Archives For Repentance

Thursdays are normally my day off, and due the crazy week that it had been so far, I was particularly look forward to a little break from the grind. However, things did not go according to plan. Sick children, doctors appointments, and some urgent ministerial demands quickly made it another stressful day. By lunch time, I was ready to take a nap!

My toddler boys usually nap in mid-afternoon, which gives me time to relax or run a few errands. In this case, I decided to visit the local pizza shop as part of my weekly routine. I have come to know the owner quite well, and he has a habit of asking about my wife and kids. It doesn’t hurt that the pizza is quite good, too.

After a lonely, quiet lunch, I made spurious decision to get a haircut. I go to one of those places where you never know who will cut your hair or what kind of haircut you will get. I’ve been going there for sometime and have come to know many of the folks who work there, except that the turnover seems excessively high (which usually does not bode well of the business). I walked into a fairly empty joint. I looked forward to a quick and easy cut so I could get back to family duties back home. The lady got my name and number and told me it would be just a few minutes.

Fifteen minutes later she came back to the front, having forgotten she registered me already. I began to get frustrated by what appeared to be obvious customer service failure. I gave her my name and number, and to my disappointment, she said she would be cutting my hair. Not exactly how I was wanting things to go.

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At the very heart of the Lord’s Prayer is the petition, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  Like so many other familiar passages of Scripture, I fear that there are myriads of truths that fail to be apprehended due to our contemptible satisfaction of superficial understanding.  Such has been the case for me regarding these petitions of our Lord.

One of the remarkable things I’ve been learning lately is how the gospel interconnects kingdom come and the Father’s will being done on earth.  The gospel intertwines this petition precisely because the response these realties demand are that of repentance and faith.

Whenever Jesus preaches about the kingdom, the action invariable associated with it is to repent.  The arrival of His kingdom means the removal of your kingdom.  The arrival of His reign means the surrender of your rights.  His position on the throne of your life necessitates the crushing of all idols and rivals to Him as Lord and King.  With the inauguration of the kingdom in the life of a believer, there is a corresponding denunciation of the kingdom we had built with ourselves at the center.   Simply put, when the King is present, our rights are absent.  We repent. We look away from ourselves.  We turn from our rebellious, treasonous ways. We renounce all our self-righteous deeds.  We gladly submit and surrender our lives to His sweet sovereignty as the one who alone has the right to govern our lives.

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Atmospheric Repentance

Tim Brister —  August 17, 2011 — 2 Comments

That’s a new term I learned from Dr. David Powlison after watching the video below.  Atmospheric repentance is based on the initial cry of the Reformation as articulated by Martin Luther in the first of his 95 Thesis:

When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

The point is that the expectation of every follower of Christ is to experience Godward change and transformation that begins with the heart.  The means by which we become more and more like Christ is through repentance and faith as the gospel mode of operation.  Christians are commonly called “believers” because of faith in Jesus Christ.  Christians should also commonly be called “repenters” because we are daily turning from sin and self-reign to glad submission to the reign and rule of Christ as King.  Our response to Christ is simultaneously a repenting faith or believing repentance, and when that characterizes the predisposition of a follower of Christ, it is atmospheric.

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Reflecting on the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14 makes me think about the temptation to legislate morality by arbitrarily judging which sinners we think are most “savable.”  If the Temple that day were a typical Sunday morning, I presume most churches would cater to the man with moral superiority.  He shows interest in religion and shows a genuine desire to “get right” with God. We cater because he is most like us, over against the other scandalous men like adulterers, extortioners, and tax collectors.  After all, they don’t come across all that “receptive” in the seeker kind of way.  No, this latter group classifies people less savable, so we think, because their lives are really jacked up.  They are far from the kingdom while the moral man like us is “not far from the kingdom.”

Perhaps because we feel encouraged by the moral man’s sincere attempts of being good, we tend to ease off on the gospel.  After all, he is not as bad a sinner as the rest of the guys who really need a healthy preaching of the gospel, right?  I would submit to you just the opposite is true.  Those we think are “not far from the kingdom” are really farther than we think because they have convinced themselves they are not as bad as they really are, and therefore the good news for sinners is substituted for good advice for those who simply need a little self-help.

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This morning, I enjoyed another meeting with two young men of Grace (my A-team) at Panera talking about being faithful to apply the gospel to our own heart.  If I truly know myself, we will be quick to confess that the worst sinner in the room at any given time is me.  Therefore, there is no one who needs the gospel more than me.  This may sound really selfish, but faithfully preaching the gospel to myself is actually what enables me to share it faithfully to others.  When my heart is renewed in the gospel and utterly satisfied with all that God is for me in Jesus Christ, then the joyful overflow of the gospel’s work will enlarge my affections for the lost and loose my tongue to share of the amazing mercies found in Him.

The gospel should never be like that computer file stuck in your hard drive that has not been accessed in over a year so that it is impossible to find.  Instead, when the gospel is retrieved time and again on a regular basis, it be readily accessed to share and for others to “download” for themselves.  If we believe that the gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16) we cannot limit that transforming work to a brief period at the beginning of a Christian life.  For those who are being saved, it is the power of God unto salvation in an ongoing basis as we see more of God’s excellencies, expose our sinful depravity, and increasingly exult in the glories of Jesus Christ who is for us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

Let me give you a personal example from this morning . . .

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