Monday, November 23, 2015

Apparent Issues of Real Conversion

Apparent Issues of Real Conversion

There are many people and preachers who do not like it when someone points out that someone’s life ought to look different after a profession of having been “born again.”  These same people do not like it when someone questions the reality of conversion in the life of a professing Christian that shows no evidence of having repented.
When the light of the Holy Spirit’s conviction shines into our hearts, a transition in the understanding of our own sinful heart is exposed to our view.  It is not that we simply understand that we are sinners.  It is that we see that we are sinners in the eyes of a perfectly holy God and are under His just condemnation.  In other words, we understand the wickedness of our sin.  We understand that we deserve God’s eternal condemnation.
With this understanding, a new emotion is created within us.  We begin to loathe what we are in the flesh.  We begin to hate the very desires of the flesh and hate that we love these desires.  We hate that we are so easily captivated and manipulated by the desires of our flesh.  We see our flesh as the strings of a puppet with the Destroyer manipulating us and moving us about at his evil will.  We begin to desire and long for the righteousness of God.  We want to change.  We want what God wants for us and from us.  This is the appearance of real repentance.
This is the context of Ephesians 2:1-10.  Usually the emphasis of the text is put upon Ephesians 2:8-9.  However, the context of Ephesians 2:1-10 puts the emphasis of the text upon verse ten.  The emphasis of the text is upon God’s expectation of change of focus in a new believer’s life.

“1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; 2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: 3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. 4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved {perfect, passive, participle} through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The point of Ephesians 2:1-10 is simple.  No one is saved “of works,” but everyone who is saved is saved “unto good works.”  This is the normal expectation of God in every believer’s new and individual regeneration.  The point is that the light of the knowledge of God’s holiness that shines into our hearts creating repentance and conversion “should” result in that light shining out of our hearts after the Spirit of God begins to reside there after conversion.  God expects His New Creation of every “born again” believer to be an evident spectation of genuine conversion.

Regeneration is supernatural.  Therefore, the Christian life of “good works” is supernaturally produced by the supernatural indwelling Holy Spirit of God.  The Holy Spirit of God is the Personification of the glory of God.  If the Holy Spirit dwells within, He will progressively begin to reveal that indwelling by shining through our lives. 
The concept of “good works,” as an expectation of conversion, has been perverted by the false doctrine that “good works” earns salvation.  As a result, the pendulum of Theological Reactionism has swung to the opposite extreme to where “good works” are not even an expectation of genuine conversion.  The idea that “good works” earns salvation has always been a corruption of the truth and is the first evidence of apostasy.  Salvation can never be achieved through the power and works of the flesh (Galatians 1:6-9).  Neither can sanctification be achieved through the power and works of the flesh (Galatians 3:1-5).

We should all be familiar with what Jesus taught His inner circle disciples in Matthew chapter five.  Jesus clearly expected a radical, supernatural change in the lives of His disciples after they were “born again” of the Spirit of God.

“13 Ye {plural and therefore collectively} are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye {plural and therefore collectively} are the light of the world. A city {exemplifying what He means by using the plural and therefore collectively as the church as a living temple} that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

The fact that many of the disciples did not fully understand what Christ was teaching regarding the supernatural aspect of letting their light shine is evident in His encounter with Peter in John 21:15-19.  In John 21:2, we are told that Peter and six others of Christ’s disciples returned to their occupations as fishermen.  They were being led by the decision of Peter because Peter viewed himself as disqualified to be a disciple of Jesus because of his thrice denial of Jesus the evening preceding the crucifixion.  Peter needed to understand that God is the God of new beginnings and second chances.  Repentance of one’s spiritual failures would be a regular and normal aspect of every day for every true Christian.
As we read John 21:15-19, we should be aware that Peter responds to Jesus’ question regarding loving Him with a different Greek word than Jesus is using.  Jesus is using the Greek word agapao (ag-ap-ah’-o), which Jesus had defined on the Cross of Calvary.  Peter understood that Jesus was asking him if he loved Jesus the way Jesus loved him.  Peter knew he did not.  That is why Peter responds with the Greek word phileo (fil-eh’-o), which means a brotherly affection.

“15 So when they had dined {on the fish miraculously just previously provided by Jesus}, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love {phileo; only is implied} thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me” (John 21:15-19).

There is an important point in the text.  God’s light shines through us as we are doing what God commands us to do in the Great Commission.  Peter understood what Jesus had taught in Mark 10:38-39.  Peter now understood that he was going to drink of the same cup of which Jesus drank and was going to be baptized with the baptism with which Jesus was baptized.  Peter was so preoccupied with dying for Christ that he was not living for Christ.  It would seem that most people want to get to heaven without dying.  Jesus sought to change Peter’s focus.  Jesus wanted Peter to stop worrying about dying for Him and begin to think about living for Him.  This realization is critical to the light of God being revealed through our lives.
What do you think would have been the outcome of the lives of these seven disciples of Christ listed in John 21:2 had Christ not confronted Peter about this deception regarding his failure?  The point is that Peter’s thrice denial of Christ was continuing to be used of Satan because Peter would not receive the forgiveness Christ promises after Peter had repented.  Peter was still living in his failure and was causing others to live there with him.  The fact is that genuine repentance is an attitude of the mind that is constantly renewed in the true believer’s life.  For most believers, every day will bring new personal betrayals of Christ that will need repentance and new beginnings.  This realization is part of spiritual maturity.
The fact that Peter saw himself as a sinner is evident in John 21:15-19.  However, Peter failed to see the supernatural potential in his repentance.  What significance is there in knowing that God forgives when we repent if we are not willing to receive that forgiveness and begin anew again?  We can begin anew again because we are renewed again through true repentance.  It is not that we are saved again.  Repentance opens the door for God to spiritually revive our hearts over and over again in order to “walk in the light as He is in the light.”   If every Christian, with some major failure in his life, became useless to God after that failure, then most of us would not last more than a few weeks if not a few days.  This is Satan’s deception.
We must be as the tax collector in Luke 18:13, who saw himself accurately.  This correct view of himself resulted in genuine repentance.  However, notice that this genuine repentance did not cause him to live in hopeless self-rejection.  He is at the “the temple” praying.  Genuine repentance results in genuine prayer because of genuine self-evaluation.  Therefore, this repentant sinner’s prayer appeals to God’s grace, not to his own merit as does the “Pharisee.”  The point is that only the repentant sinner is “justified” and only the repentant sinner appeals to God’s grace.

“9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

The relationship of an accurate self-view to genuine conversion is critical.  An accurate self-view sees one’s self as the tax collector saw himself.  This is what genuine repentance looks like.  This tax collector understood the dark, sin-filled blindness of his heart while perhaps grasping only just a small understanding of the holiness of God.  In the humility of his repentant acknowledgement of his sinfulness, he offers a prayer of petition to God’s grace asking only for mercy from God.  This is what the repentant heart looks like in genuine conversion as such a person calls on the Name of Jesus for salvation.  The is what the repentant heart of those who are genuinely converted looks like as they come to God in prayer.  They understand they deserve NOTHING from God.  Their plea is for mercy in grace!

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

No comments:

Post a Comment