Basic Doctrines: Repentance

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, September 27, 2019 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Today, I wrap up the first quarter of my first full year of teaching at my high school. I teach both regular level physics and AP level physics. When I was a substitute, I saw the same issues I see now in physics. Students in general do not know how to do basic math skills. They can plug in equations and solve for a single variable, even if the equation is already re-arranged for them. But to manipulate an equation for a needed variable is nearly impossible to get them to do, including 3-variable equations. And unless students master this, teaching physics is a very difficult job.

At the AP level, the mathematical knowledge needed does not exceed Algebra 2 skills, however, said skills have to be utterly mastered. There is another teacher doing AP Physics as well and he has never taught it before (please note, this is my first full year teaching in my own right). I explained to him one of the problems students may have to solve would include determining how fast a car can go in taking a sloped curve without skidding, using virtually only the angle of the slope of the ramp, the radius of the curve, and the coefficient of friction. The thinking ability to solve these problems requires mastery of the basic concepts that went before them.

What does this have to do with basic Christian doctrines? Quite a bit, because we have a lot of people in churches today that barely understand even the core doctrines, let alone getting into the much deeper riches of Christ. I want to make something very clear before I go forward. By no means will I ever claim to have found these deeper riches. There are areas where I still struggle in desiring just the basic levels of Christianity. And even if I could claim to have found deeper riches, there are exceedingly deeper riches still to be found. Another key thing here is that I make no judgment on the level of where anyone stands in their faith. Every one of you reading this was once a baby. But even in reading this, you have grown up and moved on to bigger, deeper, and richer things than from where you started. Some of you are not at my level of faith; some of you are well beyond me. It doesn’t matter where you are now. However, my rebuke is to the notion of wanting to stay at the level of where we are because we have gotten comfortable there and are unwilling to go where Christ calls to us to go.

The author of Hebrews (some say it’s Paul, but it is not definitive) lists six things which are core basic doctrines of Christianity: repentance, faith, baptism, authority, resurrection, and judgment. Last week, I wrote about Christ being the foundation of our lives and of our faith. I intend to use that to bridge into these core teachings, however, I realized just as I started this series that Hebrews says to move on from these teachings. In the same way that you move on from solving single-variable equations in math to solving AP level physics, you move on from these core teachings to the much deeper realities of Christ. You never stop covering or using these core teachings, but you stop learning the basics and start using them. Hebrews describes it as moving on from drinking milk as a baby to eating meat as an adult.

The first of these core doctrines Hebrews addresses is repentance. I could do an entire series on repentance, what it is, how it looks, and what it’s not; however, here I simply want to lay down what it is. There are two types of repentance described in the Bible. The first is not actually repentance, but merely an “I feel sorry I am getting caught.” If the person was not caught, there would be no hint of remorse anywhere. This is “worldly sorrow,” not “Godly sorrow”. Godly sorrow leads to repentance.

But repentance is something much more than “I’m sorry I did wrong.” It is a turn-around. It is more than merely “I will stop doing that thing.” Repentance includes those two things, but it also involves a third thing: it replaces that which you should not do with that which you should do. You replace telling lies with telling the truth. You replace dishonesty with integrity. You replace stealing with giving away. You replace sexual immorality with a true intimacy. You replace malicious thinking with Godly thinking. You replace YOU from the throne of your life with Christ as King over your life. The degrees of repentance are as infinite as the grace of God. There is no person who ever succeeded in completely repenting of their sin in their earthly lives. It is not a one-time decision, but a lifestyle.

However, many people need to hear just the basics of repentance because most preachers aren’t teaching it. Paul Washer was the first to draw my attention to the inadequacy of the “Sinner’s Prayer” in producing actual born-again believers. One of the issues is that we tell people an extremely watered-down version of what repentance is and expect them to say a prayer, agree to a few doctrines, and boom they are saved. That is not repentance. That is seeking a one-time freebie with no cost to you. Repentance requires a major cost: the cost of self.

We have this false impression that God offers us eternal life freely. Yes, it is free in that we cannot earn nor pay for it. However, to receive it, there is a response we must make. That response is surrender of our self-will so that we might be able to receive His life. We have a cup that has a limited capacity. It is typically filled with self, what we want, and what we desire. For God to be able to fill our cup with His life, we must empty our cup, let God wash it, and then He can fill it.

There is a valuable saying that we need to take more seriously: “If Jesus isn’t Lord of all, He isn’t Lord at all.” If we don’t put Jesus as our #1, He really isn’t our #2 or #3 either. Repentance leads to “all out for Jesus.” I, by no means, have given up everything for Jesus to control yet, but God is going to pursue me until I have. But the longer I take to yield, the more I miss out on what He has in store for me.

Let us learn the basics of repentance and put them into practice. When we start putting them into practice, let us start going deeper and deeper and to seek the truths of Christ that can only be found with a foundation of repentance. Let us stop reviewing addition and multiplication and move on to algebra, to calculus, to physics, and to AP level physics. These don’t ignore or reject addition and multiplication, but they move deeper and deeper into them. Next week, I’ll look at faith in God as another basic teaching of Christianity.

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