Continuing in Repentance (5 of 9)
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--)