Spring 2016: The "R" Word
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You reading this article: repent!

What was your gut feeling when you read the sentence above? Were you convicted? Did you have a feeling of disgust? Or felt nothing? A couple of years ago, I received an e-mail from a sister. By now I have completely forgotten everything in the e-mail except for the last line – “You shall repent!” The reason that sentence sticks in my mind was that I had quite a strong feeling of disgust when I read it. My thought was: “There are so many nice things she could have written to her brothers and sisters in Christ. Why did she have to ask us to repent? After all, she was writing to Christians who have repented, right?” Today, by the grace of our merciful God, I understand why she said so.

John the Baptist started his ministry by saying: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) Our Lord Jesus Himself started His ministry by saying: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) After the Lord’s ascension to heaven, one of His closest disciples Peter was inspired to tell people who want to be saved: “Repent…” (Acts 2:38) To His end-time church, the Lord says again: “… and repent.” (Revelation 3:19)

Now you might be thinking “I am a Christian. After all, I repented and then became a follower of Christ, did I not?” Have you repented completely? Let us see what our Lord has to say about this:

“We often sorrow because our evil deeds bring unpleasant consequences to ourselves; but this is not repentance. Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.” (DA 300.3)

Please think carefully: during the past 24 hours, have you sinned? What I am trying to ask is, during the 24 hours just passed, did you have any angry thoughts (Galatians 5:19-21); did you hate anyone in your heart (Matthew 5:21-24); did you eat too much (Philippians 3:18, 19); did you covet anything (Romans 7:7); did you say anything out of selfishness (James 3:6)? I hope you have noticed that what our Lord requires is not only pureness in words and action, but also pureness of heart. (Hebrews 8:10) You might be thinking “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60) I pray that you who are reading this article would not leave the Lord as so many of His disciples did, for our loving God has given us clear promise and hope – “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

You have admitted that you have sinned during the past 24 hours, probably more than once. You see the selfish desires and thoughts in your heart. I believe that you want to be freed from sin – total renunciation of sin. “What shall we do?” The answer is “Repent…” (Acts 2:37, 38) Naturally the next question is: How? The Lord has given us a clear answer: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus…Him hath God exalted with his right hand… to give repentance to Israel...” (Acts 5:30, 31) It is the Lord Jesus who gives us repentance. So what can we do other than praying constantly for a repenting heart? Through Paul God says: “…not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4) Not wisdom, not power, not justice, but the “goodness” of God leads us to repentance. Then, how do we know and experience the goodness of God?

Let us read again the word from the pen of Inspiration “Real sorrow for sin is the result of the working of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross. By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.” (DA 300.3)

First of all, the work of repentance is the working of the Holy Spirit. He “reveals the ingratitude of the heart that has slighted and grieved the Saviour, and brings us in contrition to the foot of the cross.” Do you know that the Lord died for you? You might think “Isn’t that the most fundamental fact known to every Christian?” But the Lord says: “Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.” Remember the sins you committed during the past 24 hours? OK, ask yourself again: Do I know that the Lord died for me?

The Lords says “By every sin Jesus is wounded afresh; and as we look upon Him whom we have pierced, we mourn for the sins that have brought anguish upon Him. Such mourning will lead to the renunciation of sin.” To give you an example, think about the closest person of yours in the world – maybe your son or daughter, maybe your parent, maybe your lover, maybe your friend. Now imagine if someone will stab this person every time you sin, would you sin as easily as you do now? I think you have seen my point – the relationship between us and our Lord must surpass our closest earthly relationship. Then as a result, we would be able to have full repentance and renunciation of sin. This is the reason why the Lord said: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37) He does not intend to compete for our love against our family and friends. But He knows that if we do not place Him always in the first place, we would not be able to be completely free from sin, whose penalty is eternal death and separation from our loved ones. Some people “suppose that in refusing to obey God they are insuring the peace and prosperity of the home; but this is a delusion. Those who sow selfishness will reap selfishness. In rejecting the love of Christ they reject that which alone can impart purity and steadfastness to human love. They will not only lose heaven, but will fail of the true enjoyment of that for which heaven was sacrificed.” (COL 225.1)

Now you may ask “How could I have such a close relationship with the Lord?” In other words, “How do I see and experience the goodness of the Lord”? “Jesus has said: ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ (John 12:32) Christ must be revealed to the sinner as the Saviour dying for the sins of the world; and as we behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary, the mystery of redemption begins to unfold to our minds and the goodness of God leads us to repentance. In dying for sinners, Christ manifested a love that is incomprehensible; and as the sinner beholds this love, it softens the heart, impresses the mind, and inspires contrition in the soul. (SC 26.4)

That’s right! What we can do is to “behold the Lamb of God upon the cross of Calvary.” So other than Bible study, praying, Christian fellowship and intentionally seeking God’s refreshingfrom nature, is there any other way to “behold the Lamb of God”? Thanks be to the Lord that He has given us clear and practical answer: “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.” (83.4) Your reaction might be similar to mine: “What? One hour each day to contemplate the life of Christ? That is way too much! I read the Bible and pray every single day. And I go to Bible studies three times a week. There’s a lot of God’s work waiting for me to be done…” One has said “Do not forget ‘the Lord of the work’ because of ‘the work of the Lord.” After all, this is the method appointed by Jesus Himself, right?

In addition to contemplation, the Lord has another merciful revelation: “We cannot by searching find out God, but He has revealed Himself in His son, who is the brightness of the Father’s glory and the express image of His person. If we desire a knowledge of God we must be Christlike… Living a pure life through faith in Christ as a personal Saviour will bring to the believer a clearer, higher conception of God… The qualities that it is essential for all to possess in order to know God are those that mark the completeness of Christ’s character – His love, His patience, His unselfishness. These attributes are cultivated by doing kind actions with a kindly heart.” (TMK 9.2 & 9.5) This is also God’s appointed way for us to know Him.

My dearest brother and sister, I pray that this article could help you get closer to our compassionate, merciful, loving, holy, just, faithful, tender, considerate, thoughtful, meek, kind, humble and good Lord Jesus Christ. Let us pick up the heavenly weapons so we can “cast down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” (2nd Corinthians 10:5) “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)

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