Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Four Crucial Questions

  1. Who made us, and to whom are we accountable? Romans 1:18,21; Acts 17:24-26,30-31; 
  2. What is our problem?  In other words, are we in trouble and why?  Romans 1:23, 2:1, 3:9-19 *
  3. What is God's solution to that problem?  How has he acted to save us from sin? Romans 3:21-24;
  4. How do I–myself, right here, right now–how do I come to be included in that salvation?  What makes this good news for me and not just for someone else?  Romans 3:22, 4:5; Acts 3:19; Isaiah 55:7;
* To have someone say to you, "I'm coming to save you!" is really not good news at all unless you believe you acutally need to be saved.

Adapted from Greg Gilbert's, What is the Gospel? published by Crossway books.

Louis Berkhof, in his book Systematic Theology, defines the elements of repentance in the following manner:  "Repentance, penitence and conversion are closely linked. Whenever someone gives his thought and life a new direction, it always involves a judgment on his previous views and behaviour. This process is expressed in the NT by three word-groups which deal with its various aspects:epistrepho, metamelomai and metanoeo. The first and third both mean turn round, turn oneself round, and refer to a man’s conversion. This presupposes and includes a complete change under the influence of the Holy Spirit. metamelomai expresses rather the feeling of repentance for error, debt, failure and sin, and so it looks back. Hence, it does not necessarily cause a man to turn to God. epistrepho is probably the widest conception, because it always includes faith. We often find pisteuo, believe, expressly used with metanoeo, since faith complements repentance (cf. L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 1938, 482)."

What this means is that there must be both a hatred for your sin in your heart and a love for God that turns away from your sin and toward God.  This repentance is what true faith brings.  To turn from our sin we have to actually have our eyes opened by God.  God gets us to this point in several ways.  He uses his word to teach us about him (namely about his holiness, mercy and justice), and his laws; the standard that no one can attain to. Romans 7:7, James 2:10.  He uses affliction in the life of an unbeliever to make him realize what this sin in his life does to himself and how it has seperated him from God, rendering him powerless to do anything truly good or to save himself. Psalm 119:67,71; Jeremiah 31:18-19.  God also shows him that he is spiritually dead in the fact that he is unable to genuinely and honestly love others and have self control.  Galatians 5:22-24; 1 John 3:3-18.  This second passage mentions how we can spot false believers.

So what does a person who has had God open his eyes do?  He owns up to the choices that he has made, he sees the magnitude of his sin and where it is taking him, he sees the mercy and patience by which God has dealt with him, and he fears. He fears. Possibly for the first time in his life. Proverbs 1:7.  He fears the consequences of continuing living like this. Proverbs 3:7.  He fears what will happen to his heart if he goes on. He sees how hard he has become and becomes afraid of becoming like this permanently. Proverbs 29:1.  At the same time however, he remembers.  He remembers the mercy God has showed him. Deuteronomy 5:15, 7:18, 8:2.  He knows that God provided a sacrifice that paid for the sins of those who will turn from their sins and place their faith in him. Romans 4:5, 5:6-9.  He has studied this countless times before but never truly realized that he was lost.  2 Corinthians 13:5.  Now he realizes this fact and is more afraid than he has ever been in his life. Hebrews 4:1-2.

But.  The most blessed word in the English language is often, "but".  But he realizes that there is a God who, based on his own finished word, is saying to him, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Matt 11:28-30. He realizes however that God accepts those who come to him with no perogatives, self-will, or conditions.  God says, come with open hands or don't come at all.  We come to him to accept his terms.  We don't offer anything.  What we do is surrender to the Lord of all creation and fall upon him never looking back.  He accepts us, gives us a new life and then we will find that He changes us and takes us to be with him in heaven forever when we die (but that is another blog post).

No comments: