Real conversion changes our lives
Pastor David preached from Matthew 3:1-12 today seeking to answer the following questions:
- What is the evidence of true salvation?
- What is the meaning of repentance in the life of a believer?
- What about for a nonbeliever?
- Why are the indications of genuine repentance so useful and vitally important in our daily lives?
- How is it connected to the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
See it Clearly
Pastor David hammered home the truth that real conversion changes our lives . In 1937 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian and resister to the Nazi movement, wrote a book called The Cost of Discipleship (now commonly printed in English under the revised title of Discipleship) and this truth was one of his primary points. Bonhoeffer put it into the following equation: Only the believers obey, and only the obedient believe. This is explained a bit by Bonhoeffer in the excerpt below.
“If the first statement remains alone, the believer is prey to cheap grace, that is, damnation. If the second statement remains alone, the believers are prey to their works, that is, damnation.”
“Because we are justified by faith, faith and obedience have to be distinguished. But their division must never destroy their unity, which lies in the reality that faith exists only in obedience, is never without obedience. Faith is only faith in deeds of obedience.”
Excerpt From: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. “Discipleship.” iBooks. https://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewBook?id=481461643
Get it Truly
Pastor David drew the following conclusions from the text in Matthew 3.
1. Conversion comes through repentance and faith. (Matt 3:2)
Faith and repentance are said to be two sides of the same coin. One does not come without the other…which agrees with Bonhoeffer. Obedience that comes from faith is a sign that the faith is true (James 2:17) and this obedience of faith is what the gospel is about (Rom 1:5, 16:25). Taking God at his word results in obedience. God does not call us to a repentance based upon the law but a repentance based upon the Kingdom of God being among us in fulfillment of his promises. He calls us to a repentance that is based upon trusting that when God speaks it is for our good.
Repentance and faith was the message that Jesus delivered himself…
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” (Mark 1:14–15, ESV)
2. Conversion produces righteous works in us. (Matt 3:8)
Bonhoeffer speaks of something he calls “Cheap grace” and it is the kind of grace that grants license instead of granting transformation. Cheap grace is not the saving grace of God and it is a terrible lie. Paul the Apostle weighs in to help us understand the true effect of the grace of God in our lives in Titus chapter 2. Here he shows that grace is in motion. It is doing something. It is “bringing salvation” but it is also “training us”. Check out what kind of training the grace of God gives to the believer…
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:11–14, ESV)
In his first epistle, the Apostle John tells us that righteous works will be present in the children of God…
“No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. ” (1 John 3:9–10, ESV)
3. Conversion brings the Holy Spirit to dwell in us. (Matt 3:11)
Paul tells us in Romans 5 that the Holy Spirit is our confidence and our protection from being shamed by failure…
“and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5, ESV)
Paul also tells us in Romans 8 that we do not belong to Christ if we do not have the Spirit of Christ and that it is these who do not have the Spirit of Christ who are unable to obey God…
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.” (Romans 8:7–9, ESV)
Human effort at law following fails. All efforts at repentance that are not a work of the Spirit of God lead to death …
“For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:13–14, ESV)
Value it Appropriately
This message is valuable to me because it is a wake up call to consider my sin and to not take it lightly. This means that if I am welcoming sin in my life and I am not at war with it, then my faith may have a great big hole in it. This message is a motivation to abide in Christ and to seek transformation by the Spirit of God (Rom 12:1-2), not to try self improvement and white knuckling.
Feel it Fully
I can look at my motives and my action and my thoughts and I can consider whether I am tolerating sin. I can ask God to search my heart and reveal areas that I have been ignoring or somehow hardened to blindness (Psalm 139:23-24). I can wrestle with God over my sin and my apathy towards it. I might read Romans 7 to understand the battle within me and Romans 8 for help in considering how to move forward.
Do it Joyfully
Commit to action if you have never turned from your sin and put your trust in Jesus. Read about the Gospel of Jesus here if you would like to take action now. If you are a believer and have realized that you are tolerating sin and compromising your faith, then trust Jesus and repent! Consider telling another believing friend if you are resolving to kill sin in your life today. Consider what you took away from the sermon today and pray about taking God at his word today.
Share it Compassionately
Consider who you can share this truth with in your family or among your friends or neighbors or co-workers.
Use the contact menu tab to submit a prayer request if you would like prayer regarding a commitment you have made or if you want any other prayer.
Soli Deo Gloria!