Here is a great testimony to listen to. Listen from 29.07 to 56.03 to get the main detail. Just great hear of how people are brought to the Lord
Archive for the ‘Repentance’ Category
Idols keep our hearts from God. Idols captivate us so that the devotion and worship that is due to God alone are directed towards them instead. An idol is anything that takes the place of God in our lives. They can be animate or inanimate. But whatever they are, they are real.
So in that context we can ponder upon Isaiah 31:6-7 which reads: Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against. For in that day every one of you will reject the idols of silver and gold your sinful hands have made.
The Israelites are to consider their present ways in the light of the future reality of appearing before God. In the day of God’s assessment all our idols will have one assessment upon them “rejection”. We may have defended and justified having them in our lives, but in that day the assessment of the One that matters will come and He will say “rejection”.
So in the light of that, return now to the Lord (see v6). Get rid of your idols because they are ultimately useless and will be subject to divine rejection in that day of judgment. Those idols will not stand the assessment of the Lord in that day so do not let them stand before your assessment in this day. Reject them and return to the One you have revolted against, in your pursuit of idolatry.
Philip, you must take heed. Be wise and strong and deal with your idols.
It is very easy for us as Christians to disdainfully dismiss the plight of the world as “not being our problem”. We reason that the world is very bad and we can only expect it to be very bad because it is, after all, the world and under the judgement of God. However, is this a reasonable attitude to have? I want to look at three examples:
Nehemiah. Nehemiah in ch.1 of the book that bears his name, hears of the state of his nation back in Judah. He hears that things are in a bad way. This led him to prayer and fasting. As part of his prayer he says I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly towards you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses (Neh. 1:6b-7). Now it could be said that he is acting as part of the people of God here and that is different to our attitude to the world. However, there does seems an attitude of identifying with his community which leads him to a prayer of confession. He feels for his people before the Lord. He cannot bring them to repentance, but he does long for that return and by using scripture in v9 he pleads on the basis of Deuteronomy 30:2-5 that the people would return. Do we have this heart for our communities which are immersed in sins and facing disastrous consequences as a result?
Daniel. Daniel ch.9 of the prophecy that bears his name, is down in Babylon in an earlier era to that of Nehemiah, but his experiences are very similar. Daniel is prompted to turn to the Lord in prayer by awareness from Jeremiah’s prophecy of a seventy year captivity. Daniel in prayer, confesses the waywardness of the people he belongs to. He says, “we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land” (Dan. 9;5-6). One thing that strikes me here is that Daniel could have set himself apart from his community and said “I have not been like you lot”. But he has this longing for his people. That attitude means that he responds in a way in which he confesses with his people.
Isaiah. In Isaiah 24 we find Isaiah setting forth how this whole world will fall under the crushing judgement of the Lord. At one point, Isaiah 24:16b, we read
But I said, ‘I waste away, I waste away!
Woe to me!
The treacherous betray!
With treachery the treacherous betray!’
In that statement there is an indication that Isaiah is overwhelmed by what the world is facing. He is not an indifferent and distant messenger. The lament of heart is very similar to his personal laments in Isaiah 6. Here his lament is for himself as part of a condemned world.
These instances lead me to ponder upon how we respond to the wretchedness of the communities of which we are a part. In no one sense we rightly distinguish ourselves as those who are called to be saints and who are therefore called out of the world. And yet we are part of our communities whether that be local, national and international. We should, therefore, have a sense of grieving with what we see around us. We live among people who, very sadly, who are yet palpably are under the judgement of God. Do we flippantly dismiss their situation and say that they deserve it or do we respond with brokenness? I am reminded of the words of the psalmist: Streams of tears flow from my eyes, for your law is not obeyed. (Ps. 119:136).
I wrote here about how the disasters which we see in the world should lead us to repentance. But let us not just think of those outside in the world needing to repent , as they rightly do, but let us think of our need. In a sense we should be the leaders in our community in the way of confession and repentance.
There are two places on this planet; one is the church the other is the world. We are either in the church or in the world. The church consists of those who are Christians and Christians demonstrate that they belong to the church by joining with and committing themselves to a local assembly of Christians. We learn much about the character of the church and the world when we look at Matthew 18:15-18. In this passage, someone, who has been guilty of sin, when challenged upon this issue refuses to repent and thereby is put out of the church into the world. This may sound harsh to our sensitive ears, but when you stop to ponder upon the matter the unrepentant offender is placing himself in the realm of the world and therefore the action taken only ratifies the decision the man has already made. To appreciate these things we have to get to the heart of what happens in the world and what happens in the church.
The world is that system which is arranged without reference to God. Millions of our fellow citizens operate their lives without referring to God and this is the essence of worldliness. Instead of thinking about God, people operate with reference to self. In the world “self” is the king. Accordingly, if people are challenged about whether something they say or do is right, they respond with self-defence or self-justification.
This approach to life has a long history. It started in the Garden of Eden. Rather than accept responsibility for their actions Adam and Eve both engaged in self-justification (see Genesis 3:12-13). Adam blamed his wife and Eve blamed the serpent! This is the world’s way of operating and it inevitably produces the blame culture in which we live. When we start to self-defend and self-justify we are soon blaming either our circumstances or the way the system operates or how badly other people treat us or anything else that conveniently springs to mind. People with worldly thinking run anywhere rather than take responsibility for their own actions and confess their sins.
So going back to our passage we find here someone who has been challenged from the Word of God about his actions. Notice he must be challenged from Scripture because it speaks of sin being committed and only Scripture confirms the committing of sin. To make sure no rash judgements have been reached first one or two others are brought in and then the church is made aware. It is fully established that sin has been committed, but the man refuses to repent. The man must therefore be put out of the church. It is important to note here as well that through this three stage process the man has had plenty of time to ponder upon his situation before God and the church and bring his heart to repentance.
The clear implication is that the church is a place of repentance. It is a place where sin is confessed and turned from. Sin against God is repented of and if this sin includes sinning against others then repentance towards the relevant other person(s) is forthcoming. Of course, this flows on from how we enter the church. We enter through repenting. We hear the Word of God which reveals our sin. We cannot become a Christian without repenting. We start living for Christ by repenting and we prove we have new life in Christ by continuing to repent. The world then is filled with self-defence and self-justification, however, the church should be filled with repentance
So the normal approach for the Christian when challenged from the Word about something in their life, which is proven to be sin is to accept, confess and repent. It is on this basis that we experience the forgiveness which flows from Jesus dying on the cross of Calvary. John says and note he says it to Christians that If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness ( I John 1:9).
Repentance and forgiveness should be continually being experienced in church. Of course if these are not happening then we have lost all right to be called the church. An organisation can still take the name of a church, but it has really become a religious version of the world. It is like players in a football match deciding suddenly to catch the ball and run with it. If this happens they can no longer claim they are playing football. So a church which says it is acceptable not to repent of sin loses the right to be called a church.
Associated with this is the Lord Jesus removing Himself from the church. This reality is taught in the passage which follows; Matthew 18:18-20. Here the LORD indicates that if Matthew 18:15-17 is implemented then He is in agreement with it and promises to be with those who do it. Accordingly,we can conclude that if it is not then He withdraws His presence. This is seen in the Laodicean church in Rev. 2:14-22. This church has not repented of its bad ways, so the Lord urges them to do so in v19b. In such a situation he is outside (see Rev. 3:20)
So how is it with us at Feltham Evangelical Church are we a repentance place? Or are we a self-justification and self-defence place. If it is the latter then that is very very serious because we are really no longer a church, but are in fact a, religious version of the world. So let us each examine our hearts and be quick to repent of any sin which occurs in our lives.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church Newsletter of July 2010)
U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry said that it is “a battle between civilization itself and barbarism”. And other leaders have said similar things in the wake of the atrocities in Paris on 13th November. Collectively the West, whether through its politicians or its media, has presented a front of defiance in the wake of the grotesque acts.
This response is fully understandable and in many ways shows an admirable desire not to be intimidated by acts which are plainly evil. However, one note which has not been struck at all, is that of repentance. I don’t think I have heard this from any religious leaders either. No one has deemed it fitting to publicly say that we in the Western world need to consider our ways.
Lets us consider the ways which predominate in our culture:
- God and His Son, are increasing airbrushed from our consciousness. Here is an article about one recent example of how there was no mention of Christianity in Downton Abbey.
- The Word of God is ignored in forming our legislation.
- The law of God is defied in our re-defining of morals. Issues of abortion, same-sex marriage and transgenderism would be example here.
- Those who hold to biblical values are increasingly marginalised and even intimidated.
- Anyone who dares to say that Jesus is the sole Saviour and only way to God open themselves up to opprobrium.
We conclude that God cannot be pleased with these developments, and failure to go in God’s ways always sets on a road to falling under His judgement. Furthermore it is in line with biblical revelation that God used evil entities to bring judgement. The book of Habakkuk dwells upon this theme for example.
So might it not be wise to ponder upon whether there is a message from God in the paris atrocities; a message to our society saying “consider your ways”. And as we do so we need to be led to repent; to turn back to God. Alas we are not hearing anything of that, and I fear that if there is no repentance then we are only storing up more trouble for ourselves.
Here is John McDonnell making his apology last evening for comments made in 2003 concerning the IRA. Here are some thoughts.
- When someone justifies what they said and then go on to apologize for what they said, are they really apologizing? By justifying what he said, “if it contributed towards saving one life” he is saying it was right to say what he said. But then he apologizes which means confessing being wrong. That seems confusing even contradictory to me.
- When apologizing explanation can be given for what was said, but surely we should never justify what we said and then apologise: that is just contradictory.
- Morality and emotions are mixed up. Apologising is about realizing you are wrong, which a moral position, and apologising for what you did or said. But he is apologizing for hurting feelings, which is to do with emotions, which is nothing to do with right and wrong.
- True repentance, as seen in scripture is a confessing wrong towards God and/or another. We see it demonstrated in the prodigal son when he returned to his father. We read ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” (Luke 15:21). He does not say “Father I am sorry I hurt your feelings.”
- I am concerned that my children know what is right and wrong. Accordingly, I correct what is wrong. In doing so i continually hurt their feelings. Should I then be apologising to them all the time?!?!
- This all perhaps reflects upon a society which has lost its bearings concerning right and wrong. A biblically informed society, and such should be found in our churches, is governed by the fundamental call to love righteousness and hate iniquity. We are in a society which increasingly does not know what is right and wrong. If it feels good and does not hurt anyone, now defines what is good or bad behavior. When our measures of behavior are based on emotional assessments we are in a big predicament.
- How we need to make sure we hold to the true standards of God as revealed in scripture. And repent when we break these standards. and say sorry to God with true broken-heartedness. And say sorry to others when we have offended against them and seek their forgiveness.
- This point may be harsh, but I also wonder if there is a bit of the Blairite “show emotion in the right place and it will persuade people” syndrome. I am a bit suspicious that twelve years later for political convenience, a bit of emotion is introduced in order to make a good impression. I am perhaps a bit cynical here, but I am left wondering.
- We must be careful how we present ourselves when we are truly apologising, but let our presentation be genuine.
I have previously written on this subject here.
On October 31st 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of All Saints Church in Wittenberg. From this happening flowed the great transformation of the church, as the gospel returned to the forefront of church life in so many places. It is interesting to observe how the document starts:-
Out of love and concern for the truth, and with the object of eliciting it, the following heads will be the subject of a public discussion at Wittenberg under the presidency of the reverend father, Martin Luther, Augustinian, Master of Arts and Sacred Theology, and duly appointed Lecturer on these subjects in that place. He requests that whoever cannot be present personally to debate the matter orally will do so in absence in writing.
- When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
It is interesting to observe that the first thesis is about repentance. We seem to lack an emphasis on repentance in the church today. Perhaps we might start to see a similar transformation in the church today as happened five hundred years ago when conviction of sin, and repentance once again grip the church.