An Event …that Reverses your Course in Life…
The Bible talks a bit about repentance.
Unless you have what is called a “Topical” Bible though, the verses that repentance is addressed in, may not be readily found.
I am always amused when preachers and churches tell adherents and prospective proselytes… to “read” the Bible.
Jesus never said “to read” the Bible.
The Apostle Paul never said to “to read” the Bible.
Instead, it takes more than that.
Jesus said to “study the Scriptures.”
Here is an example: “You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).
Paul told Timothy to “study to show yourself approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Hence, what Jesus and Paul are saying is that a cursory reading of the Bible yields few results in altering your understanding.
This is usually the reason that people give up trying to read the Bible, is that, they just don’t understand it.
Well, it is like a bank. You get back and more, by what you put in.
If you make a concerted effort; you won’t be without a reward.
However, a study of the same, with assistance from the Spirit of God, will and can, not only alter your understanding, but change your life.
One of the underlying themes throughout the Bible is that of transformation. A transformation of character, deeds, and thoughts.
The Bible pretty much states without a spiritual transformation that all else is vain.
Repentance is an important step towards this transformation.
Indeed, a life of repentance ensures such. A lot of Christian folk think that they can repent, oh, in the distant past or so, and think that they are in good standing with God, with no further accounting of their lives to God.
They are mistaken.
While the Bible talks about repentance, it never gives a succinct definition of it.
The Bible assumes that the reader who has sought such an event, and has gotten it, knows what repentance is.
Well, this is true.
But for introducing readers to the concept of repentance, I will give a fairly good definition of it.
The reason for my doing so, is that many Christian churches and individuals do not have a good definition for repentance nowadays in an era of “easy believism.”
Their definition comes up short. After all, the churches and the preachers don’t want to embarrass anyone. They don’t want spiritual humiliation.
Yet, even Jesus went through this. A deeper humiliation than anyone else will ever bear…, as Jesus was sinless, and deserved nothing of the sort.
Here is a good definition:
Repentance is the activity of reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It generally involves a commitment to personal change and resolving to live a more responsible and humane life.
The only things about this definition of repentance that is lacking is “amending your life in such a manner in which past faults no longer overtake you,” and if they do, “seeking repentance to have a complete change of thought and attitude towards such a fault”; and, “providing restitution to those you have wronged” such as returning of goods or doing good, or perhaps a financial restitution of your wrongs. In the Gospels, the publican Zacchaeus, portrayed this.
These last additions, are mine.
The Scriptures confirm these additions. The Bible talks about not doing the wrong things anymore that you were convicted by the Holy Spirit of, hence, to do them no more. This is not an uncommon scene in the New Testament. Jesus told folks, in several instances, “Go and sin no more.”
Unfortunately, the nature of sin is a condition that has to be overcome, which the Bible implies is a lifelong process.
So, Jesus was not saying this in general, but rather, those faults or sins that got you in your sorry spiritual condition, you need to take care of, and not repeat.
This implies a turnaround for many people. It implies a complete turnaround for yet a lot of others.
I will explain further.
I do a lot of reading, particularly on Christian topics. I have read of a lot of conversions to Christ and Christianity. In the Bible, a dramatic conversion happened to Saul. You can read about it in the Book of Acts, chapter 9.
In this account, Saul was so transformed, that, he was no longer called Saul, but rather received a new name that reflected his new spiritual transformation and condition.
He was now Paul. He was now saved… he was given repentance by God. He had been given salvation through repentance, or placed in a condition of salvation, by the virtues of repentance and faith.
The same thing happened to Simon Peter, although perhaps not quite as dramatic.
However, it was pretty dramatic to Simon.
It came after Simon denied the Lord Jesus in the space of about an hour or two or so, or between what was described as “cock-crowings” in the Gospels. A “cock-crow” was the Roman bugle call for the changing of their guard watch. This happened frequently in the environs of the Temple and the adjoining Roman garrison, the Castle or Fort of Antonia. The Romans had to build a fort abutting the Temple grounds with an armed garrison as to keep proper order as usually this is where altercations and minor insurrections occurred between the Jews and the Romans. An example of this is recorded in Acts 21. A strong guard was necessary. So, bugle calls were given to signal the change of different watches.
The Romans usually altered the bugle call periodically to avoid patterns in which dissident Jews could make trouble while the guard in some area was changed.
The other thing was, that chickens and roosters were not sacrificial animals on Temple grounds, and thus, had little business being there. The bleating of lambs, sheep and goats, plus the bellowing of cattle, may well have drowned out the noise of any rooster, if any were around. Yet another thing was, it was too early in the morning for any rooster to make a sunrise call. Hence, the cock-crow was a Roman signal. And, Peter recognized it, when he remembered the prophetic words of Christ, which Jesus had told that before the cock-crows twice, you will have denied me thrice.
This was a great shame to Simon.
After all, he was the main disciple in whom Christ talked about “giving the Keys of the Kingdom to.”
It was such a transformational experience, that Simon took on a new name, which he had been given a bit earlier, but did not use until after this humiliation…. I guess, by then, Simon had earned it.
Jesus earlier, had called Simon a new name. He called him “Kephas,” or what we translate as “Cephas.” The letter “C” in Aramaic sounds like a “K.” This is why that Caesar with a “C” was called “Kaesar,” or “Ke-Sar” in Aramaic. This was transliterated a bit later in German, as “Kaiser,” which means the same as Caesar.
Now, isn’t that interesting as an aside.
This new name was a symbolic choice. Cephas meant stone, or rock, in Aramaic. In Greek, and Latin, the words, petros, and petra, meant the same. Hence, is where we get the name “Peter,” from.
Isn’t this kind of fascinating information?
In the Bible, when someone was soundly converted… it was not unusual that they had a name change to reflect a change in nature or transformation of sinful or selfish behaviour, into unselfish or Christ-like, or righteous, conduct.
We can first read of this with Abraham, who before was called “Abram.”
His wife, had been known as “Sarai,” but became “Sarah.”
His grandson Jacob, was later called “Israel,” after his spiritual epiphany and experience in wrestling with an Angel.
Jacob would not release this Angel until Jacob secured a Blessing. Jacob had the birthright which he had secured by innovative manipulation, but saw an additional need to have a heavenly certification of such, by demanding an additional and heavenly Blessing.
Here is something interesting: a birthright without a blessing is no birthright; a birthright with no blessing, and NO SPIRITUAL BLESSING, well, is something of a curse.
Well, that is a statement!
Well, ask Esau.
The Bible says that Esau lost his birthright, blessing, and any spiritual blessing… because he was a profane (someone who treats holy things as common) person, and a fornicator.
The latter description of “fornicator,” was appointed to Esau as he liked and mingled with several women, all of whom were Canaanites, which displeased his mother and father. In other words, Esau was a playboy of sorts. He couldn’t wait like his brother to find a respectable woman. He had to have his women now. In comparison, Jacob was not like Esau at all.
The Bible also says that Esau eschewed his birthright at the time as so insignificant that he “sold it” for gain, or remarkably, “one morsel of meat,” or one act of gratification. He “sold” it, because he “coveted” something else. And, he couldn’t wait. Esau had to have his gratification now… after all, he was “faint.” Humph, a big man like Esau, a mighty hunter, acting like a… “baby Huey.”
Do you know someone, or some folks, like that?
I do. I have.
Yes, there are modern-day Esau’s.
And here is the tie-in with repentance… After seeing what a fool or idiot, that he was, Esau thought he could undo everything. Esau thought there was a “rewind” button, as on a tape recorder, or a “refresh” button on a computer. Push a button, and well-la, back to “square one” again.
Yeah, before the age of tape recorders and computers, Esau thought that he could “repent,” and correct everything, and get it all BACK!
Indeed, the Bible says however, despite Esau’s way of thinking in which he could yet reverse all the events that occurred to him as a result of his lack of diligence and reverence attributable to his desire of near instant gratification, “that he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:17b).
Yup, Esau found no repentance. Though, Esau had “sought it carefully,” or diligently, or reverently, now at this point.
There was no turning back for Esau.
He was NOT GRANTED repentance.
Esau SOUGHT it.
Esau showed penance WITH TEARS.
Esau took great pains to ACHIEVE repentance.
It didn’t happen. You see, God WOULD not grant repentance.
You see, repentance, TRUE REPENTANCE, has to come from God. You can ask, plead, moan, groan, beg, borrow, and try to steal repentance. But it is not happening: unless it comes from God!
This should concern people.
They think, like Esau, that they can repent anytime that they wish.
But this is not true.
There is a time of repentance from God. And friend, it usually never on your “deathbed,” if you think then that you can “reverse” course. Too late.
There is a time for repentance.
You need to be “on time.”
Your schedule won’t work. You need to get with God’s schedule. If you miss His Time, well, check out Esau again.
Earlier in the Hebrew letter, the Hebrew writer talked about the children of Israel who wandered in the desert for an additional forty years as a consequence of their unbelief and disobedience. The writer of Hebrews, who I think is Apollos (introduced in Acts 18:24), states unequivocally that, “TODAY, if you will hear his Voice, and harden not your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:15).
Many of them missed this schedule.
They perished without hope.
They didn’t consider what “today” meant. It means “now,” or when God puts out a calling, or call, to you.
This calling, or call, won’t remain there. It gets withdrawn. When you try later… well, it is not there.
There is no repentance for you.
Don’t like this…? Well, this is the difference between “reading” the Bible, and “studying” it.
When you study it, then, you can “rightly divide the Word of Truth, or God” (2 Timothy 2:15b).
As a result of being rejected by God, and without repentance, the Bible says that Esau became very bitter (Hebrews 12:15b,c).
Esau resented his brother.
Esau hated his brother.
Esau started to persecute his brother.
Indeed, the same is going on today… with modern-day Esau. He still resents, hates, persecutes, and murders his brother’s brethren. We have witnessed that recently in the attacks in Paris, France.
I have seen spiritual Esaus. Their lives are consumed in “what-ifs,” with bitterness and resentment toward those who live their lives in expectation of God’s guidance and Blessing. Such godly expectation is not “what-if,” but… “what now, Lord.”
Yes, without true repentance, you get true rejection from God.
A lot of people dislike this notion, that God rejects people. That is understandable, when such people have an erroneous concept of God. They think that He is some kind of a giant Santa Claus, if He exists, that is pretty much irrelevant, like some old, old man, in their lives.
Well, guess again.
I want to talk about one other “name change” in the Bible.
In the Book of Acts, we read of a man named Joses. He had some land. We don’t know for sure if this was all the land that Joses had. But in the context of the account of Acts, you have to remember that the Bible was not originally written as divided into verses, chapters, and such.
Hence, this story of Joses blends right in, as contrast, to the very account following his, that of a man and wife who sold land, as promised to the Apostles, but changed their mind as to what the value of the land was sold for…
You see, they got a much better price than what they thought they should have gotten.
They took God’s blessing and tried to capitalize on it.
If Joses was blessed in his deed, while the married couple wasn’t, we can surmise that Joses probably gave the land, which was all that he had… which Joses sold it, and gave ALL the sales proceeds to the feet of the Apostles.
All is 100%… not 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60%.
As a consequence, the Apostles were very much pleased with this type of sacrificial giving, as Joses gave ALL, or 100%.
They gave Joses a new name.
They called him Barnabas.
Now that is an interesting name.
You may call him “Barney” for short, as a kind of sobriquet for a rural person who may not be very sophisticated… but you would be wrong.
Barnabas is a very nice and new name.
It means a few things.
It means a “son of a prophet.” Well, Barnabas later became an Apostle (Acts 14:14). He was Paul’s fellow helper in his first missionary travels. All apostles have the gift of prophecy.
Barnabas was a prophet.
Barnabas also means, “son of exhortation.”
That is, exactly what Joses, with his new name, Barnabas, became. He went preaching the Gospel in a powerful manner and medium, under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. A lot of preachers don’t know what is…, and I mean a lot.
Joses gave 100%.
He got a new name.
He got a new vocation.
He was blessed of God.
I was in a gospel meeting once where there were many important preachers and those who had a prophetic calling. They were going to ordain several individuals afterwards, for the ministry of the Word, and specifically, the prophetic word. These individuals were said to have felt a calling to minister and preach the Gospel.
Before the last service, which culminated in the ordination service, there was preaching.
The candidates for the ordination all preached. Some preached on this, and others, on that.
One preached about sacrificial giving, though. He was apparently under some conviction from the Holy Spirit about things in his life. But no matter, this conviction was ignored. Instead, this preacher candidate talked about justifying himself. He said if “you can’t give God 100%,” like our example Joses, or several others in the Bible, who gave all…,… “then give 30%!”
I do not exaggerate. This is exactly what the young man said.
No one gave him an “amen” on this wise. This young man was the son of a celebrated preacher. No one said but little, if anything, because of deference towards the young man’s father; but a “breach” had been created.
You may not know what a “breach” like this means. It means that it was an opening for the Enemy to create trouble and division.
But God overruled.
The Spirit had other things in mind.
When the ordination service occurred, this young man was anointed and prayed over.
Nothing happened…. I mean “nada.”
The silence from heaven was deafening.
This young man never preached the Gospel. He never had much of a repentance, if any. His ordination meant nothing as he did nothing with it. This individual was so unlike Joses. He went down in ignominy. He then lived a life of covetousness… get and gain.
This is what 30% gets you, and much, much less from this young man in the end sort of things… it gets you nothing… in terms of spiritual law.
The other two candidates that day were prayed for.
Heaven came down.
The Spirit gave witness.
They received a blessing.
They both went on to minister the Gospel. They became “sons of exhortation.”
Repentance. Transformation. New names. New roles. New blessings.
There is a true repentance and there is a false repentance.
There is a “new name,” and there is a “no-name.”
Which one would you rather want?