08 November 2007

The fruits of repentance

by Dan Phillips

The subject of repentance could be approached from many angles. Today, let's just focus on the Baptist's words: "Bear fruits in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8a).

That's how the ESV has it. The Greek ποιήσατε οὖν καρποὺς ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας (poiēsate oun karpous axious tēs metanoias), more woodenly, would be "Make, therefore, fruits worthy of repentance." The phrase ἀξίους τῆς μετανοίας (axious tēs metanoias) is variously rendered:
  • "worthy of repentance" (KJV, NKJ)
  • "consistent with repentance" (CSB)
  • "in keeping with repentance" (NAS, NIV [surprising pairing], ESV, NJB, MLB)
  • "that proves your repentance" (NET)
  • "that answer to your repentance" (Moffatt)
  • "as evidence of your repentance" (NAB).
  • The NLT goes all paraphrasey (surprise!), with "Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God," and...
  • ...so does J. B. Phillips (no relation): "See that your lives prove that your hearts are really changed!"
So, whatever repentance is in itself (—and I would argue that it is a transformative change of mind ["root and branch," Treebeard might say], as opposed to a mere shift in opinion), we know this: true repentance is productive. The claim to repentance in itself means little; fruit is what balances the scales and indicates reality. Fruitless repentance is a vapor.

But from the fact that John issues the imperative {"Bear fruits!"), I deduce that the fruits may not appear instantaneously nor automatically. John appeals to their wills. The prophet calls them — he commands them — to bear fruit answerable to the repentance they claim to have in their hearts. "If you have genuinely repented, as this baptism signifies," says John, "then prove it. Show visible evidence for this invisible quality."

Nor does the New Covenant obviate the parenetic imperative. In English, I mean that Acts 26:20 says that even in these days of grace we still have to tell people to produce fruit answerable to the repentance they claim to have.

Calvin, in his commentary, says that "the repentance, which is attested by words, is of no value, unless it be proved by the conduct." Similarly, Alexander Maclaren comments,
Repentance is more than sorrow for sin. Many a man has that, and yet rushes again into the old mire. To change the mind and will is not enough, unless the change is certified to be real by deeds corresponding.
As a younger Christian, I'd been taught that repentance was proper only for Jews. This is nonsense, of course; Paul preached as John did (Acts 17:30; 26:20).

At minimum, then, we have to say that repentance that is not visible is dubious at best. Repentance may or may not be a work; but genuine repentance produces works.

Let's imagine, then, a scenario.

A professedly Christian man (Bud) is infuriated with his longtime best Christian friend (John). John's crime? He is learning from the Bible, he shares what he learns, and he tries to practice it. For the sake of the illustration, we'll stipulate that John isn't doing anything obnoxious. He's just being a growing Christian who's trying to walk his talk.

But our professor isn't reading his Bible much, and he isn't growing. Accordingly, sins are starting to take root, the flesh is flexing its rotting muscles — and the mere fact of John's practicing the Biblical faith that Bud claims to have is sand in his speedos. It makes Bud feel bad and, he thinks, makes him look bad. It points up Bud's own sins and failings

So finally Bud tells John that, if he doesn't quit this pious garbage, he won't be his friend anymore.

John is stunned. He prays for Bud, he reasons with Bud; he bears with him, pleads with him, does everything he can to reach out to him in God's name. But Bud is increasingly proud, arrogant, resistant. He digs in his heels. He calls John a legalist and a Pharisee. Bud sneers that he's come to a much higher plan of Spirit-led Christianity, and doesn't need John's book-religion. He stops reading his Bible, he stops going to church; yet he insists that he is not only still a Christian, but a much better one than John.

John is completely sucker-punched.

Then one day, Bud shows up wearing a new T-shirt. It bears John's face on the front — with a
big red circle around his likeness, and a slash through the circle.

Bud wears the T-shirt everywhere. Unbelievers they've both talked to about Christ see this picture. Slanderous lies start spreading about John, which Bud does nothing to counter. John is deeply hurt. But John can think of nothing to do but bear the pain and the shame, and pray for his friend.

Fast-forward a few months. Bud shows up at John's door. Tersely and unexpectedly, he tells John that what he did was a sin, and he's sorry for the pain it caused John. He wants to be friends again. John is startled, happy, and cautiously hopeful. He starts thinking glad thoughts about their restored friendship.

Just one thing puzzles him.

Bud is still wearing the T-shirt.

But John is gracious and patient, and figures things can take time. Repentance is a process.

Bud starts wanting to get together, again and again. He acts as if nothing happened. But he's always wearing the T-shirt.

So, reluctantly, John brings it up. Bud retorts that John really made him mad with how John handled the whole Bible-reading thing. John's puzzled — did Bud think he'd sinned? Yes, Bud says stiffly. Does Bud regret what he'd done? Would he do it again?

Now Bud begins to dither and hesitate and double-talk. He won't say "No." He won't utterly disown and kill his sin. And the T-shirt stays — the T-shirt Bud created and donned only because of Bud's sin.

So, has Bud repented?

Here's the thing: sin is born of pride, and begets more pride (Psalm 10:4; Proverbs 16:18; 21:4). We sin because we're proud; our pride moves us to cling to our sin; our pride will try all it can to stay on the throne. It's a deadly cycle. Even if we are forced to admit that (technically) our sin is sin, pride will still find a way to make it a special sin, will want to qualify, extenuate, excuse, temporize, and rationalize. Pride will not nobly commit seppuku, like a shamed Samurai. It wants to live, whatever the cost to its host-organism.

If our sin is to die, our pride must die.

And that's where the fruits accompanying repentance come in. The repentant person begs forgiveness of the wronged party, makes no excuses for his kill-Christ sin, leaves it no "wiggle-room." He sets out to make his wrongs right. He does not dictate terms to the wronged party, but invites terms, asks what he can do. He humbles himself.

The fruits of repentance set out to burn bridges to sin, and to right wrongs. We have been overcome by our own evil; now we seek to overcome our own evil with good (cf. Romans 12:21). The purpose of these fruits is
both to signal that the pride/sin complex has died, and deal death to it. The fruits of repentance pour Roundup on the weeds of pride, so that the sin and all its survival mechanisms will die.

So that we can live.

"Be killing sin or it will be killing you" (John Owen)

Dan Phillips's signature

79 comments:

DJP said...

Meta-request: remember, it's about repentance and killing sin. The analogy is an analogy, not Thucydides. Let's not get into the fifty-eight things you think John could have done differently.

GOODNIGHTSAFEHOME said...

I agree. I think it was Thomas Watson who said of repentance that the Christian's arrow might fall short, but at least he aims straight.

Tyler said...

I really really like that analogy. Can we be; like, best friends Dan?

DJP said...

You already have the T-shirt, don't you, Tyler?

Everyday Mommy said...

Great post, Dan. It seems to illustrate the difference between merely covering sin (Bud) and removing sin (John).

When we moved into our current home there was quite a bit of updating to be done. The hardwood floors were a mess. For awhile, we simply covered a particularly troublesome spot with an area rug. To our guests everything seemed fine. They didn't know about the spot under the rug. But, we knew. And, the only way to truly deal with it was to remove those floor boards, prepare the area and replace them with brand new boards.

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Johnny Dialectic said...

That's a terrific illustration, Dan. And a great Owen quote.

The imperative you write about is also behind the many warnings in Hebrews, esp. ch. 10. We need to "spur" one another on toward love and good deeds, because deliberate sin after saving knowledge leads to disaster.

But how do you expect to draw any crowds with this message? You're not very pragmatic these days.

Benjamin Nitu said...

We are saved by faith alone, but this faith never comes alone.

Maybe, however, it is not as easy as giving up a t-shirt. As Christians, I think we struggle with a lot of "t-shirts" that have to be removed.
Jesus' message to the churches (Rev.2&3) always ends is "Repent!".

I think true repentance in the biblical sense has 2 parts:
1)Conviction of sin and regret for what one has done.
2)Making it right with God and others.

I think Judas is the perfect example of HR (half repenter :)). He only regretted what he did but did not try to make it right with God. Or another example is Bud (he should also repent for his name :))

A good example for a TR (true repenter) is Saul of Tarsus. Talk about a dramatic change.

DJP said...

Mommy, your analogy's better. And shorter.

I'll rewrite the post.

(c:

DJP said...

JohnnyBut how do you expect to draw any crowds with this message? You're not very pragmatic these days.

I'm trying to please the people who think I shouldn't try to please people.

Everyday Mommy said...

Dan:

A plethora of Scriptural lessons to be had in remodeling a home ;)

One of them being, "If the foundation is out of plumb, the entire home will be also."

jules

Stefan said...

Not to mention the admonition not to build on sand! ;)

...Oh, and even paying an honest price for land you build on (e.g., David for the threshing floor at the end of 2 Samuel).

Gee, you folks have me thinking in nothing but analogies suddenly!

Johnny Dialectic said...

Good job then. I'm pleased.

SolaMeanie said...

If one of the mottos of the Reformation is "Always Reforming," perhaps we should add another. "Always Repenting."

I think this would go well with John MacArthur's sermon "Hewing Agag to Pieces."

DJP said...

How timely, Sol! You mind me of Dr. Luther's very first thesis:

"When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said 'Repent,' He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance."

Libbie said...

For some reason, meanie, I misread you and thought "Why would anyone want 'Hewing Agag to pieces' as a motto?"

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Yes, this was a great post! And Bud certainly had so much pride that he didn't repent, let alone show the "fruits" of repentance.

But I wanted to focus on the part of the post before the John and Bud analogy. I want look at the "fruit" test.

Who judges the fruit? God? Other people? Other "Christians"? Other non-Christians? Should this "fruit" be prominently and visibly displayed so that others may judge this Christian as bearing fruit? Should s/he let others see how many "good" deeds s/he has done, so that others can then proclaim on his/her behalf that s/he has borne good fruit?

Should folks quietly whisper to others: "I served at the soup kitchen the last 3 months. I took toys to Angel Tree. The last 2 years I went on a short term missions trip to Kenya. I lead a bible study for teens. God is really doing a wonderful thing in my life."

Bud showed pride. But there can be a dangerous pride in wanting others to recognize your fruits too.

Lastly, if permissible, I'd like to adapt and cross-post a comment from Dan Phillips blog that speaks to the issue of fruit.

In other words, for every example he [Jonathan Edwards] could think of for a display of spiritual fruit, he knew someone who had fallen away who had once seemed to manifest it. Being the logical thinker he was, I imagine the process he went through something like this:

1. Scripture teaches that those born of the Holy Spirit display love, joy, peace, a long-suffering spirit, and etc.

2. You must have these fruits if you are truly regenerate.

3. You must persevere in these or it isn't genuine.

4. I've known guys who manifested this and fell away.

5. Therefore, I am not certain that you can be certain of salvation if you manifest these things, even though you must have them in order to be assured.

He[Edwards] spent so much time on this fruit inspection that he forgot that our assurance does not rest in our fruit. Someone who is doubting salvation needs to be reminded of the promises of God that are ours in Christ, especially if they are "bruised reed" doubters and not simply unruly. Obsessive internal examination done without the light of Christ's gracious promises leads to a long night of spiritual darkness.

DJP said...

Truth, to make a beginning of an answer:

If you're talking about repentance of a sin that only directly affects God (let's keep it simple by making it that categorical), then I think there's no imperative to go around telling people. In fact, that could be positively harmful (cf. Psalm 73:15).

If however he wrongs a person with that person's knowledge (i.e. as opposed to thinking bad thoughts about him), I think the principle of Exodus 21:1f. should apply. He should do his best to restore, with interest.

DJP said...

That'd make a cool dodge though, wouldn't it? "I'd love to try to make it up to you, dude... but I'm afraid it'd make me proud!"

(c;

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

DJP,

I agree. I think we may be using a term, "fruit", which is too broad. There are different types of fruit. Your post is discussing the "fruits of repentance". Whereas I was referring to "fruits" in general. We may be inadvertently talking past each other.

My bad.

DJP said...

Oh, I understand. I'm using it because John and Paul use it (not sure about George and Ringo) (sorry). It's a category-confusion to think Galatians 5:22f. in this direct of an application.

mark said...

thanks for the timely word. i'm smack in the middle of such a presicament that all i came across today in my reading is that when we turn back from evil we honor God. I wanted to, so i did. now, can we elucidate the idea further - that of killing sin, or the pride, or the self, or whatnot. it keeps "crawling off the altar" before the knife strikes

DJP said...

There you go. Mark, I'm trying unsuccessfully to think of another analogy that describes how pride begets sin, which begets pride -- and thus why simply dealing with the individual sin as a discrete entity is not all it takes.

Benjamin Nitu said...

Truth Unites... and Divides

I think Spurgeon also said that the proof of faith is perseverance.
I think Edwards and Spurgeon are not talking so much about the "internal examinations".
I don't think they were trying to answer: "How do I know if I'm saved" question.
I rather think they were answering the "How do I know that someone else is saved" question.

Paul said...

If someone is genuinely sorry about their behavior because it was first and foremost displeasing and offensive to God; then they are heading in the right direction.

Otherwise it is simply prideful remorse because we are only concerned about the consequences of our actions [and not the actions itself].

DJP said...

Right. Cain complaining "My punishment is greater than I can bear" was not a repentant man.

lordodamanor said...

John told who to bring forth fruits of repentance? It was the workers of the law whose lives were a practice of righteousness, right?

So, what then did John mean? It could not have meant to quite sinning against your neighbor, these men were pros at not doing that. And if it was not a call to stopping doing sins, what does repentance mean? At least as directed to the workers of the Law.

To the rest, who must have been confused at this, when they asked what should we do, then John says do this and don't do that.

Repentance then is something altogether not just doing and not doing but includes them. And I think that the answer lays in an old meaning of the Hebrew word for repentance, which means to rest. It means, to cease, to quit trying to please God. And I think that it goes along with what we are being taught about faith, and that is that for God's people there remains a rest that they enter into.

It is not passive alone, but is a rest in works prepared for us to walk in. To this we must add Paul's directions not to appeal to the outward as a determination of a persons salvation, but each man should judge his own works to see if he is in the faith. And, we also need to keep in mind Paul's view of himself as unable to repent. "For the very thing that I want to do, that very thing, I cannot do..." To that Paul would add that pride is not the source of sinning, but it is a sin that is produced by another principle working in us, which is a sin nature. We attack then the sins by killing pride through repentance, which means that we put it to death by the Spirit through the discipline of the Word, any notion that we are the workers of our own righteousness. If we attempt to put to death pride by the law, Paul warns us that sin will make opportunity of it and put us to death bringing forth all manners of sinning through the weakness of our flesh, that is the sin nature.

A quick look at this is David. Who, although he repented, he died an adulterer, still married to the fruits of his affections, his sin, Bathsheba. How is it then he could be called a man after God's own heart? God further declare's that it is not David who will build the house of God, but his son. And we know him to be Jesus, the owner, architect, builder and finisher of his own house. And, he came forth from the adulterous womb, He the righteous fruit, out of man, who was himself sinful.

Jesse P. said...

Excellent post. Very relevant for me personally. Thanks.

Hadassah said...

Sorry lordodamanor, I'm not sure I quite understood the point you were trying to make. But I gotta defend Bathsheba. She's a significant figure in my life. I know that she and David were adulterers, but they did repent, and God calls Bathsheba David's wife after their son was killed in judgment for David's sin. So maybe I missed what you were trying to say there, but it sounded to me like there was still a condemnation of them? "He died an adulterer"

Also, I have always thought it was a profound statement for God to make Bathsheba the mother of Solomon instead of one of David's other, and many other, wives. And yes, Jesus is ultimately the Son of David who built the temple, but it was Bathsheba's son Solomon that literally built the temple.

A most amazing picture of grace, in my opinion. And to stay relevant to the topic at hand, a grace that was only possible because God sent Nathan to confront David, leading to total and sincere repentance on David's part.

mark said...

Thanks all for your enlightening posts. while the Lord has promised (and bought) us victory, the skirmishes with sin are reminiscent of Oliver Stone's "Platoon" (i just rehashed the dvd) where firefights are seldom clean and simple. i appreciate the last line on killing sin as an active, progressive fight. the site is very engaging. i'm glad to have stumbled across it.

stratagem said...

Great post! Great reminder for me!

Also, the very message that the modern, me-centered, liberal church culture needs to hear.

Thank you.

lordodamanor said...

Oh, I agree with you Had. We do serve a God who declares things that are not as though they were. I surely do not think that David and Bathesheba were condemned, for it seems very clear when we look at Bathseba' intervention in the placing of Solomon on the throne, that she was a yielding instrument of righteousness, also as David was. My point was this. David's repentance does and does not have a visible counterpart in the eyes of men. He is a man after God's own heart, not a man after his own. He is in otherwords what God declared him to be. And, that does not legitimate the active sin in his life, it rather condemns it, but further, it condemns man's attempts to reconcile man with God.

Pride is that tricksty thing, a deceiver, convincing us that what we do has an effect on who God is, and we follow it because our nature is to do so. As Elihu says, perhaps a man will find an intecessor, and we know only one mediator, Christ Jesus, who is all things towards us on God's behalf. Our pride displaces God declaration of what is good and what is evil. Truly, and I thought that I did this, God chose, to bring through the lineage of sinful Israel, represented by Bathsheba, and later Mary, out of the womb of sin, he brought forth righteousness. To man that is contradiction. But to him, who calls things that are not as though the were, it is his sovereign act of creation. So, I am sorry, if I confused you. I did not mean to displace the grace of God, but rather to exalt his grace.

David died in this manner, unable to comfort himself and unable to be comforted by others. Yet, the Scripture calls him a son of God who rested with his fathers, a man after God's own heart. It was in Christ and Christ alone that he found rest and comfort for it is God alone who sends forth the Comforter.

When we repent, fruits are not immediately visible and the Scripture admonishes us to grow in them, but they are the fruit of the Spirit and not our labor. Each kind brings forth fruit of its own kind in keeping with the order of creation. Sin to sin, righteousness to righteousness, and a evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit, but as John says, we cannot sin, because his Seed remains in us. He also says that we have sin, just as Paul did, and to deny that is to deny God. So we see both working and as our confession says, the remnant of sin continues to plague us and sometimes it is so over powering, that for lenghthy season, the fruits may not be visible at all. However, he is faithful, to restore us, and this should not tend toward our complacency but rather to out diligence. This Paul addressed to Timothy in saying that practical exercise profits little, but godliness in everyway. It is not that we are not to do the first, instead we must under commandment, but it is the second, our Faith, which is where we find rest, and bear fruit, not in the former.

If you want another example, Abraham had many concubines and sons beside Haggar's, Sarah's, and Ketura's, so even in the end of his life he bore the mark of Adam, yet, he is called the father of the faithful, (an interesting play on Isaiah 9.6' Father of the Everlasting) because he believed God and it was imputed to him as righteousness.

But, this is not my blog as Cent made clear, it belongs to these wonderful men, filled with the Holy Spirit, gifted by him for ministry, and I am but a long winded bufoon filled with pride who has not learned yet that in a multitude of words evil is not lacking.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Please forgive me if this is an off-topic post, but with all this discussion of David and Bathsheba, I have to ask something that's been kinda bugging me.

(1) I kinda feel sorry for David and Bathsheba's baby.

(2) Remember when David did another thing that displeased God. (I think it was the census). And David had to choose among 3 judgements. And the one that he chose resulted in the deaths of thousands of Israelites. And he cried out to the Lord that he should be punished, and not these "innocent" Israelites.

(3) The ark-holder who kept the ark from hitting the ground was struck dead for touching the ark. David was bummed about that. What was the proper thing to do? To let the ark hit the ground and possibly get damaged?

Never ever does this redeemed sinner with a finite brain ever want to question the Triune God... yet can't I just admit that I don't get some things?

Stefan said...

Mark:

I like the imagery of "crawling off the altar." Through a process of straying and and surprisingly swift chastisement,* I'm beginning to think of it as "straying off the narrow path." But I think we're both talking about the same thing.

* Seriously. The Lord isn't cutting me any slack these days! And that's a good thing.

wallyworld said...

how does repentance relate to sanctification? i mean is it possible to turn from a sin and still have to fight to kill it? i feel as though repentance is a deliberate one time act toward a particular sin, but sanctification is the slow process of killing that sin. agree?

Stefan said...

Re my comment to Mark:

...Or maybe we're talking about different things in our metaphors. But straying, chastisement, and repentance seems to be a dominant motif in the lives of believers—it's surely not a coincidence that it's also such a dominant biblical motif (see Judges, etc.)!

SolaMeanie said...

Libbie,

Thanks for the chuckle. But now that I think of it, perhaps that wouldn't be such a bad motto. I can think of lots of Agags that need hewing badly.

As an aside, every time I see the latest product from Brian McLaren and his band of merry men, I find myself having to restrain my Agag reflex. It ain't easy.

~Mark said...

Post of the week!!

DJP said...

Truth — well, I do have some instant help for #3. What they SHOULD have done is CARRY the ark, as Yahweh had commanded them to do (Exodus 25:14; 37:5). Then it wouldn't have been on a cart in the first place.

Hadassah said...

truth unites-I think those are excellent questions and worth asking. I have found that some of my best growth has come from wrestling with God over questions very similar to those. Sometimes I find solid easy answers, sometimes I just rest in the fact that His ways are higher than mine, and I can't discern them.

Your third question has an solid answer. If you will look at Exodus 25:10-16 and Numbers 4:5, you will see that God had given the Israelites explicit instructions on how to move the ark. When Uzziah was struck dead, they were attempting to move the ark in a manner other than the one God had commanded. If they had been following instructions, the ark would not have been in danger of falling, and Uzziah would not have reached out to touch it.

God is serious when he gives commands. His holiness demanded that Uzziah, even though you could argue that he had good intentions, be killed.

I'll leave the other two questions for someone smarter than I am. I'd actually love to hear some answers.

centuri0n said...

I repent of derailing Dan's meta.

DJP said...

...and I see the fruit!

Jerry said...

Let your lives, then, prove your repentance; - Twentieth Century New Testament (TCNT)

stratagem said...

I think perhaps Uzziah was struck dead because he took things into his own hands and deprived God of the opportunity to stop the ark from falling, on his own.

Or, maybe Uzziah only caught it because he wanted the glory of being known as the guy who saved the ark?

The possibilities are endless.

Short Thoughts said...

I do not speak up here very often at all. However, I want to give a word of thanks and encouragement to you Dan where it is due. Particularly, with posts like these you minister to my heart and life. I am sure there are other that would testify to the same. Thanks.

David said...

Thank you for the excellent post.

Wally:
Sanctification is not the killing of sin. Jesus did that. We are putting to death our earthly members (Col. 3:1->) so that we are dead to sin. And this is something that we grow in as we practice it.

northWord said...

..."and the mere fact of John's practicing the Biblical faith that Bud claims to have is sand in his speedos."

*snort*

oh this is good, very very good...
...(continues reading after short guffaw)

lordodamanor said...

I agree with stratagem. The Ark represents God's finished work, and it is hands off.

It is an appropriate example for repentance though, since it is a gift. I contains, the law, (Truth) the manna (Word of Life) as well as the Rod that budded, or if I might, the Cross which is the Way. This Ark of the Covenant coated in gold with a heart of wood, two natures in one, with a solid gold lid the authority of God who is the Head, even of Christ.

There is for us a proper way to carry the Covenant which cannot fail. And I believe that it was upon that idea, that Uzzy was struck down. Hope to see him in heaven some day to share how many times I have done the same thing.

The original post I thought was more to the point that it is not that a man fails when honestly repenting, but makes a mockery of it by brazenly continuing in the opposite direction while shouting apologies over his shoulder.

Chris said...

Hi. My name's John, and once in a while, I see something that reminds me of my old freind(s) Bud. Today was such a time.

I miss him/her/them.

:(

Kristine said...

Golly that was good.

northWord said...

"our pride will try all it can to stay on the throne."

"He does not dictate terms to the wronged party, but invites terms, asks what he can do. He humbles himself."

"The fruits of repentance pour Roundup on the weeds of pride, so that the sin and all its survival mechanisms will die."

"So that we can live."

What a brilliant analogy, and all around post, Dan!!!
pride really is at the root of all that is agin Christ..

(does Fruit Of The Loom make Speedo's per chance?)
;p

DJP said...

Thanks, Northword. Nice to know someone caught it. (I colored up a bland metaphor.)

DJP said...

(I was referring to your appreciation of the sandy speedos, Northword)

northWord said...

Ironically, today in a Christian Apologetics group discussion I had need to defend where I get my "teachings" and after I stated that after looking to the great Teacher, the Holy Spirit through the Bible, that there are some really great men (and women) I have read, I named several (a partial list)that included Piper, MacArthur, Spurgeon...Phil, I included you on that list as well, with good reason.

(I love Frank's stuff too!)

/edit - haha, I knew that, Dan, and I sooo relate to that, and all of this really, because of "conversations" I am involved in with many ahem - "Christians".. sigh.

SolaMeanie said...

When someone begins discussing sandy speedos, it's going to be a very bad day.

I'll have to listen to an Al Stewart CD on the way home to expurgate it from my mind.

Thanks to the whole lot of you! :<

Stefan said...

Truth Unites...and Divides:

I hear you on your question 1. The Lord will demand justice, often in ways that make no sense to us. But in His grace, consider who their second son was, conceived in the midst of their grief over the loss of their first son: Solomon, who when promised anything his heart desired by the Lord, asked only for discernment!

Question 2. As it happens, I was reading the story of the census just last night. Alas, any of the three choices would have resulted in loss of life. Imagine what three years of famine would have done in an ancient agrarian society. And if David had to flee the capital once again, being pursued by his enemies, who knows how many would have died as the land was being laid waist? I'm thinking David chose the pestilence because at least it would be over and done with in a short amount of time. But it is troubling that the corporate body had to suffer for the sin of its king. (And dumb question, but what exactly was his sin? Not trusting that God would provide in times of duress as need be, and instead trying to reassure himself that he had sufficient human forces to quell any opposition?)

David said...

Actually Johnny D, Dan is being very pragmatic and actually soft pedals the passage.

if Dan was really going to lay it out like John did, he would of started with

Luke 3:7 So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, "You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?

and finished with

Luke 3:9 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."

and then for good measure John lays bare some of the sins that his listeners were engaging in and has the temerity to directly confront them. Dan, sadly, passes on that opportunity.

DJP said...

I must commit seppuku.

SolaMeanie said...

Dan,

If you do that, how will you repent of it? The last time I checked, Japanese ritual disembowelment is a bit hard to just bounce back from.

DJP said...

Depends on how you do it.

Rob Willmann said...

It's amazing how that word "repentance" can polarize people.

I am the evangelism director at our church. I schedule people to go out and do street evangelism, outreach, one-on-one, etc.

Recently, a woman who joined our evangelism team went out with us to go door to door. She'd given us documentation that she'd recently gone through an evangelism program at another local church which is usually fairly solid.

Once she went out with us a time or two to share the Gospel, I noticed that repentance was absent from the messase she was sharing.

I confronted her about this at a later time, and she basically accused me of adding to the Gospel. She said that if I included repentance in the Gospel, I was preaching works. HUH?

I asked the pastor of my church to meet with me, and two other members of the evangelism team, one of which was this woman (Let's call her Saphira.) The purpose was to make sure we were ALL in agreement as to what the true Gospel really is and isn't.


Well, Saphira essentially told the pastor in the hour long meeting we had that the gospel message that I was presenting was adding works to the situation.

The pastor asked me for my take on salvation, which I explained to him included repentance, based on numberous scripture references.

He then asked Saphira to go through her gospel presentation that she'd made. The pastor role-played someone who was unsaved, and questioned many of the points she brought up.

Eventually she got stumped when she got to the "T" part of her presentation. (The presentation was a heavily modified version of the F-A-I-T-H presentation, where F stands for Forgiveness, A = Available, I = Impossible, T = Turn, and H = Heaven).

Well, when Saphira got to the "T" part, according to the book she used, T stands for Turn from Sin, or to repent. However, she had modified the presentation, and didn't use the word repent, and had a weak definition of what turning means.

So the pastor went along with this and roleplayed someone who really didn't understand the need to confess their sin.

It was obvious that if she would have used Luke 13:3, or Acts 2, then she would have explained repentance, and how the person needed to forsake all, and make Christ first, not just add Him to our life.

She couldn't bring herself to say that, so the pastor stopped her presentation, pointed out the error, and how repentence indeed was part of salvation, and how Saphira was only presenting a partial Gospel message.

Well, this did not go over well, because Saphira then came out and stated that she had made multiple converts at her apartment complex, and many of these people were saved. They were then coming back to Saphira to ask her questions. She brought up the point that none of them wanted to come to church.

My pastor then asked Saphira if she had really studied the FAITH message and evangelism material that she'd learned at another church. Saphira said yes, but she had only answered the questions correctly on the test about repentance so that she could pass the course, but she would not talk to converts about repentance.

The pastor was taken aback by this, and stated that Saphira did not need to be representing our church on evangelistic outreach events if she could not give the WHOLE Gospel.

My pastor, with all the tact he could muster, pointed out that Saphira could not save anyone, that she was placing herself in the place of the Holy Spirit, and that she needed to do some soul searching. He then asked her that if these people that had made a "decision for Jesus" were true converts, why did they all hate going to church, and none of them were attending anywhere at all.

Well, at this point, he recommended to Saphira that she needed to do some soul searching, and the meeting ended, with the pastor recommending that Saphira get Christian counselling from someone else, because it was obvious that she was not listening to him.

Once the meeting ended it was time for the evening service to start. We prayed for unity, and left for the service.

The pastor preached a great message from Nehemiah 13, and after the service, there was a voicemail message left from Saphira stating that she was withdrawing from the church membership, and would not be back.

So, in a nutshell, the pastor and I stood on the truth of God's word, and discipline was enacted, and the evangelism team is one person less.

It's a shame that it had to come to this, but I totally agree with what happened. Easy believism is No-believism.

ezekiel said...

Rob,

Amazing but I believe you!. I recently got involved with a person on a blog that claimed I was doing the same...adding works to salvation by preaching repentance as part of it. Got rather heated. I was told repeatedly that salvation was a gift, did not require repentance, did not require fruits, or works.....That salvation was totally independant of works...fruit.

She told me she was not ashamed to be accused of easy believism and was in fact a proud proponent....

During the argument, I quoted practically every scripture in the NT that includes repent....and still had a fight going. Then that eventually evolved into becoming Holy....again, not required in her opinion. Finally prevailed with scripture but she popped back up about a month later, still claiming to be an easy believer and proud of it.....

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Rob Willmann and Ezekiel,

Wow! That's an unbelievable testimony that you guys shared. I am stunned.

Rob, your pastor has mucho spiritual backbone. I am glad that he stood firm for the *whole* gospel. Too many pastors would have pooh-poohed the whole thing to make all nicey-nice with this "Saphira" person so as not to offend her way of presenting the gospel.

P.S. Thanks to all who responded to my soul-searching observations about King David's life. Although confused at times, I am perfectly content to trust in God's goodness.

ezekiel said...

Truth,

2 Sam 12:14....the childs death was judgement for giving occasion for enemies of the Lord to blaspheme....(something many so called christians do with an almost casual regularity today).

Judgement, and instant judgement are not being taught these days in a world of easy believism, get your blessing today, grace mercy and under the blood....stuff flowing out of pulpits. In fact, God's nature is being misrepresented as loving, merciful and forgiving which is all true but the other side of His nature is being conveniently left out in the drive to fill pews and plates..

Also testifying to an element of His nature that is often underemphasised or totally ignored today in many "NT churches" is His Holyness. Uzzia died as a result of not following the proceedure to move the ark with the poles. Casualness resulting in a lack of respect. Know anyone guilty of that these days? This occurred shortly after 50,000 died for capturing the ark from Israel and opening it....(1 Sam 6:19) You would think the word would have gotten around...

When we look at many dying as a result of a leader's sin, look at all the judgement on Israel for Solomon's and other Kings turning away. In most cases the punishment fell on the sons of the leaders or on Israel itself.

Isaiah 22:25 gives an account of a leader, apparently a good one, till material things turned him, was a peg or iron nail that held many vessels (souls) and when the peg was removed...the vessels bore the punishment....unfortunately a scene we have seen played out all too many times recently when mega preachers turn from righteousness to material things. The congregation (vessels) pay the price.

When He said judgement must begin with the house of the Lord....He meant it. He has not changed. We have. If you don't believe it, try telling someone that God can and will send an evil spirit into a man....and watch the reaction. (1 Sam 18:10) Was this part of his punishment?

candyinsierras said...

Ezekial said...I was told repeatedly that salvation was a gift, did not require repentance, did not require fruits, or works.....That salvation was totally independant of works...fruit.

Salvation is totally independent of works. Salvation is by justification by faith alone, through Christ alone. Works are a process of sanctification.

Sanctification demands that we face our pride, our oughts against our brothers. Why don't we confess that we all have a face (or many)on t-shirts that we proudly wear daily. Sad to think that the faces are probably recognizable as real brothers and sisters we interact with often.

ezekiel said...

Candy,

The branches that don't bear fruit in John 15:2 just don't sound "saved" to me.

Salvation is certainly by faith alone. Genesis and Abraham. The seed and all that, Hebrews, everywhere. But for anyone to say that salvation is independant and a person can be saved and bear no fruit is a direct contradiction to scripture. Specifically John 15.

This concept doesn't have to be disorted, twisted much to have a whole bunch of folks on the wrong path either working their way in or thinking they are saved because they have believed.....no repentance, no fruit required.

In the end, salvation is a work begun by the Holy Spirit and finished by the Holy Spirit. To say that He does this without producing any work or fruit during the process is an error.

reformed trucker said...

Reading "The Mortification Of Sin" by John Owen. Very timely post. Thanks, Dan.

candyinsierras said...

If a person is truly saved, they WILL bear fruit.

Rob Willmann said...

ezekiel said: "In the end, salvation is a work begun by the Holy Spirit and finished by the Holy Spirit. To say that He does this without producing any work or fruit during the process is an error."

AMEN!

Yes, we are saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8-9). But faith without works is dead. When God renews our hearts, and takes out our heart of stone, and gives us a new heart, we are transformed. As a result, YES, we will produce fruit. Works, if you will.

But it is not the works that save us. Or as my pastor says it: We're not saved by works, but saved TO GO TO WORK for the Lord.

And repentance was taught by Christ. Repentance, turning away from sin, is part of salvation.

The problem appears that people confuse sanctification with regeneration.

Rob

ezekiel said...

Candy,

True. A saved person Will produce fruits.

Let's look at Luke 13:5I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

6He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

7Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

8And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:

9And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

If we study this with John 15, we see the the man (God) the vinyard and the vinedresser (Holy Spirit). The parables are similar. In Luke, the man comes to his vinyard where the fig tree is planted looking for fruit. He is all for cutting it down but the Holy Spirit wants to fertilize it and dig around the roots. But the end is the same if it doesn't produce fruit.

Luke 3:9 tells us the axe is laid at the roots. What is He waiting for? Repentance. Fruit.

If you don't like this one, go back to John 15 and look at 15:2 Every branch IN ME....that does not bear fruit....gathered, cast into the fire...If you have ever been around grape vines...you know that a branch, growing on that vine will produce a grape. Jesus tells us here that if it doesn't it will be cut off.

Now i just can't see where you can call these independant events when the WORD links them so closely together. If we teach that they are linked and dependant, what is the downside? Peoplerepent and get saved. If we teach they are independant so that folks won't try to work themselves into heaven...what is the downside? We risk raising a generation of people that see no need to repent....sort of like where we are.....

ezekiel said...

Rob,

Exactly. Sanctification was where my previous argument started with becoming Holy. This person flat out said that sanctification was not required for salvation. This in spite of scripture like "be thou Holy for I am Holy" and Romans 12:1

Another argument that she liked to throw was the thief on the cross. According to her, he was only justified, not sanctified. So again we then wound up arguing fruits....

DJP said...

reformed trucker—We're also going through that in our Men's Fellowship, so Owen is particularly bubbling up in my thoughts these days too.

Which is a good thing!

Helen said...

This is a no-brainer: even I know that if you are still wearing the T-shirt you have NOT repented sufficiently because you are not showing the fruits of repentance.

(Yes, feel free to go after me and tell me that I am still wearing the T shirt...although, you don't have to, I know what you think of me)

SolaMeanie said...

Helen,

Stop playing the martyr. Please. It's not very becoming.

Helen said...

Good point...I shouldn't do that - thanks

wenxian said...

Hello all,

I was recently 'having conversation' with emergents on this topic of repentance, specifically refering to whether gays who still profess being being gay should be allowed into the church if they persist in their unrepentance.(christianresearchnetwork.info)

I said no because the church was meant to be filled by people who are repentant.

Then one of them (the author of the post) accused me of adding works to the gospel, as well as robbing the salvation given precious blood of jesus.

I realised that these accusatory people often say this phrase ""you are adding works to the gospel"" whenever they look at the repentance question from a free-will-man perspective instead of a men-are-degenerate-and-can-do-no-good-works except enabled by God perspective (i.e. calvinist).

I wonder if i was correct.

Mike Riccardi said...

I think your conclusion that the answer was "No" is correct. The call to salvation is "Repent and be saved" (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15, Lk 3:8, Ac 2:38). One cannot be saved without repenting from sins.

However, I think your emerging friends are just upset at the notion that homosexuals aren't Christians. That's a hot-button topic for them. While it's true that those who struggle with homosexual thoughts and actions are certainly not excluded from the offer of salvation in Christ, the Jesus-implemented means of obtaining salvation is repentance from that lifestyle. After all, do you now know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals...will inherit the kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9-10).

Hadassah said...

wenxian--I think you will find some useful guidance in Matthew 18:15-17 and in 2 Thess 3:6,14.

Repentant homosexuals should be accepted into the church like every other repentant sinner. It is the lack of repentance that disqualifies any person, not just homosexuals.

How should the church treat the tax collector and the heathen mentioned in Matthew 18? By speaking the truth in love and seeking to bring them to repentance and fellowship.

wenxian said...

Hello Hadassah and Mike,

Yeah thats what i said to them. I told them that people who were 'gays' but took the vow of celibacy and forevermore never indulged in thought or deed in gay acts were not gays at all.

I also told them that those who stopped doing the (detestable) acts but still struggle are christians too because they acted repented.

Anyway, we all struggle, even Jesus was 'tempted' by satan - so temptation is not wrong per se.

Somehow they still accused me of preaching a works gospel in spite of me saying all these. Makes me wonder if they really mean 'conversation'.

Mike Riccardi said...

No, wenxian, they don't.