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The Word Has It
“Strengthen me according to Your word,” Psalm 119:28
MARBC State Representative
August’s Word: “Repent”
Sharon and I were stopping for lunch one day while traveling when we were startled by the blaring sound of emergency warning sirens. While we were quite concerned about what prompted such an alarm, we quickly noticed that there seemed to be no sense of panic or urgency on the part of others walking or driving in the area. After speculating for a few seconds, I glanced at my watch. Recognizing that it was noon, I surmised that the abrasive noise of the sirens was probably the result of a routine test of the area warning system. Sure enough, in a few seconds the sirens stopped.
I thought of that incident recently as I was reviewing Matthew’s gospel narrative which opens the New Testament canon. Contained in it are bold declarations by both John the Baptist and Jesus warning, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17) These declarations are proclaimed with a sense of urgency and conviction. Similarly, the New Testament canon is concluded by the Book of the Revelation in which there are six recorded statements of the Lord Jesus Christ challenging His Church to repent (Revelation 2-3).
While repentance is obviously of consistent importance to God, it is an issue that is dangerously neglected by both non-believers and many Christians. The word “repent” carries the idea of “turning.” Biblical repentance requires a person to turn from a self-centered focus and come into agreement with God’s holy standard and God’s way.
Misunderstanding the importance of repentance might be somewhat understandable on the part of those who are blinded to the truth and do not have a familial relationship with God. It is grievously disappointing and disgraceful when followers of Christ ignore or shun the Spirit’s convicting work of repentance. The Apostle Paul warns those living in the last days to avoid this practice when he admonishes: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).
For some Christians the doctrine of grace has been distorted into a heretical practice that views grace as a license to live in whatever manner an individual chooses. The thought of personal accountability to God and responsibility for thoughts and actions are muted by the pursuit of personal pleasure and selfish accommodation. Too often there is little thought to one’s obligation to God and His Word which regularly heralds, “Thus says the Lord.” Paul follows his admonition to the Thessalonican Christians with this important word of encouragement: “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who will also do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
If you have ever flown, you are familiar with a presentation that is shared on every single airline prior to departure on every single flight. Once all passengers have boarded, these familiar words are declared by the flight attendant in the front of the aircraft: “In preparation for departure, be sure that all carry-on items are placed in the overhead bins or stowed under the seat in front of you. Seat backs and tray tables must be in their upright position.” There then follows instructions regarding seat belts, oxygen masks, flotation devices, emergency exits, and no smoking. I have to admit that though I listened very carefully to these instructions when I first traveled. Now I usually pay little attention to them, unless humor is injected into the presentation. The point is that regardless of the style of presentation, the flight attendant speaks of things that are extremely important.
Now, compare that scenario with the typical response given when the Word of God is declared. If the Christian is not appreciative of the moment, the spiritual opportunity can be squandered by the assumption that there is nothing new to be gained from the presentation. Perhaps familiarity and callousness is the greatest enemy of spiritual brokenness and subsequent spiritual vitality.
Truly there is need for each of us to have a sense of urgency as we approach God’s Word. An honest review of your current involvement with the Word of God is appropriate.
Indeed, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart – these, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:17). Today is the best day to offer to God a sacrifice of your heart. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
You have His Word on it! (KEF)