Posts tagged ‘believing in god’

God’s will in the groaning of a living spirit: Repentance!

“Repentance unto life is the saving grace wrought in heart of the sinner by the spirit and word of God, whereby, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins and upon the apprehension of God mercy to such as are penitent, he so grieves and hates his sins, as that he turns from them all to God, purposing and endeavouring constantly to walk with Him, in all the ways of new obedience.”

The above passage on repentance is taken from the Westminster Larger Catechism, question 76. Today many of those who refer to themselves as Bible believing Christians have picked up a doctrine of grace where the Moral Law is made redundant. Such is the antinomian, who believes that the grace of God is given him to live as he pleases in Christ because that defines freedom to him/her. From Romans 3:20 & 7:7, we learn that the knowledge of sin is in our understanding of the Moral Law because repentance requires that we come to terms with the filthy and odious (inciting hatred) nature of our sins and the Holy Spirit Himself makes this possible by interceding for us with groaning too deep for words.

Romans 8
26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

2Cor 7
10 For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

When we read the term Law in the Bible, we ought to understand, which aspect of Law the Bible is talking about in that particular context. There are three aspects to Biblical Law: Ceremonial Law, Moral Law and Judicial Law. The Ceremonial Law was a set of ceremonies (meaningful rituals) given Old Testament Israel, which all pointed to Christ and His redemptive work. The Judicial Law on the other hand was given the State (to the Judges for law & order Num11:16) to govern society and protect it from individuals or syndicates which would cause it harm. The Moral Law on the other hand, is the very nature of God given to the believer that he/she may look into it like it were a mirror (James1:22-25), so as to thereby work willingly on his/her nature in being conformed to the likeness of Christ (Rom8:29). In helping the individual see his own wretched self as God sees him/her, this person is brought to repentance upon the apprehension on God’s mercy available in Jesus Christ alone. Without the Moral Law, there is neither the realization of sin (Rom7:7) unto repentance nor a standard of righteousness in heeding unto Christ (Jn14:15). Taking a look at Rom 7:9-10, 15-17, 23-25 and 2Cor7:10 in the context of Jn12:24-26, we realize that the transition of passing from living to suit ourselves to living for God, requires us to die to ourselves, which is accomplished in repentance.

Gal 5
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

1Tim 1
8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully,
9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers
10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching,
11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

A look at the above verses helps us realize that this is written in reference to the Judicial Law because those who live by the Moral Law have nothing to fear from the Judicial Law. Let me give you a Biblical example: in Mat5:27-28 Jesus teaches us, not to even be entertained from the ogling of women, to this effect He is teaching us to guard our hearts and minds against adultery. So for a man who guards his mind from adulterous thoughts, such a man need not fear the judicial law, for he himself is God-fearing, abiding in Christ i.e. living by the standard of the Moral Law (Jn15:6-10). Besides, there is no judiciary in the world that has outlawed love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control and those who practice this in their Christianity are righteous having nothing to fear from the Judicial Law, which is put in place for immoral people.

Exodus 34
6 Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;
7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.”

Exodus34:6-7, is referred to the Magna Carta of Christianity because it captures the essence of what the Bible teaches concerning God and His Salvation in just two verses. Verse 7 in Exodus 34 comes across as something of an oxymoron when it says: God keeps lovingkindness for thousands and forgives iniquity, transgression and sin while by no means leaving the guilty to go unpunished. The only way this can be explained is when we consider the role of Jesus as our Saviour. The Son of God added to Himself the complete nature of man (except sin) being born of a virgin and presented Himself as an unblemished substitutionary sacrifice for all sin. We must understand that each of God’s attributes is perfect and so God doesn’t compromise on His justice so as to have mercy. You may feel inclined to believe, that God could have just as easily spoken out forgiveness and it would have been done but the truth is God does not function like the world (Is55:8) because when He says something, it is backed by what He is going to do. Such is also with prophesy, where God is not simply looking into the future and telling you what will come to pass but He is instead telling you what He is going do that will define the future as He says it, such is His Sovereign nature. So unlike the world, which speaks that which is only most convenient to them in a particular moment, God speaks in verse 7 of Exodus 34, to indicate the work of the Lord Jesus Christ who bore the wrath of God in its full measure while carrying the sins on all God’s people in His body (1Pet2:24). For those who die outside God’s mercy presented us in Jesus Christ, no matter how old and senile they were or even if they died in their unwitting adolescence, they will for eternity pay the wages of every sinful thought and deed in the deserving fires of hell because whom they have sinned against throughout all of their natural lives is God Almighty (Jn15:25).

Psalm 51 (read in context of 1Jn4:20 & Mat25:41-46)
3 For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me.
4 Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.

The fear of hell can never drive an individual to true repentance and neither is repentance produced in and off oneself. Repentance is and has always been according to the will of God (2Cor7:10/Jn1:12-13). We ought to understand that Salvation lies in one turning to God, which is accomplished in the Lord Jesus Christ because for so long as we are living for ourselves, we cannot say we are genuine believers but when we have died to ourselves (Jn12:24-26) and are a new creation in Christ living for the Lord (2Cor 5:17), then in such a case, Salvation is not on the count of the fear of hell but from the fear of God (Ps85:9), whom we love. It is this genuine love for God that excites our hatred for immorality while catalysing our passion for righteousness, according to God’s good pleasure, taught to us in Christ (Jn1:L18/Col1:19).

Psalm 13
5 But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.
6 I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me.

Romans 10
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Repentance therefore is the groaning of the Holy Spirit at work in our weakness in teaching us the things of Christ and producing in us the fruits of the Spirit, as the Church is like a Bride being prepared to meet her Groom, that is Christ. It might interest you to note that just as Adam is mentioned as a son of God in Lk3:38, so from the knowledge of the fact, that creation is made for God’s glory, and as Eve was brought to Adam in Gen2:22 to which Adam replied in verse 23… this bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh… she shall be called woman because she is drawn out of man. So it also with His Church, which constitutes the body of believers, born of Christ’ Spirit (Jn3:3, 16 & 15:26/Rev21:2) because God is Spirit (Jn4:24). These are not God’s people primarily from their own choosing but because their circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit (Rom2:29/Col 2:9-12) and not of hands (will of man).

“All true repentance arises from the sight of a dying saviour – One who has died for us. Terror may produce remorse, only a sense of forgiven sin will ever produce true repentance. True repentance is after all only love weeping at the foot of the cross. True repentance is the soul sorrowing for sins that have been so freely forgiven because of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.” – T. V. Moore

“We must remember at the beginning of repentance is a sense of God’s mercy. When men are persuaded that God is ready to give pardon they then begin to gather courage to repent, otherwise perverseness will ever increase in them and how much so ever their sins may frighten them they will yet never return to the Lord.” – John Calvin

To conclude, I have quoted above T. V. Moore and John Calvin on the criticality of apprehending God’s mercy made available to us in Jesus Christ. So, taking our cue from 2Cor7:10 we learn that the groaning of a living Spirit, whether that be in Repentance or Sanctification is according to Sovereign will of God unto salvation.

They Need a Miracle!

If there is one thing I have noticed about the reprobate, is they feel that if God would just do this one thing for them as an individual, they would believe. This makes one question if the onus of believing in God is truly on man.

Mat 12:38-39
38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet;

What I have noticed in the charismatic school of thought is besides the: cast your troubles on the Lord and claim your healing; I have observed that when a guest charismatic preacher comes in to share the Word at another charismatic body, this preacher will not be in a frenzied state like charismatic body he has visited. This preacher may act just like them in his home charismatic setting but it makes me wonder how the charismatics define ‘filled with the Spirit’ because it seems that these preachers subconsciously know that they can either settle for the so called ‘spirit filled’ tongue speaking, yelling, clapping and dancing frenzy or sit quietly in the presence of His Majesty and preach the Spirit breathed Word. These preachers know subconsciously that they cannot do both. Why? Well, that is question that remains unanswered only to the charasmatics. It seems that being ‘Spirit filled’ has no connection with ‘Christ likeness’ to these charasmatics, as for me I would find it blasphemous to even associate the charismatic definition of ‘spirit filled’ with ‘Christ likeness’. Yes and I have noticed among this section that they like sketches of where Jesus is portrayed as rather jovial. This makes me wonder if these people ever took note of Isaiah 53:3, which speaking of Christ says that He was a man of sorrows and acquainted in grief. In fact in John 8:57, the Jews told Jesus that He was not yet 50 years old, when He would have been only about 33 years in his human age at that time. He truly was the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who bore the sins of the world.

The solution for man is not in meeting His every need but in being put right with His Creator. If it were ever so that man’s need were to be first met before any initiation of relationship between him and God, then one needs to see man’s belief as being conditional, which itself does not reflect the essence of belief and subjection to an Almighty God. In the Bible, many a times Jesus has said to people while healing them, your faith has saved you. You will notice in most of these cases, that these people subjected themselves to Him and His majesty. What is faith? It is not asking desperately or demanding with confidence in any way. It is seeing yourself under the behest of God. When Adam ate of the forbidden fruit, he received the knowledge of good and evil, which actually is, he received a new standard i.e. death because it was separate from the righteousness of God. It is for this reason that man independently chooses right from wrong though the Word of God may teach otherwise on that same issue. So faith is that where you humble yourself in the presence of the living God. God is already exalted and we cannot exalt Him any further but by His Spirit working in us we can deny ourselves the self righteous pride Adam gave us. This way we humble ourselves before Him, saying we are but sinners deserving of nothing but His justice and this is faith because to deny feeding our appetites and see ourselves for who we are before God, is how we truly prostrate before His Majesty.

Mat 15
21 Jesus went away from there, and withdrew into the district of Tyre and Sidon.22 And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.”23 But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, “Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.”24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”25 But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”26 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”27 But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”28 Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.” And her daughter was healed at once.

Psalms 51
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

When we look at the Israelites in the Book of Exodus, we see that they were a people who witnessed many miracles, yet it is recorded of them that they grumbled and sought to go back to Egypt. Now this nature is not peculiar to the Israelite people, this is what human nature is. We want to feel warm in the winters, cool in the summer and dry in the monsoon, there never reaches a point of satisfaction. This is what man’s fallen nature is about! However for a believer, His satisfaction is only in His relationship with Christ, he does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God (Mat 4:4). Will such a state ever be possible with man? Never by man (Mat 19:26)! But for the elect in Christ, who have RECEIVED a birth in His Spirit, they have also received a righteousness which is of God and so obedience to God is made possible only to the Christian. As for the reprobate, they never realize that satisfaction can only be found in a relationship with God and this does not even matter to them because they are dead in the spirit, owing to Adam; so they do not have, neither can they initiate communion with God by themselves.

To a reprobate man, it is always a miracle that he feels will satisfy him to bring him to belief but if this man were to question his desire and reason to materialize this miracle, it will in most cases seem that he chooses only to further his lust and excuse himself from subjection under God. This is the death that pervades through all the children of Adam. To these people, faith is nothing more than one’s hunger to make it big in life, which is nothing more than the highlight of audacious self righteousness in seeking pride, craving for power and lustful pleasure (1 John 2:16), that Adam took on in death to pass on to all his children. However scripture states that we have nothing more than what we have been given, in fact even the beasts of the Book of Revelation have no more power than what God has given them to meet His purpose of threshing the wheat from the chaff.

To conclude, what a man needs is not a miracle to set his life straight but he needs to receive Jesus Christ in the Spirit according to the will of God and never according to the will of man (John 1:12-13).

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