Repentance: Is it really necessary?

Dear Pastor Charles: I have a question concerning repentance from sin. Is it necessary for a person to repent in order to be saved? Wondering…

Dear Wondering: Thank you for your question. The answer is yes, to be saved you must repent of the known sin in your life. The Bible clearly and consistently teaches that no person can be saved, regenerated and justified before God without repentance. Most preaching today overlooks this biblical truth because it has become unpopular to our modern itching ears. Please understand that repentance does NOT earn salvation and the forgiveness of God because salvation is a gift and cannot be paid for by any action or work of man. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.” A person is not saved by repentance, however it does place a person into a position in which God, on the basis of the work and worth of the Lord Jesus Christ, is free to pardon their sins and make them a child of God.

A natural question regarding the doctrine of repentance might be, “Does that mean that I have to clean up my life before I can come to God?” The answer to that question is NO YOU DON’T! You can come to God just as you are and He will accept you. This sounds confusing and contradictory on the surface but please bear with me while I attempt to explain. Repentance literally means a changing of your mind and implies an alteration of course or direction. In other words, what you have been doing that is wrong, you decide to do no more. Jesus gave an example of repentance while addressing the hypocritical Pharisees in the “Parable of the Two Sons” in Matthew 21:28-31, “What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard. ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

You see, repentance involves a deep, Godly sorrow for sin. It is seeing yourself with the veil of self-righteousness removed and realizing that, in your own flesh, you fall far short of the glory of God, that you are hopelessly lost and that Christ is your only hope. When the Apostle Peter preached to the gathered crowds at Pentecost that Jesus Christ was crucified for their sins and raised from the dead, the results are recorded in Acts 2:37-39, “When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off–for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

Modern theology seems to be headed down the road of what I call “easy believism”. The desire of some evangelical churches to pack in the crowds sometimes leads to the false teaching that all we must do is make a public profession of faith in Christ and be baptized in order to be saved. After this, we can go on with our lives as if there were no consequences for sin. No! No! No! When a person has a true conversion experience there will always be an accompanying change in behavior. This may take a little time but the truth is that God’s Holy Spirit will not dwell in a dirty house. He will convict a person of sin and that person will desire to give it up. If there is no conviction of sin, there has been no conversion. That is a Biblical fact. The Apostle Paul said in Col. 3:5-10, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”

Dear friend, While God desires to make us a new creation in Christ Jesus, we cannot simply shrug off our personal responsibility in recognizing and turning from sin. Paul said in Romans 6:1-4, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

I sincerely hope that I have answered your question sufficiently. My prayer for you is that you will continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. May God bless you as you search the Scriptures which are able to make you wise.

God bless,
Pastor Charles…

Does God ‘preordain’ people for destruction?

stained-glass-1209475Dear Pastor Charles:

I was reading my Bible the other day and came across a passage that is confusing to me. The passage is John 17:12, “While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.” I am assuming that Jesus is referring to Judas here. This sounds to me like Judas was condemned by God before he was even born. What Scripture is Jesus referring to here and was Judas chosen by God to be doomed? Thanks for your help. Curious…

Dear Curious:

Thank you for your question. Jesus is referring to Judas in this passage. The Scripture He is citing is from Psalms 41:9, “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” King David wrote this Scripture Continue reading Does God ‘preordain’ people for destruction?

If God is truly good, why does He allow evil in the world?

stained-glass-1209475Dear Pastor Charles:

I have a basic question that is preventing me from fully trusting God. I realize that this is only a short column but maybe you can shed some light for me. My problem is this: If God is all knowing, all loving and all powerful, then why does He allow the evils of suffering, injustice and tragedy to happen to His creation? Thank you for any help that you might give.

Sincerely Bewildered.

Dear Sincerely Bewildered:  

I sincerely thank you for your question for it is a very good one. In fact, you have touched upon one of the basic questions of theology, called theodicy, the problem of justifying God. The premise is this: Because God is all powerful and because He is altogether good, how can one explain the presence of evil in the world? If God were all powerful, He COULD do something about evil. If He were altogether good, He WOULD do Continue reading If God is truly good, why does He allow evil in the world?

Contend for the faith but don’t be contentious. Jude 1:3

Dear Pastor Charles:

I was reading my Bible in the Book of Jude and a word seemed to stick in my mind that has caused me to doubt some of the things my particular denomination stands for. The word is ‘contend’ and is found in Jude 1:3, “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” My question is this: If we are to “contend for the faith” how can a denomination align itself with other religions who deny that Jesus is the Christ? Thanks for your opinion. Wondering.

Continue reading Contend for the faith but don’t be contentious. Jude 1:3

Are there 2000 year old people walking the earth today?

Dear Pastor Charles: I was reading my Bible the other day and came across a verse I do not understand. It is found in Matthew 16:28, “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Does this mean that some of the disciples did not die? Thank you for your response. Perplexed.

Continue reading Are there 2000 year old people walking the earth today?

Faith in the Workplace-

Dear Pastor Charles: I am having a difficult problem at work that I hope you can help me with. I am a Christian and I try to take my faith with me wherever I go. I try very hard to give my employer my best effort each day and it has not gone unnoticed as I receive great evaluations and good bonuses for my efforts. My problem lies with some of my fellow workers who constantly hassle me and try to make me look bad to my bosses. I don’t know why they do this to me because I have certainly done nothing to them that warrants this treatment. Perhaps it is because I don’t go out for drinks after work, I don’t know. I just know that it really bothers me to be treated badly when I am trying to do my best. What should I do? Tormented…

Dear Tormented:

You should thank God that you are being persecuted for His name’s sake because it means that you belong to God. Jesus said in John 15:18-21, Continue reading Faith in the Workplace-

Who does the will of the Father? … Good question from a curious reader…

Dear Pastor Charles: In Mathew 21:28-31, Jesus asks the religious leaders of His day which of the sons in His story did the will of his father. First of all, when Jesus spoke in parables, there was always a comparison to real life. What does this parable tell us we should be doing for our Heavenly Father? Secondly, although He never says it directly, He seems to be saying that the son who said “yes”, but failed to do the work, was actually the one who did the will of his father. Is this what Jesus really means, and if so, why? Curious…

Continue reading Who does the will of the Father? … Good question from a curious reader…

How to handle a Pastor who doesn’t meet your expectations

Dear Pastor Charles: I hope you will address an issue for me that has been on my mind for some time. Isn’t it true that a minister’s primary responsibility is to visit the members of his church? Our minister seems to think that the only reason he is paid is to preach on Sunday. What do you think? Disgruntled.

Continue reading How to handle a Pastor who doesn’t meet your expectations

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free." Gal 5:1