Archive for ‘July, 2010

Wise Words Re: Anne Rice’s Renunciation of Christianity

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Anne Rice, the famous vampire novelist, recently and publicly renounced her faith in Christianity. Before we reach for the torches and pitchforks, Russell Moore has some words of wisdom for those of us truly understand the glory of the Gospel and the bankruptcy of religion. Read the article here. Please. And Anne, know we are praying for you and love you still.

Don’t Waste Your Sexuality

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God’s purpose for sex is driving you toward something glorious. Don’t waste it.

Repentance Defined

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It has been said that Repentance is the first word of the gospel. It was the message of John the Baptist as he prepared the way for the arrival of Jesus (Matt 3:2.) It was the message of Jesus when he began his public ministry (Matt 4:17) and announced the gospel’s arrival in Galilee (Mark 1:14-15.) It permeated not only his preaching (Matt 18:3, Luke 24:46-47,) but also the preaching of those he sent out (Mark 6:12.)

It was the response Peter provoked after preaching the gospel at Pentecost (Acts 2:38,) at the temple (Acts 3:19,) before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:31,) and to Cornelius’ household (Acts 11:18.)

It was the message of Paul at Mars Hill (Acts 17:30,) and in Ephesus (Acts 20:21,) before Agrippa (Acts 26:20) and in Rome (Acts 28:25-31.)

With so much weight placed on repentance in responding to the gospel by Jesus and his Apostles, it deserves our careful attention and a correct understanding. The gospel is what Jesus did, plus nothing. Repentance is our response — and even that response is a gift of grace initiated and carried out by God working in us (Rom 2:4.)

Repentance in its most basic and straightforward definition is a turning. This is consistent in the Old and New Testaments. It involves a change of mind, change of heart and change of direction or orientation. Those elements are very important to understanding Paul’s contrast between real repentance and godless guilt in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Repentance, especially in the Old Testament, is also associated with grief and regret (also seen clearly in the previous statement of Paul.) When the scriptures declare that God repented (i.e. Gen 6,) it was in this sense of the word. He was grieved over humanity’s wickedness. When used of humans, it describes their grief over their own sin.

Repentance as an initial faith response to the gospel is not itemizing, confessing and conquering all our sins. That would be impossible and result in a self-righteousness through works of the Law, which the New Testament adamantly states can never be. It would also confuse the initial response of faith and repentance that results in justification with the subsequent ongoing work of the Spirit in sanctification. As Martin Luther stated in the first of his 95 theses, the whole of the Christian life is one of repentance.

So as it relates to responding to the gospel* and justification, repentance is turning from the reign of sin and the preeminence of self (self-rule, self-reliance and self-righteousness) to the Lordship of Christ, acknowledging his rightful authority over all things, including our own lives. This repentance always accompanies biblical belief — believing Jesus to be the promised Savior while recognizing our inability to do anything to save ourselves and relying solely and totally on the completed work of Christ’s substitutionary death and resurrection to save us. Belief and repentance are two sides to the one coin of faith.

*Repentance occurs in several other contexts and occasions to describe ongoing sanctification in turning from specific sinful attitudes and behaviors. The purpose of this definition is to describe the initial turning to Christ as Lord and Savior upon receiving his gospel resulting in justification. Justification means to be legally declared by God to be rightly related to God and acquitted of guilt.

Epic: The Series

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You can now download or stream the entire Epic series with study guides and notes here.

The Relationship of Repentance to Salvation

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The letter to the Romans, Paul’s systematic and comprehensive explanation of the Gospel, tells us in 2:4 that it is God’s “kindness that leads us to repentance.” Here are some other key statements in the New Testament concerning repentance and regeneration. Note: The first two references are the messages proclaimed by Jesus as he inaugurated his public ministry.

1. Jesus begins his public ministry
From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” – Matt. 4:17

2. Jesus preaches the Gospel in Galilee
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:14-15

3. Jesus responds to the question about who is greatest.
And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Matt 18:3 (ESV, “turn” KJV “be converted”)

3. Jesus sends out his twelve apostles
They went out and preached that people should repent. – Mark 6:12

4. Jesus called Levi, and the religious leaders criticized.
I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:32

5. Jesus teaching about judgment
I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. – Luke 13:3,5

6. Jesus speaking to his disciples before his ascension.
He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. – Luke 24:46-47

7. Peter preaching at Pentecost (in response to the question “Brothers, what shall we do?”)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38

8. Peter addresses the crowd at Solomon’s Portico after healing cripple beggar.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… – Acts 3:19

9. Peter before the Sanhedrin.
God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. – Acts 5:31

10. The Apostles in Jerusalem, on hearing Peter’s report of Cornelius’ conversion.
When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” – Acts 11:18   

11. Paul at Mar’s Hill in Athens.
In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. – Acts 17:30

12. Paul, to the elders in Ephesus.
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. – Acts 20:21

13. Paul, on trial before Agrippa.
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds. – Acts 26:20

14. Paul to the Corinthians
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. – 2 Corinthians 7:10

15. Peter on God’s desire.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. – 2Pet. 3:9