A Voice in the
Re: Repent & Believe
"To this One all the Prophets witness, so that through His name everyone believing into Him will receive remission of sins." (Acts10:43)
"..they..glorified God, saying, Then God also has granted to the nations repentance unto life." (Acts11:18)
"..as I kept nothing back of what is profitable...earnestly testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts20:20-21)
We often talk about "repentance". We speak of the necessity of it for salvation. We periodically notice that some proclaim that repentance is NOT NECESSARY. And when we proclaim the NEED for repentance, some object strongly to such words, saying that it is "sola fide" that the "church fathers" proclaimed. Faith alone...nothing else. And they 'support' their view by explaining how John's Gospel doesn't once mention repentance, and that Paul and Silas said, "believe...and you shall be saved..." (Acts16:31) ...not "repent".
We've covered this many times, but let's review again. When Paul is making a point of reviewing the main points, when he says 'what' it was that he had been proclaiming, keeping "nothing back", it was "repentance..and faith". However, Peter is -only- preaching "believing" into Jesus to receive remission. And as the true "Church fathers" are talking about what just happened with Cornelius, analyzing the fact that non-Jews were also being saved, they speak of "repentance unto life". So... which is it?
It's the complete package. Faith is meaningless if a person has not repented. But repentance is also futile unless one receives the free gift of salvation which Jesus offers. (Jn1:12, Eph2:8)
So, is it wrong to preach "believe and be saved"? No. As long as "repentance" is also in the arsenal of in-depth explanation. Were John and Jesus wrong in preaching "repent...for the kingdom of heaven" is here? No. Because they also proclaimed Faith.
It's somewhat like a "pickup truck". The full terminology for the vehicle is a "pickup truck". However, on some occasions a person will talk about getting in their "pickup" to go somewhere. Or, that they need to load their "truck". Both expressions refer to the same vehicle.
In the same way, salvation is via "repentance and faith". But sometimes a person may refer to "repentance". Other times, to "faith". But it must be remembered that the two belong together, just like an icecream cone consists of the "ice cream" -AND- the "cone".
I don't know that I've ever heard a person who proclaims "repentance" deny the need for "faith". But there ARE -many- who proclaim "faith" WITHOUT "repentance". This latter is the error we expose periodically.
Jesus commanded to preach, "repentance and remission of sins preached on His name" (Lk24:47) You can get to faith from repentance. But repentance is well-nigh impossible if approached from "sola fide". That's why Jesus said the repentant one, crying for "mercy", was the one who went home justified. (Lk18:13-14) Once repentance is achieved, it is 'easy' to receive the "gift". But if a person only wants the gift, it doesn't mean he has humbled himself before God. (Jas4:10)
Just a brief note on Faith and Believing. Above, Acts10:43 was quoted from the LITV "..believing into Him..." Since I've been reading LITV regularly, I've also been using this expression when communicating with people, and a couple times the person has retorted back with words something like "believing -INTO- Christ...or whatever strange doctrine you are promoting.." You see, most translations say, "believes in Him." But if you look up the lexicon, you will see "into, unto, toward", etc. "In" is not one of the options.
What -KIND- of Faith is this? To merely "believe in" Jesus is no better than satan and his demons. They "believe and shudder" (Jas2:19) Saving Faith is a faith which results in a "New Birth". (Jn3:3) The person is "transformed by the renewing of your mind". (Rom12:2) The person is a "new creation" by virtue of being "In Christ" (2Cor5:17) The Holy Spirit comes to dwell (Rom8:9) and so the relationship is one in which Christ is "in you". (Col1:27) The Believer becomes part of that "oneness" with the Father and Jesus Christ. (Jn17)
Saving faith does not merely believe in the -existence- of something called "Salvation". No. It is a "joining" -with- Christ. (Rom6:5) When Jesus stands at the door knocking, wanting entrance (Rev3:20) it is an "occupation"..."dwelling". People speak of "going INTO business" or going "into" marriage. Everything about the person is devoted to this thing.
Thus, "believing INTO Jesus" is a total life commitment. "..old things have passed away, all things have become new.." (2Cor5:17)
Re: Repenting... not suggesting
"And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against Heaven and before you, and no longer am I worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his slaves, Bring out the best robe and clothe him, and give a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet...and they began to be merry." (Lk15:21-24)
Notice a little word in this passage. "But". I think it's safe to say that we don't usually see that word as we read along in this story of the "prodigal son". But why is the word "but" used there, instead of "and"?
Consider that the son has been in a distant country, far away from home, squandering his inheritance. And then he hits rock bottom. No money left. Famine. He is going naked and hungry, and is reduced to -desiring- pig food. For a Jew, to eat pig's food would be about as low as one could get, since pigs were "unclean" and detestable.
He comes to his senses and sees his predicament. Decides to go home and repent. And notice the 'speech' he plans; I have sinned, I'm not worthy to be called your son, make me as one of your hired servants. As he goes home, he is planning to 1) confess his guilt, 2) acknowledge his unworthiness, and 3) suggest his new status.
The father RUNS to meet the son. The son gets through #1 & #2, and before the son can continue on to #3... "-BUT-" The son considers his just deserts to be as a slave -BUT- instead, receives royal treatment.
There are two things for us to consider from this at this time. First of all, the son was coming in repentance. But he was also making "suggestions" as to what his fate should be. On one hand, he had come from honor and was reduced to nothing. In his mind he felt that "servanthood" was a low place. But actually, he deserved even less. In his dire straights he is reminiscing 'how good' his father's servants have it. He deserved exactly what he had... nothing, along with the pigs. He was not even worthy to be 'as high' as his father's servants. So, father, I'll 'settle for' being like one of your servants.
Society today is much like this prodigal son. A person commits murder, and is sentenced to 20yrs or life in prison. That "isn't fair"! That's such a harsh sentence! Well, how "fair" is it for the person he killed? They are DEAD! Recent news has told of some youths expelled from school for fighting in the stands at a sports event. There is no question as to "who" was doing "what". But a big ruckus erupted over the "harsh" sentence handed down in expelling them from school. A youth vandalises property at great cost to the owners. They are "grounded" for a month, and don't have to pay compensation. Oh, a "whole month" of being grounded is "so harsh". The parents are so "unfair"! The person doing the wrong... also commentating on their -own- punishment.
People come to God this way. I know I've done some bad things, but I'm basically a good person, so won't you let me -have-...? Yes, God, I'm coming to You... now -give-me-...!
There is no understanding of one's true position, being in the pig slop! NOT deserving ANYTHING! God's servants, the angels, would be insulted at the suggestion that we could maybe be 'like them'! In reality we are like a fresh new-born, uncared for, squirming in the afterbirth. (Eze16:6) Rotting away like a smelly "menstruous cloth" (Is64:6)
Fortunately, God knows that we don't fully understand our true state. His mercy comes "running" to us because "He delights in grace".(Mic7:18) He sees us in our true state, squirming in our afterbirth blood and says, "Live!" This is the true state you are in.. -BUT- .."there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner repenting." (Lk15:10) The sinner deserves nothing, -BUT- God's love rebirths us into "sons of God". (Jn3:3, Gal3:26) And while our human minds cannot conceive of our just deserts, nor of what we -think- we might be worthy of after repentance...
"Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, nor has it risen up into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those that love Him." (1Cor2:9, Isa64:4)