Monday, December 8, 2008

Some Words, Part 1

Repentance.

It's a very confusing concept to Christians. Not so much to the rest of the world.

First, it is a very uncommonly used word in the world outside of religion. It is not used lightly and almost never as a command. The word has weight. It has undertones related so deeply with religion, that its use is only when it is absolutely the right word for the task. Have you ever heard "repent" or "repentance" outside of a religious conversation?

I have, a small handful of times. Of course, I made it to age 27 before coming to Christ. And every time, it was used as a warning or indication of self-condemnation resulting in self-correction: condemning one's own actions before another does.

Second, in the world, I've always been aware that the word is applied to specific situations, actions, etc,. - never as a general term applied to someone's life or remaining existance. If you were to describe someone as "repentant," the question begs, "Of what?" If you were to say someone has a "repentant heart," it would be assumed it was for a specific wrong-doing, not the general character of the individual.

Finally, repentance is not an easy act. Repent is a verb! But it's a feeling, too. So it's a feeling you do - purposefully. It requires introspection, insight, concern - and motivation. There are two motivations to repent - fear and love. When the world uses the word repentence, they most often assume a motivation of love.

Most Christians I know use fear of God as motivation for repentance. They wouldn't agree with me, but I've listened carefully.

"To repent is a command!"

"You must repent from your sins for forgiveness!"

Who was repentance preached to? Christians?

Repentence was preached to the lost world. Don't you think the word used would be the word they understand?

Why do we change it?

12 comments:

Kansas Bob said...

A couple of things came to mind when I read this Missy..

+ God's goodness leads us to repent

+ Most of us don't ever talk about acts of penance the way that the Catholics do.. wonder why?

+ I also came to the Lord when I was 27.

mibman said...

Speaking of related feelings. I remember someone telling me years ago they never felt shame. Wouldn't allow it. That as a Christian ... God never wanted us to feel shame. I don't know how genuine repentance stemming from love could be absent of some measure of shame ... & remorse. I don't repent because God's gonna thump me if I don't. I repent because I can't breathe if I don't. Or rather ... I don't want to breathe if I don't repent.

Nice to see the light on. - td

Missy said...

KB, thanks for stopping by so quickly. I've been a sparse poster.

You certainly get right to the heart of it!

When I wrote this, I was trying to think of what repentence meant to me before I was churchified in terminology.

It usually meant that someone did something awesomely self-less and in turn, I reconsidered my treatment of that friend and decided I was wrong and tried not to behave that way anymore. They deserved better than acquaintance-fluff and network-like usage.

Any change I made to be a "better person" was internally motivated, and although I wouldn't, at the time, have referred to that as "self-righteousness," I also would not have called it "repentance."

So, I think the world might agree that repentence is something we are led to do - not arbitrarily choose to do.

Missy said...

"Most of us don't ever talk about acts of penance the way that the Catholics do.. wonder why?"

What do you mean, KB? Is penance a parallel to repentance for Catholics? I find many legalistic protestants promote forms of "penance" with a formulaic "if...then" mindset.

On the otherhand, I think the world considers repentance an insightful act made irregardless of the consequences.

"I also came to the Lord when I was 27."

Ah, then you know what I'm going through? :)

Missy said...

Hi, Tim!

What you said reminds me of a scripture:

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death." 2 Corinthians 7:10

There is certainly a sadness involved in repentance. There is a weight that only the word "shame" encapsulates. There is a shame that leads to repentance and openness, and one that leads to guilt and deception.

Guilt is one of satan's greatest weapons in my opinion.

Of course, I am very overcome with the notion that guilt, and not sin, is the barrier between ourselves and God. This is why God removes the guilt, but not the sin. You might have caught on to that in some of my earlier posts.

Kansas Bob said...

I guess when I said "acts of penance" I was thinking of what John the Baptist said:

Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matt 3:8 ESV)

mibman said...

Hey Missy :-)

I'm probably more comfortable w/ "guilt" than most. Most are quick to highlight the absence (through Grace) of condemnation that naturally follows any guilt - to the degree it feels almost that they want to believe they were never really guilty.

Like shame ... I believe guilt will also naturally be present in healthy / love-based repentance; & should be. It is the awareness of the guilt that brings shame. Followed then by the awareness that I need my Redeemer. Followed then by my overwhelming gratitude that He lives; & I am not condemned in my guilt.

When I sin ... I am guilty. Before I leap to the safety of the no-condemnation platform ... I believe it is good & appropriate to stand however long on those gallows, know I belong there, allow God's Spirit to deeply communicate why I belong there, & drown in the loving grace that pulls me from it.

Without guilt ... repentence would have no value.

You've given me much to think about, now. - td

Missy said...

KB and Tim, I've been without electricity for about 6 days. Talk about time to think!

Ah, I see what you mean, KB. It does seem as though many have abandoned that one. Something more to think about. :)

Tim, I guess I should clarify my meaning by the use of the term, "guilt." I would agree, I must accept that I am "guilty" of sin. However, we often choose to be overcome with an affinity for that guilt and choose self-condemnation as a means of salvation. This better describes what I mean when I refer to the emotional noun, guilt. Does that make sense? This feeling leaves us with a great desire to repay or retreat - thinking either method makes things better. Reparation is often the more noble reaction, and in most earthly issues a proper reaction.

But there is no reparation we can make to God for our sin.

I hope I am adequately describing the subtle variance - perhaps in my own context I have mixed the terms "shame" and "guilt."

mibman said...

Sorry you lost power. A very bad time of year for that. Man, 6 days? What the heck caused that kind of loss? Glad you got juice, again.

:-) I would say you brought perfect clarity to your position. Yep - I agree.

Repentance can even be held in reserve regarding 'familiar' sin - or simply, habitual / pattern sin that we may struggle w/. The feeling of "man, I've comitted this same sin & subsequently repented a million times ... how on earth does my repentance not brim w/ hypocracy?" Yet, we are called to repentance. Repentance is necessary. Repentance is possible through Christ. "Repent", says the Lord.

BTW - Merry Christmas & I pray God's blessings for you & your's. - td

alvin said...

Hi Missy

This is concerning forgiveness and eternal life.
Repentance for forgiveness of sins is to be preached! All men are called on to repent! It’s repentance toward God and Faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Christian makes a great error when he tries putting eternal life and forgiveness in the same category.
The Gospel of John was written for the purpose people might have life (John 20:31).
Over and over again in the Gospel of John the ONLY condition for the gift of eternal life is to believe in Jesus for it.
There is not ONE mention of repentance, and only ONE mention of forgiveness.
And even though eternal life is offered over and over again as a gift one can take, forgiveness is not offered as something one can just take freely.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:23).
We see this put in action in Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Here we see forgiveness of sins wasn’t something you could just freely take like eternal life is (John 3:16;5:24;4:10;6:47; Rev 22:17).
Why?
Because repentance for forgiveness of sins has to do with HARMONY with God concerning your sin and is personal.
Where as eternal life is offered freely for anyone to take (Rev 22:17).
That is why it’s “repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
John in his gospel is concerned with the gift of “eternal life” because it is the main issue, and sin is not.
Why?
Because “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” Jesus is not only our propitiation but the propitiation for the whole world (1John 2:2).
This is confirmed at the Great White Throne, the reason people are cast into the lake of fire is because they do not have LIFE. Their names are not found in the book of life! Sin as sin is not mentioned ONE time, only their works and that is not EVEN the reason for their condemnation BUT IT’S BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE LIFE!
So what if someone believes in Jesus FOR ETERNAL LIFE what do they have?
They are regenerated (born again) have the gift of eternal life, and they are given the gift of the Holy Spirit. They are justified before God and granted forgiveness based upon Jesus sacrificial death. They are in harmony with God and thus have fellowship.
So why do we preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins?
So that the wayward sinner might change his mind about his sins and seek forgiveness from God. And when he has forgiveness he is in harmony with his Creator because he has believed in Jesus FOR eternal life.
Remember forgiveness is PERSONAL and has to do with sin, but eternal life is a gift anyone can take freely because it has nothing to do with sin because sin has ALL been paid for.
Proof of that is the invitation to anyone to take the living water freely that is given on the last page of Scripture Revelation 22:17.
What people need is life, even though everyone’s sins have been paid for in full they still go to hell unforgiven because their name is not found written in the book of life.
They don’t go to hell because they are unforgiven they go to hell because they do not have life!
This is why the gift of eternal life is so important to KNOW you have BECAUSE when you have believed Jesus for His gift your name is written in the Book of Life!

alvin

alvin said...

Hi Missy, this will be my last post hope you have a Marry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
And your power comes back on soon!

Hi Diane

I posted that at both Missy's site and Michele's site. And now I'm going to post this last part. Does it sound clear to you?

Many of the Israelites went on to believe in the One who was to come after John, and entered into Harmony with God through the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 1:4,5 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of remission of sin.
Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins.
But many of them did not go on to faith in the Christ, national Israel rejected their Messiah. Repentance should lead to harmony with God. But forgiveness is not received until they believed in the One who was to come for eternal life. Just as the ones in Acts 2 who Peter told had crucified their Christ, before they would enter into harmony with God they needed to repent and be baptized then God would forgive them and give them the gift of the Holy Spirit. But remember they already had the gift of eternal life the moment they believed Jesus was the Christ (1 John 5:1) when they said "what shall we do" showed that they had believed they had killed their Christ.
Cornelius entered into harmony with God through new birth just as we do. He had repented long before turning from the pagan gods. He didn't need to be told to repent because there was not anything blocking him from believing like the ones at Anthens who were worshiping other gods (Acts 17:22-31). Cornelius simply needed to believe in Jesus for eternal life to enter into harmony with God and the family of God. Luke said in Acts 10:43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins." Luke stressed here the remission of sins because Peter would later have to give an account for going into the home of an uncircumcised person and having fellowship with him. By stressing forgiveness of sins the Jews would now know that the Gentiles were in fellowship with God. Cornelius believed in Jesus for eternal life which brought him into harmony with God and he was now part of the family of God by new birth.
Remember these are two different things: Repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance toward God has to do with our sins and can bring harmony with God. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ brings new birth and can be taken freely by faith alone in Christ alone. Repentance should lead to harmony with God which is received only when one believes in Jesus Christ for eternal life.

alvin

karen said...

KB said:
+ God's goodness leads us to repent
+ Most of us don't ever talk about acts of penance the way that the Catholics do.. wonder why?
God's goodness...yes! I don't repent because of anything but that goodness from our Dad. And, yes, the Catholics I know are sadly mired in guilt and paying penance. One of my friends has to go do his penance if he goes to his Protestant wife's church.

Tim said: I repent because I can't breathe if I don't. Or rather ... I don't want to breathe if I don't repent.
I like this. It's true. I don't want to move on at all without getting right with God.