Thursday, February 19, 2009

Truth Two: Repentance by Joshua Taylor

This is the third installment of a four part series. To fully grasp the intent please read the two posts directly preceding this one entitled, "Three Truths: Introduction" and "Truth One: The Holy Spirit." This is a series by Joshua Taylor.

Truth Two: Repentance (Acts 1:5)

Acts 1:5 says, “For John baptized with water.” Now if you know anything about John the Baptist, he preached one message and that was a baptism of repentance. Why was repentance so important to John the Baptist? John was given the task of preparing the way of the Lord.

And, this is what John realized, as long as there’s sin in our lives, we can't see Jesus. As long as there’s sin in your life, you will never get a good picture of who Jesus is. So guess what John does? He calls them to a baptism of repentance. The idea of repentance is a prophetic message and you can find it throughout the prophets of the Bible. Isaiah 55:7 gives the simplest definition of repentance. It says, “Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts.”

You know what makes a person wicked? You know what makes a person unrighteous? It’s the fact that they’re living for themselves. It’s his way. It’s his thoughts. Sin is the consequence of a commitment to self interest. When you’re living for yourself, can you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Nope. When you’re living for yourself, can you love your neighbor as yourself? No.

Now some may say, “But I’m living a good, moral life.” It doesn't matter. What is the basis for your moral living? Is it out of worship to God, or is it just because that’s what you deem is right? Even righteousness can be seated in self-interest. The Pharisees did that. John understood that apart from God, we turn inward. We seek no one’s interest except our own. John came to realize they would never see Jesus as long as they’re focused on themselves. It was never going to happen. The consequence of the sin that comes from a life committed to self-interest: separation from Jesus Christ.

So John preaches repentance, and it says in Luke chapter 3 that as that as they repented they began to “anticipate the Christ.”

Now repentance alone does not save you. True repentance leads to faith in Christ. There are two turnings. It’s a turning from sin and a turning to faith in Christ, but we want to believe in Christ without changing our behavior. We don't mind Jesus saving us; we just don't want Him to be Lord of our lives. Think about that. Salvation comes as we confess Jesus as Lord, not as we confess Jesus as Savior (Romans 10:9). “God, I surrender from a life of service to myself. I want to serve You and You alone.” Now, that’s repentance, which leads to forgiveness.

So, what does all of this “repentance talk” have to do with Acts 1:5? We have this misconception concerning the Holy Spirit: when the Holy Spirit comes, we’ll get right with God. Nope. These people were already baptized. They had already repented of their sins. When the Church repents of their sin, the Holy Spirit is ready to fill us. You see how that works? Don't expect the Holy Spirit to take chare and change everything when you’re trying to serve yourself.

During the extraordinary Welsh revival in 1904, G. Campbell Morgan wrote this, “The horses are terribly puzzled. A manager said to me, ‘The haulers (The people who ride on them) are some of the very lowest. They have driven their horses by obscenity and kicks. Now they can hardly persuade the horses to start working because there are no obscenities and kicks.’” Revival power from the Holy Spirit comes only as we are ready to give up our sins.

...Joshua Taylor, College Student and Student Body Chaplain at Toccoa Falls College

No comments: