THE SPIRIT OF REPENTANCE IS THE KEY TO TURNING THE CHURCH AND THE NATION

I have a friend named Jim in my home town that I shared the gospel with several years ago. At first he was confused about Christianity to such a degree that he wasn’t even sure who Jesus was. He is highly intellectual and couldn’t see how God could make Jesus the only way to salvation. He would reason, “How could God allow good human beings who have another religion to perish and go to hell?” I talked to him several times and eventually asked him to read the gospel of John so that he could see that the loopholes he was trying to find in the person of Jesus Christ and the gospel just aren’t there. 

Finally, the light came on and he began to understand that there was no other way to God except through Jesus. Still, he struggled with the need to change his lifestyle saying things like, “Nothing is broken in my life. Nothing needs fixing.”  He believed that the guiding principle of his life to do good to others was enough. In other words, although he now believed that Jesus was the Son of God, that He shed His blood for his sins, that He was raised from the dead, he was not yet convicted of his sins. What if I had told Jim: “Don’t worry about your sins, Jim. Jesus paid for it all. Just receive God’s payment and confess Jesus, and you’ll be saved.” That is the common gospel you hear in the marketplace of Christianity today. It is a travesty and the root of where the axe needs to be laid. 

I’ll tell you what would’ve happened if I preached this version of the gospel to Jim. By ministering a false comfort to him and rushing him to a decision to pray a prayer of salvation when conviction wasn’t working, deception would’ve been birthed in his life. He would’ve believed he was saved without really being saved. This is what has been done with multitudes of sinners everywhere, and that is the key reason why such a small percentage of them continue to walk with the Lord and bear fruit after supposedly receiving Jesus. We think we can bypass the cross and use other methods to bring people to salvation, and in so doing we become guilty of preaching another gospel and leaving so many in deception.  

The more I talked to Jim the more I began to locate the root of his problem. He felt he would be unhappy with a different lifestyle than the one he had. His lifestyle included regular Friday or Saturday night parties at his house where he and his friends would drink booze and carry on until the wee hours of the morning. That’s what the Holy Spirit was pressing and putting his finger on. So now there was conviction, but Jim was resisting the Holy Spirit in the process. It was all an issue of repentance and surrender.

DESTRUCTIVE MINDSET: SERVING GOD IS NO FUN

There is a destructive mindset in carnal professing Christians today that is at the root of this great deception and keeps them from going “all in” for Jesus.

They believe that there can be no real enjoyment in life if they stop sinning and pursuing happiness and carnal pleasures. They honestly believe that life would be a killjoy if they repented. These people do not seem to realize that the person who has truly repented has no desire to sin, and that the grace of God changes a person’s desires and empowers him to live for Christ. It is an inward transformation. That’s the miracle of salvation. Once truly saved, serving Jesus becomes a great joy to the earnest believer.

I dare to say that if the desire to sin is still in the heart of a professing Christian then he has not yet tasted of the real salvation. New life has not yet begun. Regeneration has not taken place.

Listen to the voice of one of the great revivalists of the past:

“Christianity does not make the believer unhappy by keeping him away from the sinful things he loved because the believer has changed his opinion on those things.” —Charles G. Finney

Finney defined repentance as a change of the ultimate preference or choice of the soul and of action. He taught that repentance is a change of will, feeling and of life in respect toward God. Finney believed that true repentance involves more of the person’s will and conscience than his natural feelings. Feelings are involuntary and have no moral character except what they derive from the action and the will. He would admonish sinners to submit and commit their entire being to God at once, obey their conscience and the feelings would soon follow (for more on this theme refer to the following books: The Real Gospel, The Real Salvation and The Real Jesus).

The spirit of repentance is the missing ingredient in much of the American church and in our society that will save us and restore the glory of the Lord in our lives, our churches, and in our land.

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10 thoughts on “THE SPIRIT OF REPENTANCE IS THE KEY TO TURNING THE CHURCH AND THE NATION

  1. Isn’t this why we so need preaching/teaching on what was called “the second experience” (would that be considered the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?) What you said is really something to think (pray) about, that in many cases there may not have been a “first experience” of true salvation! Finney’s explanation that it is a matter of the will, not feelings, is really helpful…I had the experience of resisting God, because I believed that common lie, that by fully yielding to Him, He would make my life miserable. I was still in my teens, and had had an emotional salvation experience a few years before–I felt such a freedom, and release after praying with a Sunday School teacher (being convicted for a few weeks previous); and I did experience a definite change in my life, and an interest in spiritual things. Yet, I was frustrated for three years with “up and down” feelings; and cried out to God to help me, and my relationship with Him. He answered by getting me to a Campus Crusade for Christ conference, where I was challenged by especially by one staff member who kept after me to fully yield my life to Him…I struggled, and resisted; but finally, on the last day, I prayed with her, and again experienced a wonderful release that changed me further, and was permanent, removing the “fight” against Him, and Satan’s lies in that way! It wasn’t so easy to get to that prayer, and it really was a matter of my will (not feelings); but I was being very much convicted. I thank God for His grace, for faithfully helping me! But what you’ve written makes things clearer, that my adult children (who have, in one way or another, gone away from biblical principles, mostly into terrible lifestyles) may have never been saved, yet some still thinking they are, because of their prayers when children, which may not have been with conviction; nor, all any point, (even though going to Christian colleges) do I know of any coming to the point of yielding their lives. So many poor parents must be confused in this way! We so need an outpouring of the Spirit, with powerful correct teaching, to help convict, and bring deceived ones in!!

  2. Submission and surrender to God is the key. Not my will but God’s will be done must be the earnest position of the heart. For many profess Christ but in works deny Him. Many praise Him with their mouth but their heart is far from Him. The motive in conversion is everything. Have we really made Him Lord or are we still living for ourselves?

    I pray for your children to be thoroughly convicted of their sins and come into the dealings of God that will lead them to possess a true saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

    Grace and peace to you.

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