🔥🔥 Fresh Insights on Halloween 🔥🔥

pumpkin-seeds-201098_1280There was a classic psychology experiment by Ivan Pavlov that entailed ringing a bell when it was time to feed the dogs.  When he eventually took away the food and just rang the bell, the dogs began to salivate because they associated the bell with food.  It’s called “conditioning.”  In the same way, our culture is conditioned from childhood to view the occult/witchcraft as something harmless, fun, imaginary, or not to be taken seriously… because it’s paired with other things that may seem positive, like candy, cute costumes, and fun activities.  When those aspects are taken away, people may still associate the occult/witchcraft/death/fear themes with positive feelings.

This doesn’t involve only halloween but the way the occult and witchcraft are introduced into cartoons, children’s movies, and books.  Because adults associate these things with the “fun” and “good memories” they had linked to these themes, they havdifficulty seeing any problem passing them onto their children, as they don’t want to deprive them of what they consider to be making fun memories.

This culture has been “conditioned”…  They see nothing wrong with these things because if they were introduced to occult/witchcraft/celebrating fear and death as a small child, and had fun doing it, it therefore must be “innocent” because it was “okay enough” to be enjoyed by a child.

In spite of all this, people might still grow up to be “okay,” but for others it plants seeds that could open the door wider into the occult and witchcraft since it was associated with something positive when they were small children.  The seeds may grow into that child-turning-teen being open to listening to music glorifying death and occultic themes.  The seeds could grow into an appetite for TV shows, movies, and books embracing horror and witchcraft.  The seeds may grow into the desire for activities like “ghost hunting” and people seeing nothing wrong with it, all the while giving demons more access to their lives.

The seeds could draw people of any age to a fascination with things like the Harry Potty series, while what they argue to be harmless, fun reading is actually increasing their appetite for real occult experiences.   An increasing number of young people have been drawn into the occult because influences like Harry Potty make witchcraft seem desirable.   The conditioning from early childhood is one reason why supposed believers have absolutely no discernment about things like Harry Potty.  All because seeds were once planted that told them these things were harmless, good, and fun.  It could very well be the result of the seeds planted during halloween.   

What starts in a tiny, seemingly innocent seed form can grow into monstrous consequences far more terrifying than any halloween decoration.  If you plant bad seed, you reap a bad harvest.  Only repentance can abort a bad harvest.

Besides stating the obvious, that a day celebrating death, witches (witchcraft), gore, demons, and fear is not glorifying to God— planting these “seeds of conditioning” is another reason why people should not raise their kids to be involved in halloween.

Advertisements

IS GOD “TOLERANT”???

3D Gavel image

I once heard someone say “God is tolerant.” Is that true? It depends on what you mean by that. If you mean, God is slow to anger, abounding in love, not willing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, then yes, God is tolerant for a time.

BUT, if you mean that God is okay with however you live your life, and will accept everyone into Heaven, God is not tolerant in that way. God is a holy God, and a just and fair judge. A just and non-corrupt judge does not tolerate the breaking of the law. He has to produce a penalty when the law is broken. We have all broken God’s law through our sinful actions, and we all deserve hell. Because yes, our sin is that serious, perhaps way more than you have realized.

However, the sinless Jesus died in our place, and took punishment on our behalf. Jesus, who is God who came in the form of man, paid our penalty so the Just Judge could justly turn His wrath away from us. For those that receive Jesus through faith and repentance, God the Judge puts down the gavel and says “The penalty has been paid in full. You can go free.”

God by no means winks His eye at our sin and says “Oh that’s okay, everyone sins.” To think that He does, means you are worshiping a god of your own making, and not the true God as He’s revealed Himself in the Bible. He is so intolerant of sin, that the only solution was for Jesus to die on our behalf.

The key here is that in order to be forgiven, to begin a true relationship with God, and to have eternal life in Heaven, you need to put your faith in Jesus by turning from your sin and believing that He took all the punishment for your sins when He died on the cross. Don’t mistake His kindness and patience towards you as an acceptance of everything you do.

Disturbing Prophetic Dream- by Jeremiah Johnson

***This is one of the most important posts I’ve ever read!***

Two hands with lights

 

***One of my favorite preachers, Jeremiah Johnson of Lakeland, FL has posted the following several times on Facebook.  Copied with permission.***

 

 

By Jeremiah Johnson:

Several months ago while I was extensively studying Matthew 7:22-24 and asking God for increased revelation, I had one of the most disturbing prophetic dreams of my life. The Scripture I was studying in Matthew says,

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name did we not cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will say to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.”

In the prophetic dream at night, I was taken to hell where I saw all these leaders and individuals who had performed miracles, cast out demons, and prophesied. What I was shown next, I will never forget. The Holy Spirit showed me long lines of people behind all of these leaders. He immediately revealed to me that these were all the people that had received the miracles, prophecies, and had been at one time delivered. As I gazed at the people in these lines, He said to me, “Did they not RECEIVE miracles, prophecy, and deliverance, yet I never knew them?”

I woke up from the dream alarmed and startled. I said to the Holy Spirit, “So there are not only people that will perform signs, wonders, and miracles that will be sent to hell, but also people who receive all these things that will be in hell. Why?”

Immediately the Holy Spirit spoke again to me and said, “Because those that worked miracles, prophesied, and cast out demons never preached the full gospel of Jesus Christ which is the message of repentance. They were so in love with the gifts that I had given them that people became trophies and souvenirs to them.

When My power would manifest in their ministries, they would tell people that I loved them, but never that they needed to repent for their sins. I tell you that a great deception will sweep over the signs and wonders movement in the earth. Beware of the ministries where miracles and prophecies will flow, but the message of repentance is not preached. You have been warned.”

***

Jeremiah Johnson’s ministry (not to be confused with other ministers with the same name) can be found here:

Web:  jeremiahjohnson.tv

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/JeremiahJohnson.tv

***

Note from Soul Winner’s Hub:

This is an extremely important warning, as I’ve seen the pattern of many “sharing the Gospel” without saying a word about repentance.  Many are going around sharing about the “love of God” and leading people into a “sinner’s prayer” without ever assessing if the person is even ready to turn from the sin in their lives.  This can lead people into a false assurance of salvation and ultimately, Hell.

Whether or not you are seeing miracles and healings as you evangelize, we need to be sure we are always sharing the full Gospel.  (And what a better time to share the Gospel, than right after someone receives a miracle!  Why would you waste such an opportunity?!)  During evangelism, we need to make it a point to talk about sin and the need to repent by turning away from it and surrendering lives to Christ.  And, no this is not unloving and religious.  This is what Jesus and the apostles did.  Of course we should always do this with gentleness, respect, and wisdom.

A person needs to be truly ready to turn from sin if they are truly ready to receive by faith the gift of eternal life.  Dialogue is needed to help assess where a person is at with this, and to help lead them to the understanding of why they need to turn from sin in order to accept Christ.

If, when you share the Gospel, you shy away from topics of sin, repentance, and Hell, then you are most likely not sharing the true Gospel, and instead risk leading people to false conversions, where people will mistakenly believe they are on their way to Heaven because they repeated a prayer after you, but nobody ever explained to them why they need to turn from sin.

“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”  -Acts 20:21 NIV

Check out the Gospel Toolkit for verses on repentance and other tools!

 

Hot New Book! Rethinking Christmas

What if your Christmas could result in saving lives, both now and for eternity?

From K.L. Dean, author of Twice Alive, Rethinking Christmas presents a well-balanced approach to re-creating your Christmas in such a way that’ll bring joy to God’s heart and yours.

front1-sm

Have you ever wondered:

Should we celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25th?

What should we do about secular Christmas traditions?

What can we do about the over-commercialization of Christmas?

How can we avoid holiday stress?

How can we truly make Christmas about Christ?

This book answers all these questions and more, while calling us to a higher standard.  In America, over $600 billion is lavishly spent each year on giving gifts to those who already have an abundance of things.  Meanwhile, children and adults all around the world struggle to find basic necessities and stay alive.  Find out how we can use Christmas to truly fulfill the call of Christ to bless those in need.  What greater gift could Christ possibly want in celebration of His birth?  It’s time for a Christmas Revolution!

Investing a few dollars to buy this book (or 99¢ on Kindle) and about 30 minutes of your time for this short read could lead to lives being saved for eternity!  Is it worth it to you?

Click Here to Order on Amazon!

front1-sm

Is it Unloving to Warn of God’s Wrath?

I’ve heard it said over and over again “we need to tell people about God’s LOVE when we share the Gospel. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!” Ok. True. But sharing about His love does not exclude talking about His severity, and the reality of His wrath and judgment. The truth of the matter, we need to share with people BOTH the kindness and severity of God (Romans 11:22). That is scriptural.

This doesn’t mean you should berate someone about their sin or abruptly and obnoxiously bring up the topic of hell and repentance.  In the context of a mutually respectful conversation, you can and should gently introduce these topics!  You don’t have to act like an angry street-preaching picket-sign waver.  But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.  We cannot neglect talking about sin, repentance and hell because some people have done it the wrong way.

There’s a whole plethora of people who agree God loves them, and take that to mean that He also accepts their ungodly, non-repentant lifestyle, because they haven’t been taught (or have rejected) the truth that God has a severe judgment against sin. This unbalanced love focus has caused an epidemic of a lack of fear of God. Do we realize that when we share the truth about the reality of the danger of hell, that it actually HIGHLIGHTS the reality of God’s love?

When we’re able to accept that we do indeed deserve hell, then that puts into perspective how serious our sin against a holy God is, and how great His love and mercy is that He offered a way to be forgiven.

To be effective, we need to talk about both the kindness and severity of God. We’re not doing God or pre-believers a favor by censoring the truth about God’s wrath. We must get the propaganda out of our minds that warning others about hell is somehow unloving.  Let’s prove those people wrong by learning how to speak about sin, hell and repentance in a loving, respectful way.

Related: How the Verse “The Goodness of God Leads to Repentance” is Widely Misused

Tips for Effective Evangelism: Guest Post by Kevin Riordan

Smiling high school students communicating outdoorSchool image created by Katemangostar – Freepik.com

Adapted from a Facebook post from evangelist Kevin Riordan, 7-15-17, Used with Permission.

1. The first step in effective evangelism is speaking in a way that an unchurched person can understand. An old pastor of mine told me that he wanted me to teach the elementary age kids. He asked me, “Do you think you’re called to preach? Well, if you can teach kids, you will be able to teach anyone.”

It is great that we can quote a King James Bible, but it does little good if they cannot understand what is being said. If you quote scripture, be sure to follow it up by breaking it down to a level where a 4th grader could understand what you said.

2. Learn to be able to read people. Look at body language. If they are fidgeting, preoccupied or needing to go, let them go! You don’t want to be that pushy Christian that they avoid the next time they see you. There are some who need the gospel in small doses.

Be cognizant of how you are coming across to people. Again, are you being understood? Are you too loud? Are you argumentative? Are you talking over the person or cutting them off? Try to see yourself from their point of view.

3. Throw your sales pitch in the trash. People can spot a robot salesman a mile away. Conversation is infinitely more effective than presentations. When you have conversation there is a much, much higher chance of gaining access to a person’s heart.

4. Listen to the person. When a person does reveal their heart, listen to what they say. Don’t be thinking about what you’re going to say next or try to jump in to give them the solution to their problem.

5. Be love heavy. Maybe it’s just me but I’m not too big on being around people who are angry with me.

6. [Give the] law to self-righteous, grace to the broken, but grace, grace, grace to both. There may be some self-righteous that we will encounter where it is beneficial to show them the true state of their heart. We should bring them to a place where they realize their need for a Savior, but not camp there!

As far as repentance goes, I explain that we must be willing to turn our lives to Him, and pursue Him, that we come to Him as we are, but desiring Him to do as He wills in our hearts, giving Him control. Who can repent or change without Him giving us the power to do so? All we can truly do is come to Him with a heart desire for righteousness and holiness.

7. The point of evangelism is not to get a person to parrot a prayer after us, but it is to give someone a love experience with God. That is the goal of all ministry, that they to some degree feel God’s heart for them. It is His goodness revealed that will lead them to repentance.

8. Finally, it’s all about connection. By connecting with you, they are experiencing connection with Jesus. You know you have connected when a stranger asks if they can hug you. If they have experienced the love of God then you have been effective!

Kevin Roirdan shares the love of God with people on the streets on a regular basis, seeing many physical healings & salvations.  You can learn more about his ministry, Set Free Ministries & inquire about speaking engagements at: setfreeweekends.com/

How the Verse “The Goodness of God Leads to Repentance” is Widely Misused

“The goodness of God leads to repentance!”

How many times have you heard believers and preachers quote this verse when discussing evangelism? Perhaps you’re one of them. While there’s nothing wrong with quoting verses in and of itself, the problem is that many people use this verse to imply that if we warn others about things like God’s judgment and wrath, that it won’t lead people to repentance.

But, what if we viewed God’s anger, judgment, and wrath as part of His goodness? If He’s holy, then He’s doing those things out of perfect fairness, and therefore it’s good.

This talk-about-God’s-kindness-only mentality has become so prevalent in church culture that it makes it seem that warning others about Hell and judgment is taboo. And who wants to be labeled as a judgmental religious person that turns away nonbelievers with their “angry God” rhetoric?

People love to quote this verse, but how often do you hear them quote the verses before and after it? Do people realize this verse is sandwiched between verses about the judgment and wrath of God?

Look at this, it’s a verse sandwich!

Romans 2:4-9 (NKJV)

2 But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things. 3 And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance? 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who “will render to each one according to his deeds”: 7 eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; 8 but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness—indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil…

Note, it doesn’t just say “His goodness” leads to repentance. It also includes forbearance & longsuffering (or patience, depending on the translation). And, His goodness, forbearance, and patience are in reference to Him holding back His wrath!  When we look at this verse, we are not supposed to avoid the topic of His wrath, but be thankful for how He’s delayed it in order to give us a chance to repent.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words describes the word goodness in Romans 2:4 as meaning: “good, virtuous, mild, pleasant (in contrast to what is hard, harsh, sharp, bitter).” I think the NIV actually uses better wording for this passage, as it uses the word “kindness” instead of “goodness.” I think when we say “goodness,” although not incorrect, people can make a wrong inference from this term. It could give people the subtle impression that since it’s the “goodness” of God that leads to repentance, then the things about God that make us feel uncomfortable, like His wrath, must not be a part of His “goodness” and therefore must be “bad.”

While nobody actually comes out and says it that way, I do believe that this subtle message is exactly what some people are trying to relay. Often, when one person mentions turning from sin or the danger of Hell during discussions about evangelism, someone else will try to correct them by saying, “It’s the goodness of God that leads to repentance.”  (Translation: “Don’t talk to them about turning from sin.  Let them figure it out by seeing God’s goodness, even though they’ve already been taking it for granted their entire lives.  The things about God sending people to Hell if they don’t repent— that’s ‘bad’.  We can’t talk about the ‘bad’ parts of God.”).

Some people are strongly opposed to the idea of talking about repentance, Hell and God’s wrath during evangelism.  People have assumed Romans 2:4 means we are only supposed to tell people about God’s love, kindness, gentleness, His desire to bless us, and the like. They may believe that if others talk about repentance, holiness, and Hell that they are automatically being “religious,” “legalistic,” or “beating people over the head.”

While it’s true that there have been abuses on the religious side, we cannot continue throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Nobody said you had to be one of those crazy people on the street corner shouting angrily with a Bible verse on a picket sign. Are you not capable of warning about sin and Hell in a loving tone? While Jesus and the apostles warned of God’s wrath and Hell, what makes people think they know better than Jesus on how to present the gospel?

There’s a massive imbalance in many ministries to overemphasize the love of God at the cost of minimalizing the severity of God. Many churches lack in clear calls to repentance and holiness, trying to make the gospel more palatable and attractive to the world. They don’t want to offend people who want to remain in sin. You’ll never do the world a favor in doing this, but only assist more people to Hell.

Notice, Jesus never tried to water down the gospel in order to get someone to receive Him. He didn’t chase after or soften His message for the rich man who walked away after confronted with the idolatry of his riches (Mark 10:17-31).

The Bible says to behold both the kindness and severity of God:

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” (Romans 11:22 NKJV)

If people would stop taking Romans 2:4 out of context, they would see that the passage is not just focusing on the kindness of God, but also His severity. It’s in contrast to viewing His severity that we come to greatly appreciate His kindness, and not take it for granted. The danger of God’s wrath needs to be made known, or people will never realize how good, kind, and patient He is truly being towards them since He’s graciously allowed them more time to live in spite of their rebellion against Him. Lovingly warning others about the Hell we deserve does not mean you are not focusing on the goodness and kindness of God. God’s wrath is good, because it is just and fair. It reveals His holiness.

When someone realizes what He died to save us from, then it’s like, “Woah, my sin is really that bad and I really do deserve Hell. He could’ve wiped me out in a split second! God has really been good and kind and patient toward me. Even though my sin has been horrendous, God has patiently been waiting for me, giving me all these chances to come to Him! I want to repent now and trust Him as my Lord and Savior!”

God’s love is bottomless and we could never over-exaggerate His love or cease to discover new depths of His love. However, when all we talk about is God’s love, kindness, and attributes that make us feel warm and fuzzy, we can potentially mislead people, especially nonbelievers, that God is okay with their sin. It could lead people to believe that because God is so loving and kind, that He’d never do anything that involves sternness or anger, or that He won’t judge sin. They may assume that He just accepts them into Heaven in the midst of their non-repentant state of sin. That’s why we need to kindly warn them about God’s wrath.

It’s actually because God is loving, good and kind, that He also exhibits sternness and severity towards sin. Every sin is a crime against love, and God burns passionately against everything that opposes His love. 

Yes, the goodness, kindness, and patience of God leads to repentance. Let us not forget the reasons why His goodness is so good, His kindness is so kind, and His patience is so patient, in light of the sin and Hell He wants to save people from, and the glorious relationship He wants to have with us.

Summary:

“The goodness of God leads to repentance” verse was never intended to be used to silence people from talking about sin, holiness, wrath, and Hell.  Instead, it should be used to highlight the reality of God’s kindness as He has given us time to repent even though deserving of His wrath.

Verse Translations:

Romans 2:4 (NKJV)

4 Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?

Romans 2:4 (NIV)

4 Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4 Amplified Bible (AMP)

4 Or do you have no regard for the wealth of His kindness and tolerance and patience [in withholding His wrath]? Are you [actually] unaware or ignorant [of the fact] that God’s kindness leads you to repentance [that is, to change your inner self, your old way of thinking—seek His purpose for your life]?

Yes, Repentance Really Does Involve “Turning from Sin”

repentance at the cross

When the word “repentance” is mentioned, often somebody is quick to chime in and say that the Greek word for repentance really means to “change your mind.” Well, yes it doesin part.

But we need to ask, change your mind about what, exactly?

The answer to that question is quite important. This may seem like hair-splitting, but getting theologically accurate really has some important implications. In fact, it may mean the difference of an eternal Heaven or Hell for someone. If we get repentance wrong, then we get the gospel wrong, possibly leading people to Hell or producing weak converts who may eventually fall away.

The Concern

It seems that when some (not all) people who remind us that repentance means “change your mind,” they are inferring that it therefore doesn’t involve turning from sin evidenced by a change of actions. They may be implying that all that’s needed for salvation is for you to merely change your mindthat you change your thinking from not believing Christ died for your sins to believing that He did, and then, bam, you’re saved.

Now, some people say this out of a sincere belief of what is scriptural. But for others, my concern is they are defending a lifestyle of continuing in sin, misleading themselves and others that they do not need to turn away from sin (and produce the evidence thereof— as John the Baptist said to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” [Matthew 3:8, NIV]).

Let me be clear, I believe what scripture teaches— that we are saved through faith, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). We cannot earn our way to Heaven by our good works. However, my concern is that many have strayed from the original intent of the words “faith” and “repentance” in the Bible.

What Does Repentance Really Mean?

So what does repentance mean in the original New Testament Greek? The Greek word used for repent/repentance in most verses is “metanoeo.” According to Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, it means: “to perceive afterwards” …signifies “to change one’s mind or purpose,” always, in the NT, involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always …of “repentance” from sin.

So yes, repentance means to “change your mind.”  When we read about repentance in context of the verses, we find that this change of mind has to do with changing your mind about your sin and how you relate to God, which absolutely results in a change of actions. That change of action can be described as no longer willfully pursing a sinful lifestyle, and instead deciding to follow Christ. Acts 6:30 makes this clear: “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds” (NIV, emphasis added).

Also, John the Baptist clearly demonstrates that true repentance must bring about good fruit, and judgement remains if one does not turn from a lifestyle of sin:

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:7-10, NKJV)

Many believe that salvation or repentance means you just agree that Jesus died for you, and trust in Him alone to save you as a result. But that’s only part of the truth— and presenting only part of the truth is a subtle, dangerous error that has crept into many churches and we must become very aware of it. It could potentially mislead people into a false assurance of Heaven.

You receive salvation when you not only believe that He died for you and that He’s the only way to be saved, but also that He’s LORD and is worthy to be obeyed. And when you believe He is worthy to be your Lord, you repent, you change your mind about your sin and the direction of your life, which will be evidenced through your change of actions. From the context of the verses above and the ones listed at the end of this article, it is safe to conclude that the word “repentance” was understood by the early church to include a change of action.

So when we hear people say repent means to “turn from sin” that is absolutely correct, because sin is what we are “changing our minds” about.

We are changing our minds from thinking that our sin is okay, that it’s no big deal, or that God will just simply overlook it— to thinking that our sin is offensive to God, that He is good and worthy to be obeyed, and that our sins will send us to Hell unless we turn from them. Repentance isn’t just turning away from something (sin), but turning to something— turning our hearts toward God: “…testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). We are to become disciples of Christ. Are we to change our actions because we are trying to earn His love or salvation? No, our change of action overflows from our faith that He’s Lord and that He gave His life to save us.

James 2:17 says, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (NKJV). If you have true faith in the fullness of who He is, both Lord and Savior, that is the kind of faith that saves. The kind of faith that misleads and does not save is the faith that says “I trust in Him to save me of my sins, but I don’t trust Him to be my Lord, so I will continue to live however I want. But I’ll still go to Heaven because He’s my Savior.” You see, that cannot be true faith, because you are not trusting in and relying on everything that Jesus is. You’re saying, “I trust Him as my Savior, but not as my Lord.”

If you reject Him as Lord, you reject all of Him, because you do not have faith in the essence of who He is. Trusting Him as Lord means you are committing to follow Him and let Him rule your decisions. Faith and repentance are so intrinsically interconnected that they are virtually the same thing— two sides of the same coin. Like Abraham, if you have real faith, it will be acted upon (James 2:20-24).

It’s important to note this change does not come through our own striving or self-effort. Once a person surrenders to Christ in faith and repentance, the Bible promises that we are “born again” (John 3:1-20), we are a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and are given a “new heart” (Ezekiel 11:19-20, Hebrews 8:10-12). The Holy Spirit comes to live within us and empowers us to live for Him. A study on the Greek for “repent” on studylight.org says: “The verb ‘to repent’ also carries with it the understanding that the person who is making the decision for change cannot change himself, but rather perceives the need to surrender his life to Christ for the change.”

It should also be noted that you can actually change your actions without truly repenting, a least on the surface. Meaning, if you try to quit sinning and do good deeds because you’re trying to earn your way to Heaven, you haven’t actually repented or “changed your mind.” Because repenting also involves changing your mind about the way of salvation from your own way (trying to earn it through good works) to God’s way (faith, which = believing that His sacrifice on the cross was sufficient and trusting Him as Lord and Savior as a result).

Is Repentance a Work?

One thing people may ask is, “If you say we have to turn from sin, isn’t that a work, and therefore aren’t you teaching salvation by works?” Nope! Turning from your life of sin and to a life of living for Jesus is a requirement for salvation not because it’s a work but because it’s a natural result of true faith. If you truly have faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, then obviously that means you agree your sin is wrong and that it should discontinue, and that only He can cleanse and free you of your sins.

Am I saying that it’s faith + works that saves you? No, I’m not. But there is a fine line here. It’s not faith + works that saves you, but it’s true faith evidenced by works that saves you. There’s a difference between those two things. In the first one, you’re trying to tack on works to your faith, because really you’re still trusting in your own supposed goodness to save you instead of trusting that Christ’s sacrifice alone is sufficient to take away your sins. It’s like saying, “The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross wasn’t enough to save me, so that I have to add good works to it.” In the second one— faith evidenced by works— you believe that Jesus alone can save you of your sins, that His sacrifice on the cross is enough to take the punishment of your sins, that your sin is wrong and He is worthy to be obeyed. Your actions follow suit because you always act upon what you have genuine faith in.

Repentance is a Lifetime Process

Does repentance mean we immediately become perfect and will never sin again? No, but it means we no longer pursue a lifestyle of sin, and instead pursue a lifestyle of holiness and close friendship with God. If a person is to become born again, they need to repent of the known sin in their lives. They may not realize everything that’s sin in their lives at the time, but they are agreeing to surrender their lives to Christ and let Him be their Lord. As they grow in getting to know their new Lord, more things will come into the light that need repented of.

We are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2), through the washing of the water of His word (Ephesians 5:26). This continual renewing of our minds resulting from the word of God is equivalent to the “changing of the mind” of repentance. Hence, repentance is not a one time occasion when we first get saved, but it is a lifestyle, if we are to continue to abide in Jesus and the eternal life that is in Him (John 15:1-8). A lifestyle of repentance is a lifestyle of faith, faith that continues to trust and believe in His word and does not shrink back into the ways of the world (Hebrews 10:38).

A Warning

General William Booth (1829-1912), the founder of the Salvation Army warned:

“The chief danger of the 20th century will be…forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and Heaven without Hell.”

The whole theme of the Bible surrounds the fact that sin has separated us from relationship with God which can only be mended through Christ’s sacrifice. It should be obvious that after Christ went through such great extremes to save us, that He’s not okay with us continuing in a life of deliberate, willful sin. Believers may stumble at times but they are not to remain in an unrepentant attitude, they are to continue to grow in relationship with God and become more like Him.

There’s a sick Laodicean spirit infiltrating the church and gospel preaching across America and other countries. There are people, calling themselves believers, who will diligently argue against all sound scriptural reasoning that turning away from sin is a requirement for salvation. That’s a serious problem. This distortion of the gospel is leading people to Hell and causing many in the church to be lukewarm, and in danger of being vomited out of the Lord’s mouth (Revelations 3:16). Let us be among those who remain faithful to the uncontaminated gospel message of holiness.

Verses on Repentance

Proverbs 28:13 NKJV

He who covers his sins will not prosper, But whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

Isaiah 55:7 NKJV

Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.

Matthew 3:7-10 NKJV

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, 9 and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

-True repentance means producing good fruit, i.e. a change in our actions that reflect the love and character of God, and no longer living in sin. The fruit of the Spirit is listed in Galatians 5:22-26.

Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV

21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in Heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’”

-Who was it that He commanded to depart from Him? Those who practiced lawlessness, those who remained in a lifestyle of sin, even though they called Jesus Lord and performed good works. For example, if someone tithes every week, teaches children’s ministry, has faith to prophecy and pray for the sick, but at the same time continues to have sex outside of marriage, this person is in danger of Hell (see I Corinthians 6:9-11, Galatians 5:19-26).

Matthew 9:13 NKJV

“For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Mark 1:15 NKJV

“Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 13:5 NKJV

“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Luke 24:46-47 NKJV

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

-If you are not including repentance in your gospel message, you are disobeying Jesus, and you’re not actually sharing the gospel.

Acts 3:19 NKJV

“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

-If you want your sins blotted out, you need to repent. Why would God blot out your sins if you are unwilling to turn from them?

Acts 3:26 NIV

“When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 5:31 NKJV

Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

Acts 11:18 NKJV

“Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Acts 20:21 NIV

“I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

Acts 26:20 NIV

…I preached that they should repent and turn to God and demonstrate their repentance by their deeds.

2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Revelation 2:20-22 NIV

20 Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. 21 I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. 22 So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways.

Revelation 9:20-21 NKJV

20 But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

These verses in Revelation don’t see repentance as a mere “change of mind” but very clearly it’s a turning from sinful ways.

 

Recommended Links on Repentance:

Teaching on Repentance by Ray Comfort

Teaching on Repentance by Mark Cahill

Verses on Repentance | Gospel Toolkit

Building Your Witnessing-Courage Muscles, Part 2: Talking to Strangers Practice

painted smiley on human fingers

We all have struggled with sharing our faith at times. Even the boldest street preacher I know, who shares the gospel with complete strangers on a weekly basis, says his heart still pounds out of his chest. So, here’s another little exercise that can strengthen our witnessing muscles.

Say you’re waiting in the grocery store check-out line. You feel a tug on your heart for the elderly woman behind you. You want to make sure she knows Christ before she meets eternity. “But, how do I even begin? It would seem so awkward to both of us if I just turned around and started talking about Christ out of nowhere.”

You feel awkward, because you’re putting the cart before the horse. You don’t have to immediately start talking about Christ (unless the Holy Spirit is specifically giving you that kind of urgency). Your first goal could be to just to turn around and say, “Hi, how are you?” Or, “Do you want any help putting your items on the belt?”

Consider it, “talking to strangers practice.” Start practicing it wherever you go. Try to get in a friendly conversation and simply show love. If you can find a way to naturally turn the conversation towards Christ, then great. If not, at least you know you were willing for it to happen.

I think one reason some people avoid witnessing altogether is they have this concept that you have to present the whole gospel all in the first sentence of your conversation. Relax and try to build trust. Try to find natural ways to turn the conversation towards Christ. “That was a beautiful sunset last night, wasn’t it? We have an amazing Creator, don’t we?”

Even if you don’t get into a witnessing conversation, it’s not a waste. One, you are depositing love into someone’s life. Also, you are building muscle! You are building up courage just by talking to strangers (what our parental figures told us not to do). As you become more and more comfortable with that, then the courage talk about Christ will start to become easier.

Building Your Witnessing-Courage Muscles, Part 1: Praying in Their Presence

prayerhands-small

Perhaps you’re in a work environment that may restrict your ability to share your faith (or at least causes you to do it carefully and in stealth mode). Or, you’re in a store and you can just observe by their actions how far from Christ some people really are. Perhaps it’s not a convenient time, you have an appointment and can’t get into a witnessing conversation right then. Or maybe, you’re struggling with feeling timid about sharing your faith. But yet you have the burden of the lost on your heart.

You desperately want to reach them, to somehow tell them the way to be forgiven of their sins, so that they don’t have to face an eternity in excruciating torment.

One thing you can do in these situations, instead of feeling helpless, is to plant prayer seeds. It might not be the right time for a witnessing opportunity anyway, but instead of doing nothing at all, the very least you can do is pray a silent prayer for all the people around you. You can pray that God will prepare their hearts for salvation, that the blinders would be removed from their eyes, that He would reveal Himself, and that opportunities will be given them to hear the gospel.  (See here for various strategies for praying for the unsaved). You can even pray for their families who might not be present at the time. When you are praying for children, it’s important that their parents come to the Lord as well.

When we pray for them, we also want to ask God to create opportunities to witness.   As you pray, you are preparing a spiritual atmosphere, whether it be at work, a store, or elsewhere.

You never know what one little prayer you prayed for a stranger will do for them down the road 10 years from now.

Or perhaps, it will save them 10 minutes from now, when they drive home and just barely avoid getting into a fatal accident. The kingdom of Heaven will start to dispel the kingdom of darkness more and more as we and other believers create and add to prayer deposits wherever we go. Jesus taught us to pray for God’s will to be done on earth “as it is in Heaven!”

Could you imagine, if every day of the week believers prayed as they strolled through Wal-mart? The local Wal-mart just might become a fertile ground where people start getting saved in the aisles with ease because the saints have invested so much prayer there, causing God’s presence to manifest more and more. Maybe witnessing opportunities would just start to flow more naturally in those places.

Now, planting prayer seeds is by no means an excuse to never overcome your fears of verbally sharing the gospel. It’s just a tool we can all use, timid or not. But if you do struggle with sharing your faith (we all do at times), this tool can be one of the baby steps you can take to build up courage for the next stepactually opening your mouth! As we make a practice of praying in their presence, we’ll start to become more aware of and open to witnessing opportunities.

What if taking this baby step now someday grows into the boldness to ask a stranger if they need prayer, and you end up seeing their physical and emotional healing manifest on the spot?