Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Keeping His precepts diligently

Thou hast commanded us thy precepts, that we should observe them diligently. ~ Psalm 119:4

We have seen the character of the Man of God. Let us mark the authority of God, commanding him to a diligent obedience. The very sight of the command is
enough for him. He obeys for the command's sake, however contrary it may be to his own will. But has he any reason to complain of the yoke? Even under the
dispensation, which "genders unto bondage" most encouraging were the obligations to obedience, "that it may be well with them, and with their children forever." Much more, then, we, under a dispensation of love, can never lack a motive for obedience! Let the daily mercies of Providence stir up the question, "What shall I render to the Lord?" Let the far richer mercies of grace produce "a living sacrifice" to be "presented to the Lord." Let "the love of Christ constrain us." Let the recollection of the "price with which we were bought," remind us of the Lord's ownership in us, and of our obligations to "glorify Him in our body, and in our spirit, which are His." Let us only "behold the Lamb of God;" let us hear His wrestling supplications, His deserted cry, His expiring agonies—the price of our redemption; and then let us ask ourselves—Can we lack a motive?

But what is the scriptural character of evangelical obedience? It is the work of the Spirit, enabling us to "obey the truth." It is the end of the purpose of God, who "has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love." It is the only satisfactory test of our profession.Then let me begin my morning with the inquiry, "Lord, what will You have me to do?" "Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name." Let me trade with all my talents for You: ever watchful, that I may be employed in Your work; setting a guard upon my thoughts, my lips, my tempers, my pursuits, that nothing may hinder, but rather everything may help me, in keeping Your precepts diligently."

But why do I ever find the precepts to be "grievous" to me? Is it not that some
indolence is indulged; or some "iniquity regarded in my heart;" or some principle of unfaithfulness divides my services with two masters, when I ought to be "following the Lord fully?" Oh! for the spirit of "simplicity and godly sincerity" in the precepts of God. Oh! for that warm and constant love, which is the main-spring of devoted diligence in the service of God. Oh! for a larger supply of that "wisdom which is from above," and which is "without partiality and without hypocrisy!"

Charles Bridges exposition of Psalm 119

Friday, November 29, 2013

Prayer


"In Scripture prayer includes much more than merely making known our requests to God. We need to be reminded of this. Moreover, we believers need to be instructed in all aspects of prayer in an age characterized by superficiality and ignorance of God-revealed religion. A key Scripture that presents to us the privilege of spreading our needs before the Lord emphasizes this very thing: "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Phil. 4:6, ital. mine). Unless we express gratitude for mercies already received and give thanks to our Father for His granting us the continued favor of petitioning Him, how can we expect to obtain His ear and thus to receive answers of peace? Yet prayer, in its highest and fullest sense, rises above thanksgiving for gifts vouchsafed: the heart is drawn out in contemplating the Giver Himself so that the soul is prostrated before Him in worship and adoration.
Though we ought not to digress from our immediate theme and enter into the subject of prayer in general, yet it should be pointed out that there is still another aspect that ought to take precedence over thanksgiving and petition, namely self-abhorrence and confession of our own unworthiness and sinfulness. The soul must solemnly remind itself of Who it is that is to be approached, even the Most High, before whom the very seraphim veil their faces (Isa. 6:2). Though Divine grace has made the Christian a son, nevertheless he is still a creature, and as such at an infinite and inconceivable distance below the Creator. It is only fitting that he should deeply feel this distance between himself and his Creator and acknowledge it by taking his place in the dust before God. Moreover, we need to remember what we are by nature: not merely creatures, but sinful creatures. Thus there needs to be both a sense and an owning of this as we bow before the Holy One. Only in this way can we, with any meaning and reality, plead the mediation and merits of Christ as the ground of our approach.
Thus, broadly speaking, prayer includes confession of sin, petitions for the supply of our needs, and the homage of our hearts to the Giver Himself. Or, we may say that prayer's principal branches are humiliationsupplication, and adoration. Hence we hope to embrace within the scope of this series not only passages like Ephesians 1:16-19 and 3:14-21, but also single verses such as II Corinthians 1:3 and Ephesians 1:3. That the clause "blessed be God" is itself a form of prayer is clear from Psalm 100:4: "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Other references might be given, but let this suffice. The incense that was offered in the tabernacle and temple consisted of various spices compounded together (Exod. 30:34, 35), and it was the blending of one with another that made the perfume so fragrant and refreshing. The incense was a type of the intercession of our great High Priest (Rev. 8:3, 4) and of the prayers of saints (Mal. 1:11). In like manner there should be a proportioned mingling of humiliation, supplication, and adoration in our approaches to the throne of grace, not one to the exclusion of the others, but a blending of all of them together.

Blessed are the undefiled

by Charles Bridges, 1827

 
1. Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.
This most interesting and instructive Psalm, like the Psalter itself, "opens with a Beatitude for our comfort and encouragement, directing us immediately to that happiness, which all mankind in different ways are seeking and inquiring after. All would secure themselves from the incursions of misery; but all do not consider that misery is the offspring of sin, from which therefore it is necessary to be delivered and preserved, in order to become happy or blessed." (Bishop Horne)
The undefiled character described in this verse marks, in an evangelical sense, "an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit", not one who is without sin, but one who in the sincerity of his heart can say, "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."
As his way is, so is his "walk", "in the law of the Lord." He is "strengthened in the Lord, and he walks up and down in His name;" his "ears hearing a word behind him, saying, This is the way—walk in it"—when he is "turning to the right hand or to the left." And if the pardon of sin, imputation of righteousness, the communion of saints, and a sense of acceptance with God; if protection in providence and grace; and—finally and forever, the beatific vision, are the sealed privileges of His upright people, then there can be no doubt, that "blessed are the undefiled in the way." And if temporal prosperity, spiritual renovation and fruitfulness, increasing illumination, fellowship with the Savior, peace within, and—throughout eternity—a right to the tree of life, are privileges of incalculable value; then surely "the walk in the law of the Lord" is "the path of pleasantness and peace." "Truly"—indeed may we say, "God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart."
But let each of us ask—What is the "way" of my heart with God? Is it always an "undefiled way?" Is "iniquity" never "regarded in the heart?" Is all that God hates habitually lamented, abhorred, forsaken? "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Again—What is my "walk?" Is it from the living principle of union with Christ? This is the direct—the only source of spiritual life. We are first quickened in Him. Then we walk in Him and after Him. Oh! that this my walk may be steady, consistent, advancing! Oh! that I may be ever listening to my Father's voice, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be perfect!"
Is there not enough of defilement in the most "undefiled way," and enough of inconsistency in the most consistent "walk" to endear to us the gracious declaration of the gospel, "If any man sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous?"



2. Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, and who seek Him with the whole heart.
The "testimony," in the singular number, usually denotes the whole canon of the inspired writings—the revelation of the will of God to mankind—the standard of their faith. "Testimonies" appear, chiefly, to mark the preceptive part of Scripture; that part, in which this man of God always found his spiritual delight and perfect freedom. Mark his language: "I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much us in all riches. Your testimonies have I taken as a heritage forever; for they are the rejoicing of my heart." Not, however, that this blessedness belongs to the mere outward act of obedience; but rather to that practical habit of mind, which seeks to know the will of God in order to "keep" it. This habit is under the influence of the promise of God, "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them." And in thus "keeping the testimonies of God," the believer maintains the character of one, that "seeks Him with the whole heart."
Oh! how many seek, and seek in vain, for no other reason, than because they do not "seek Him with the whole heart!" The worldling's "heart is divided; now shall he be found faulty." The professor "with his mouth shows much love; but his heart goes after his covetousness." The backslider "has not turned unto Me with his whole heart, but feignedly, says the Lord." The faithful, upright believer alone brings his heart, his whole heart, to the Lord: "When You said, Seek my face, my heart said unto You, Your face, Lord, will I seek." For he alone has found an object, that attracts and fills his whole heart, and, if he had a thousand hearts, would attract and fill them all. He has found his way to God by faith in Jesus. In that way he continues to seek. His whole heart is engaged to know and love more and more. Here alone the blessing is enjoyed, and the promise made good: "You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart."
But let me not shrink from the question, Do I "keep His testimonies" from constraint, or from love? Surely when I consider my own natural aversion and enmity to the law of God, and the danger of self-deception in the external service of the Lord, I have much need to pray, "Incline my heart to Your testimonies. Give me understanding—save me, and I shall keep Your testimonies." And if they are blessed, who seek the Lord with their whole heart, how am I seeking Him? Alas! with how much distraction! with how little heart-work! Oh! let me "seek His strength" in order to "seek His face."
Lord! search—teach—incline—uphold me. Help me to plead Your gracious promise, "I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God; for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart."


The Giver and the Taker

"The Lord gave--and the Lord has taken away! Blessed be the name of the Lord!" Job 1:21

Noble posture this--to kneel and to adore! To see no hand but ONE! Sabeans, Fire, Whirlwind, Sword--are all overlooked. The Patriarch alone recognizes that it is "the Lord" who gave, and "the Lord" who has taken away

What is the cause of so much dejection, needless sorrow, and unchristian murmuring--in our hours of trial; and our inability to sincerely say, "May the will of the Lord be done!" It is a refusal to hear His voice; His own loving voice, mingling with the accents of the wildest storm: "It is I! Do not be afraid!" 

"When disaster comes to a city--has not the Lord caused it?" Amos 3:6

Is there a bitter drop in your cup--and the Lord has not mingled it?

The Lord loves His people too well--to entrust their interest to any other. We are but clay in the hand of the Potter; earthen vessels in the hand of the Refiner of silver. He metes out our portion. He appoints the bounds of our habitation. 

"The Lord God prepared the gourd! The Lord God prepared the worm!" He is the Author alike of mercies and sorrows; of comforts and crosses. He breathes into our nostrils the breath of life; and it is at His summons, that the spirit returns "to the God who gave it!"

Oh, that we would seek to regard our own lives and the lives of those dear to us--as a loan from the Divine Bestower. God, as the Great Proprietor, when He sees fit--can revoke the grant or curtail the lease He gave! All our mercies are . . .
  bestowed by Him; 
  continued by Him;  
  withdrawn by Him! 

And how often does He take away--that He Himself may enter the vacuum of the heart, and fill it with His own ineffable presence and love! No loss can compensate for the lack of Him--but He can compensate for all losses! Let us trust His love and faithfulness, as a "taking" as well as a "giving" God. May we trust His heart--when we cannot trace His hand!

Often are Sense and Sight tempted to say, "Not so, Lord!" But Faith, resting on His promise, can exult in this Rainbow spanning the darkest cloud, "Yes, Father, because this was Your good pleasure!"
"We know that God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28



John MacDuff

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Being content

 For we brought nothing with us into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out, 1Ti_6:7. This is a reason why we should be content with a little. [1.] Because we can challenge nothing as a debt that is due to us, for we came naked into the world. Whatever we have had since, we are obliged to the providence of God for it; but he that gave may take what and when he pleases. We had our beings, our bodies, our lives (which are more than meat, and which are more than raiment), when we came into the world, though we came naked, and brought nothing with us; may we not then be content while our beings and lives are continued to us, though we have not every thing we would have? We brought nothing with us into this world, and yet God provided for us, care was taken of us, we have been fed all our lives long unto this day; and therefore, when we are reduced to the greatest straits, we cannot be poorer than when we came into this world, and yet then we were provided for; therefore let us trust in God for the remaining part of our pilgrimage. [2.] We shall carry nothing with us out of this world. A shroud, a coffin, and a grave, are all that the richest man in the world can have from his thousands. Therefore why should we covet much? Why should we not be content with a little, because, how much soever we have, we must leave it behind us? Ecc_5:15, Ecc_5:16.

Hence he infers, having food and raiment, let us be therewith content, 1Ti_6:8. Food and a covering, including habitation as well as raiment. Observe, If God give us the necessary supports of life, we ought to be content therewith, though we have not the ornaments and delights of it. If nature should be content with a little, grace should be content with less; though we have not dainty food, though we have not costly raiment, if we have but food and raiment convenient for us we ought to be content. This was Agur's prayer: Give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me, Pro_30:8. Here we see, [1.] The folly of placing our happiness in these things, when we did not bring any thing into this world with us, and we can carry nothing out. What will worldlings do when death shall strip them of their happiness and portion, and they must take an everlasting farewell of all these things, on which they have so much doted? They may say with poor Micah, You have taken away my gods; and what have I more? Jdg_18:24. [2.] The necessaries of life are the hounds of a true Christian's desire, and with these he will endeavour to be content; his desires are not insatiable; no, a little, a few comforts of this life, will serve him, and these may hope to enjoy: Having food and raiment.
2. The evil of covetousness. Those that will be rich (that set their hearts upon the wealth of this world, and are resolved right or wrong, they will have it), fall into temptation and a snare, 1Ti_6:9. It is not said, those that are rich, but those that will be rich, that is, that place their happiness in worldly wealth, that covet it inordinately, and are eager and violent in the pursuit of it. Those that are such fall into temptation and a snare, unavoidably; for, when the devil sees which way their lusts carry them, he will soon bait his hook accordingly. He knew how fond Achan would be of a wedge of gold, and therefore laid that before him.  ~ Matthew Henry



HEAVENLY FATHER,
If I should suffer need, and go unclothed,
    and be in poverty,
  make my heart prize thy love,
  know it, be constrained by it,
  though I be denied all blessings.
It is thy mercy to afflict and try me with wants,
  for by these trials I see my sins,
  and desire severance from them.
Let me willingly accept misery, sorrows,
    temptations,
  if I can thereby feel sin as the greatest evil,
  and be delivered from it with gratitude to thee,
  acknowledging this as the highest testimony
    of thy love.
When thy Son, Jesus, came into my soul
    instead of sin, he became more dear to me
    than sin had formerly been;
  his kindly rule replaced sin’s tyranny.
Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin
    subdued
  I must not only labour to overcome it,
  but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it,
  and he must become to me more than
    vile lust had been;
  that his sweetness, power, life may be there.
Thus I must seek a grace from him contrary to sin,
  but must not claim it apart from himself.
When I am afraid of evils to come,
  comfort me by showing me
    that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch,
      but in Christ I am reconciled and live;
  that in my self I find insufficiency and no rest,
    but in Christ there is satisfaction and peace;
  that in myself I am feeble and unable to do good,
    but in Christ I have ability to do all things.
Though now I have his graces in part,
  I shall shortly have them perfectly
  in that state where thou wilt show thyself
    fully reconciled,
  and alone sufficient, efficient,
    loving me completely,
  with sin abolished.
O Lord, hasten that day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Acceptable Worship

In visible churches everywhere, worship consists of a variety of things; the major focus seems to be on the music, with worship bands and leaders being very predominant in the service. There is little expounding of God's word; it's more like story hour with slim chances of hearing powerful, authoritative preaching. I recall a sermon by a well known pastor where he referred to his childhood and the necessity of having clean underwear on. This same pastor also told a joke from the pulpit that was very inappropriate for any who name the name of Christ to utter. How sad that God's word does not cause trembling in the hearts of His own. 
I recently read a comment on a blog from a professing Christian who insists the church must 'evolve' from its old ways of doing 'church' to something more modern. He boasted that his church had a worship band that played upbeat music. He made no mention of what type of preaching took place, obviously the music was the most important 'thing' to him. 
Most of us know the horrors that take place every Sunday in churches across the globe; Paul Washer once stated that Sunday is the biggest hour of idolatry in America. With that said, I wanted to share this 'gem' from A. W. Pink on what is acceptable worship...

"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and godly fear." ~ Hebrews 12:28
No exhortation in this Epistle is more needed by our perverse generation than this one. How this imperative requirement "with reverence and godly fear" rebukes the cheap, flippant "worship"  of the day. O what unholy lightness and ungodly familiarity now marks the religion of Christendom: many address the great Deity as though they were His equals, and conduct themselves with far less decorum than they would show in the presence of an earthly monarch. The omission of bowing the head in silent prayer when we take our place in the congregation, the vulgar glancing around, the unfitting whispering and chattering, the readiness to smile or laugh at any remarks of the preacher's which may sound odd—are all so many instances of this glaring and growing evil. "God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints—and to be had in reverence of all them that are about Him" 
(Psalm 89:7 - “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints.” The holiest tremble in the presence of the thrice Holy One; their familiarity is seasoned with the pro-foundest awe. Perfect love casts out the fear which hath torment, and works in lieu thereof that other fear which is akin to joy unutterable. How reverent should our worship be! Where angels veil their faces, men should surely bow in lowliest fashion. Sin is akin to presumptuous boldness, but holiness is sister to holy fear. “And to be had in reverence of all them that are about him.” The nearer they are the more they adore. If mere creatures are struck with awe, the courtiers and favourites of heaven must be yet more reverent in the presence of the Great King. God's children are those who most earnestly pray “hallowed be thy name.” Irreverence is rebellion. Thoughts of the covenant of grace tend to create a deeper awe of God, they draw us closer to him, and the more his glories are seen by us in that nearer access, the more humbly we prostrate ourselves before his Majesty. - C. H. Spurgeon).
The Greek word for "reverence" in extraordinary instances, is called a "blushing," a "being ashamed," a "confusion of face" (Ezra 9:6; Dan. 9:7); yet, the essence of it, ought always to accompany us in the worship of God. "Godly fear" is a holy awe on the soul when engaged in sacred duties, and this from a consideration of the great danger there is of our sinful mistakes in the worship of God, and of His severity against such heinous offenses. God will not be mocked. A serious soul is hereby moved unto watchfulness and diligence not to provoke so great, so holy, so jealous a God—by a neglect of that reverence and godly fear which He requires in His service, and which is due unto Him on account of His glorious perfections. If the seraphim veil their faces before Him (Isaiah 6:2), how much more would we do so!
"For our God is a consuming fire" (Hebrews 12:29). This is the reason given why we must serve God with reverence and fear. The words are taken from Deuteronomy 4:24 where they are used to deter Israel from idolatry, for that is a sin God will not tolerate. The same description of God is here applied by the Apostle unto those lacking grace to worship Him with the humility and awe which He demands. If we are graceless in our persons, and devoid of reverence in our worship—God will deal with us accordingly. As a fire consumes combustible matter cast into it, so God will destroy sinners. The title "our God" denotes a covenant relationship—yet though Christians are firmly assured of their interest in the Everlasting Covenant, God requires them to have holy apprehensions of  His majesty and terror; see 2 Corinthians 5:10, 11. 
The twin graces of love and fear—fear and love—should be jointly active in the believer, and it is in preserving a balance between them that his spiritual health largely consists. So it is here. Observe the remarkable conjunction: "our God," in covenant relationship, our Father; and yet "a consuming fire," to be trembled at! The first is to prevent despair from considering God's ineffable purity and inflexible justice; the latter is to check a presumptuous irreverence unto which a one-sided occupation with His grace and love might embolden us.
Thus, the principal exhortation "let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably" is urged by two widely different motives: because we have "received a kingdom" and because God is "a consuming fire." Carnal reason would ask, If we have received a kingdom which cannot be moved—why should we fear? But if God is such "a consuming fire"—how can we ever expect such a kingdom, since we are but as stubble? But the Spirit-taught have no difficulty in perceiving why the Apostle joined together these two things.
The Christian's interest in His favor is no warrant for casting off a solemn fear of God. Though He has laid down His enmity against him, He has not cast off His majesty and sovereignty over him. "Even those who stand highest in the love and favor of God, and have the fullest assurance thereof and of their interest in Him as their God, ought, notwithstanding, to fear Him as a sin-avenging God and a consuming fire" (Ezekiel Hopkins, 1680). Though God has taken His redeemed into intimate nearness to Himself—yet He requires that they always retain a due apprehension of the majesty of His Person, the holiness of His nature, the severity of His justice, and the ardent jealousy of His worship. If we truly dread falling under the guilt of this awful sin of irreverence, our minds will be influenced unto godly fear. The grace of fear is in no way inconsistent with, or an impediment to, a spirit of adoption, holy boldness—or godly rejoicing. See Psalm 2:11 - { 'Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.' -“Serve the Lord with fear;” let reverence and humility be mingled with your service. He is a great God, and ye are but puny creatures; bend ye, therefore, in lowly worship, and let a filial fear mingle with all your obedience to the great Father of the Ages. “Rejoice with trembling.”- There must ever be a holy fear mixed with the Christian's joy. This is a sacred compound, yielding a sweet smell, and we must see to it that we burn no other upon the altar. Fear, without joy, is torment; and joy, without holy fear, would be presumption. Mark the solemn argument for reconciliation and obedience. It is an awful thing to perish in the midst of sin, in the very way of rebellion; and yet how easily could his wrath destroy us suddenly. It needs not that his anger should be heated seven times hotter; let the fuel kindle but a little, and we are consumed. O sinner! Take heed of the terrors of the Lord; for “our God is a consuming fire.” Note the benediction with which the Psalm closes “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Have we a share in this blessedness? Do we trust in him? Our faith my be slender as a spider's thread; but if it be real, we are in our measure blessed. The more we trust, the more fully shall we know this blessedness. We may therefore close the Psalm with the prayer of the apostles: - “Lord, increase our faith.” - C. H. Spurgeon}, Matthew 28:8, Philippians 2:12. 
"Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably," (Hebrews 12:28), for without it there will be neither "reverence" nor "godly fear." Without Divine aid and unction—we cannot serve God at all, for He accounts not that worship—which is offered by graceless people. Without grace in actual operation, we cannot serve God acceptably, for it is in the exercise of faith and fear, love and awe, that the very life and soul of spiritual worship consists. O how earnestly de we need to seek an increase of Divine "grace" (2 Corinthians 9:8; 12:9), and keep it operative in all duties of the worship of God: that in view of His fearsome wrath—we may have a dread of displeasing Him; in view of His majesty—our hearts may be humbled; and in view of His love—we may seek to honor, please and adore Him. "The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, He is the one you are to fear, He is the one you are to dread" (Isaiah 8:13 and cf. Matthew 10:28)

Monday, November 25, 2013

The meaning of repentance

Repentance Defined

You see then, sinful man stands as a rebel against God’s government and authority. This is why our Lord Jesus came on the scene preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mat 4:17). He commands every sinner to lay down his arms of rebellion and hoist the white flag of surrender to enter the Kingdom of God. In other words, a sinner has to change his mind about sin.
And this is exactly what it means to repent: a change of mind about sin and about God, which results in turning from sin to God.[5] And what a turning it is! Repentance affects the whole life of a sinner.
Repentance includes a sinner taking the blame for his sinful condition before God and siding with Him against himself. A penitant blames no one else for his condition, but rather condemns himself under God’s eternal wrath because he deserves it.
Repentance includes sorrowing for sin. 2 Corinthians 7:10 says that “godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.” And Matthew 5:4 says, “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.”
Repentance leads to confessing sin. Hiding nothing, a sinner owns his sins and pours out his sinful heart to God.
Furthermore, repentance leads to forsaking sin. A repenting sinner determines not to return to it. So in Biblical repentance, a convicted and convinced sinner takes his place before God as justly condemned. He hates his sin, longing to be free from it. He sorrows over sin, determining not to return to it. And he shows that his repentance is real by walking in the pathway of righteousness and true holiness. “Bringing forth fruits for repentance” is evidence that a radical change has taken place in our lives (Mat 3:8).

Repentance and Judgment

In Acts 17:30 we read these words, “The times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent.” God says all men—not just the Gentiles, but all men, which includes every tongue, nation, tribe and people. And in v.31 we find out why God has commanded all men everywhere to repent: judgment is coming! “Repent!” God says, “The King is coming in judgment! Repent, if you value your never-dying soul!” Why? “Because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained [Jesus Christ]; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” Yes, God commands that all men everywhere repent and bring forth fruit suitable for repentance which is a holy life, or He will meet you in judgmentwithout mercy!
You see, God is sovereign in his salvation. He alone sets the terms by which He receives rebellious sinners into His kingdom. His Word does declare that He is loving, kind, merciful and gracious; but He is also holy and righteous. Therefore, He commands men to repent. Unless a rebellious sinner repents and believes the Gospel, there is no forgiveness. But praise His precious name; it is to this kind of sinner that He will look! The Lord says in Isaiah 66:2, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word.” Also, Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
Praise the Lord! He will never turn away a repentant, believing sinner. Christ came to seek and to save just this type of sinner. Listen to Isaiah 55:6-7: “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD; and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” You will note in these verses there is again a command for forsaking our way and turning unto God. Forsake your way and turn to God![6]

Repentance Is Perpetual

I must stress yet another truth: Biblical repentance is perpetual—God’s child will repent till God takes him home. Repentance is a lasting mindset, a continuing abhorrence of evil.
Oh how many precious souls have been damned right here! They seem to embrace repentance for a while. They give up their old companions and leave their places of sin—the bar, the dance floor, the harlot’s house. They seem to embrace Christ. They even preach, teach, and witness for Him. But because they are “stony-ground hearers” (Mar 4:5, 6; 16, 17), they only endure for a while. They begin to grow cold, gradually returning to their former ways. They go back to sin, back to what they had renounced. One by one they pick up the old sins and companions and return to the world. You see, their repentance was not perpetual: it did not spring from the new birth, but from the flesh. The Word of God describes them:
“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2Pe 2:20-22).
In so many cases, going back is slow. Few go back all at once! First, they long for “liberty”: they search the Word of God to find out what liberty they have, so they can live as close to the world as possible. Then slowly they go back to this sin and that sin. Finally, they no longer have a witness for Christ, but only an outward profession of faith. Sin doesn’t bother them anymore. They neither hate it nor cry against it. They tell themselves that God no longer wants them to repent and hate sin. They think they’re in the way of life, yet sin doesn’t bother them anymore! So they turn back to those sins from which they had once turned saying, “We now have liberty to walk in these ways!” But oh, my friends, this is not liberty, but license to do what you’ve always wanted to do, license to walk in sin without restraint! You’ve played with fire and your heart is now hardened by the deceitfulness of sin! (Heb 3:12)
Again I warn you, beware of repentance that does not continue! If it is not true Biblical repentance, your heart will again be satisfied with the garbage of the world: “He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isa 44:20). So never forget: true repentance is perpetual. If you are truly converted, you will hate and forsake your sins for the rest of your life.[7] And you will long to be holy, to be like Christ, and to please God.
I ask, “Have you ever possessed the true Biblical repentance that God commands of all men?”

Repentance Is a Gift

Now I must quickly add that repentance is a gift of grace worked in the heart by the power of God the Holy Spirit.[8] Acts 11:18 tells us: “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” The Holy Spirit shows us our sinful condition before God and makes us willing to renounce our hatred of God and His authority. And by His grace He gives us a desire to walk with Him in newness of life and holiness.
As we have already seen, God commands us to repent because you and I are rebels against God by nature. Every man outside of Christ is a rebel against the Throne of God (Rom. 8:7). Because of our sinful nature we have determined to live our lives apart from God. So we must radically change our minds about living independently of Him. This displays itself in our crying after God to be Lord and Ruler of our lives!
Because we have spit in His face, blasphemed His name, bowed down to the gods of gold and pleasure, spent His Day as we pleased, and walked in pride and arrogance against Him, God commands us to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. We must change our minds about pride and arrogance, about covetousness and worldly pleasure, and about walking in our way. We must cry out to Him to work His love and holiness in us.
Yes, my friends, because we have not loved Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and have lavished our love on self and the world, God commands us to repent, trusting the Lord Jesus for the remission of our sins. For you see, true repentance takes self off the throne and enthrones Christ as Lord over every area of life.


The need of repentance

The Need of Repentance

Why is Biblical repentance the need of this hour? Because we are living in a day when most religious leaders actually deny the need for repentance. If they preach it at all, they water it down like the seminary president who said repentance means no more than “a gentleman telling God he is sorry.” Others say that repentance was only for the Jews and not for us today. Some say that repentance is only for the children of God and has nothing to do with lost sinners, while others teach just the opposite: they say repentance is only for lost sinners but not for the children of God! And still others claim that repentance is just a form of works and unnecessary for any group! So, my purpose is to refute these fatal errors that are beguiling precious souls to eternal destruction.
Now let us hear the testimony of the Word of God. In Luke 13:3 and 5 we hear our Lord’s words: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” What He is saying is this: “Unless you lay down your arms of rebellion against God, you shall perish in Hell, for you abide under the wrath of God. Confess your sins and leave them or you shall perish forever!”
So to begin with, I must set forth the effect of sin upon the human race, especially upon you and me. What is sin?

Sin: Its definition

Sin in its essence is rebellion against God. This means thinking we have the right to do with ourselves as we please and acting independently of God and His Holy law. As the Apostle John says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law” (1Jo 3:4). In fact sin is our way of saying to God, “Stay out of my life; I don’t need you.”

Sin: Its Solemn Consequences

The doctrine of sin’s effect upon you and me and the whole human race is most solemn. As no heart can sufficiently conceive, so no tongue can adequately express the state of wretchedness and ruin which sin has brought upon guilty, miserable man. You ask, “What has it done?” Oh my friend, it has separated us from God! It has warped and ruined our bodies, souls, and spirits! Sin has filled our bodies with sickness and disease. Sin has defaced the image of God in our souls. Sin has cut off our fellowship with Him Who made us in His own moral likeness! Sin has made you and me by nature lovers of evil and haters of God, Who is the only good. Yes, it is a most solemn thing to view sin in the light of God’s Word, to see what it has done to man, to God and His Christ, and to God’s creation! Sin has shut us out from God and opened the gates of Hell. It is solemn, because sin has cost man his most precious possession—his never-dying soul

Sin: Humbling to Man

Again, the doctrine of sin as revealed in God’s Word is a very humbling one. Why? Because the Bible does not present us as merely ignorant and in need of instruction. Neither does it present us as run down and in need of a tonic. Rather, it reveals that you and I have become spiritually dead and void of any righteousness that will commend us to God.
This means we are spiritually without strength, thoroughly incapable of bettering ourselves, exposed to the wrath of God, and unable to perform a single work which can find acceptance with a holy God (Rom 3:10-18).
The impossibility of anyone gaining God’s approval by his own works appears plainly in the case of the rich young ruler who came to Christ (Mat 19). When you judge this young man by human standards, he was a model of virtue and religious attainment. Yet, like so many others who trust in self-efforts and self-righteousness, he was ignorant of the spirituality and strictness of God’s law. When Christ showed him the covetousness of his heart, he went away sorrowful, for he had great riches. It was humbling to find out that his best duties in religion were nothing but stinking rags in the nostrils of God (Isa 64:6). This young man would not confess that his morality and his best deeds were only damning works of darkness that he needed to mourn over and forsake.

Sin: Our Nature

How humbling it is to discover that God requires truth in the inward parts (Psa 51:6)! How humbling it is that we cannot shut off sin in our hearts and our minds! How humbling it is that we, like all others, must take our place before God as sinners and plead guilty before Him. We do not want to confess that we are sinners—lost, undone, helpless, and guilty—before God. The moral and self-righteous do not want to confess that they are in the same fix before God as the rapist, the harlot, and the drunkard! Nevertheless, we are sinners by nature and by practice.
We cannot get rid of sin by resolution, command, sacrifice, or by shutting ourselves out from the world, because it is our nature. Jeremiah 13:23 reads, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
This fact humbled the apostle Paul. It led him to repent and confess himself a hell-deserving sinner before God. In Romans 7 he tells us that he was alive without the law once; but when the commandment came that he should not covet, then all Hell broke loose in his soul. He saw that he was carnal,[2] sold under sin. He confessed that it was humbling to find out that what he wanted to do—live righteously—hecould not do. And what he did not want to do—sin against a holy and righteous God—he found himself doing. He confessed that he had the will to do good, but no power to perform it. His will was depraved and held captive by his sinful nature: “The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Rom. 7:19). Fight it, resolve against it, denounce it, do everything against it that he would—he could not get rid of it.
Likewise, when we by the illuminating power of God’s Spirit see the awful power of sin in our lives, it is humbling . 

Sin: How God Sees Our Hearts

The Bible declares that the effect of sin upon man is such that our hearts are compared to some of the most revolting things that we can think of! It uses these descriptions to show us how our sins look to God.
Did you know that God’s Word describes us by nature as maggots? It does in Job 25:4-6: “How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?”[3] The root meaning for worm here in the Hebrew is “worm of decay.”[4] This is the way God sees us in the decay of our sin outside of Christ.
Again, did you know that God describes us in our depraved nature as a putrefying sore? He does, in Isaiah 1:4-6:
“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward. Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.”
The Scriptures also show that sin has made man like the beasts in ignorance and stupidity; therefore, we must repent. We read this in Psalm 73:22: “So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.” Also in Psalm 49:20 we read, “Man that is in honour, and understandeth not [spiritually], is like the beasts that perish.” If you are still playing with sin, you will doom your soul to hell. And you are like the beasts that perish, for you are void of understanding.
I hear someone saying, “This is not very palatable language!” I know, but this is God’s Word. We must be stripped of all our pride and self-righteousness and for ever despair of finding anything in us to commend us to God.
What a picture of depraved man! What a picture of you and me by nature! Seeing us in this putrefying state, God must command repentance.
Let me reason with you: If you make no provision for eternity and have no mind for the world to come, then surely God’s Word pictures you accurately in all of these descriptions. You are like a maggot, a putrefying sore, and a beast that perishes. O that you knew your latter end (Deu 32:29) and would flee to God in repentance, casting yourself upon His mercy in Christ! O that you would stand before the Holy God today, humbling yourself before Him, and crying after Him in true repentance!


Lee Roy Shelton Jr., from his book, 'Biblical Repentance, the need of this hour'