Tag Archives: repentance
Focus! Keeping Your Eyes on Jesus in a Near-Sighted, Distracted World! (The Blind Man in John 9 – Part 13)
The Pharisees are brutal with the man born blind. They grill him on how he got healed because they want reasons to reject Jesus. And the interrogation continues . . .
In this series of blog posts on FOCUS I want to examine my own vision and ask if my spiritual eyesight is getting dim, distracted, or damaged by choices I make. We will be looking at a number of key biblical passages which emphasize this sense of sight. I am particularly looking forward to pondering the healing miracles which turned blind people into sighted people.
Summary of the Scuffle: The man born blind uses sarcasm to criticize the Pharisees for not even knowing where Jesus is from. He then gives them a theological lecture (“Prayer 101”) about the person God hears and the person God doesn’t hear. Next he reminds them that nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. Then he concludes: “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (v. 33).
A Pathetic Response: To the man born blind’s logic the Pharisees could only bring out their club in response. They first make a pronouncement about the man born blind’s sinfulness: “You were steeped in sin at birth!” (v. 34). But, wait a minute, weren’t each of us “steeped in sin at birth”?
34 ἀπεκρίθησαν καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Ἐν ἁμαρτίαις σὺ ἐγεννήθης ὅλος, καὶ σὺ διδάσκεις ἡμᾶς; καὶ ἐξέβαλον αὐτὸν ἔξω.
34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
This expression “you were steeped in sin” is technically “you were wholly born in sins.” One translation (The Complete Jewish Bible) translates this verse as: “’Why, you mamzer!’ they retorted, ‘Are you lecturing us?’ And they threw him out.” “Mamzer is Hebrew (and Yiddish) for “bastard.” In common parlance, mamzer is a very derogatory reference to a difficult or unpleasant individual. But in Torah, mamzer refers to a Jewish person who was born into a certain situation and is therefore disallowed to marry most fellow Jews.” (https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/4007896/jewish/What-Is-a-Mamzer.htm).
Other translations of John 9:34 have — “You misbegotten wretch!” (Phillips), “You illegitimate bastard, you!” (The Living Bible), “You’re nothing but dirt!” (The Message). So the Pharisees resort to an ad hominem argument (an argument against the person) and then move to the argumentum ad baculum argument (an argument of the club) we mentioned in our last post. They “threw him out.”
How Should They Have Responded? Instead of ridiculing his birth and rejecting his statements, how should the Pharisees have responded? They should have agreed with his logic, they should have said “Of course! We were all steeped in sin at birth!”, they should have repented of their rejection of Jesus, and they should have praised God for this man’s healing! But this isn’t the end of the story . . .
Today’s Challenge: The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat the truth of our sinfulness and need of a Savior. Self-righteous religion is no substitute for the faith and repentance God requires to get right with Him. Pray for someone today that you know who needs God to deal with their sin issue.
This is a profound challenge from our former pastor, Paul Cochrane!
Dear Woodland Hills Family,
Twenty years have now passed since those 2,977 lives were mercilessly snuffed out by heinous perpetrators of terrorism. Do you remember the spiritual shock waves that reverberated across our nation in the weeks and months after 9/11? People were suddenly conscious of God. And their mortality. And how they were living. At least for a season, people prayed, supported charities, attended church, and reoriented their lives. It stopped short of a national revival, but we at least had some movement in that direction.
Fast-forward to 2020 and 2021. As of this writing, the Pandemic has now claimed 656,000 Americans’ lives.1 Twenty-two thousand percent more lives have been lost to COVID-19 than to the terrorism of 9/11. And yet, where is the spiritual sensitivity, the circumspection, the God-consciousness? The 656,000 lives lost is comparable to how many we lost in the Civil War.2 It surpasses World War II casualties by 250,000.3 You would think Americans would be falling to their knees in repentance en masse. But the spiritual silence is deafening.
Instead, the majority of the conversation is about “following the science,” wearing masks, and developing vaccines. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t do those things. But how is it most Americans’ response to this scourge is largely devoid of a spiritual component?
Is it because the 656,000 died over a span of 19 months rather than all in one day? Was losing them more gradually somehow less traumatic? Like the frog that won’t jump out of a pot that is only gradually cooking him, have we become spiritually desensitized to what should shock us to repentance?
Or is it because we have a certain self-assured confidence that we can handle this ourselves? By our medical science? By our collective effort? By our best practices?
And now we have the Delta Variant, and here comes the Mu Variant. To say nothing of hurricanes, floods, drought, and fire. What will it take for our nation to come to their spiritual senses and bow the knee?
O Lord, stir our hearts to repent, that the plague may be restrained from the people. Move us to fall on our faces and confess our sin, that You may command the destroying angel to sheath his sword.4
1 NY Times (https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/us/covid-cases.html)
2 Total Civil War casualties, North & South: 655,000+
3 World War II American casualties: 405,399
4 I Chronicles 21:14-28; 2 Samuel 24:15-25
Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #47 “Critical Imperatives for the Christ-Follower” (A Study of Romans 12) Part 19
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 12 each day this week.I count 24 injunctions or commands or imperatives for the believer here in Romans 12. I’m aware that the expression “critical imperative” is redundant, but I think it’s useful for what we see here in this great chapter.
We’ve seen that the believer is to offer his body as a living sacrifice, not to conform to the pattern of this world, to be transformed by the renewing of his mind, to think of himself with sober judgment, to use his gifts to build up the body of Christ, to hate as God hates, to be devoted to the body in love, to honor one another beyond yourselves, to keep one’s spiritual fervor, to be joyful in hope, to be patient in affliction, to be faithful in prayer, to share with the Lord’s people who are in need, to practice hospitality, to bless those who persecute them, to use our emotions for the Lord and for each other, to live in harmony with one another, and to reach out to others regardless of their status!
Let’s continue our multipart study by looking at verse 17.The nineteenth critical imperative is pretty straightforward —
19. Believers are NOT TO REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL (v. 17)!
My default setting — and I’ll bet yours as well — is to remember every offense done to me. And not just remember them, but to at least think about retaliation!
Okay, don’t look so spiritual. You probably don’t suffer wrong any better than I do! One of my biggest challenges is driving. I drive just fine. It’s other people that have lost their minds. And they cut me off, ride on my bumper, don’t signal when they pull in front of me, drive 100 in a 70 mph zone. Basically irritate the living daylights out of me. I sometimes flash my headlights at those who commit these egregious vehicular offenses, occasionally give them a glare of profound religious indignation, and then begin scheming. Yes, I scheme.
I think about following them to their place of business and keying their car. That’s when you take your key and scratch the side of their car with it. I’ve never keyed anyone’s car. Even when they deserved it. But I’ve thought about it.
And then . . . I repented. It’s not mine to bring down God’s hammer of judgment on wayward sinners. And it would be EVIL for me to do so.
How about you? Don’t you long for judgment — perhaps immediate wrath — to be dispensed on the malefactors that have committed evil on you? on the world? But we are to leave judgment in GOD’s hands.
Today’s Challenge: What offense against you causes you to plot retaliation? There are none? Then I guess Paul’s admonition to not repay evil for evil doesn’t apply to you. Or does it?
Ruminating on ROMANS! (Some Thoughts on Paul’s Great Epistle) #7 Contempt for God’s Kindness! (A Study of Romans 2:2-5)
Many of you know that my New Jersey friend Frank and I are reading through God’s Word together (described here). We’re now in the book of Romans and are reading chapter 2 each day this week. Here is something that I noticed in reading this chapter:
Contempt for God’s Kindness! (A Study of Romans 2:2-5)
As we continue our study of this great epistle, you can see from our text above a little bit of what I do as I read and re-read a passage like this one. I underline, put text in different colors, and even add a question or two (such as “BELIEVERS OR UNBELIEVERS? in verse 4).
Paul is speaking against hypocrisy and he charges these Roman Christians with contempt of God’s kindness! Wow. In fact it is a hatred or a disregard for “the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience”! He is charging these believers with showing contempt for that attribute of God which is “intended to lead you to repentance”!
Paul could have easily accused them of ignoring God’s holiness or God’s righteous wrath, but he speaks instead of God’s kindness. God doesn’t owe any of us anything. And He certainly doesn’t owe us kindness, does He?
(We will continue our thoughts on this passage in our next post).
Friends: If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that my friend Frank (in New Jersey) and I have been doing an email Bible study for over a year. We read the same chapter every day for a week — and then send a brief email of encouragement to each other. We’ve completed most of the epistles of the New Testament — and it’s been a great discipline for both of us.
Let us continue our study of several verses in chapter seven:
Godly Sorrow! (A Study of 2 Corinthians 7:8-13)
“Never apologize! It’s a sign of weakness,” says Leroy Jethro Gibbs of TV’s “NCIS.” But the Bible disagrees with Gibbs and indicates that being sorrowful is a sign of growth and strength. Here are several truths I’m learning about GODLY SORROW:
I. The Occasion for Godly Sorrow (v. 8)
II. The Outcome of Godly Sorrow (v. 9)
III. Two Kinds of Sorrow (v. 10)
IV. The Fruit of Godly Sorrow (v. 11)
V. Godly Sorrow’s Effect on Others (vv. 12-13)
I am looking forward to speaking at Cedar Valley Bible Church’s “Second Coming Conference” (November 16-17) in Iowa. I want to work my way through three prophetic sections of Scripture: I Thessalonians 4:13-18, II Peter 3:1-18, and I John 3:1-10.
We’ve looked at I Thessalonians 4:13-18 and seen how the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus ought to encourage our hearts! Let’s move on to our second text, II Peter 3:1-18 and see its practical implications for RIGHT NOW. Here’s our text —
In this text we see the Certainty of Final Judgment.
We notice, first of all, that prophetic teaching should lead us to wholesome thinking (v. 1). We are to be neither eschatophobiacs or eschatomaniacs! Overfocusing on end times’ material without present life-change is not wholesome thinking!
We are then reminded of God’s climatic actions in the universe (vv. 3-7). Specifically creation (v. 5) and the flood (v. 6) are provided as evidence that God can — and will — dramatically interrupt the normal, everyday pattern of life.
I think Peter could write a similar book and call it He Is There and He Is Not IMPOTENT! These false teachers are counting on a kind of uniformitarianism that all things in the universe will continue as they always have. We read, “4 They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’” This perspective is sometimes called Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity. This is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in the past and apply everywhere in the universe. But these false teachers took it a step further, arguing that God will not invade His creation by judgment.
But they have “deliberately” forgotten God’s climatic actions in creation and the flood! God’s timetable is not our timetable (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day”). His delaying judgment is not to be thought of as His slowness in keeping His promise. His delaying judgment is His patience — giving people time to REPENT and not perish (v. 9).
We learn of God’s longing that people repent (v. 9). How does one avoid God’s judgment? By repenting and believing the gospel! Becoming converted involves both faith and repentance — believing the truths about Jesus and acknowledging and turning from our sin.
May I suggest that you and I pray that the Lord will us the opportunity to say those hard words at the right in red to someone we love? God’s future judgment is certain! And the only escape is repentance! (to be continued)