Thursday, April 04, 2013

A New Work in Evangelism and Explaining Repentance and Faith

The CEM Booth at Jesus to the Nations 2013
Back in 2010 I resigned from an Evangelism ministry because the other leaders had adopted the doctrine of Lordship Salvation. One of the major issues was the definition of Repentance Unto Eternal Life we had decided on was clear, but not explicitly nailed down enough. The definition we used was clearly inconsistent with Lordship Salvation, but it wasn't explicit enough to guard against the slow growth of that false doctrine inside the ministry.  By the time I left the ministry I still believed it meant to change your mind, but some other people believed it meant "to forsake sin."

It took about a year to get back into the work of Evangelism. I had been upset, and truthfully I went through a period of whining that included the idea that I was the only one (at least in my area) who had repentance and the Gospel right. Of course that was delusional and more about my being upset than anything else.

Anyway, imagine the mix of emotions I had as I re-joined a local group of people I had worked with off and on over the years in the work of Street Evangelism. Most of the faces had changed since the last time I had been out with them, but there were a few old friends still showing up. There was a mix of doctrine, but thankfully there were some people preaching the true Gospel as revealed in the Scriptures.

Fast forward a year and a half, and three of us have decided to form a new ministry. Here is part of our statement of the Doctrines of Evangelism. It is a work in progress, but I'm interested in your comments. Notes about Regeneration are yet to be added.

On that note, I sure hope there are still people checking here! We have been very busy building this new ministry and have already attended one Missions conference with a display table.

7. Salvation 
A.    OVERVIEW: Salvation, including: Justification, Reconciliation, and Glorification is accomplished by Grace alone and accessed through Faith alone in Christ alone, completely apart from works. That is to say that Salvation is the Gift of God brought to man by unmerited favor alone, and received by personal faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, whose substitutionary atonement fully reconciles all those who believe in Him to God completely apart from works. Eph 1:7;  Eph 2:8-9;  Jn 1:13;  1Pet 1:18-19;  Rom 3:19-28;  Rom 4:1-8;  Rom 4:16;  Ps 32:1-2,  Rom 5:1-2;  Isa 53;  Isa 55:1-3;  Lev 16; Acts 13:38-39; Gal 2:16
B.    Repentance: “Repent” and “repentance” are words, derived from the Old French word “repentir,” which are used in modern English translations of the Scriptures to represent 5 words in the original languages (2 Hebrew and 3 Greek). Some of these words have similar meanings but others have diverse meanings. The only word translated repent or repentance in all of the Scriptures, which is also related to reconciliation with God (being saved, receiving Eternal Life, being justified, etc…), is the Greek word Metanoia (Metanoeo). This word carries the meaning of critically rethinking something and coming to a different conclusion. That is having a change of mind, through investigation, being convinced or being persuaded. It is the present ministry of God the Holy Spirit to convict and convince the World of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment. In the carrying out of this ministry God the Holy Spirit will “open the heart” of the one being witnessed to, that is to cause the person to pay attention to the message with serious consideration, and He will do the actual convincing. The unbeliever being witnessed to must repent, that is to change their mind about Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment in order for them to be in a position to have faith in the Gospel which is a message of deliverance from the danger they are in.  In short, one cannot be assured unless they are first disturbed. It is clear from the Scriptures that Metanoia (or Metanoeo) does not mean the actual, attempted, promised or intended, reformation of one’s life. In reference to being reconciled with God it is one recognizing and agreeing with God that their own sin is evil, that God is righteous and that He will rightly judge their sin justly. “Repentance Unto Life” isn’t about changing one’s life, it is about agreeing with God.  God uses all things to lead people to this repentance; ie revelation and conviction from the Scriptures, testimony of believers, creation, His goodness, mercy, good works of Believers, fearful circumstances, close calls, misery, pain, and sickness to name but a few possible things. Passages to consider: Mat 9:13;  Luk 16:19-31;  Luk 17:3-4;  Luk 24:46-48;  Jn 16:5-11;  Acts 2:38;   Acts 3:19;  Acts 17:30;  Acts 19:4;  Acts 20:17-24;  Acts 26:19-23;  Rom 2:4;  Rom 4:1-8;  Rom 4:16;  2Cor 7:10;  Heb 6:1;  2Pet 3:9 
C.    The Believer’s Faith: It is the Object of faith (the Lord Jesus Christ) Who saves, not the quality of the faith, or the faith itself.  The Believers faith, (sometimes called “saving faith” though faith does not save in itself) is like Abram’s faith when he “Believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” The Believer’s faith is assurance in the Person of Jesus Christ based on having received the Gospel. True saving faith is when a guilty, ungodly sinner knows that Jesus Christ has completely paid that sinner’s own due penalty so that they are fully reconciled to God having received the Gospel of Christ. Rom 4;  Gen 15:6;  Acts 15:7;  Acts 18:8;  Rom 1:16;  1Cor 4:15;  1Cor 15:1;  Eph 1:13-14 
D.    Repentance and Faith Manifested: One has truly repented when one is fully convinced that they need to be saved from the righteous judgment of their own personal sin knowing that Judgment is sure to come. Having repented, one truly has faith when they are assured that the Lord Jesus Christ the Righteous has paid the full and just penalty for their sin and that this has been accepted by God the Father as the only, and complete, payment to secure their personal reconciliation to Him. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a Believer to “do the works befitting repentance” and to be submitted to the mastery of Christ in their life. However, these are not conditions for Salvation and often require exhortation and discipleship unto maturity to foster and maintain.  The Believer possesses two natures, which war with each other; that of Adam and that of Christ. It is fully reasonable to expect actual believers to suffer struggles with sin, and also to have desires for righteousness. Salvation is instant, perfect, and cannot be revoked or reduced. Sanctification is a process worked in the Believer by God the Holy Spirit as the Believer submits which may vary with time or circumstance. Acts 26:20;  Rom 6:13;  Rom ch7; Rom 8:12-13;  Gal 5:16-25;  Eph 4:22-24;  Col 3:10;  1Pet 1:13-16;  1Jn 3:5-9


Anonymous said...

Great to see a new post from you. Thank you for keeping going with the work! Repentance is a very touchy issue in "Christian debate". I believe you are right about it with what you said in your article. Of course, people are always chiding others for not "turning from sins enough", and that takes away all security if repentance is defined as "turning from sins".

We all agree that we should turn from our sins, for so many reasons. First, because it leaves us with vanity and emptiness to live for the flesh, it leaves us with corruption and possibly even temporal destruction and at the extreme, possibly even premature physical death.

So there are plenty of good reasons to turn from sins. That is what the LS position doesn't understand, is that we also teach to turn from sins, but for different reasons than they.

Kevl said...

Thanks! I know it has been slow around here.

I've gotten used to responding to controversy and truthfully I've been avoiding controversy as much as I can.

I've got a bunch of stuff I'd like to be writing about but nothing has felt urgent. I'm sure I'll get back to normal soon. :)

Repentance is a dividing line IMO. Get it wrong and you'll be on the wrong side of that line.

Kevl said...

When Regeneration happens is another dividing line, which is actually closely related to one's definition of Repentance.

If you get Repentance wrong by calling it "turning from your sins" you are all but forced to put Regeneration prior to Salvation because it is obvious that a Sinner cannot "turn from their sins."

Glenn is talking about regeneration over at his blog right now. Putting the horse before that cart