Category Archives: repentance
The Lord Jesus was a “friend of sinners”! He was! And I want to be too. From August 3-5 I will be leading a “Theology Matters” retreat with young people on this topic at Dayspring Bible Camp in Missouri.
In this six-part study we have already seen that we need a theology which undergirds our efforts to reach lost people. We need a theology of lostness, a theology of friendship, a theology of worldliness, and a theology of evangelism.
Let’s notice this morning a fifth theology which we need to rightfully be a friend of sinners like Jesus was and that is —
V. A Theology of REPENTANCE!
What we mean here is that we need a solid grasp of the great joy of starting over! Of admitting where we were wrong. The North Carolina preacher Vance Havner once said, “An excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” We have many excuses for not being a friend of sinners — and we want to examine one of them in this post.
The great theologian Carly Simon sang, “I haven’t got time for the . . .” (she was singing about pain, but you get the point). “I’m too busy to get involved with unsaved people,” some Christians might say. “I’ve got church meetings, small group, mission trips (to reach lost people over the ocean), and I need to have some quality time for myself!”
Repentance is a change of mind and heart about a matter. The repentant believer says, “Lord, I’ve been wrong not to intentionally pursue relationships with lost people. I’m sorry, Lord. Please forgive me and help me be more like my Savior!”
Although there are a number of other excuses we Christians give for not spending time with sinners, this issue of time cannot be avoided. All of us have exactly 24 hours each day, right? Well, one scientifically-minded person wrote the following question to a website: “Why do we have 24 hour days if the earth actually rotates every 23 hours and 56 minutes?” One smart person responded, “23 hours and 56 minutes is one ‘sidereal’ day with respect to the stars, but by then the Earth is in a slightly different position in its orbit around the Sun, so it takes an extra 4 minutes to make one ‘solar’ day (the number of sidereal days in a year is exactly one greater than the number of solar days).” I didn’t really understand that much at all. But at the very least we can say that each of us has 23 hours and 56 minutes every day to experience. And to use.
Someone named Alice Bloch said, “We say we waste time, but that is impossible. We waste ourselves.”
The Lord Jesus intentionally spent time with the lost. He socialized with them, ate with them, fed them! He listened to their questions; He told them stories; He loved them. May I ask you, what are you going to do with your 23 hours and 56 minutes today? (to be continued)
In our church we’ve been going through the fantastic epistle of Philippians. Because I am a member of our preaching team, I was given an opportunity to share a kind of summary-message on the highlights from Philippians that stand out to me.
For the purpose of this blog, I’m approaching the highlights as conclusions to a proposition:
IF GOD’S WORD, SPECIFICALLY THIS BOOK OF PHILIPPIANS, CAN BE TRUSTED, THEN . . .
I. My prayer life will be revolutionized (1:3-6). I will learn to pray with JOY for others, pray for our partnerships in the gospel, and pray for God’s continuing & maturing work in the lives of others.
We next saw that IF God’s Word can be trusted, then
2. My view of life and death will be revised (1:20-24). There Paul says he wants to exalt Christ in his life or his death: “for to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
The third truth that leaps out at me from Philippians is this:
The fourth truth which we saw in the book of Philippians relates to how I view myself. IF the book of Philippians can be trusted, then . . .
4. My self-image will be challenged (2:1-5). There we learn that we are to do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but to put others’ needs before our own.
Let’s move on and notice the FIFTH TRUTH from Philippians — assuming it can be trusted! That FIFTH TRUTH IS:
5. MY SYSTEM OF VALUES WILL BE RECALIBRATED (3:1-9). Those verses tell us:
1 Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. 2 Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. 7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.
We see from this text that, first of all, knowing Him might lead to the loss of everything else. This could involve a literal loss of all things or a mental loss of all things. The latter would be true when we count everything loss for the sake of knowing Christ. [for an account of our losing everything in a house fire in 2003, see my book When Temptation Strikes].
We also see from this text that, second, a relationship with Jesus Christ is more important than anything else life offers!
Discussion Questions: How have your VALUES been changed since coming to Christ? What values do you presently hold that appear out of sync with Christian truth?
|Pastor Bell, in light of what you have hinted at in your previous writing (Velvet Elvis), and have now made quite clear in your present work (Love Wins), you have joined a long-standing heretical movement called universalism. You profess that you and your church hold to Evangelical
Orthodoxy, but the facts are otherwise. Your challenges to the wider Evangelical population to care about lost people encourage us to stand strong for the gospel, but you have departed from the faith once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints (Jude 3).
I appeal to you and to the spiritual leadership of Mars Hill Church to abandon the heresy of universalism and make your repentance public.
Paul’s warning to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 speaks of “savage wolves” who “will not spare the flock.” He further says, “even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
It seems clear that you have embraced a kind of “Evangelical” universalism advocated by false teachers like Philip Gulley, Thomas Talbott, Carlton Pearson, Gregory MacDonald (pseudonym of one of the leaders of the
“Evangelical universalists”), and apparently my friend of 40 years ago, Brian McLaren.
Please sincerely consider this challenge to repent and turn away from your error. There are many Evangelicals who are praying that you will do just that.
Columbia International University Seminary & School of Missions