Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 61:1 – 3
Read through the following verses from chapters one through four in today’s reading and look for a recurring theme.
“18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.“ (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)
“1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
“18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;” (1 Corinthians 3:18-21)
“7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? … 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.” (1 Corinthians 4:7, 10-13)
Did you notice in these chapters that God drives home the point that He does not need our natural talents, abilities, strength, wisdom, wealth, charisma, or anything else that we might possess in order to fulfill His will and accomplish His plan. If God’s work was accomplished through our human effort and ability then we would not need God, and we could claim all of the credit for ourselves. However, if anything is going to be done for the Lord it will have to be done through His working in and through us. This does not mean that we are not participants. To be sure, God uses willing servants who are yielded to Him, but He is not dependent upon our abilities, wisdom, wealth, or charisma to do what He wants to do.
If God is going to be glorified, our fleshly “attributes” are going to have to be minimized. He does not need talented orators to speak for Him. What He needs are Spirit-filled men and women who will boldly speak the truth with liberty as well as love. He needs people who are wholly yielded to Him, and are not pushing some agenda of their own or are seeking the attention that belongs only to Him.
This is very encouraging to me as a pastor in our church and a preacher of the gospel. I am well aware of my human limitations. Sometimes I wonder why God would call me into His ministry, but then I am reminded by verses like these that it has nothing to do with what I can or cannot do; the work must be done by the Lord through me. I am simply not smart enough or talented enough to do what God has called me to do. It must be done by Him through me. That way, I will have nothing to brag about and He alone will get the glory.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Deuteronomy 32:4
Read the “1129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company. But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” (Romans 15:24-26)
“Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.” (James 4:14-16)
Things rarely go according to our plans. It was no different for the Apostle Paul. He had plans to travel to Spain that he thought were going to come to pass, but his plans were changed by God.
The Letter to the Romans was written from Corinth at the end of the third missionary journey. In Romans 15:24 – 26, Paul states that he had plans to stop in Rome on his way to Spain, but first he had to go back to Jerusalem to deliver an offering that he had collected from the saints in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea) and Achaia (Corinth, Cenchrea, and Athens). According to the Book of Acts, Paul does go to Jerusalem, but he will be falsely accused and arrested there, and taken into Roman custody. He will end up going to Rome but not as he originally desires. After two years being confined to the palace prison in Caesarea, he is transferred to Rome in order to appeal his case to Caesar. He remains there for a couple of more years awaiting his trial and is eventually released. However, there is no Biblical record of him every going to Spain. There are some traditional accounts of him traveling there (and possibly even into Britain) before his death, but this cannot be proven.
This is not the first time Paul’s plans were changed by God, either. In his second missionary journey, it was his intention to go through Galatia and then northeast into Bythinia, but the Spirit of God wanted him to go west into Greece:
“Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them.” (Acts 16:6-10)
God has the right to veto or change any plan that we may have. It is good to have dreams about the future, and it is right to pray and plan the road ahead, but don’t be surprised if God radically alters your vision. God’s will is so much better than our will anyway. His wisdom is infinite and he sees what we cannot possibly see. Who knows? Our plans may have led to disaster. We need to trust that God knows what is best. “If the Lord wills” or “the Lord willing” needs to be more than just a trite phrase we spit out on occasion; it needs to be a mindset of cheerful submission to the perfect will of God.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 51
Read the “1128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” – (Romans 11:25)
My preacher back in Texas used to share an illustration regarding Romans 11:25 that I thought was very profound. He said that he was on the lookout for the last Gentile that would be saved before God takes the Church up to Heaven. Dr. Gray is a tenacious soul winner, and he believes that this verse teaches that there will come a day when the “fulness” of the Gentiles will be complete. He wants to be the one who shares the gospel with that last Gentile.
When Jesus came to this earth, He offered Himself to the Nation of Israel as their Messiah. Though many of the Jewish people received Him (and still do today), the nation rejected Him:
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” – (John 1:11)
Because Israel rejected their Messiah, God has temporarily refocused His attention on the Gentiles. The good news of salvation – the Gospel – has been flowing freely to the Gentile nations of the world for 2000 years; but it seems to be coming to a close. I believe we are very close to the time when God will pull out of this earth all those that have placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, via what we call the rapture. Christ is coming soon to take His Bride – the Church – back home to Heaven. Then God will once again turn His attention back on the nation of Israel; and someday Israel, as a nation, “will look upon [Him] whom they have pierced”, and will realize that they were wrong about Him.
“And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” – (Romans 11:26)
However, until that time comes, we who are part of the bride are to “occupy”, or stay busy, till He comes. We are to do our best to get the message of Christ to every person on the planet. Someday that last Gentile will be saved, and Jesus will take us home. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Posted in Thoughts from Romans by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Read the “1127 Evening and Morning“devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“1 I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, 2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. 3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: 4 Who are Israelites; to whom [pertaineth] the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service [of God], and the promises; 5 Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (Romans 9:1 – 5)
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” (Romans 10:1)
“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” (Matthew 9:36)
Paul had a burden to reach all people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wanted to see them saved from their sins and on their way to Heaven. He loved all people and preached Christ to everyone, but he especially had a concern for the people of Israel. In chapter nine above, he made an incredible statement. He said that he was willing, if it were possible, to be “accursed from Christ,” if it could somehow save the Jewish people. Of course, it was not possible for Paul to exchange his salvation for theirs, but I think we see his heart concerning the people that he loves here.
I must confess that I have often had a more cavalier attitude toward those who are lost. I don’t ever remembering consciously wishing that I could go to Hell in the place of someone else. However, at the heart of the gospel there should be a willingness to sacrifice, because that is the nature of Christ. In Matthew 9:36 (above) we see Jesus’ compassion on Israel because of their lost condition. To be “moved with compassion” means that He wept over them. Christ is “not willing that any should perish” (2 Peter 3:9), and “will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 1:4). Jesus, however, was the only One who could actually take our place, and He did so by dying on the Cross for our sins.
As we begin to think about the coming New Year, let us ask the Lord to help us be more compassionate, and have more of a burden for the lost world around us. There are so many people out there who need Christ and so little time left to reach them. I once heard a missionary say that everything we do as Christians we could do better in Christ’s presence in Heaven. However, the one thing that we cannot do after the Lord brings us home to Heaven is reach lost people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. That we can only do while we are still here. We need to get busy.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17
Read the “1125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. (Romans 1:18-23)
America has just celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday, which originated as a time where gratitude was expressed for all that God has blessed us with. Contrary to what you may have heard by those who are revising our history, the first Thanksgiving was established here on American soil by Governor William Bradford and the Pilgrims:
“To All Ye Pilgrims: Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.” (William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony.)
The holiday of Thanksgiving has been a tradition in just about every culture thought throughout history. It originated as a celebration of the fall harvest, but before the civil war it was celebrated on various dates depending upon which state you lived in. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a national holiday, and affixed a permanent date – the final Thursday in November. Franklin Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday in November.
Thanksgiving for the Christian should not be just a one day remembrance; it should be an everyday occurrence. Our lives should be continual expressions of a heart of thanksgiving for the gift of salvation as well as for all of the other bonus blessings that God has bestowed on us. The Thanksgiving holiday for Christians should be the time that we remind ourselves to be thankful all the time, not only to the Lord, but also to the many people in our lives who have been a help to us.
Mankind, by nature, does not tend to be thankful, however. When we consider our reading from Romans 1 – 3, we see the Apostle Paul proving exhaustively the depravity of mankind, which seems to be increasing every day. Our world is becoming more and more evil as time moves forward. But notice how it all started. Way back in the beginning of the process mankind became unappreciative of all that God had done for them. “They glorified him not as God, neither were thankful.” To give glory to God means to shine light upon His goodness; it literally has the idea of making Him look good. He is always good, but we often fail to represent or manifest His goodness in our lives. And because we fail to see God as the Source of all goodness and blessing, we fail to appreciate Him for all that He is and all that He has done. We begin to take credit for things that were given to us. We are quick to complain when things are not going the way we want them to and we are quick to blame God for every tragedy that takes place in our lives, but when something good happens to us, we want to steal God’s glory, and claim it for ourselves. Once God is off the throne and man has replaced Him, it only goes downhill from there. Men become fools, and begin to do very foolish and wicked things.
I know that Thanksgiving, as a holiday, has passed, but let me encourage you to remember where your bread is buttered. Give credit where it is due. Thank God today, after the holiday, and be sure to continue to be thankful everyday.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “1124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25 And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28 Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 29 And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 30 And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31 Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” (Acts 28:23-31)
There are many things that we can discuss from the reading this morning, but as I was contemplating the passage the Lord brought to my mind three main thoughts. First, I was encouraged by the fact that Paul kept moving forward even though he faced many obstacles, some of which were cause by his own mistakes. Paul was warned twice by the Lord not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4; 11), and then when he arrived there Jesus personally appeared to him in a vision and told him to leave (Acts 22:18). Paul should not have gone to Jerusalem even though he was going for good reasons. As a result he ended up arrested by the chief captain, Claudius Lysius. He was then sent to Caesarea where he was detained for two years under Governor Felix and then Governor Festus. He then appealed his case to Caesar, which meant that he was going to have to travel to Rome where he would face many dangerous circumstances including a shipwreck and a bite from a poisonous snake. All throughout these journeys Paul is witnessing with both his words and his works about the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually, he makes it to Rome where he has the opportunity to witness to many more people and also write many letters to the churches, including the four Prison Epistles that we have in our Bible. Paul never quit telling people about Jesus, even when things were going horribly for him.
My second thought from today’s reading comes from vs. 25 – 27 (above). Paul is quoting from Isaiah:
“9 And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)
“10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.” (Isaiah 29:10)
Jesus also quoted from this Old Testament prophet:
“15 For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)
Notice that Paul and Jesus both state it a little differently than Isaiah. Jesus and Paul explains that the people are the ones who have closed their eyes. Isaiah words it in such a way that it almost appears that the blame for the people’s rejection is on God. However, Jesus and Paul both make it clear that it is the people who have closed their own eyes to the Truth of the Gospel.
My final thought from this wonderful Book of Acts has to do with the abrupt ending of it. It stops at Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome. We know that Paul will live on a few more years and will be imprisoned at least one more time, and will finally be put to death by Nero. Why does this Book seemingly end prematurely. I believe it is because the Book of Acts when never intended to give us a complete history of the New Testament church, nor even a complete history of Paul or any of the other Apostles. It only gives us the beginning of the story, but the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the world through believers was “To Be Continued.” It is continuing today through you, and through me.
Posted in Devotions by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4
Read a previous post from this passage – “What Are You Waiting For?“
“And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” – (Acts 24:16)
In our passage today, we see the great Apostle Paul standing before Governor Felix. The official accusation that was laid against him was by the religious leaders was that he was a “mover of sedition”, and that he “profane[d] the temple”. (Acts 24:3 & 4) The real beef that the nation of Israel had against Paul was that he was a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he taught that Jesus Christ was risen from the dead. Paul did not try to hide his faith in Christ and the resurrection. He boldly declared that Jesus Christ was the true Messiah, was God in the flesh, and that He had, in fact, risen from the dead. However, though Paul was bold in his conviction and preaching regarding the message of Christ, he was not guilty of what he was being accused of. He stated that he strove (exercised) to always have a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.
Paul had a clear conscience. He loved the nation of Israel, and he wanted more than anything to see them come to faith in Christ. He preached the message of salvation boldly, which was exactly what God had called him to do. His first concern was to obey God. However, sometimes in obeying God, we will offend men; but we ought not go out of our way to be an offence to men. The message of a resurrected Christ was what offended the Jews. Though Paul did nothing to hurt the Jews, his message was nevertheless offensive to them.
God has called us to be light and salt to this world. We will offend God if we refrain from what he has called us to be. This world is getting more and more offended by Christians who are living in obedience to God’s call, but we must not let that stop us from telling them what they need to hear. If I have to choose between offending men and offending God, I must choose to offend men. However, it is not my desire to hurt men. I love people, and I will work hard (exercise myself) to be as loving and non-offensive to them as possible, but there will be times when my life and my message as a Christian will offend them. However, even when the world gets offended, I can still pillow my head with a clear conscience knowing that I did what God has told me to do.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Ephesians 4:32
Read the “1122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “Farewell“
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Acts 20:27-28)
“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;” (1 Peter 5:2)
The message given to preachers by the Apostle Paul here in Acts 20:28 is to feed the flock. It is important to note that the preacher does not own the flock, but has simply been given a position of oversight by the One who purchased them, the Lord Jesus. Peter also tells us the same thing, and then adds some further qualifications for the one who would care for God’s flock. How does a preacher feed the flock? By preaching and teaching the Word of God.
1 First he must pray for God’s help and direction in selecting the right portions of Scripture to preach or teach. God will give the preacher wisdom as to what the particular needs of the people are.
2 Next, he must prepare. The preacher must immerse himself in the Scripture that he is preparing:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 )
The preacher must not only prepare by thoroughly understanding the text, but he must also prepare how the text is to be delivered. He must also select illustrations that will help the flock understand the principles contained within the text.
3 Thirdly, he much preach and teach with clarity and boldness. He must know that he is merely a messenger of God, and the message itself is from God. He must understand his authority, and claim the power that is available to him through the filling of the Spirit of God. Along with preaching the principles contained within the text, the preacher must be careful to guide the congregation in application, declaring how the Bible principles can be put to practical use in their lives.
Of course it goes without saying that the preacher must be in the Word of God on a daily basis, feeding on its truths, and applying the principles to his own life. He also needs to be fed himself by allowing others to preach the Word of God to him.
What an awesome privilege it is to serve the people of God by feeding them from the Word of God.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Matthew 6:33
Read the “1121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30)
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38)
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (Acts 3:19)
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
This word “repent” has been the source of much dispute among Christians for as long as I can remember. On the one end there are those that say that repentance is simply a changing of one’s mind, and on the other end there are those who say that repentance is reformation, meaning a change in behavior. Many would also add that repentance involves a mourning over past actions, a sorrow for sin. I really do not think, however, that the concept of repentance is all that difficult to understand. The first thing that we need to clarify here is that we are referring to repentance as it regards salvation. Obviously the word repent, as any other word, can be, and is, used in a variety of contexts.
One dictionary defines “repent” (μετανοέω [metanoeō]) ” to think again”, or to think afterwards, like an afterthought. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, I had to re-think all that I thought I knew about Jesus and salvation. I previously thought that salvation was somehow dependent upon my good works, but I learned that I was wrong. So repentance certainly involves a change of mind, and in a simplistic, literal sense I would wholly agree with the definition of repentance as a changing of one’s mind.
However, repentance as it regards to salvation is so much more than just a changing of mind. There also is a change of attitude about sin. Before I was saved, I didn’t think sin was such a big deal. I tended to minimize sin, instead of considering myself “exceeding sinful”. God had to bring me under conviction, which caused me to see sin more like God sees it, rather than the way I had previously viewed it. Then, when I realized my guilt and understood the penalty that I deserved for my sin there was also a change of heart, a brokenness, a humility. Unrepentant sinners tend to justify themselves. I finally saw my sin from God’s perspective, and there was guilt. Now, I must also state here that I believe it is possible to have guilt without repentance. Esau was sorry, but he did not repent. Sorrow will bring a person to the place where he can repent though. Guilt does not always lead to repentance, but repentance regarding salvation always involves guilt.
Finally, I knew that salvation would involve a change in direction. Don’t get nervous. I am not saying that I believed I had to work my way to Heaven, but I knew that saved people lived differently than unsaved people did. I knew that the direction that I was previously going was wrong, and I needed God to get me turned around. When I trusted Christ as my Saviour, he changed my direction. I have not perfectly followed His plan at all times, but my desire is to stay within His will for my life, which was not even the slightest concern before I was saved.
So here goes. I am going to give you my best definition of the word “repentance”. Repentance as it regards to salvation is a change of mind, heart, and attitude that brings about a change in direction.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.
Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Micah 6:8
Read the “1120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Read a previous post from this passage – “In Tune with the Spirit of God“
“And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch,” (Acts 14:19-21)
The Apostle Paul was a unique individual. He travelled to Iconium on his first missionary journey, and received intense persecution there, almost being stoned. He escapes to Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead, and then after preaching at Derbe he returns again to both Lystra and Iconium. If you look at the map of Paul’s first journey (below) you will notice that Paul did not have to go back to Antioch, where he started out, through those cities. He went out of his way to go back to the places where he was almost killed, and where he surely faced danger again. Why would he do that? Because there were people there that he needed to help. He didn’t let fear of almost certain persecution keep him from doing what God had called him to do. That is tenacity.
There are very few people today who are willing to face this kind of persecution in order to reach people with the gospel. In fact, there are not many who are willing even to sacrifice a little comfort in order to serve God. Today, we let the slightest excuses keep us from fulfilling the will of God. We need to get tough. We need a revival of tenacity in our churches today. A revival of people who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Posted in Thoughts from Acts by Phil Erickson with 1 comment.