Good Definitions of Repentance

Again, as part of our research in putting together our newest resource, The 180º Project, we have found some good thoughts concerning biblical repentance. Some of these we share below. While not all of these will make it into our final book, all of them are worthy of contemplation. If you run across any that you would like to share with us, please email them to us at taethne@outlook.com.  Please enjoy”

[Repentance] is not a merely intellectual change of mind or mere grief, still less doing penance, but a radical transformation of the entire person, a fundamental turnaround involving mind and action and including overtones of grief, which result in (spiritual) fruit. — D.A. Carson

Repentance is more than just sorrow for the past; repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving the Savior as king in self’s place. — J.I. Packer

Remorse precedes true repentance. Changed behavior follows true repentance. But this necessary prelude and postlude of true repentance are not themselves the essence of repentance. True repentance is a denial that anything in us ever would or ever could satisfy God’s holiness or compel His pardon. We humbly concede that we can offer nothing for what He alone can give. Then we rest in His promise to forgive those who humbly seek Him… Repentance, therefore, is fundamentally a humble expression of a desire for a renewed relationship with God – a relationship that we confess can be secured only by His grace. — Bryan Chapell

Our Lord’s idea of repentance is as profound and comprehensive as His conception of righteousness. Of the three words that are used in the Greek Gospels to describe the process, one emphasizes the emotional element of regret, sorrow over the past evil course of life, metamelomaiMatt. 12:29-32; a second expresses reversal of the entire mental attitude, metanoeoMatt. 12:41, Luke 11:32; 15:7, 10; the third denotes a change in the direction of life, one goal being substituted for another, epistrephomaiMatt. 13:15 (and parallels); Luke 17;4, 22:32. Repentance is not limited to any single faculty of the mind: it engages the entire man, intellect, will and affections… Again, in the new life which follows repentance the absolute supremacy of God is the controlling principle. He who repents turns away from the service of mammon and self to the service of God. —Geerhardus Vos

It is one thing to love sin and to force ourselves to quit it; it is another thing to hate sin because love for God is so gripping that the sin no longer appeals. The latter is repentance; the former is reform. It is repentance that God requires. Repentance is “a change of mind.” To love and yet quit it is not the same as hating it and quitting it. Your supposed victory over a sin may be simple displacement. You may love one sin so much (such as your pride) that you will curtail another more embarrassing sin which you also love. This may look spiritual, but there is nothing of God in it. Natural men do it every day. —Jim Elliff

Allowing Grief to take Place

I ran across a quote the other day that speaks volumes: “For those who love life, immortality is no consolation in death” – Simone de Beauvoir. We understand, as Christians, that death has lost its ultimate power over us. We know, from Scripture, that our immortal soul, once redeemed by Jesus, will spend eternity with Him. We are even told that it will be reunited with a new body in heaven. Yet, we still grieve over the death of a loved one. This is appropriate on two levels.

First, if the one we have lost was not a believer in Jesus Christ, we grieve because they are truly gone. There is no meeting them again in the afterlife. Their death, for all intents and purposes, is final for us. That relationship we had with them has been sundered forever. Truly, it is appropriate to grieve for them.

Second, even if the person was a believer, even with the hope we have of being reunited with them in heaven, it is appropriate to grieve the loss. For now, the fellowship has been broken, Things are not the same. While we do not grieve as those who have no hope this does not mean we cannot or should not grieve. Death is an intruder, an interloper. It is not without reason the New Testament calls it “the last enemy.”

We grieve over loss because we have been cut off, at least temporarily, from the ones we love. For instance, we may be glad that a child is doing well at college across the country. We expectantly look forward to Christmas break when we will see them again but it doesn’t mute the emptiness of their bedroom we pass everyday. Death magnifies those feelings because we cannot call them on the phone and hear their voice like we can one separated only by distance.

One of the tragedies of our society, as well as today’s church, is not allowing people to adequately grieve. Because we are embarrassed for them or because we have not processed our own grief, we do not allow them to fully grieve and begin the road to healing. When Lazarus died, it wasn’t just Mary and Martha that mourned. Jesus did too. He knew He could resurrect Lazarus. He knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus and yet He still grieved. Knowing that it was okay for our Lord to grieve should be good enough for allowing His children to grieve also. It is a natural response to loss that must be allowed and there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a time frame after which it is not allowable. The only restriction placed on grieving in the Bible is that we are not to grieve without hope, as a pagan might.

Modern psychology doesn’t help either. Since Freud’s time it has looked upon grief as a disease, as though it were a sickness like mumps or chicken pox, easily cured with the right combination of drugs or therapies. Only when we accept that for now, until a new heaven and earth are made by God, that suffering and loss are a normal part of our existence and grief is a normal reaction to loss, will we be able to help individuals cope with grief. We will sit with them, cry with them, wonder why with them and listen to their pain without offering stupid, meaningless platitudes. In short, we will experience their life with them and, in doing so, enrich both ours and theirs.

I leave you with this quote:  “We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believer to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the root of our souls it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness.” R.C. Sproul, The Dark Night of the Soul, Tabletalk, March 2008

Wednesday Book Reviews

 Deep in the HeartDeep in the Heart by Staci Stallings
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good Christian romance novel. Many of the characters experience the transformational power of Christ in their lives, which make the story an uplifting one. The only thing keeping it from 5 stars is that I thought it took too long for the protagonist/antagonist conflict to fully develop. The characters were believable and the story line was well written. If you know someone who is searching for something to fill the emptiness inside of them, toss ’em a copy of this book. You and they will find it a good read.

View all my reviews
Tough Faith: Trusting God in Troubled TimesTough Faith: Trusting God in Troubled Times by Janet Parshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An excellent book that unapologetically deals the issues of our day. Moving past the nominal expression of so-called Christianity in our time, the authors give a compelling case for what true belief in Christ looks like. The manner in which they write is not abrasive and it is laid out in a manner that is easy to follow. I recommend this as a good read

View all my reviews

Orphan Adoption and Theology – an article

A very good article written on adoption and theology. There is a link at the end of the article so you can go to the original posting. Ta Ethne supports the work of Together for Adoption in mobilizing the Christian world for global orphan adoption. Please take the time to read this well-written article and check out their website.

Occasionally, when people hear about Together for Adoption’s emphasis and stress upon theology, they sincerely ask, “Do we really have time to study the theology of adoption when there is so much to be done for orphans now?
Isn’t it enough that Scripture commands us to care for orphans? Shouldn’t we just do it?”
If we think of theology merely as information about God, as the mental collection of facts about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then this question is legitimate. But if by theology we mean a real knowing of God, an ongoing and growing relational engagement with God, the question loses its teeth. Yes, theology necessarily involves information about God. Scripture is full of it. But theology is never merely information.
In Matthew 11:27 Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (emphasis mine). Believe it or not, Jesus is talking about theology here. If you think about it, theology did not begin with the creation of man. It has always existed in the eternal mutual knowing of the Father and Son. For all of
eternity past the Father has known the Son and the Son the Father.
Understood like this, theology is a gracious gift to humanity. In reality, theology is actually a sharing in the mutual knowing of the Father and Son. It is a participation in the communion of love that the Holy Trinity is (“God is love”). There is no greater gift that can be given to man. So, do we really have time for theology when orphans need our help now? Yes, we do. If theology is ultimately about our participation in the love between the Father and the Son, then nothing can better mobilize and energize us to care for orphans now than theology. Nothing. Rightly understood and practiced, robust theology produces robust action. Just look at the life of Jesus. He enjoyed an infinitely robust theology and no one did more for the poor and
marginalized than he did. If you think about it, what orphans need, then, is Christians who are deeply theological. This is why Together for
Adoption stresses theology when we talk about orphan care.Theology is much more than gathering facts about God and arranging them into a system of
thought and belief. Now granted, theology is not less than true statements about God, but it is certainly and infinitely more than true statements about God. As James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” There’s much more to theology than a collection of biblically gathered facts about God. Theology is ultimately our real participation in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit. This is why I said that theology is infinitely more than true statements about God. The study of theology and communion with the Triune God must go hand in hand. No one—absolutely no one—was and is more theological than the Son of God. He has forever known the Father through-and-through, even as he is and has been known. For all of eternity past the Son perfectly knew and communed with the Father. Remarkably, this is the Son
who became man, who became incarnate and lived among us! By becoming the incarnate Son Jesus brought his communion with the Father into the world of men—into the very heart of our broken and devastated world!
That’s the good news of the Gospel!
Suddenly, communion with the Father became a very tangible and possible reality for fallen humanity. Never before—not even with Adam and Eve—had mankind ever known God the Father like the man Christ Jesus knew him (and knows him!). Jesus was a one-of-a-kind man! He is the true man. Jesus was as deeply and profoundly theological as it is possible to be. No matter where in the infinite corridors of eternity you search for someone like the incarnate Son, you will never find anyone enjoying the same level and intensity of communion with the Father as he does. If ever there is someone who is without peer, it’s Jesus —well, except for the Father and the Spirit (both of whom, of course, share his same stratospheric, otherworldly level of communion in all its mind-blowing fullness)! In light of all of this, do you know what’s truly remarkable, though it really should not seem that remarkable to us? Nobody—and I mean absolutely nobody—cared more for the poor, orphaned, and marginalized than Jesus. Rather than his robust theology weakening his social engagement with and commitment to the outcast and neglected, his robust theology unceasingly fueled and sustained his social engagement. As such, Jesus is the truest of human beings! Through the Son’s incarnation, he became what we were and are supposed to be, and he became such for us and in our
place!
What must we learn from this? As orphan care advocates, one of the worst things we can do is neglect or overlook theology. If we do neglect it, we, and the orphans of this world, will be the poorer for it. But if we embrace theology as ones who live in vital union with this amazing Jesus, we, and the orphans we serve, will be the richer for it. What orphans need most, then, is Christians who do not merely know a ton of true statements about God, but who by the power of the gospel daily participate in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit.

Article written by Dan Cruver. Email questions and comments to: dan.cruver@togetherforadoption.org
http://www.togetherforadoption.org/wp-content/media/Article_Do_we_really_have_time_for_theology_PDF.pdf

Thoughts on Thanksgiving Week Continued

It is traditional to make a list of things you are thankful for at Thanksgiving. Most of the time we focus on material things we have been blessed with. Some go deeper, thanking God for spiritual blessings bestowed during the year. Thanks for friends, family, health and employment top many lists. One category that gets left off many lists is arguably the most important. We should thank God for the things He has taken away from us.

In order to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, strength and mind as commanded means we have to give up any and everything that obscures Him in our lives. Praise be to Him that He works in our lives to conform us to the image of His Son. To do this, He many times has to prune away those things that hinder us from reaching that goal. It may be that He has helped you to kick a destructive habit, end an unhealthy relationship, stop a hurtful lifestyle. It may be that He has forced you to accept the death of a loved one in order to lean only on Him. He may have taken away your job in order to prove to you that He is sufficient to meet all your needs.

As you make your list this year, how about including thanks for the things taken away that has made your faith stronger? I guarantee that it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

From Isaac We Learn …

Isaac is one of those patriarchs of the Old Testament who is revered, along with Abraham and Jacob, over and over. For many people, the question is, why? Isaac is not recorded as having won any great victories, spiritual or physical. He seems content to lean on the accomplishments of his father. A cursory reading might lead one to believe that his greatest claim to fame is simply becoming the father of Jacob.

Isaac is non-confrontational. He allows others to walk all over him. He is a pretty poor parent (witness the tension and favoritism between Jacob and Esau) and didn’t even pick pick out his own wife. Why is Isaac held in such high esteem? I think the answer comes from the story of Genesis 22, where God tells Abram to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac is close to 9, 10 maybe even 12 years old. Abram is well over a hundred. Isaac is conscious enough to realize there is no lamb for a sacrifice. He is willing to be bound by Abram and laid on the altar. He could have easily outran Abram, probably even been a physical match for him at his advanced age.

As Abram pictures for us God’s love, being willing to sacrifice His Son, Isaac pictures for us Christ, loving his father so much he is willing to lay his life down. As Abram shows us complete obedience to God our Father, so does Isaac – in his complete obedience to his father. We know from Hebrews that Abram believed God could raise Isaac from the dead. No such statement is made about Isaac. Even not knowing if he would come back to life or not, Isaac was still willing to undergo this trial for the sake of his father.

That is the lesson we learn from Isaac. Are we in love with God so much that we are willing to obey Him completely, even at the cost of our life? Jesus was. A good question to ponder as we begin another week of service to our Heavenly Father.