Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Growing In Repentance and Faith

Repentance and Faith are not one-time events at conversion. We must continue and grow and be stretched through continual repentance of sin and faith in Christ as God shapes us to look like Christ (Romans 8:29).

I think it's easier for us to relate to the repentance part of this. We understand that we are continually being shown one layer of sin at a time by the Lord; we repent and are cleansed, and then another layer is revealed to us. 1 John 1:9 - we confess our sin, he is merciful and just to forgive us and cleanse us.

Perhaps it is more difficult to see that we also must grow in faith. Hebrews 10 shows us the difference between 'drawing near' to God in faith, and 'shrinking back' or drifting from God through lack of faith.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”                Hebrews 10:19-25
BECAUSE of Jesus and his work for us on the cross, the shedding of his blood for our sins, and his resurrection, exaltation and continued high priestly ministry for us in heaven - we should have CONFIDENCE (not self-confiedence but Christ-confidence), DRAWING NEAR to God through him, HOLDING FAST the confession (speak it) of our hope WITHOUT WAVERING. why? "for he who promised is faithful." As we ourselves stand firm in faith we stir up the brothers. This describes a life of drawing near in faith. GROWTH in faith. Stretching in faith.

Then Hebrews 10 takes this up again a few verses later:
“Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.” Hebrews 10:35-39
We are admonished not to throw away our confidence. We are reminded of the reward and told that we have need of endurance (of faith). Then the author quotes Habakkuk's call to live by faith (not a one-time action but a lifestyle that perseveres in believig God even in the midst of severe trials, according to the context of Habakkuk). This is all contrasted with shrinking back. God has no pleasure in those who shrink back (give up, do not persevere in faith), as Hebrews 11 also points out that without faith it is impossible to please God (v6).

Abraham is an example of one who grew in his faith rather than shrinking back. In Romans 4, Paul sets Abraham forth as THE example of faith. Here is the description:
In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah's womb. 20 No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” Romans 4:18-21

1. Is there an area in your life right now were God wants to grow your repentance?
2. Is there an area in your life where God wants to grow your faith? Step out, stretch, learn to trust God in new areas.

Grow in repentance and faith and give glory to God!

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