Thursday, February 11, 2016

Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand!

I like Lent.

There, I said it. But I can't explain it, and I’m too tired for self-analysis tonight.

I look forward to Lent way more than Advent. I just do. I also like confession and absolution. And I like receiving communion.

So today at an annoying blog called Always Learning I got into a little discussion regarding repentance. Always Learning author Lori Alexander contended that repentance is unnecessary and living a life of repentance is not biblical. This is one of her comments on the subject: " me in the Bible where it tells us to have a "life of repentance." I don't want to "continuously repent of our selfish and ungodly desires." I would rather spend my time seeking those things above, dwelling on the good and lovely, and thanking the Lord for who I am in Him and that I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me instead of thinking about my sin continually. That is a depressing way to live."

I have quite a few things to say on the subject, but kept most of those to myself and was polite. She did not publish my final comment on the subject, I am going to record what I said (and what she said) here. Just for the record because things like this on the internet have a way of disappearing.

Me: Repentance is correctly understood as the work of the Holy Spirit within us. It is the Spirit that brings us to faith and the Spirit that sustains us in faith. Daily He works to sanctify believers, pruning us of our worldly ways and recreating us in His image. So yes, everyday by the power of the Holy Spirit we live a life of repentance – always being turned away from sin and turned to God in full faith of forgiveness. Jesus commands us when we ask God for our portion each day, “Give us this day our daily bread,” in the same breath to ask for forgiveness, “and forgive us our trespasses.” Repentance is a daily renewal freely given for Jesus’ sake, but repentance doesn’t save us – salvation is dependent entirely on the Grace of God.

Lori: "And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." {1 Corinthians 6:11}. Once there is repentance, at that moment we are washed, sanctified and justified. It is complete. In the prayer that Jesus taught to His disciples, He had not died on the cross yet and forgiven them for all of their trespasses but once He died on the cross, they were ALL completely forgiven for we were washed white as snow and "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." {Psalm 103:12}.

Me: We believe the Spirit’s work of sanctification begins at regeneration and comes to completion at our death. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:12-13) We also believe the Lord’s Prayer is Jesus’ instructions to us on how to pray to God and that His Word remains as valid now as it was then. We also believe that confession (and repentance) of sins remains necessary even after conversion, as it is written, “ If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10). It looks like we will have to agree to disagree on this one.

Lori: Yes, I used to agree with everything you just wrote but please think with me for one minute. You quoted "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." These verses are written to unbelievers! Most unbelievers don't believe they have any sin, therefore, they are unwilling to confess it , repent and believe. However, once a person knows they have sin, they confess it {repent} and God forgives us for ALL our sins and cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness. Do you believe that every time you sin after you do this you become unrighteous again? Of course not! Once we repent and believe, we are made righteous, period! It's a wonderful thing! We are cleansed from all sin past, present and future. The other verse you mention, it clearly states that God is the one who works in us because we know there is nothing we can do to be saved. Our good works won't save us. That's the Law. Jesus did it all and all we are asked to do is to believe then God works mightily within us to accomplish His will! Once we are saved, however, out of our belief in Him, good works should flow.

Me: (What Lori did not publish) The writer of 1 John uses “we” when speaking of believers (himself included) and “you” when addressing non-believers. Yes, I agree, God does work mightily within us to accomplish His Will. We believe this work is carried out by the power Holy Spirit working within us, as is taught throughout the New Testament. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 1:6). We believe that being lead by the Holy Spirit to repentance is evidence of the good work taking place within us.

Okay, so maybe that last part wasn't good Lutheranism, but I was trying to make a point and basically banging my head against a brick wall. Maybe I should give up reading heretic's blogs for Lent.

I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess to You all my sins and iniquities...

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