All of us Need to Repent
The people of Israel were at a very low state spiritually at the time Jesus served among them. True, they welcomed the healing work He accomplished, the relief from demonic oppression, and his opposition to the oppressive legalism of the religious establishment. Moved by compassion and pity for the pressing crowds, Jesus had little time for training his disciples. But His failure to evict the Romans from the land of Israel, or to interfere with local politics, became increasingly annoying to the people. The “clergy” of the time became furious at Jesus when He called them phonies and deceivers. They all were motivated by self-righteousness and pride.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” (Matthew 23:15)
Heading on foot from Galilee to Jerusalem, where He would die by popular vote, and right on Daniel’s schedule, Jesus turned His attention to teaching his disciples, often using stories, proverbs and, parables.
One day Jesus picked two examples from the news of the day to highlight the fact that life is uncertain. Those unprepared for physical death would find there was no second chance.
We can’t be sure when, or how, death will claim any of us. Accidents happen. Innocents often suffer, and justice is long-delayed, apparently to those who deserve it most. Especially in matters of this present earthly life, there is no guarantee of safety, prosperity, good health, let alone attaining our cherished goals.
“…do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)
Only after we have “repented” can we receive confirmation from God that a safe afterlife has been made ready for us? How does repentance save? How do we repent? How much repentance is enough?
Jesus gave two examples to show that death often catches people off guard and unprepared, and why repenting today, here and now, is so important.
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
“Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Matthew 13:1-4)
Not long after He spoke the above words, Jesus carried His cross of execution to a high spot on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, away from the Temple. It was there that God the Father punished Jesus for the sins and wrongdoings of everyone who had ever lived, and for all if us yet to be born (looking ahead in the future). (See: http://ldolphin.org/sixhours.html)
A holy sinless God has already addressed the problem of how we can know God personally, and be made able to live up to His standards. The whole transaction is offered free of charge. Jesus supplies all the resources. “Repenting” is how we appropriate the amazing accomplishment of God, (which He purchased on our behalf, for our benefit). This “eternal life assurance policy” was put in place before the building of the universe had been completed. This incredible gift of God is missed by many because of our deadly pride and self-righteousness. Churches often get the message wrong. Most of us just remain woefully ignorant.
God is a living Being (in fact “God is love”). His emotions are far deeper than ours. He has perfect memory. He is perfectly Just and Holy, always true to His Word. Every detail in His ruling the entire universe (visible and invisible) is managed by Him with perfect fidelity. In order to expunge, to purge away, and to nullify the evil which is everywhere; In order to forgive us sinners and make us all new, Jesus the Son of God had to exchange places with each of us sinners: dying on our behalf.
The archaic English word “repent” is offensive to many of us religious sophisticates today, but in practice we can start repenting by focusing on God and talking directly to Him right here and right now. God is no less real because we can’t see Him. He speaks modern English. He reads our minds. For many, the place to start is to thank God for the good things in life we have been given thus far. Then we should surrender our lives to Jesus as best we can, and then make appropriate life-style changes. These simple steps bring us into eternal life with God here and now. The intimate life with Jesus which should follow is called “walking with God,” Our Heavenly Father has much to give us and to teach us.
The Hebrew concept of repentance is about changing our directions and goals so that we line up with the path and the goals that God set out for His people long ago. The Greek word for repentance is about a “change of mind,” a transformation that sets us straight with God’s reality. Life is very complicated, so “repenting” daily is a very wise way to live. (Please read my two short but more detailed articles in order to more fully grasp this subject: http://ldolphin.org/repent.html.)
Are we thankful that that we exist as opposed to “not existing” at all? What good things in life do we enjoy now, even if we currently feel overwhelmed with misfortune? Am I willing to allow God to use me to raise my neighbor’s good, or the common good?
The Bible describes our fallen race as full of pride, selfishness, and greed. Can we admit to God that some, or all, of these “negatives” reside in us? Repentance can be very painful because most of us tend to avoid living in reality to some extent. Can we allow God to forgive us and to throw away the list of charges against us in the books of heaven?
Many of us, when we start to “repent,” do not believe that God is interested in us, or that He is willing to relate to us. Neither do we feel close to God at all. Opening prayer with God can feel nonsensical at first. But repenting soon brings wonderful results in our inner healing. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away. Behold all things have been made new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
When a nation can be seen to be falling apart morally and spiritually, every one of us as individuals needs to repent. As soon as we begin repenting, God will shine moral light on our paths and byways. Soon it should be self-evident, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
I apologize for being way out of sync in not writing many of my dear friends. Friends my age remind me that “old age” usually slows people way down in spite of their best intentions. To make up for this, I find the Lord drawing me into closer and more intimate fellowship with Himself. The inner communion with God as one grows old is rich and enjoyable.
I answer as many important emails as I can with the help of The Paraclete Forum (paracleteforum.org).
State-of-the World: I am convinced that Almighty God is rapidly reconfiguring the nations of our world for the end time great war. Those nations who were once part of the old Roman Empire, and those nations most directly involved with Israel in the Roman era encircle center stage. I believe the world is headed for the removal from the earth of the true church of Jesus, (the Rapture) followed by a seven year time of trial, testing and judgment involving the entire earth (the Tribulation) and ending in the return of Jesus to Israel, (the Second Advent or Coming). Then Jesus will set up the long-awaited Kingdom of God on earth. Today, while the global rearranging of many nations is unfolding, the collapse of the United States of America seems to be continuing. The Christian Remnant in our land appears to be too small and too weak to turn us around. (Nations fall and disappear from the pages of history when they openly reject the rule of the God of the Bible as we have).
Bible Teaching: I am scheduled to teach Paul’s Letter to the Romans commencing January 6th at Peninsula Bible Church, Palo Alto.
Finances: Month after month God has faithfully met my financial needs even though I have not posted a newsletter since last June. At this writing, I have a very empty bank account right now and a stack of extra bills amounting to around $5000. For example: Second installment (of two) in Property Taxes, $2300. Supplemental Medical Insurance, $350 (month). Revised Federal Income Tax due, $1700. I have made it a point to ask God for the funds I need and to simply let inquiring friends know where I am. “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
The Blue Letter Bible ministry has graciously provided me am ideal channel for tax-deductible donations. If you would like a tax receipt, send your check to: Blue Letter Bible ATTN: Lambert Dolphin Ministries (LDM), 29 Rancho Circle, Lake Forest, CA 92630 (Please make your check out to "Blue Letter Bible" and mark "LDM" in the memo field of your check). Thank you very much! You may send cash contributions directly to my PayPal Account... http://www.ldolphin.org/donations.html. Such contributions (PayPal) are tax free to me, though not to you.
Book: My colleague Ron Graf and I hope you will obtain copies of our book on Bible Prophecy, Connecting the Dots... http://bible-prophecy.com/connecting.
Contacting me: Email: email@example.com; Website: http://ldolphin.org; Apologetics and Q&A: http://paracleteforum.org; Previous newsletters: http://ldolphin.org/news. I try to answer all my email, but I am not very good at returning phone calls, largely because of telephone solicitors. Everything I have written ends up on my web site. Please visit there often and write me when you see something of interest.
December 31, 2012