Galatians 1:10 -- For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.
In repentance we please God, and ultimately this is the objective of the Christian’s life. I have been saying over and over that we serve God for Him and not for us, we repent for Him not us, we are even saved for Him and not us, and ultimately our highest point of joy and satisfaction is to know that we are pleasing to Him. This post excites me more than any of the prior because it forces me into thinking about God’s pleasure in me.
Through continual repentance God sanctifies a believer and sets them apart, He makes them altogether different than the rest of the world. The repentant believer has been marked by God, and God looks at His believer with joy. The Father made it very clear at Jesus’ baptism and at the transfiguration that He was well pleased with His only begotten Son. The Son pleased the father more than anything else, and it is to the Son that we look in hopes of bringing that same pleasure to God. It is only by repentance that we become like the Son, and thus please God. When we turn away from our own way and towards the way of the Son God is well pleased. Does that bring you joy? Do you revel in that fact that little sinful you by repentance can bring pleasure to The Almighty? If the fact that you can bring God joy does not thrill you then you need to seek Him, and plead for Him to give you the desire to please Him. It is the ultimate satisfaction to know that you are pleasing to God. Repentance is all about God’s pleasure. Forget for a moment about pleasing your pastor, teacher, friends, and even your spouse, and ask yourself what you can do to please God. You will find that repentance from your ways unto His ways is all you can do. Pleasing your spouse, parents, etc… in a Godly manner certainly would be repentance for most of us, and we should do that, but ultimately to please God.
Seek to repent and to give God pleasure, even right now.
This post has left me feeling inclined to remark briefly again about God’s sovereignty. God is sovereign. Most people would be horrified if they realized how sovereign God really is. We must, however, never let this thought of sovereignty over shadow the pleasure and displeasure which we may bring to God. If pondering the doctrine of God’s sovereignty does not drive you into closer fellowship with Him and a greater desire to serve Him, but instead makes you feel more like a helpless pawn simply being manipulated by the will of God, then you have a very wrong idea of God’s sovereignty. Again, God is not callous, and we do bring Him pleasure, and displeasure.
Sanctification occurs in every true believer, and sanctification is only brought about by continual repentance. It is true that there is a point at which the unbeliever initially repents from his or her unbelief and becomes a real Christian, we cannot deny that. That is repentance unto salvation, and that repentance and salvation will never be lost. However, we must realize that true repentance continues indefinitely in a Christian’s life, else there never was repentance initially. Continual repentance is the only evidence that the initial repentance was a real act of God’s grace and not the personal act of someone selfishly seeking heaven. Repentance is more than a series of actions; it is a state of being which all believers are in.
Modern “Christianity” is very quick to embrace this ‘repent once and it and it last forever’ doctrine, yet there is a failure to validate this initial repentance with its continuation. In other words when there is apparent conversion it is almost always just accepted regardless of whether or not the supposed convert has continued in repentance. The reason most people do not have the expectation of continual repentance is because they simply feel better about themselves and their ministries if they can claim that they have seen many conversions, or even worse that they have brought about many conversions. When their supposed convert lives a life that is not marked by some sort of continual repentance they will still call them a believer, but claim they merely backslidden and never question their conversion. To increase the number of alleged converts they simply attempt lower the standard of salvation.
The lack of understanding of continual repentance has lead to a myriad of heresy in the fundamentalist church, and it is sickening. For instance the sinner’s prayer has become the climax of many church services. Everything in the service is planned with the intent getting people to say this prayer, and the very gospel itself is tossed to the side in favor of a psychological ploy. We have altar calls after moments of high emotion in order to cause some sort of response to an experience the worship planners manufactured. If we understood continual repentance we would put no stock in these methods. We would preach the clear gospel and let God bring them to repentance. If they desire counsel we must make it available to them; however our goal is to drive the gospel home so that they will approach our Lord and not our Roman road, spiritual laws, or sinner’s prayer. When God converts a person with His gospel it will take no gimmicks, He will grant repentance and it will continue unto life everlasting.
You need to ask yourself “Was my salvation a result of some emotionally manufactured experience that has led to no power over sin, or was it the power of God that drove me to a continual repentance and victory over sin?” Please do not mistake what I am saying; salvation can be a very emotional experience, yet that emotion must be generated from salvation, not to bring you to salvation.
We will talk later about preaching repentance, and it should certainly be preached with emotion, however our emotion in preaching anything must come from the subject whom we preach about not for the intent of manipulating an audience.
(--below was added 9/23/2006--)
Luk 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
I have taken far too long to make this post, and for anyone who may follow this blog I apologize. When I was initially planning this 9 part series I felt that this post would be the easiest of the bunch to write about, but I am finding the opposite to be true. My temptation is to say that we must repent because an eternity of hellfire awaits us if we do not. That is certainly true, but it is cheap. If you repented for the sole purpose of gaining eternal comfort you will certainly find that your supposed repentance has no staying power. This is because you are not repenting away from yourself and unto God, instead you are simply turning towards your own man powered morality for the sake of your own eternal benefit. It is quite the opposite denying yourself, in fact if you had nothing to benefit from this repentance you would leave it be. What I am saying is that repentance is for God and not you, period.
Why then must we repent? For the true Christian this a foolish question because repentance is the desire of the Christian. The believer is broken over their sin and only desires repentance, and will not be satisfied until it is obtained. Repentance is so much more a part of the Christians salvation than we realize. When we view salvation we can break it into three parts, ‘I have been saved’ (justification), ‘I am being saved’ (sanctification), and I will be saved (glorification), repentance is the near equivalent of sanctification, or salvation from sin in the present. This salvation from present tense sin, sanctification, and repentance are nearly one and the same and are what separates true belief from false. The real believer desires salvation in the present tense and desires to repent accordingly.
So why will a Christian repent? Matt 3:2 ‘…for the kingdom of God is at hand.’ We recognize that we are ever in the presence of an omnipresent God and we desire to be pleasing to Him, which we cannot do without repentance. Moreover “there is much joy in heaven when sinners repent”; I understand that Luke 15:10 is referring to conversion, but it no doubt brings God joy when we who are His repent as well (we will discuss this in the post “continuing in repentance”). We repent to please our Lord. He is our heavenly father, and just like as children we tried to please our dad, and to bring him joy, we now try to please our real heavenly father.
I know I did not adequately cover this topic, maybe I will never be able to. To summarize: We repent to please God, and because it is our natural desire. We are broken when we must struggle for repentance, but that brokenness is a mark of true belief. We must never reduce repentance to a scheme to avoid the pit, and if that is what it is to you please seek God openly and honestly until He regenerates you. Do not rest, or even dare to close your eyes until repentance is the desire of your heart. When it is your desire you will begin to see the foolishness of a question like “Why must we repent.”
As a final note, it certainly pleases God when a sinner repents, and it is displeasing to God when someone does not repent. I believe in a completely sovereign God, but to those who place God’s sovereignty as His supreme attribute and let the rest of His attributes kind of follow from there I want to say this: Our God is not callous, He is not too powerful to meet you personally, and not too sovereign to be pleased or displeased with the actions of His people.