How the Cross of Christ
Changed the Role and
Definition of Repentance
Rock of Offence Special Commentary
This is Part 2 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriatle link to access
the other parts.
Understanding the Radical
Changes Brought About by
Christ's New Covenant
Under the Old Testament program, salvation was conditional upon an individual’s behavior and obedience which was tied to the 613 commandments of the Law. This included the requirement to turn away and forsake (or repent from) all sin. If you lived under this program, it meant that the Old Testament style of repentance had to be satisfied in order to continue in God's salvation. Jesus was quoting this requirement when He said;
"Unless you repent you
will perish" (Luke 13:3-5).
In this instance, the word “perish” carries the idea of eternal death – or being sentenced to a place called hell. This is where many preachers and their followers get their authority to claim that salvation is conditional upon our complete and ongoing repentance from sin. They preach it – because Jesus taught it.
This popular brand of evangelism
appears to be on a solid foundation
until you suddenly discover that
Jesus made this statement ...
BEFORE THE CROSS.
A correct understanding of
Christ's words in this
respecting an important
rule of context because ...
The program of the Law only
continued until His death,
ascension and the arrival
of the Holy Spirit on the
day of Pentecost.
Following these events the spiritual principles that govern salvation are no longer based on the previous old covenant program of the Law – but on Christ’s New Covenant program of Grace, where the Lamb of God takes away all our sin. Paul called these new principles; 'the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus'(Romans 8:2-4). Christ’s sacrifice legally satisfies (fulfills) the original Old Testament brand of repentance - and replaces it with His perfect righteousness which is now imputed (or freely assigned) to the believer as an unmerited gift.
Jesus said it this way;
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17)
Following the cross, Paul
repeated this truth in
“For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, MUCH MORE THOSE WHO RECEIVE ABUNDANCE OF GRACE AND OF THE GIFT OF RIGHTEOUSNESS will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so THROUGH ONE MAN'S (JESUS’) RIGHTEOUS ACT THE FREE GIFT CAME TO ALL MEN, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, SO ALSO BY ONE MAN'S OBEDIENCE MANY WILL BE MADE RIGHTEOUS." (Romans 5:17-19 – Emphasis Added)
“Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. BUT TO HIM WHO DOES NOT WORK BUT BELIEVES ON HIM WHO JUSTIFIES THE UNGODLY, HIS FAITH IS ACCOUNTED FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS, just as David also describes the blessedness of the man TO WHOM GOD IMPUTES RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS: "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; BLESSED IS THE MAN TO WHOM THE LORD SHALL NOT IMPUTE SIN." (Romans 4:4-8 – Emphasis Added)
Under the New Covenant the act of repentance - where we turn away and forsake various individual sins - continues to be important for reasons other than obtaining salvation (eternal life). This means that salvation is now only dependent upon “one man’s righteous act” (Jesus Christ) – and not on our efforts to repent according to the previous principles and rules of the Old Testament program.
The critics accuse those who preach Grace (God’s unmerited favor) of saying that repentance is no longer necessary. But, the word “repentance” is used several different ways in Scripture. As a result, these popular accusations often take advantage of our ignorance by failing to describe the various ways this word is used.
Repentance (or choosing to turn away from certain individual sins) continues to be necessary in the life of the believer for the right reasons. Yet, after the cross God forbids these 'reasons' to be used as preconditions to obtain and keep God’s gift of eternal life. Our Heavenly Father removed human merit (or our righteous works and godly behavior) from the requirements to obtain eternal life - and shifted the full weight and responsibility for salvation upon His Son. However, this Divine act also eliminated a powerful tool many ministers use to control their congregations; which is the insistence that salvation (eternal life) can be lost when believers fail to behave correctly and keep their rules. In many cases, the various accusations made against the Gospel of Grace actually represent a complaint directed against God for taking away the fear of losing salvation as a control mechanism. For many church leaders who practice an abusive type of spiritual authority - this is a very large and unacceptable loss of power. But ... if the full weight of our salvation truly rests on Jesus Christ as stated in Romans 5:17-19, Ephesians 2:8-9 and Titus 3:5-7 ... then the fear of losing it through a deficiency in personal merit and behavior (something all Christians are guilty of in some measure) - is completely eliminated. According to the words of the Apostle John, this allows a total assurance of salvation to replace all doubt and fear.
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, THAT YOU MAY KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. NOW THIS IS THE CONFIDENCE THAT WE HAVE IN HIM, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him. (1 John 5:13-15 - Emphasis Added)
The Cross and the Arrival
of the Holy Spirit Changes
One of the most spiritually destructive yet common practices found within Christendom is failing to “rightly divide God’s Word” (2 Timothy 2:15) – which generally causes everything in Scripture to be mixed together and treated the same. As a result, verses are often used indiscriminately from the Bible with little thought given to their context.
The 50-day period between the crucifixion of Christ and the day of Pentecost represents the dividing line between the Old Testament program of the Law and the New Covenant program of Jesus Christ. It is vitally important to respect this “dividing line” because the New Covenant introduced major changes in how God’s salvation is obtained and kept – while making the previous program; obsolete (Hebrews 8:6-13). The failure to respect this division causes many church-going people (and their leaders) to illegally mix these two programs together. This produces a distorted evangelistic message that makes it appear that God says things that He does not say. It misleads many by looking and sounding “Biblical” - but is actually unbiblical and false because it corrupts God’s original intentions by violating the context of Scripture.
The crucifixion of Christ (and His resurrection and ascension) initiated many powerful spiritual benefits for the Church. One such benefit was the release and arrival of the Holy Spirit to indwell believers on the day of Pentecost. Under the Old Testament program, the Holy Spirit “dwelled with” those who were obedient to God and the commandments of the Law.
However, if a person continually disobeyed and sinned, the Holy Spirit would eventually leave. This is why King David tearfully pleaded with the Lord; “take not thy Holy Spirit from me” after his grievous sin with Bathsheba (2 Samuel chapter 11 and Psalms 51:9-11).
Important Note: We must keep in mind that Old Testament Law consists of 613 different commandments and is not just limited to “the Ten Commandments” as many churches teach. Whenever anyone insists that salvation is obtained through obedience to the Law - all 613 must be kept. Many of these commandments are connected to a non-existent Jewish temple in Jerusalem (it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D.). The missing temple makes obedience to these commandments impossible. This is one reason obedience to the Law cannot be performed by modern-day believers - and why it's a false teaching to say that salvation is conditional upon such obedience.
King David was rightfully upset
because he knew that ... when the
Holy Spirit leaves - salvation
leaves with Him.
This is what happened to David’s predecessor, King Saul (1 Samuel chapter 16). These Old Testament examples provide the modern-day Christian with an important Divine truth: Salvation is always connected to the Holy Spirit and the place He dwells. When we put all of this together - with what Jesus said would happen after the cross – we are given insight into a major change about how salvation is received in the future.
"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, THAT HE MAY ABIDE WITH YOU FOREVER — the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you AND WILL BE IN YOU." (Words of Jesus in John 14:16-17 -- Emphasis Added)
"And these things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you. But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, 'Where are You going?' But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; FOR IF I DO NOT GO AWAY, THE HELPER (THE HOLY SPIRIT) WILL NOT COME TO YOU; BUT IF I DEPART, I WILL SEND HIM TO YOU. (Words of Jesus in John 16:4-7 - Emphasis Added)
… for he (Jesus Christ) hath said, I WILL NEVER LEAVE THEE, NOR FORSAKE THEE. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me." (Hebrews 13:5-6)
Christ’s words are emphasized
even further by the Apostle Paul
when he said …
"FOR GOD'S GIFTS AND HIS CALL ARE IRREVOCABLE. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]" (Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible)
The gift of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ
(Romans 6:23 and
This powerful New Covenant benefit, where the Holy Spirit comes to permanently indwell the believer also provides an unshakable assurance of salvation. If the Holy Spirit stays forever (as Jesus said He would) then eternal life (known as God’s gift) is irrevocable once it is received – as Paul stated in Romans 11:29. Unfortunately, a majority of Christendom fails to “rightly divide” Scripture, which also causes them to reject this important New Covenant truth. As a result, those who attend certain denominations and churches can never know if they are truly saved, since they are taught that the Holy Spirit will leave (and may have already left) if they fail to keep the Law and satisfy some unknowable standard of devotion, religious obedience and holiness.
"In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession (all true believers), to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 - Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)
According to the Bible, the instant you believe on Christ through the Gospel - you are saved and sealed with the Holy Spirit THROUGH A FAITH WITHOUT WORKS until the day of Redemption. This is a future day when Jesus returns and fulfills His promise of eternal life by transforming your body from a mortal state to immortal - and removing you (at the rapture) from the earth to live with Him in heaven. (Ephesians 1:13-14, John 14:1-3, Romans 4:4-8).
After the cross, the Apostle Paul provides more insight into this incredible security, which is now available. When the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the believer’s body, Scripture refers to it as “sealing”. When an individual is sealed in this manner - it is to permanently protect and preserve something of great value. In this case the sealing protects our inheritance (or salvation) in Christ.
GOD PERFORMS THE
SEALING ONLY ONCE,
WHEN WE FIRST BELIEVE
ON CHRIST. IT REMAINS
IN PLACE UNTIL JESUS
RETURNS ON THE DAY
OF OUR REDEMPTION.
Contrary to some popular, yet wrong church teachings, we are not sealed, and then unsealed when we sin and then sealed again when we confess our sin and repent. Confessing and turning away from the sin every Christian encounters is important for the right reasons. Yet, under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, a failure to properly perform this important act (often referred to as repentance) has no power to unseal a Christian believer - according to the words of both the Lord Jesus Christ and Saint Paul. This New Covenant “sealing”, which is only available after the cross, is the reason Jesus said that the Holy Spirit will come to live in you ...
AND WILL ABIDE (REMAIN)
FOREVER (John 14:16-17)
We must also remember that in whomever the Holy Spirit resides, eternal life (or salvation) also resides. This is why, under the Old Testament program of the Law, when the Holy Spirit leaves, salvation leaves with Him. Yet, Jesus changed all of these previous Old Testament rules at the cross.
For those that read and properly interpret the Bible, this is good news. But, to those who hold to the popular and widely-accepted Old Testament brand of fundamentalism; these words generate anger.
More detailed information is available HERE
It's offensive because it contradicts their Old Testament brand of theology that teaches a conditional salvation - and opposes the changes Jesus brought into existence through His sacrificial death. They like to discredit new covenant salvation by calling it “the false doctrine of eternal security”. Others choose to use the term, “Once Saved Always Saved” (or OSAS). According to the words of Jesus, the core benefit of His redemption is the eternal (or never ending) and abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life. The Holy Spirit represents the life of God, which is why His presence also brings eternal (or everlasting) life. Is it really eternal (or everlasting and forever) as Jesus said; or did He lie about these things? It's amazing that many who call themselves Bible-believing Christians refuse to believe what the Bible (and in this case the Lord Jesus Christ), said would happen after the cross. These blatant assaults on the core truth of our salvation exposes the dangerous and misleading nature of what is often referred to as “Biblical Christianity” - but it's not really Christianity when we compare it to the New Covenant of Christ.
The indwelling Holy Spirit who seals the believer now lives inside their body and begins to teach them how to avoid sin, obey Christ's Lordship authority and conform their life to the image of Christ. This is called Sanctification - and the believer's success or failure during this time of training does not add to - or take away from God's gift previously received. In the New Testament, various alternate terms are used to describe Sanctification such as; the renewing of your mind, the Holy Spirit's 'good work in you', presenting yourself as 'a living sacrifice' - and 'transformed by being conformed to the image of Christ'. (Romans 12:1-2, Phillipians 1:6, Romans 8:28-30)
Sanctification is an important part of the believer's maturity and spiritual growth. A failure to cooperate with God in this internal work will grieve the Holy Spirit, which is something all believers should avoid. But, even if the worst happens and we grieve Him - the Holy Spirit by whom we are sealed will remain and never leave - just as Jesus promised.
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, BY WHOM YOU WERE SEALED for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)
This is Part 2 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriatle link to access
the other parts.
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