If you are a believer, you are a priest in the New Testament Temple (I Peter 2:5), which is your body (I Corinthians 6:19-20), and your heart is His Holy Place (Galatians 4:6). It’s a royal priesthood, charged with the duty of presenting spiritual sacrifices (I Peter 2:5). God has invested this treasure in earthen vessels (II Corinthians 4:7). And so He commands His priests to study how to keep their vessels in sanctification and honor (I Thessalonians 4:4; compare II Timothy 2:21). Many of the vessels are unsanctified. Covetous, corrupt priests have defiled the Temple of God. These priests grieve the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30-31) and even quench Him (I Thessalonians 5:19)…. Many New Testament priests today are like Hophni and Phineas, the sons of Eli (I Samuel 1-3). They were belly servers, feeding their own lusts (I Samuel 2:9). These wicked priests, “… lay with the women that assembled at the door of the Tabernacle of the congregation” (I Samuel 2:22). God destroyed them. Of how much greater judgment do you suppose New Testament priests are worthy if they erect idols of covetousness in the very room where the Holy Ghost dwells, yea, if they entertain impure thoughts in the very throne room of God, yea, if they commit adultery and fornication in the Holy of Holies — for ye priests of these things in your heart (Colossians 3:5; Matthew 5:28). [These wicked priests need to repent.] And the priests will not repent until they are humbled. And they will be humbled! God is going to move mightily in our midst and purge His House (I Timothy 3:15). The priests who refuse to repent will be destroyed (I Corinthians 3:17). Fellow priests, if we judge ourselves, we may avert the coming judgment of God (I Corinthians 11:31). Mark my words! Judgment is framed in the heart of God; and when it begins, those who are of the spirit of Ted Haggard will drop dead in our churches as did Ananias and Sapphira (Act 5). So I call upon you to humble your soul with fasting (Psalm 35:13).
Jesus Christ practiced praying Himself, being personally under the law of prayer, and while His parables and miracles were but exponents of prayer, He laboured directly to teach His disciples the specific art of praying. He said little or nothing about how to preach or what to preach. But, He spent His strength and time in teaching men how to speak to God, how to commune with Him, and how to be with Him. He knew full well that he who has learned the craft of talking to God, will be well versed in talking to men.
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
“Thank you for giving your lives
for the freedoms we enjoy today!”
My study is a small room at the end of our garage, but I have a “window on the world” that lets me browse libraries around the world and study the works of wise men. My window is the good websites on the internet that offer sermon downloads, study helps, or books I have longed for.
I recently stumbled across two intersecting lines of Divine Providence. A book I had wanted to buy for forty years was reprinted and is now available at a good price, and the same day I saw the ad for the book I found a website that offered the book as a free download. The book is by Harry Ironside and is titled Except Ye Repent. You can download it or read it at http://www.wholesomewords.org/siteindex.html (a good website to bookmark.)
The doctrine of repentance has fallen on hard times in many churches. We preach much about faith, but are strangely silent on the subject of repentance. These two essential doctrines, repentance and faith, are the femurs of the body of Christ. By that I mean that they are the longest and strongest bones in our doctrinal skeleton. They are the load bearing framework of truth in our preaching that makes the long strides of evangelistic work possible. They provide the balance we need to stand against the wiles of the Devil. On these we run the race with patience. By these we bear one another’s burdens. This is not to make light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Surely that is the heart of the body. Nor is it intended to ignore the authority of Christ as head of the church, But the femurs must be repentance and faith. Dr. Paul Brand once told of a man he examined who had no tibia in one of his legs. His foot was held in place by a brace he wore over the outside of his leg. So it is in the body of Christ, the loss of any part of our doctrinal skeleton will require us to replace it with an invention of man, and will impede our walk, our warnings, and our warfare. Fundamental churches are in dire need of sound, doctrinal preaching. In a world that resembles Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones with all its scattered and lifeless philosophies, pastors who are committed to preaching the whole counsel of God display to men the skeletal framework of sound doctrine. There is a tendency, as Tom Malone once said, for modern churches to be composed mostly of jawbone and wishbone and lacking in backbone. It is only when we assemble the whole “skeleton” together, including the femurs of repentance and faith, that the life of the body of Christ can be what God intended.
So what about the doctrine of repentance? Is it only an Old Testament doctrine and no longer needed by the church? Is it a work for salvation? Is it the same as faith? Is it absent from the preaching of Christ and the apostles?
I see some very interesting sights as I look out my window on the world. I see men, good men, looking everywhere but in the Word of God for answers to these questions. It is this simple observation that troubles me. Isn’t the man of God to look first to God by looking in the Scriptures for answers? Even without Harry Ironside’s book, or anybody else’s books or sermons, I should be able to dig out the truth about repentance by simply consulting a concordance and then studying every verse in the Bible on the subject. After all, in the words of the old black preacher, “The Bible sho’ do throw a lot of light on that there commentary.”
Repentance is not just an Old Testament doctrine. It is not a work for salvation and never was. It is a change of mind that involves a change of attitude toward myself, my sin, and my God. It is a change of mind that can no longer tolerate disobedience to God. It is as much a forerunner of faith as John the Baptist (with his clarion call for Israel to repent!) was to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as inseparable from saving faith as John was from Christ. It is the continual experience of the saints, whether it is Job (42:5,6) or Peter, or Paul, or the Corinthian church members (II Cor. 7:8-11). It is as old as the book of Job and as new as the book of Revelation.
There are strange people on the streets these days. Body piercings and mutilations of every kind shock us speechless. But surely the worst mutilation of all is that of the body of Christ, scarred and twisted almost beyond recognition by pastors who are forever removing the doctrinal and structural framework of our faith. One of the Hollywood harlots of years ago is reported to have had two of her lower ribs removed in order to enhance her figure. We scoff at this mutilation and then turn a blind eye toward present day mutilation of the body of Christ. I visited one of these mutilated churches not long ago for an ordination service (never again!) The head elder preached his Calvinistic errors to a congregation of ecumenical hippies, old and young. The pianist, in his baseball cap and tattered jeans played his five note CCM chorus (of 25 verses) and the congregation waved their hands in the air and shouted hallelujah. Oh yes, and the candlesticks on the platform were filled with votive candles, burning brightly.
How did a Baptist church come to this mutilated distortion of the Christian faith? It’s quite simple, somewhere along the way, the church did what teens are doing all over the world. The church decided it was stylish to mutilate the body by adding to or taking away from that “form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13) which is given us in the Holy Scriptures.
I suspect the world is watching to see how long we can remain standing after we have discarded the femur of repentance.
No church has ever stood for long or gone far on one leg.
Isn’t it about time to go back to the Bible and get our other leg back?
The thief cometh not,
but for to steal,
and to kill, and to destroy:
I am come that they might have life,
and that they might have it
The Lord Jesus Christ ~ John 10:10
So there was a division among the people
because of him.
God blesses you that you may be a blessing to others. Then he blesses you also a second time in being a blessing to others. It is the talent that is used that multiplies. Receiving, unless one gives in turn, makes one full and proud and selfish. Give out the best of your life in the Master’s name for the good of others. Lend a hand to every one who needs. Be ready to serve at any cost those who require your service. Seek to be a blessing to every one who comes for but a moment under your influence. This is to be angel-like. It is to be Godlike. It is to be Christlike. We are in this world to be useful. God wants to pass his gifts and blessings through us to others. When we fail as his messengers, we fail of our mission.