The way back: repentance and faith towards God

In the previous study we found that the fall of the first man changed humankind. The minds of human kind are in a state of enmity and rebellion against God and His law. Minds that desire to go their own way.

(Eph 2:3 NIV) All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.
(Col 1:21 NIV) Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behaviour.

Repentance is a desire, followed by action, to change from this rebellious state. To repent is to change one’s mind and this is brought about by obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. No one can or will repent of themselves. The Holy Spirit convicts us, of sin, righteousness and judgement. Rom. 2:4 says, “God’s kindness leads us towards repentance.” When we repent or turn around or change our minds, we come to trust God. i.e. Have faith in Him.

The first step

Repentance is the first step in the believer’s life. God has commanded that this be so. Repentance is called a foundation. As in building, if the foundation is not sound the whole structure is at risk.

Paul speaks of repentance as the “foundation of repentance from dead works.”

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ, and not laying again the foundation: repentance from dead works and faith toward God, [2] instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. [3] And we will do this, if God permits. [4] For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, [5] and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, [6] and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt.”

Some false ideas

i. Mental Faith

Sometimes we can agree in our minds to a set of ideas and teachings, but there is no change in our lives. This is dead faith (James 2:19-20).

ii. Turning Over a New Leaf.

This is the “New Year’s Resolution” No turning towards God. It’s a trying something else in the hope that it will serve us better.

iii. Worldly Sorrow.

We are sorry for our actions but the thought comes from “sorry for getting caught” We have a sense of guilt but there is no genuine sorrow for crime committed (2 Cor:7:10).

iv. Being Hypocritical.

v. Having a religious manner but no heart change. Jesus spoke to the Pharisees concerning this (Matt. 5:20.; Matt. 3:7-12).

v. Feeling Guilty

We can feel convicted but not all who know, and are aware they are wrong, turn to God in repentance (Acts.24:24-25; John 16:8).

What are some of the fruits (results) of genuine repentance?

If we get the roots/foundations right then the fruit/building will be sound. Matt.3:8.

The fruits show forth in our lives as:

i. Godly sorrow for sin. 2.Cor. 7:9-11.
ii. Forsaking of sin. 1.John 1:9
iii. Confession of sin. Proverbs.28:13.
iv. Hatred of sin. Eze. 36:31-33.
v. _______________? Lev. 6:1-7; Luke 19:8.

What are dead works?

A person dead in sin (not alive to God.) can only produce “dead works.” Use the scriptures following and list some of these dead works. Write down what you think are dead works. ____________________________________ (Heb. 6:1-2; Heb.9:14; Gal. 5:19; Eph 2:1; 1 Tim. 5:6).

If we find “dead works” in our lives what do we do about them?

Faith is also a foundation

“The just shall live by faith” (Rom.1:17). It is so, that nothing can be known or received of God unless we first believe in His existence.

Faith defined

Heb.11:1 (Amp.) “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deeds) of the things (we) hope for, being the proof of the things (we) do not see and the conviction of their reality — faith perceiving as a real fact, what is not revealed to our senses.

Faith, as you can see, is a very BIG idea. Here are some of the meanings: to trust in; confide in; put faith in; rely on a person; to entrust; to rely on a thing; to commit to the charge of; to have a mental persuasion; to commit into the power of; belief; assurance; firm conviction; honesty; integrity; truthfulness. Now read Heb. 11. This is often called the faith chapter. Do you agree?

What is the source of Christian faith?

Read Rom.10:4-17. The source of Christian faith is? The WORD of GOD. The Words of God come to us in different ways:

i. The creative Word (Gen. 1, John 1:1-3).
ii. The Word of prophesy (2 Pet. 1:20-21).
iii. The written Word (Luke 24:44).
iv. The Living Word (Jesus) (John 1:1-3).

Bible faith is not from the mind but from the heart (the spirit life). It is a now experience not just some future happening. Having faith changes behaviour and life style. Being based exclusively on God’s Word Christian faith only allows sense knowledge when it agrees with the text of God’s Word. Faith is confessed with the mouth.

e.g. Abraham. Heb. 11. Consider the steps in his experience:

i. He heard the Word, v.8.
ii. His future hope found expression in his present faith behaviour.
iii. He refused to accept the evidence of his senses.
iv. He did not waver in his faith towards God.

Walking in faith

(Some helps as to how)

i. Receive the quickened promise from God’s Word that applies to your need. (Phil.4:19; 2 Cor. 1:20.)
ii. Fulfil all the conditions attached to that promise. (Exod. 15:26; Isa. 1:19-20; Psalm 37:5.)
iii. Allow God to test your faith in patience. (Heb. 6:12-15.; James 1:3-4.)
iv. Firmly maintain faith in the fulfilling of the promise. (2 Pet. 1:3-4; Heb. 3:1; 1 John 5:14.)
v. Look to Jesus in active faith. (Heb. 12:2.)