Previously posted on MySpace, August 23, 2007, Thursday
F is for Forgiveness
A is for Available, All, and not Automatic
I is for Impossible
T is for Turn
Remember my closing question from last week? If you were driving down the road, and I were in the passenger seat, and I had the directions to where we were going, and I told you to turn, what would I be telling you to do?
Basically, I would be telling you to change direction. You’re heading in one direction, I need you to go in another direction. So I tell you to turn. Maybe I need you to make a 90 degree right angle turn to the left, or right. If you are way off course, I need you to make a u turn. But regardless, you need to make a change in direction.
The bible has a word for this change in direction. It’s called repent. Some people mistakenly define this term as “stop sinning”, and that is only a small portion of the definition.
To repent means change the direction of our life. We turn from something, our sin nature and selfishness, our attitudes that spit in the face of God, and we turn to Someone, we turn to Christ alone. This turning to Christ is a trust relationship. We trust Him alone for our forgiveness. The word trust and faith are very similar. One is a verb/noun, the other is a noun. We trust Christ, we place our trust in Christ, we place our faith in Christ.
If we’re driving down the road, you being the driver, and I having the directions, you would be trusting of me to give you the correct directions, much in the same way I would be trusting you to get us to our destination safely. This is an imperfect illustration because my sense of direction might suck, as well as your driving skills. Yet there is a sense of trust involved. If you get on airplane, you trust your life to several unseen people and their actions, especially the pilot. If you have surgery, you trust the surgeon and the nurses, and the anesthesiologist. If you get your hair cut, you trust the hairdresser or barber. If you have a prescription, you trust the pharmacist and the technicians to give you the right medicine. We are all familiar with the idea of trust. We trust people and things every day, for issues that involve our physical lives. But what are you trusting regarding the health and wellbeing of your spiritual life?
Another idea associated with the word repent is to change ones mind. We change our mind about our attitudes, our actions, our motivations, our lifestyles, our perspectives, our assumptions, our convictions, our worldview. We tend to do things the way the world around us expects us to do them, and to repent means to change that expectation to a Kingdom way of doing things. It’s turning from a philosophy of life that is centered in the selfish me-first, screw you, I’m taking what’s mine, fend for your own self type attitude, and turning to an attitude of love, peace, joy, and selflessness. I’m not talking about turning into a hippie, but turning to the ways of Christ.
This turning, this repentance, is best expressed in a transaction of faith. This is sometimes the most profound and complex things to describe, I’m not sure I can even begin. Some well meaning folks say that to experience God’s forgiveness, we must say with all the sincerity we can muster this little canned prayer, and after that, we’re saved. I’m not gonna argue with that, but I truly don’t believe that saying a prayer like some magic words is the best expression of repentance. Maybe it starts with that for some folks, I know for many it has. Romans 10:13 says “For ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.'” But this is in the context of receiving Him as LORD, which means being willing to do things his way, and trusting his work on the cross as sufficient for the sacrifice that God requires.
In turning to Christ, its important to understand and be willing to acknowledge to God that one is a sinner. That’s the big step right there. Then one makes an attitude change about his life of sin, and turn the direction of their life towards Christ. He was walking in one direction, now he’s walking in another, following Christ. Some well meaning folks say that following Christ means discipleship, and that’s another decision to be made at another time. But I believe the decision to turn to Christ in repentance is also a decision to follow Him as a disciple, which means a follower, or student/learner. That is another sermon for another time.
I realize I have written quite a lot here as usual, so I’ll start wrapping up. But I also realize I haven’t spoke much about the cross, which is central to this message about slaying the beast within. So next week, before I speak on the last letter, H, I think I’ll write about the cross, and its role in this transaction.
So, forgiveness is not automatic, but it is available for all who turn from sin and turn to trust Christ alone.
Next week, the other transaction…
9If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved. 11As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.” 12Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. 13For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”
14But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:9-13
Invitation to the LORD’s Salvation
1 “Is anyone thirsty?
Come and drink—
even if you have no money!
Come, take your choice of wine or milk—
it’s all free!
2 Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength?
Why pay for food that does you no good?
Listen to me, and you will eat what is good.
You will enjoy the finest food.
3 “Come to me with your ears wide open.
Listen, and you will find life.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you.
I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.
4 See how I used him to display my power among the peoples.
I made him a leader among the nations.
5 You also will command nations you do not know,
and peoples unknown to you will come running to obey,
because I, the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, have made you glorious.”
6 Seek the LORD while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
7 Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.
8 “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with my word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
12 You will live in joy and peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into song,
and the trees of the field will clap their hands!
13 Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.
These events will bring great honor to the LORD’s name;
they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love.”