The Missing Link
The young woman sat looking dejected in front of her Pastor. "What's the problem, Emily? How can I help you?" The story began to unfold, At 14 she had had her first sexual contact with a young man and for the next four years she had had one man after the other. "How do you feel about that now," the Pastor asked. "Just fine."
The Pastor had not expected that answer. "No, what I mean is," he said, "is how you feel about your relationship with Christ, knowing that you have broken a comandment -- knowing that you have sinned against God?"
She told the Pastor how she had felt bad after each of her first sexual encounters but hadn't felt any remourse after those. In her mind she knew that what she was doing was wrong but could feel no guilt or shame in her heart.
Several councelling sessions later no progress had been made despite focused time on prayer and Scripture study. She felt no different. The Pastor felt helpless. How could he possibly help her if she didn't feel that what she had done, and was doing, was wrong? And then one day, in a counselling session, the Pastor began talking about the Judgment and how we would feel coming into the presence of God -- of the joy we would feel coming before Him with clean hearts and minds, and of the terror and horror we would feel if we approched such Holiness with impure and filthy souls.
Without warning, the young woman began sobbing uncontrollably as the realisation suddenly hit her of what it would be like to approach our Heavenly Father in an unclean state. She wept bitterly as she beheld the awfulness of her spiritual separation from God and the lost eternity that lay in front of her if she did not become right with Him. Though unconscious of actually what was happening, she was repenting with all her heart. And after it was all over, she was a new woman.
"How do you feel now?" the Pastor asked, breaking a long silence. "Absolutely terrible," she replied. And without not really knowing why, the Pastor replied: "I am so happy for you."
From that day onwards the young woman began to make spiritual progress. Remorse and pain of conscience had returned. In a way, her real self had returned. Before too long she felt no more inclination to sleep with men and was walking in the commandments of Christ. (An abridged extract from Alive in Christ, by Robert Milet).
THE MISSING LINK
It is not particularly fashionable in the churches to teach repentance these days and the result has been an unmitigated disaster for the Christian Church. People are being churched who have never felt remorse for sin, never experienced forgiveness, and are inventing substitutes like 'tongues' and pop music to make them feel "good". The result is a soulish gospel totally disconnected from the Source of Life, Jesus Christ. People are continuing to live in their sins and feel they are doing nothing wrong. Their conscience, killed by worldly ways before their conversion, remains dead as they refuse to deal with the very important question of holiness as a pre-requistite to coming into the presence of God in both this life and the next one.
One of the very first teachings Yahshua (Jesus) brought to the world was repentance. "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mk.1:15, AV). In short, true belief cannot take place unless there has been proper repentance. A person who believes without repentance will only have a skin-deep belief so that when difficulties come, his belief will no longer sustain him.
"Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Lk.13:3, AV). So important is repentance that without it we have no hope -- spiritual death and a lost eternity is what will greet us when we pass into the next life, even if we profess belief in Christ!
"Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Ac.2:38). Without repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins, and without repentance there is no gift of the Holy Spirit. Then what have those Christians received who have never repented and yet who are active members of Christian Churches? What spirit is guiding them? The answer can only be THEIR OWN. They are being led by the flesh. Their worship is soulish. It is not of the Holy Spirit.
"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of God" (Ac.3:19). If a Christian, so-called, does not repent from sin, he will never be truly a convert -- never be a part of the eternal, saved Body of Christ. Worse, perhaps, when the Lord sends the Spirit in revival or at other special times -- "the times of refreshing" -- IT WILL PASS HIM BY. And this is what is soon to happen through all of Christendom (see NC&C 7) The Spirit of God will come in renewal, filling the repentant disciples of Christ with power, and either bypassing or compleytely blowing away the plastic converts -- those who have never confronted the sin within themselves head-on and dealt with them by going to the foot of the cross in deep contrition and repentance.
Our old nature is a corrupting influence on our spiritual life. We are to be rid of its dominating influence by yielding our whole life to Christ. And we cannot do that -- we cannot fully surrender -- until we have faced our sins and felt deep sorrow for them. Only then can the Holy Spirit actually deal with them and wash us clean. Paul said:
"Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness: but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor.5:7-8, AV).
Without repentance there is no genuine rebirth and no renewal in the Spirit of God. Without repentance we remain dead....in sin. If we are once purged of sin through repentance and faith in the redeeming blood of Christ, we "shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use, and prepared unto good work" (2 Tim.2:21, AV). In other words, all our "good works" are dead works if we have not repented and become sanctified, and they count for nothing. A sobering thought.
This repentance is, moreover, not just a single act. It is a lifelong process that must be worked at every day. "Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded...Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed" (Jas.4:8; 5:16, AV). And "if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 Jn.1:9, AV).
Repentance is in our own interests. However, sin is a gross offense to God. It is not something that He looks at passively. We must not stop repenting: "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth" (Rev.2:16). The one who names the Name of Christ and who does not repent is at war with God! And what will God do to such a person? He will fight against them "with the sword of His mouth" -- the Scriptures will condemn his, His true servants will rebuke him, and his conscience -- if it is not already dead -- will disturb him as God's Word agitates his mind and heart, either causing him to sorrow for his sin or stirring up rebellion, hatred and the spirit of persecution.
"Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent" (Rev.3:3, AV). The Christian life is a constant battle against the tug of sin and the unredeemed Adam nature -- we must continue working with ourselves all our lives, living lives of perpetual repentance, meaning living ready to change our thoughts, feelings and actions once God reveals that we are walking along a wrong path. God will not allow us to sleep: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous, therefore and repent" (Rev.3:19, AV).
We have only two choices -- to repent (feel remorse for sin and change our life accordingly) or to resist God's Word (and feel as though everything is fine even though our lives condemn us). Repentance allows us to know and feel as God knows and feels. A lack of repentance denies our soul, which longs to be free, the true feelings of righteousness, trapping us in a web of false and illusiory feelings which may convince us to believe that "all is well" when we are, in fact, on the road to destruction.
THE MODERN WITNESS
Is it any accident that in our time the Lord has, through His anointed prophets, commanded the people to repent? The Olive Branch is full of such admonitions:
The revelations actually define the Church as those who are repentant:
"Let none suppose that they might postpone the day of repentance, for that day is here" (NC&C 111:19).
"And if they have repented, they will manifest that repentance by a godly walk, sinning no more after their former sins, and speaking out against that sin when the world performeth it. And they shall do so with conviction, power, firmness, and loving kindness. Behold, if a man or woman hath sinned in a matter, and hath truly repented of his former ways, then he will speak out against his former ways, not in guile that he may be approved by those in his fellowship, but for righteousness' sake. By this key ye may know if a man's repentance is genuine or not, or whether he hath repented in token but not in substance. And if a man continueth to sin in his old ways after he hath repented, then behold, it is as though he had not repented at all; and oft a man hath not repented at all, either not comprehending his sin or in order to please his fellows by repenting in token. Beloved ones, do not imitate any spirit of hypocrisy or shallowness, but see that ye are true and your repentance full, for in no other way can ye be blessed by the fruits of true repentance, which are joy, peace, and love" (NC&C 178:8-14).
This radical teaching of the Saviour is brought out time and time again in the Olive Branch -- those who repent belong to the true Church, and those who don't do not. Church membership is not, therefore, in the final analysis important -- it is our standing with God.
"Behold, whosoever repenteth of his sins [by obeying My commandments] and cometh unto Me, the living Christ, is My Church, and whosoever declareth more or less than this, the same is not of Me, or of My Church. Those who repent not, and turn against Me, are not of My Church, and must needs belong to another church, and must needs belong unto he who hath created that church" (NC&C 168:9-10).
There are many, unfortunately, who, influenced by the world and its rebellion against God, have been taught that repentance is something undignified, degrading, and negative. It isn't. It is the very opposite, and that's why so many people get caught up in the lie that repentance is something old-fashioned that is to be avoided like the plague. But the Lord says:
"...repent while the day is young. Repentance is sweet, and behold, thout wilt know that My Word is true for surely I, the Lord, will endow thee with greater peace and love when thou hast been obedient. And by this means thou wilt know Me as I really am, and not the fragmented image which thou hast of me" (NC&C 334:64-65).
What, then, are we as New Covenant Christians to do?
"...preach (only) repentance and faith in Christ unto this generation" (NC&C 346:33)
We have come to the very core of the Gospel -- repentance, and faith in Christ. And what do we see in the churches for the most part? Only faith. Half the Gospel is missing! The Lord's voice rings forth clearly to all of us:
"I command you to repent (Mt.3:2) and to become submissive as little children; shall ye hate Me because I command you to repent and cease your slothfulness? (Jn.15:18). Ye shall declare with a loud voice that the Lord your God is a holy God. And ye shall bless the Name of the Lord, saying, 'Hosannah! Praise the Name of the Lamb; for He is worthy, and His blood is precious above all things!'" (NC&C 52:19-21).
To repent requires that we become submissive. To become submissive means that we must work with pride until we have conquered it, because pride will not repent!
"Thou shalt slay the dragon of pride for he burneth up all that is good and virtuous when it cometh close to him. And when a greater Light cometh the dragon is manifest, and becometh angry, breathing here and there that he might affrighten the Light. But verily, verily, I say unto thee: there is no fear in the light, for the Light -- even My Light -- maketh a man free. He who denieth these things is a liar and a hypocrite, and must descend further into darkness, unhappiness and despair. But he who receiveth these things shall be made eternally free, knowing the joy of the Firstborn, and the peace and happiness thereof" (NC&C 105:17-21).
We have come to the core. We have arrived at the ultimate source of sin in our lives, that which would prevent us from repenting:
"Prayer and the seeking of My face cannot be done in a state of pride, but only by humbling oneself and repenting, which requires a death-blow to pride. I look upon the hearts of those who lead My people and I see pride and arrogance. I see the desire for self-glorification and I see an unwillingness to bend the knee before Me and to admit their helplessness. They will turn to any channel which seems to offer a means of achieving what they desire...I will wait for a people who will come before Me in humility and lowliness of spirit, who will acknowledge that My Word is true in every part, and know that I will not depart from one word of it. I am looking for a people who will glorify Me because I am God and not because they want to persuade Me to release My power into their hands. I will not give them this power, declares the Lord, until there is humility before the throne of God, and repentance from pride and self-seeking. When My people admit that of themselves they can do nothing, then the hand of God will begin to accomplish those things which they cannot do in their own strength. Amen" (NC&C 141:9-12,19-22).
The matter is clear. There really is no room for dispute because the Word of the Lord is as plain as plain can be. For both the New Birth and renewal in the Holy Spirit, humility, a death blow to pride, and a confession that we are nothing before God is the only way to eternal life. All else is vanity, and vanity leads to destruction. May we not be found on that path, but repent, return to where we are supposed to be and do what we are supposed to be doing, seriously and honestly examining our thoughts and feelings to make sure that they are in conformity to the Word and not the fruits of self-deception. Our feelings are not reliable barometers of the truth. Only God's Word is. And when we are in that Word, repentant, and walking in His commandments, then -- and only then -- can our feelings begin to reflect the heavenly glory, be purified, and bring us abiding peace. May these things be ours, I pray, in Yah'shua's (Jesus') Name. Amen.
This page was created on 10 April 1998
Last updated on 10 April 1998
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