"Repent & Turn to God...That Times of Refreshing May Come!"
“Repent then, and Turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out and that times of refreshing may come from the Lord!”
We have been spending time looking at the doctrine of SALVATION, and enjoying slowing this process down for a moment so we can see just what is taking place. For many, Salvation happens in an instant. They will hear the Word of God preached, God will regenerate their hearts so that they can comprehend what is being said, they will respond through conversion, and experience justification, adoption, and all the other blessing that come from being a Child of God. When it happens that quickly, and we have not been taught, we miss knowing the profound POWER of God that is at work in our lives! The BIG question for all of us is, “HOW can I BE SAVED?” This is perhaps the most important question to ever have answered, since our very souls depend on it! This is why I am deeply saddened and upset that in many places there is a “HALF” Gospel that is being preached! Last week we talked about the Importance and Power of Regeneration! We can NOT even respond if we are dead. You’ve heard it said that, “Dead men don’t talk!” Dead men also do not respond to the Gospel Call. There is ONE thing a dead person needs and that is LIFE! The LIFE given by God as He regenerates a soul! Once that has happened we are able to Respond! A WILLING RESPONSE to the Gospel! This is what the theological term, Conversion, is all about! Conversion simply means a “TURNING.” It is a Willing Response to God’s Call where we REPENT and Place our TRUST in Christ for Salvation! You see, it is a Turning FROM something, AND a Turning TO something! We are to LET GO of something in order to take HOLD of something else!! Here is the problem I was talking about! So often, I will hear a sort of half gospel being preached. A Gospel in which the emphasis is just to believe! Believe, just Believe! Now, this is of course true and is PART of the conversion process, but there is something else that goes along with this…REPENTANCE! We are called to REPENT! There is NO getting around that. If you were to go back and read the four Gospels, you would hear exactly what Jesus PREACHED! He said time and time again, “REPENT, for the Kingdom of God is at Hand!” “The Time is Fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; REPENT AND BEIEVE in the gospel!” “Unless you REPENT, you will all perish.” You can find those verses along with many others in places like Luke 13:5, Matt. 4:17, Mark 1:15, Acts 17:30,Acts 2:37-38, Acts 3:19, Romans 2:4, 2 Cor. 7:10. Repentance is the “TURNING FROM” moment! It is when we truly realize the total depravity of our state, when we see our sin the way God sees it, and we are Sorry that we have so sinned against God and God alone! It is in Repentance that we cry out to God to forgive us, and that we make the decision to do an “ABOUT FACE!” We decide that we are letting go of a life of sin, we are abandoning that life in order to take hold of the LIFE of Christ!! This must happen in order to become a true follower of Christ! Now I have also heard it preached emphasizing only this other half as well. Some may ONLY Preach Repentance and leave out the necessary part of Placing our FATH IN CHRIST! It can become more of a “works based” salvation, as FAITH in Christ is not properly taught! This is unacceptable! We ARE Saved by FAITH!! This is the moment where, as we let go of our life of sin, we take hold of life IN CHRIST! This is Saving Faith! You will find MANY scriptures about this truth, including scriptures like Acts 16:37, Rom. 10:9, Eph. 2:8-9, John 3:16, and many more. What we have to understand is that BOTH of these elements of Conversion happen simultaneously as we respond to the Gospel Call of Salvation! In order for it to be actual conversion there must be a decision to LET GO and GRAB ON, or to TURN FROM and to TURN TO!! As I was talking about this one day the Lord placed in my mind a Powerful reminder of this truth! Last year, when I was in Uganda, I was invited to climb a large mountain called “The Rock.” Now, I was exceedingly scared of heights and had originally declined, however, as this was a moment in time where God had been removing fear from my life in order to increase a Fearlessness in me, I finally agreed that I would go. As soon as I saw what we were climbing fear began to seize my legs and my palms became clammy! We began our ascent with NO climbing gear, or harnesses, just a lot of prayer! Even as I write this my legs are beginning to tingle! We continued to climb until we reached a place and a height where we would have to go straight up rock faces. To do this, they had at some point, bolted a metal ladder to the rock face that we would have to climb. As I was climbing, I realized my whole body was freezing up around this ladder, and I was clinging to it with my life. It was difficult to move at all. I was trying so hard to keep focused on what was directly in front of me, obviously not looking down, but also not looking to the sides, as there were monkeys freely swinging from the sparse branches protruding from the rocks. Once I somehow reached the top of the ladder, there was above me a Ugandan gentleman who had his hand outstretched to me asking me to take a hold of it so he could help me onto the next ledge. My mind was at war with itself. I did not want to let go of what I felt was so secure. I was used to the ladder and the thought of releasing it was terrifying to me! The people who were with me continued to encourage me saying, “Ashley, you have to let go and take his hand.” I knew this was true and in a moment of complete faith, I LET GO of the security of what I had been holding onto and, IN THAT SAME MOMENT, I TOOK HOLD of that man’s hand! We have to recognize something so very true from this story, the moment I let go of what I had been holding onto I HAD TO GRAB hold of something else! That wasn’t even a question or an option. If I let go, I sure better be grabbing onto something else. The other truth is that in the moment when I took his hand, I was ALL IN! I was literally placing ALL my trust in his hands! The weight of my life depended on him! THIS IS CONVERSION! It is the moment when we recognize and believe that we MUST LET GO of all we have been holding onto and we MUST TAKE HOLD of Jesus Christ! We Abandon the sinful life we had and place ALL OUR TRUST in Christ alone! He holds the weight of our life and we are saying to Him, “I am TRUSTING YOU with my life!” This is Repentance AND Faith! We must experience Both! If all we preach is one or the other we are preaching a half gospel and are leading people straight into deception! It is not raising your hand in church that saves you, or repeating certain words that save you, it is Turning from a life of Death and Turning TO a Life IN Christ! Salvation is Found in NO ONE else! There is NO Other name by which we MUST be saved but the name of JESUS!!