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From “Just as I am” to “Just as I was”

We often sing a song entitled “Just as I am”. The song conveys the idea that Jesus accepts us in any condition that we find ourselves. This is a true statement and yet we need to look a little deeper.

Probably one of the best examples of accepting a person “just as I am” would be the apostle Paul. A devout Jewish believer and a diligent persecutor of the Church, Paul was given an up close and encounter with the Risen Lord. Ananias was sent to Paul (then known by the name Saul) to heal the blindness and share with Paul what it was that the Lord had in mind for his life. (Read Acts 9, 16, 22)

The thing worth noting, of course, is that Paul did not continue to live his life persecuting the Church. Quite the opposite, he began to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah and completely changed his actions. As he puts in in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

English Standard Version

Today, it is not uncommon to see those who say that they are Christians but whose lives have not changed. They say that they are saved and are glad that God saved them but they don’t attend services, they don’t read their Bibles, they don’t help promote the cause of Christ. Their dress, language, and entertainment are aligned not with modesty, edification, and purity but rather aligned with the ego, pride, and sensuality of the world. If you were to ask them what is different about their life now as compared to before, they wouldn’t be able to answer you.

A few years ago, I ran into an acquaintance of mine who claimed to be a Christian. He appeared to be bothered, so I asked him how he was doing. He said that his family was upset with him because he was living with his girlfriend. He seemed upset at such judgement. Then he said “But they don’t know how the Spirit is leading me!” Obviously, he was under the impression that God would make an exception for his admitted and unrepentant immorality.

It is the greatest news the the world has every heard. God will save sinners. He will save murderers, thieves, greedy, drunkards, revilers, swindlers, the envious, gossips, foolish, faithless, ruthless, prideful, rapists, molesters, and in other sinner whether he engages in small sins or big sinners (I speak in human terms) HOWEVER, even though God will save such a person, he does not and will not continue to extend His glorious grace to the one who will not change his life.

We preach the Gospel to all. We are not to judge who will and who will not respond to the call of obedience. Those that respond and obey the Gospel message are baptized into Christ, they put on Christ. They submit to the waters of baptism a repentant sinner who believes the message and come up out of the waters a Saint, granted mercy from God “by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5; Acts 22:16)

As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 6:11 “and such were some of you…”. Notice the past tense. “WERE” not “ARE” or “continue to be.” We are now to be friends of God not friends of the world. Because as James says:

James 4:4 ESV You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

The life of a Christian needs to move away from what the life of the sinner was in the world and towards what the life of a saint is in Christ. God will save any and every sinner just as he is so that we can truly sing the song:

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come! I come!”

But then we want to start living and singing: “Just as I was, you received, welcomed, pardoned, cleansed, relieved….” Let us not continue to be of the world, rather let us live as lights among the world in which we shine as an example of God fulfilling His promise in us and the hope that He can do the same for them.

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Repentance- a necessary action

One of the actions that followers of Jesus need to take is the action of repentance. This can be a hard thing to do.

There are many reasons why sinners will not repent-most of them result from a desire to keep doing what they are doing. Sometimes, Christians need to repent also-and that can be humbling.

Today’s lesson, dealt with What repentance is and why some will and some won’t repent.

You can listen to it here.

The Authorized Gospel

There are many “Gospels” in the world but only one has been authorized to be preached by Jesus. Do you preach or believe an unauthorized Gospel?

Today’s lesson, The Authorized Gospel, continued last weeks lesson as we apply “doing things with God’s authority” to the message we preach and believe.

Everybody needs to repent

Yesterday’s blog took an approach to the question of Homosexuality as a sin by pointing out that it isn’t the only sin out there and rejecting one sin does no good unless we reject all sins. Today I simply want to expand on the idea of sin and repentance in general and make sure that we don’t miss the point of repentance.

To repent is take an action which moves you away from a previous course or thought process towards a different one. To describe it as a U-turn or a turn about or doing a 180 are all ways of looking at repentance. Many things can cause a person to repent.

Some people repent because of social pressure. They take a stand and find out that no one is willing to walk with them so they change their mind. As a child, I made many such stands and eventually (in most cases) repented and started walking a path that was more in line with what my parents wanted.  In the heat of the moment a repentance may occur but really, it is the long-lasting results of that repentance that we need to be concerned about.

Some people repent because of new knowledge. There is nothing quite like the words “you have cancer” to make a person change a lot of things in their life. Smoking, drinking, bad food and such will many times go out the window in view of the new reality that has just been thrust upon them.

There may be more reasons to repent but those two really make up the basic reasons. In the church they work pretty good too. Social pressure can be applied to encourage a way-ward brother to change his life. I Corinthians 5 discusses a brother engaged in a particular sin—-that of having his father’s wife.  The withdrawal process that Paul discusses was for his own good, as well as that of the congregation. It seems that it worked if I read 2 Corinthians 2 correctly because Paul is encouraging them to accept him back.

A new reality will also help. When one realizes that they have sinned and (if you will excuse the term) sinned really badly, they are very happy to take advantage of the relief that comes from being in Christ. Peter preached an excellent sermon and reached the hearts of those people on Pentecost. They saw the new reality and wanted to know what to do. Peter told them and you might not be surprised: REPENT.

In this case, i would say that the repentance was a changing of mind about who this man Jesus is. Accept that He is the Christ.

Repentance, of course, is not a one time thing. One can determine that Jesus is the Lord and wish to follow him but you will need to keep repenting of things and thoughts that are not appropriate. In this world, there is a lot to be repentant of too!

One key element of repentance is humility. When one accepts the reality and then the path that this reality places upon them, there is a humility that can be seen.  Why do we not watch movies that are R rated for sexually explicit (or just sexual content period) and all sorts of violence and language? Why do we turn off the TV or even the commercials when Lingerie commercials come on. There is one commercial where everyone at a soccer game starts stripping down and I still don’t know what they are selling because I change the channel.

May I encourage you to do the same thing?

Here are some things that we should repent of, or at least consider if we need to repent of them.

Our use of time (Do we engage in regular Bible reading with the idea that God wants to talk to us? Do we pray as we ought and as often as we ought? Do we visit others like we should?)

Our use of money (Do we look at it as a means to promote the Gospel or to make ourselves feel or look better to ourselves or others? Do we envy those who have a lot of  money w/o really know either how they got the money or how they use it? Do make plans with it for the future or simply spend it on the here  and now?)

Our entertainment (Do we go along to get along? Will we turn down an invitation to a party that we know will be wild (define that how you will)? Do we have 500 movie channels and flip through, watching shows that we would never go pay at a theater for? )

Mostly when you think of what you can repent of it will be in the area of time, money or thought (in this case I put entertainment in the area of thought)

Three steps for knowing what to repent of:

1. Determine to do what is right no matter what.

2. Learn what is right.

3. Act on it. (Sometimes this is instantaneous and sometimes we need to make sure we understand everything properly before acting)

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