Tag Archives: repentance

Getting to Know . . . 2 Samuel (chapter 12) The Rebuke of David’s Sin (Part 1)

“But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.” So ends chapter 11 of 2 Samuel. But displeasing the Lord requires repentance! And God raises up Nathan the prophet to do the unthinkable — to confront the King of Israel with his sin. Let’s carefully read 2 Samuel 12 as we begin to make some observations of this episode in David’s life:

As I look over this chapter, several principles of intervening in another person’s life occur to me. Whether one is involved in counseling as a profession or simply wanting to help another person, the principles that guided Nathan deserve our careful attention.

Here are several of those principles:

1. Make sure you are sent by the Lord (v. 1)! Some of us are always feeling “sent” to rebuke or correct others. The text tells us that “The Lord sent Nathan to David.” How do we know when we are “sent”? Galatians 6 say, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. 3 If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. 4 Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, 5 for each one should carry their own load. 6 Nevertheless, the one who receives instruction in the word should share all good things with their instructor.”

Apparently there was direct instruction from the Lord to Nathan to confront David. Our instruction comes from God’s written Word. We are to care about those whose lives are being ruined by sin — and get involved!

2. Use wisdom in your confrontation (vv. 1-4)! Everyone loves a good story — and Nathan spins one for King David. Only he does not begin his story by saying, “Once upon a time . ..” No. To David the story sounds like a real event in his kingdom.

We will notice the details of that story in our next post — and see David’s reaction!

Today’s takeaway: God has a process of dealing with sin among His people. And some of us are sometimes called by God to do something hard. May you and I have the courage to lovingly confront when called by God to do so!

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Posted by on April 12, 2019 in 2 Samuel 12


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Some Thoughts on the Book “What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?” (Post #22): Chapter 21- “A Final Question”

The last chapter of Martin Thielen’s book What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? is entitled”A Final Question” and is subtitled Do Mainline Christians Believe in Getting Saved? This is a critical question! He answers his question in the affirmative — mainline churches, he says, believe in getting saved.

He suggests that people can get saved two different ways: (1) by a sudden affirming of faith in Jesus, and (2) by a gradual justification. He makes three affirmations about salvation: (1) Salvation is a lifelong process; (2) We are saved by God’s grace; and (3) Salvation requires a human response. Thielen speaks about God’s prevenient grace (“grace that goes before”). Calling it God’s “preceding” or “preparing” grace, he means that God works in us to gradually (or, in the case of some, suddenly) bring one to faith. [I don’t have a major problem with the Wesleyan concept of prevenient grace (I think John 1:9 fits here: “The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.“), having taught a course on Wesleyan theology a few years ago.]

MY RESPONSE: There is much that Thielen says in this chapter that I can affirm, but some that he, unfortunately, misses. He speaks, for example, of gradual justification (a concept I don’t see in the Scriptures). And what really troubles me is a complete lack of reference to the essential of repentance in conversion. Instead, he uses expressions like “affirming faith in Jesus” or “accepting God’s pardon.”

He took me by surprise at the end of the chapter by providing an invitation to those who aren’t sure of their salvation to pray a certain prayer. Here’s that prayer: “Dear God, thank you for loving me and offering me salvation. I joyfully accept your forgiveness and grace. The best I know how, I affirm faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and I accept him as my Savior. Thank you for adopting me as your child. Help me faithfully to follow you for the rest of my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Perhaps you don’t find that prayer troubling, but what about repentance? What about a sorrow for one’s sins? Now, some in the mainline camp (and even some Evangelicals) argue that repentance is not a requirement for salvation. I would invite any who hold that view to do a study of the following passages: Mt. 3:2; 11:20; 21:32; Lk. 5:32; 13:3&5; 15:7&10; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21 (repentance and faith); Rom. 2:4; 2 Cor. 7:10; 2 Tim. 2:25; Heb. 6:1; 2 Pe. 3:9.

In his conclusion, Thielen invites readers to join themselves to mainline churches, not warning readers that such churches have often denied the  fundamentals of the faith.

I want to thank you, dear blog-reader, for sticking with me in my review of this book. Please feel free to leave a comment or two below.











Posted by on March 15, 2019 in salvation


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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel (chapter 7) Revival and Ebenezer!

Can you imagine hosting the ark of the covenant for 20 years?! That’s what the family of Abinadab does! His son Eleazar is consecrated to guard the ark of the Lord (v. 1). As a result of the ark remaining at Kiriath Jearim, “all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord” (v. 2)! There was revival in Israel!

Samuel addresses the people and commands them to get rid of their idols IF they were indeed returning to the Lord with all their hearts (v. 3). Samuel promises that if they do that and commit themselves to the Lord only, “he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” The people obey! We read “they served the Lord only.” (v. 4).

Samuel intercedes for the gathered nation at Mizpah as they fasted and confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord” (v. 6). The Philistines prepare to attack Israel. Out of fear the people ask Samuel not to stop crying out to the Lord for them! Samuel offers a whole burnt offering to the Lord and the Lord answers Samuel’s prayer (v. 9).

While he is sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistine army is drawing near to attack. We read that the Lord thundered with loud thunder and threw the Philistines into a panic. The men of Israel pursue the Philistines and conquer their soldiers.

Samuel then sets up a remembrance stone and names it Ebenezer which means “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (v. 12).  We sometimes sing —

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
By: Robert Robinson, 1735-90

Come, Thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
While the hope of endless glory
Fills my heart with joy and love,
Teach me ever to adore Thee;
May I still Thy goodness prove.

Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

[Some have tried to “modernize” the line “Here I raise my Ebenezer.”  Examples include:  “Here I find my greatest treasure,” (Psalter Hymnal); “Hitherto thy love has blest me,” “Here by grace your love has brought me,” and “Here I raise to thee an altar.”  Gary A. Parrett wrote an article entitled “Raising Ebenezer” for Christianity Today back in 2006, arguing we are misguided when we try to modernize hymn texts.]

We read that for Samuel’s lifetime the Philistines were subdued for “the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines” (v. 13). The captured lands are returned to Israel and Israel even delivers the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines, eventuating in peace between Israel and the Amorites.

Samuel continued as Israel’s leader the rest of his days, circuit riding in his duties in judging Israel. But Ramah was his home and he built an altar there to the Lord (v. 17).

We learn in this chapter that God can use a physical object (the ark) to draw His people back to Himself.

We also see that God desires repentance from His people, that they abandon their idols, and that they serve and worship Him only. God blesses his repentant people by providing them deliverance from their enemies.

I certainly don’t want “the hand of the Lord” against me, do you? Then let’s serve Him only, raising our Ebenezers in honor of the great acts of help He has given us!

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Posted by on November 15, 2018 in I Samuel 7


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“Unlike Jesus” – A Theology Matters Retreat for Dayspring Camp – Part 5

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).”[1] 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)




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Posted by on August 2, 2018 in repentance


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Repent? Or “You do You”? (Babylon Bee satire)

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Posted by on July 18, 2018 in repentance


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 31)

The Ninevite king did not know that Jonah’s God, the real God, would forgive their sins and withhold His judgment.  But they repented anyway.  Biblical preaching involves both proclaiming God’s judgment and offering His forgiveness.  If the message preached is only forgiveness, listeners may simply yawn and think they have no repenting to do.  If the message preached is only judgment, they may fall into despair and conclude there is no hope.

Jonah needed to remember his compatriot Micah’s message in Micah 7:

18 Who is a God like you, who
    pardons sin and forgives the transgression
    of the remnant of his inheritance?
You do not stay angry forever
    but delight to show mercy.
19 You will again have compassion on us;
    you will tread our sins underfoot
    and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
20 You will be faithful to Jacob,
    and show love to Abraham,
as you pledged on oath to our ancestors
    in days long ago. (Micah 7)

Micah is speaking of forgiveness for God’s covenant people, but outsiders (like the Ninevites) are invited into God’s family as early as Genesis 12 where Abraham was promised that he would be a blessing “to all nations.”

God is not willing that any should perish, as we read in 2 Peter 3:9- “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (see also Mt. 18:14).  (to be continued)






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Posted by on August 31, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 30)

“WHO KNOWS?” — The Ninevite king knew something.  He knew that he and his kingdom had committed grievous sins against Jonah’s God.  He knew that judgment was coming.  He knew that the only proper response to this kind of holy God was thorough repentance!  Whether repentance would avert this God’s wrath was not known.  But repentance was his only choice.

How refreshing to hear the Ninevite king’s clear and persuasive wisdom in commanding wholesale repentance of his kingdom!  Yes.  Yes.  I know.  “Separation of church and state!”  But this king was convinced that his life and his subjects would soon be separated from their lives!

This king hoped beyond hope that Jonah’s God would “with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”  And he was right to hope!  For Jonah’s God responded.  Seeing their repentance, He “relented.”  He did not carry through with the destruction he had threatened.  There was mercy with this God!

I have a friend who for years served in Christian organizations.  But my friend Mike (not his name) turned away from the gospel and has now embraced a skepticism that nothing will penetrate (it seems).  I’ve tried my best apologetics on my friend.  Nothing brought him to his senses.  Then I spoke of God’s judgment, of hell, of God’s wrath against unbelief.

He became incensed and said, “I will not respond to threats!”  Neither God’s holiness nor His love softened my friend’s heart.  A genuine threat ought to drive us to certain conclusions.  At least it did with the pagan king of the Ninevites. (to be continued)





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Posted by on August 30, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 28)

The message — “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown!” — was delivered — and believed!  That’s the best news any preacher could get.  To have one’s message believed is a real blessing.  How did the Ninevites show their belief?  They proclaimed a fast for all of them, from the most common servant to the king himself!  A wholesale, city-wide revival!

Jonah’s message is described in verse 6 as a “warning.”  The king of Nineveh set the example of repentance by stepping down from his throne, removing his royal robes, covering himself with sackcloth, and sitting down in the dust!  What an amazing thing it would be if our government leaders today took exactly the same actions!

The king then used his royal power to proclaim a fast for every living subject in his kingdom!  No tasting.  No eating.  No drinking.  Every living creature to be clothed in sackcloth.  It’s one matter to enforce such actions — it’s quite another to say “Let everyone call urgently on God.  Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.”

Outward signs of repentance can be mandated.  Personal, authentic repentance is voluntary.  My, what an incredible revival Jonah’s “warning” has wrought!  (to be continued)





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Posted by on August 28, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 24)

God is not above using FORCE to get His point across.  Just as a loving parent might harshly grab a child who is wandering out onto a busy road, God does not hesitate to use nature and unbelievers (!) to stop His stubborn child in his rebellion.

We come now to Jonah’s orthodox statement here in chapter two.  He concludes his prayer with the words “Salvation comes from the Lord.”

It appears from what we read later that Jonah suspected that God would save the Ninevites.  Even though his message was a message against their wickedness and one announcing their judgment, Jonah knew his God and believed that “judgment was His strange work” (Is. 28:21).

Salvation or judgment — That is man’s choice.  But first man must realize that he needs saving.  And that need becomes apparent when God’s holiness and wrath against sin is articulated — hopefully by His willing messengers.

But such a simple message — man is a sinner and God is holy and man needs salvation — is being edited, repackaged, and revised today.  There’s even a group of people who call themselves “Evangelical universalists” who say that all without exception will be saved (whether they want to be or not).

There are many who are on that broad road to destruction (the King James Bible puts Matthew 7:13 so elegantly: “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat”).  And God sends Jonahs today to say just that.  (to be continued)




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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Jonah


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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 18)

A SUMMARY OF SOME LESSONS FROM JONAH CHAPTER ONE:  Romans 15 says, For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.”  What are we learning from this minor prophet?

God calls all believers to participate in the Great Commission, to get the gospel out about Jesus Christ.  Am I, are you, running away from that assignment?

How much do we rely on our own resources (he bought his own ticket away from God’s will) to live life, instead of trusting Him to provide what we need?

Who are the innocent ones who have been hurt by my rebellion?  Who have I sacrificed on my altar of self-determination?

Where is my conscience not bothering me, keeping me awake (when it should)?

Am I aware that I can be quite orthodox in my words but very heterodox in my actions?  Is my belief more a matter of ethnic pride than humble trust in the living God?

Where is the place of genuine repentance in my life?  Or am I so stubborn that I would rather die than confess my sin and bow before my Lord?

Do I see the Lord as sovereign, even over my poor witness?  Am I careful not to rely on His sovereignty to overcome my disobedience?

Do I recognize the many things, circumstances, and people that God provides in my life to get His work done?

My prayer:  “Lord, this is an amazing book, almost a bit of an autobiography of my life!  Help me to submit, repent, and do what You have called me to do.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”


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Posted by on August 18, 2017 in Jonah


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