure heart. He has to humble himself before God - that is, to accept God's rule over Him - that is "how" one draws near to God. But man is in a state of rebellion - he may want to go to heaven (to avoid hell), he may want to get religion (to avoid hell) - he may want to believe (to avoid hell) - but he will NOT want to be reconciled to God on God's terms - that is, he will never, ever accept God's rule. God can have everything else, but he cannot have willing, self-denying fealty.

This is grace, that God grants the wicked sinner, in the moment of salvation - the grace to overcome our rebellion, and to actually desire with all our heart, and to accept without condition - God's rule over us. No work of the flesh, no amount of brainwashing - nothing we do can cause us to suddenly abandon our own wicked desire to rule our own lives forever - and to suddenly, unreservedly, and even eternally and wholeheartedly surrender our every whim, or future whim to His rightful rule for ever and ever no matter what.

We call this, I say, coming to God -on His terms- coming to God the only way a person can come to God - humbly, with a pure heart - and no one can generate that, it has to be given by God. God doesn't owe us this -- He is by no means obligated to produce this desire in anyone. But everyone whom God extends this grace to, responds to it through faith. That is, faith is the outflow of that grace.

But the grace itself is actually the gift of repentance. In that moment the repentance is perfect, and it is perhaps the closest to heaven any of us will ever come (in our flesh at least) to God. In that moment when we are willing and surrender all to God, faith pours in. In that moment the doorway of genuine faith is opened and can never be closed. In that moment we receive the down payment/pledge of our inheritance in Christ - in that moment I say, we are filled by His spirit and given that internal witness by which we are assured of the genuineness of our faith.

Our sanctification will thereafter depend upon grace in the form of repentance, but that is another post altogether.

The point is that when we talk of being saved by grace through faith, we are talking about being saved by a God enabled repentance (surrender to the Lordship of Christ) that alone leads to saving faith.

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posted by Daniel @ 1:36 PM  
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