Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lord, Teach Us To Pray! Part 22

Prayers of Confession continued...

Although repentance has fallen out of favor with this present generation because it requires the humbling of oneself and the renouncing of past practices the flesh really enjoys, it is nevertheless still a biblical command, and something God insists upon in every one of His children.

When we remove repentance from the predetermined order of stages an individual must go through in order to obtain salvation, it’s as though we are removing a tire off a car, then expecting it to function as it did when it had four.

When repentance is removed from the equation, all we are left with is an incomplete equation. There are four major elements to salvation, each necessary in order to become born again sons and daughters of God. The simplest way I’ve found of explaining these four elements, having done so to someone sitting next to me on a forty minute flight one time, is believe, confess, repent, and receive.

The first step we take on our journey toward salvation is believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, who came and died that we might have life, who rose again on the third day, and now sits at the right hand of the Father. This belief, this faith comes by way of hearing the word of God, and letting it take root in our heart.

The second step we take on our journey toward salvation is that of confession. Once we have come to believe in Christ, we look in the mirror of His word, see all the stain and the filth and the wrinkles, and confess our sin, transgression and iniquity before Him.

The third step we take on our journey toward salvation is that of repentance. Repentance is more than saying we are sorry, it is more than feeling shame or regret for past actions, it is the turning away from our past, and leaving all that we were behind us. We are new creations in Christ Jesus, renewed in our mind, with new desires, new aspirations, and a new path upon which we must tread, leading toward Jesus and away from the sins that had imprisoned us.

The fourth step we take on our journey toward salvation is receiving the forgiveness of God, receiving the redemption of God, receiving the blood of Jesus that washes us and makes us clean in His sight.

Although from this point onward, we go on to water baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, maturing and growing, building up our prayers lives, and other aspects necessary for a healthy and vibrant spiritual life, these four, believe, confess, repent, receive, are the first steps we take toward a new life in Christ.

These four stages in the life of a new believer are interdependent. We cannot confess, unless we first believe, we cannot repent of that which we’ve never confessed, nor can we receive forgiveness for that which we never repented of. These four aspects of our journey must work in harmony with each other, and are interdependent, like the links on a chain.

Why all this talk about repentance during a study on prayers of confession? Because confession and repentance are like two sides of the same coin, making a whole only when they are joined together.

Luke 24:46-47, “Then He said to them, ‘thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.’”

The preaching of repentance and remission of sins in His name is a necessity. No, I did not conclude this on my own, it is not a doctrine I fashioned out of thin air, it is something Jesus said with His own lips, equating the necessity of preaching repentance and remission of sins with the necessity of the Christ having had to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day.

Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

There are certain things required of man, in order for the Lord to have mercy on him, and abundantly pardon. In this verse alone, we see three actions one must undertake in order to receive forgiveness, or be abundantly pardoned and shown mercy. First, the wicked or the unrighteous man must forsake his way, second, he must forsake his thoughts, and third, he must return to the Lord. Only then will God have mercy, only then will He abundantly pardon.

Yes, prayers of confession, and prayers of repentance are critical in the life of every believer, for only when we confess and repent are we forgiven, only when we humble ourselves before the glory of our God, will He have mercy on us and abundantly pardon.

Every time I preach somewhere, it is inevitable that I stir the ire of one or two individuals. After preaching a message on the need for repentance a young lady came up to me after the service, face flushed, and a spark of anger in her eye.

‘I disagree wholeheartedly with what you said, because I’m already forgiven’, she said not bothering to shake my hand.

‘You are forgiven, if you’ve received Jesus as Lord, confessed and repented’, I answered.

‘I raised my hand at a crusade’ she retorted ‘and I was assured that I was saved and eternally secure. You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just trying to scare people.’

And that pretty much sums up the mindset of those who don’t bother to read the word of God, who don’t bother to search out the scriptures for themselves, and receive the words and opinions of others as holy writ.

God gave us the Bible for a reason. He gave us scripture that we might know it, live it, and obey it. It is scripture that constrains us, defining what we must believe, what we must practice, and what we must reject.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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