Sunday, April 10, 2005

Repentance: "Word De Jour"

The subject that I'm examining today seems to be the focus of a lot of attention currently in several groups and assemblies.

Repentance; What is it? What does it mean? Traditionally, in most settings, we're told that it's something a person does when they turn away from their sin. That it's not an apology, but a change from one direction to another. It's also been taught that when we repent that we must go on, that we don't stay in the repentant state. Most people use Hebrews the sixth chapter where the writer says, and I paraphrase, "not laying again the same foundation of repentance from dead works..." It is true that the writer of Hebrews was saying that we should get to the place where the foundational stone of repentance from dead works should not have to be laid into our lives again, but what does that mean?

You see the writer of Hebrews says it's a foundational stone. If it's a foundational stone, that's something that is supposed to be set into place forever as part of our being. That the other aspects of our existence in Christ rest on this foundation. This stone should be an ever present 'essence' of our personality in Christ.

We're all crying out for the manifest presence of God to be revealed in us and our church homes. But what is the manifest presence of God? What does His presence contain? What are the ingredients?

Well I don't want to be so arrogant to 'assume' that I know the ingredients of His presence, but I think He gives us clues in scripture of His nature. For example, when the Prophet Isaiah saw God, he said that he, 'Isaiah', was a man of unclean lips. He felt terribly unclean in his own heart from being in the presence of an almighty God. Think about it. If we were truly standing in the presence of our awesome God do you think there would be a distinct desire to have a repentant heart because of the holiness, and greatness of God? Would we see how little we are in comparison? Would we sense how weak and vulnerable we are? Or, would we say, "Oh hello God it's You, we need to get on with business, you know time is short!" He would probably say, "Yes We do have some business to attend to!"

I will go further to say God's presence will bring many different reactions to different people depending on the heart of the individuals. The reason for this is because God's nature contains all the foundational stones that the writer of Hebrews was speaking of in the sixth chapter. His presence is of the full stature of all the foundational stones. I hear you saying, "If that were true, you're saying God would have to be repentant?" Well in the old testament, He did repent for His creation of mankind. Who did He repent to in this case? Himself. He took responsibility for our disobedience!

The foundational stones listed in Hebrews are, repentance from dead works, faith towards God, the laying on of hands, the doctrines of baptisms, the resurrection of the dead, and the eternal judgment. So we could say that God's presence contains 'life', 'baptisms of; repentance, Christ, His Spirit, fire, water', 'that He has a tangible presence that touches us', 'that His presence contains eternal judgment', and 'the power of the resurrection'. Wow.

I would deduct from this illustration that Gods presence could provoke a multitude of reactions. So w e don't move on from repentance as it's been taught in the past, it must become part of our nature. Just because you may have to repent again does not mean that you need to again have the foundation stone of repentance laid again in your life. It's when you think that you no longer need to have a repentant heart that the stone has to be laid again. It's when you say , "We know", that your sins are held against you!

To be repentant in our nature is our goal. It is the holy fear of displeasing God being made alive in our hearts, that will bear the fruit of repentance that others can eat from.

So we don't move on in the sense of forgetting repentance, instead we make it a foundational part of our lives.


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