Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Two Types Of Repentance

Matthew 9:13, "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

2 Corinthians 7:9, "Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing."

Here we see two examples of different types of repentance. Actually, to be more precise, what we see are two different applications for repentance. The first type is commonly called, "repentance unto salvation." This is the repentance where a lost person changes his mind toward Christ for salvation. Repentance is simply a change of mind. If one is relying on religion, in any form for eternal security, they need to repent (change their minds) away from religion (works) towards Christ alone for salvation.

The word repentance in these two verses come from the same Greek root word, metanoeo, which is defined as, "to think differently." The actual word used in these two verses is, metanola, which is defined as, "reversal." Nothing indicates that the lost must stop sinning to gain salvation. Those who do so are relying on works to get them into Heaven. Ephesians 2:8-9 clearly states, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast." Fundamental camps who teach that turning from one's sins as a condition for salvation are teaching works salvation. Why? Because they are saying that you can get to Heaven by the things you do! They say that one must renounce sin in their lives to be saved. Stop smoking, stop drinking, stop cussing, etc., before Christ will save you. This is adding our works to His perfect work on the cross. That just won't fly. These preachers say that repentance is turning from your sins. Well, if we go by that definition, we are saying that God sinned!

How? Let's take a closer look at it. God repented many times in the Old Testament. In fact, it is recorded in His Word that He repented more times than man did. He repented that He had made man in Genesis 6:6 just before He sent the Great Flood. He repented of the evil He was going to do to the rebellious children of Israel until Moses intervened ~ Exodus 32:14. And, He repented that He had made Saul king over Israel ~ 1 Samuel 15:35. There are several more instances where the Lord repented, which are found recorded in the O.T.

Again, if we go by the definition that repentance is turning from sin, then God sinned, because God repented. That is just plain moronic! But, if we use the correct definition of the word, we'll find that all God did was change His mind; and there is no sin in that! Others say, "Well, I didn't mean that you had to stop sinning to get to Heaven; what I meant was we needed to confess our sins to the Lord before He would save us." Really? Don't you think He knows what your sins are? Didn't He carry them on His back for you? Not only that, but do you even know what all of your sins are? What if you forgot some of them? What if you didn't even realized what you did was a sin? What then? Some say, "What I really mean is, we have to turn from sin before we ask Him to save us." Oh yeah? How are we gonna do that? No matter where we turn, sin is all around us! Plus, if we did that, we'd be back at square one! We'd be working for our salvation just by turning! John 3:18 tells us that non-belief on Christ will send us to Hell. Belief on Christ will send us to Heaven. Repentance toward salvation is a simple change of mind from trusting in what we can do to achieve Heaven, to trusting on Jesus Christ alone. It's not complicated.

None of us are immune from sinning. Sin is built into our flesh. If we believe we can go along the road of life, as a believer without sinning, we just sinned because we are just deceiving ourselves. And if we deceive ourselves, we are deceiving others around us. To sum this up, we are living a lie. True, the closer we are to Jesus the less we'll sin. But if we do sin, we still have someone to go to because He never leaves us. At the moment of salvation, Jesus Christ has cleansed us from all unrighteousness. This is a grace we do not deserve, yet He, as our loving Father Provides it. We all need God's grace. Salvation is a "gift." One cannot work for a gift. It's free. The Problem remains however, that in Religious circles, people think they must "do their part" and "work out their salvation" to stay saved. Baloney! Jesus does the saving and He completes it without any help from us. God indicates in verse 9 that it is not of works. Why? Because God doesn't want us bragging on what we did to earn a place in Heaven. I often ask people, who were taught the doctrine of 'works salvation,' "If we could get to Heaven by the good things we do, why did Jesus have to come to die?" The answer is, He wouldn't have! Do we actually believe that He needs 'our help' to save us? Believe HIM; He's perfectly capable of saving us on His own. Can I get an Amen? One only needs to admit (confess) that he is a sinner, believe on Jesus Christ and call on Him to save us. That's it!

The second type of repentance applies to the saved Believer. This is the second application I spoke of. In 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing to his brethren (saved people) at the church at Corinth. After admonishing them regarding their misbehavior in First Corinthians, he tells them that they repented of their sins in a correct and acceptable manner. They weren't just sorry for their behavior, they were sorry after a godly manner. They were sorrowful. They had tears regarding the sins they had committed against their Saviour and each other. They weren't just sorry about the consequences of the sin, they had totally changed their minds about the sin. This is what is meant when Paul wrote, "...but that ye sorrowed to repentance." Most people today regard saying, "I'm sorry" as a mere courtesy and formality. They haven't changed their minds about the sin. They were just sorry that they were caught. That is not godly repentance.

Godly repentance is for the saved. They are the ones, when they sin, realize their misdeed, change their minds about the sin, confess it to God and ask for forgiveness. When this happens, the fellowship is restored. But, here is where folks get confused. They get confused on who it is that breaks the fellowship. The fellowship wasn't broken on Christ's part, but on ours. Most people believe that if we sin as believers, Christ has broken fellowship with us. This is a false teaching. They do not realize that the fellowship is still available to them! Jesus never breaks fellowship with us, but sometimes, through guilt, we break fellowship with Him. He is steadfast. We are wishy-washy. Jesus said that He would never leave us or forsake us. Breaking fellowship is indeed leaving and forsaking. If we sin as a believer, our conscience sometimes gets the better of us because we can't imagine ourselves presenting ourselves before a Holy God knowing just how sinful we are. We're too ashamed. So what do we do? We do the same thing Adam and Eve did in the Garden. We hide! If we as believers apologize to God for our sins, after a godly manner, the guilt we feel is gone because we truly were sorry for sinning against Him. But even if we didn't, our sin is covered by His Holy Blood. That means that the fellowship remains. Should we be sorrowful for our sins? Of course! But that doesn't mean we are severed from God because of those sins. He took care of them on the cross.

For the lost, repentance becomes a matter of belief in the only One Who could save from Hell. The second type is an application of a change of mind against the sin we commit as a saved person. They are both a change of mind. They are just applied differently. As a saved person, if we are in open sin and do not change our minds regarding it, [we] strain our own fellowship with Christ. He however doesn't restrain His fellowship with us. We are still saved, but our fellowship with God has caught a snag. He waits and is ever present to fellowship with us, but we shy away from Him because we have been taught that He rejects us if we sin. When Adam sinned in the garden, he hid himself from God. The fellowship suffered. They could no longer fellowship as they did before because Adam, for a time wouldn't allow it. Notice that it was God who sought Adam, not the other way around. Jesus doesn't hide from us or shut us out after we sin. But, we make it a habit to hide from Him after we sin because of our own shame. Here's an example:

When I was about four and a half years old, I committed a sin against my Grandparents. They owned a clothing factory in Brooklyn. Both were skilled clothe manufacturers. One early afternoon I went down to their basement just to see what was around and saw lying on the ironing board a round, white piece of material. I didn't know what it was at the time, but later found out it had been created by my Grandmother as a collar for a dress she was sewing for my mother. Right there, next to the collar was a pair of shiny pinking shears; the kind that make a zig-zag pattern cut. It was like they were begging to be used. I looked at the collar and it seemed to be beckoning, "Cut me! Cut me!" I couldn't resist! They both seemed to want my help. After I had picked up the weighty shears, I deliberated on whether or not cutting this piece of material would be fun? After deciding that it would, I cradled the 316L stainless steel blades in my little hands, measured and then made a deliberate three inch cut into the collar. At that moment, none of the thrill I was experiencing a moment earlier was present. I felt all the color in my cheeks run out and drain into the pit of my stomach. I knew right then and there that I had done a bad thing! I was scared, but after a moment or two, I suddenly devised a master plan. I would pull off the perfect crime; so I thought. I knew that if I kept my mouth shut, and snuck away from the crime scene, no one would know it was me. The plan was foolproof!

When the discovery was made a few hours later, my older brother, younger sister and I were asked who did it. My innocent siblings told the truth, but I told a lie. Being of Sicilian decent, my wise old Grandma gave us the "evil eye" (those of you who are Italian know what I am talking about). She said that the one who cut the collar would have a big bellyache sometime during the night. I went to bed riddled with guilt. Sure enough, a few hours later I was spilling my guts in more ways than one. As I was in the fetal position with my arms holding onto my mid section and whaling on the bed, my Grandmother came in and said, "Ah-Ha! You did it, didn't you?" I confessed right then and there. The worst part is that I would have to face my Grandfather. I didn't want to see the disappointment in his face. He was always so good to me. Gramps was my hero and now I let him down. This is when I became aware of what sin is and what it does to us. It was my first known sin. I couldn't look my Grandparents in the eye. I was ashamed of myself. Not so much for cutting the collar, but for lying to them. I trespassed upon their trust in me and I felt I could never gain their trust again. I wanted to hide under a rock. At four an a half years old, I understood what Adam must have felt after he sinned in the garden and hid himself from God.

I wanted more than anything to have the happy fellowship I had with Gramps before I committed the sinful deed. I knew it was wrong to cut the material that day. I just did it to satisfy my own lust to ruin something that was perfect. I had lied about my guilt and I felt this incident changed our relationship forever. I thought it couldn't be repaired. Then something happened. My Grandmother was skillfully able to repair the damage I'd done to the collar. I then realized that there might be hope. My relationship with them might be spared as well. It was in my hands to beg for mercy and it was in their hands to be able to forgive and forget. I swallowed my pride, changed my mind about the sin and wanted to get things right with them. I tearfully confessed and asked for their forgiveness. After that, I was punished, but at least I was back in fellowship with them. To my relief, that sin didn't sever the fact that I was still their grandson, just like the collar being severed wasn't a permanent wound. Sure the collar and I had scars left behind because of the sin, but we were both repaired by the Master's hand and regained our usefulness. I wasn't banished from the family. I was forgiven and regained the favor I had lost. Therefore, as a stiff-necked, rebellious and unrepentant child of God, He still preserves the relationship of Father and son. It is the quality of fellowship that suffers, because to have fellowship, there must be more than one person involved. If either of us breaks the fellowship, either by non-forgiveness or non-participation, there is no fellowship. Thank goodness that Christ never will break fellowship with us because of a sin we commit. This lays the fellowship breaking solely upon us. In either case, that's what we can expect from our Lord.

1John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." This verse speaks to those who are saved and those who are lost (all men). He may be writing directly to saved believers, but his explanation is for all to understand. John is explaining to believers and non-believers alike that confessing our sins and being cleansed is a matter of salvation, not a matter of getting back into fellowship with Christ after we are saved. Why? Because once we are saved, we become righteous in Christ. We cannot become unrighteous after we are saved because that would make Christ ineffective as a Saviour. And we all know there is nothing ineffective about Him. Confessing our sins is simply a matter of one confessing (admitting) that they are a sinner before God to acknowledge that His saving grace is what is needed for us to be saved. That's what the first type of repentance is all about. It is not numbering and forsaking all of our past, present and future sins as a condition for being saved. We're not that good of an accountant to accomplish that!

It is the second type of repentance I would like to focus on until the end of this article. There are many saved, born-again Believers who are in a Religious System of an Institutional, Business Entity, Main-Stream 'Church,' who are not in Gods will. As a child of God, sometimes we go to a place where we just don't belong. I wasn't supposed to be in my Grandparent's basement that day. I was out of their will, and look at the trouble it caused. Man's 'Church' is not the organic, authentic church of Christ's design, but a deception most 'Church' members are unaware of but are involved in. There are things in the world's 'Church' with which we have no business playing around with. Jesus cannot endorse this type of 'Church.' Why? Because it is not from Him! He created only one kind of church. He didn't give us a variety of 'Churches' to attend. Satan did! Christ expects us to be a part of His church, not a counterfeit.

The good news is that even if we are in a man-made model for 'Church,' Jesus doesn't break any individual fellowship with us even if the so-called Traditional 'Church' lies about tithing, pastoral authority and Christ's assembly. People do not realize they are a part of man's Religion and tradition because that is all they've been taught. But, once they know the truth about the Religious Show Business they are in, they should repent of the Main-Stream 'Church' of Satan's design. A change of mind should take place. Asking God to guide them to His brand of assembly is evidence that true repentance has occurred. If they ask, He will guide them to the right place where He wants them to be. It won't be another Institutional 'Church' however. I am not advocating 'Church' Hopping. I'm advocating Institutional 'Church' abandonment! What I am Proposing is leaving the Main-Stream 'Church' altogether and seek out the Lord to guide us to a good home-based church of Christ's design close to our area. Let the Holy Spirit be our Yellow Pages. Regardless if we remain in an Institutional 'Church' or not, our individual relationship with Christ remains. Our individual fellowship with Him is another matter altogether. If we are close to Him, the closer the fellowship will be. If the fellowship is very close, we should know if we are (or aren't) involved in His authentic church. If we are, Amen! That's His will. His will is for His child to be a part of a church model He created. If we're not, shame on us for not following His leading out of the Institute, which is something Satan created.

Switching gears for a moment, there are those who might say, "Well, does this mean that we can just ask Jesus to save us and go on living a wicked sinful life? What about the fruits of repentance?" That's a good question. It is well known that responsible parents will discipline their children when they misbehave. This discipline can take the form of punishment in many ways from a 'Time Out' to a spanking. If we are His children and we misbehave, He'll chastise us. There are two good thoughts attached to this. Number one is that the Lord knows how to measure out chastisement in the Proper dosage for each individual child so that He doesn't over or under do it. The second benefit of the Lord's chastisement is that when I am occasionally chastised, I know I am not a bastard. I have a real Farther in Heaven who see's me as His very own and Who loves me enough to chastise me when I need it. By the way, He doesn't chastise another's child, only His own. Any Mom or Dad should know that their children will have to repent of one thing or another during their upbringing. Sometimes the persuasion comes with a dose of Properly enforced discipline (chastisement).

We all need to realize that when we get saved, we still have our flesh to deal with. Being the tracheotomy that we are (body, soul, and spirit) we have two forces we could listen to and obey. It's either our flesh, or our spirit. The part of us that either listens to and obeys what the flesh or the spirit is telling us is our soul. When we become born anew, our spirit comes alive and communicates with God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit tells our quickened spirit what to do. Our spirit then leads our soul to behave Properly according to God's will. However, the flesh is still present with us and it is very persuasive. Both flesh and spirit vie for the attention of our soul. Our soul is our mind, will and emotions. It's a daily struggle because the flesh makes nothing easy to obey the things of God. Most of us lose sight of the fact that we have the spirit available to us, which manifests itself in the 'New Man' (our saved individual, which is IN Christ). The New Man is available to us 24/7, but that doesn't mean we always submit to his obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit. Conversely, we also have the 'Old Man' (the carnal man) available to us 24/7. Sometimes we wrongly obey his will. How we behave depends on who we 'put on' any given day. Paul had to buffet his flesh daily! He even said that he was the chiefest of all sinners, and he said that in present tense.

As Believers in Christ, we too walk a fine line sometimes as to how we live our lives for Christ. There are times when we drop the ball on purpose. We know better but make the wrong decisions. When we sin on purpose, be assured that the Lord will meet out the Proper response, but He never leaves us or forsakes us. He's still there with us. Imagine that we are a small child that we sometimes see on a leash in the grocery store kicking and screaming in the cereal aisle because he didn't get his favorite brand of cereal. That's us sometimes. We scream and cry, act up and embarrass our parent. But like the steadfast, caring and patient parent who hold's onto the reins, He is still there. The child may get a spanking later on, but his parent is still there. No, as a child of God, we will not get away with murder. He won't let sin go unnoticed and unpunished. He will deal with us as needed and without malice even when He may have to employ the ultimate 'Time Out' and take us home to Heaven when we cross the line of making Him look bad. When we are a terrible testimony for Him, a testimony so bad it draws people away from Christ, He may take us Home.

I may have had to repent of many things as a Christian, but the 'Big Three' have to be the ones discussed in this blog. Since tithing for the New Covenant church isn't a command by our Lord, in either Testament, I changed my mind about that. Since pastoral authority and paying a pastor in the New Covenant church isn't a command either, nor is being a pastor an occupation, I had to change my mind about that! And, since the church of Christ isn't an Institutional Business entity, and was never meant to be, I changed my mind about that as well. To investigate for themselves the truths regarding the issues brought forth, I suggest one reads some of the articles in this blog. For the topic on tithing, the post entitled 'Does Hebrews 7 Teach Us To Tithe?' is a good place to start. For pastoral authority, 'Should Pastors Be Paid?' and 'The Hireling' are good. And for the doctrine of the N.T. church, 'Is 'Church' A Multi-Billion Dollar A Year Industry?' will serve.

In case you're still not convinced, there are many other titles to choose from. There are different angles that may shed light on these false doctrines in more ways than one. The only Proverbial leg one can stand on to defend these false doctrines, as we know them today, can only be the leg of man's tradition. Jesus hates man's tradition. He hates it regarding His church, His giving principles and His church leaders. If we are saved, we have already repented from non-belief to belief in Christ as our Saviour. But, as a child of God, Christ wants us in His church, guided by His non-Profit ministers, and be free from the bondage of tithing, which was never Scripturally applied to His assembly. It is time we repent of man's 'Church' and turn to Christ's church. It is time we repent of Professional pastors, be lead by God's Holy Spirit and the guides He chooses, instead of choosing a hired pastor from afar and by a political vote. It is time we repent of paying for Professionals, Properties and Programs, through an Income Tithe, which was never intended to support a man-conceived Religious Organization. It is time we change our minds and grab hold of the true doctrines of Jesus Christ concerning these matters. God bless, and may the Lord guide us in all truth.

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