The Modern Church and Repentance

Sackcloth and Ashes
I want to introduce to you all a new book by a good brother and friend in the Lord, Billy Witt of http://www.GospelFellowshipsTN.com. This dear brother has a burden that is true, humble and deep for everyone who professes to be a Christian to see the deeper truths of Scripture, and more importantly, a right and authentic regeneration that actually walks with Christ and submits to His will. The proceeds of this book will go to the ongoing needs of another fellow brother and laborer for Christ in the Lord who reaches out to the outcast, homeless and poor.

It has been my privilege to work with this brother on this project (date not yet set, but soon). I was asked to write a chapter for this book. I thought I would share this with you, regardless of what part makes the final cuts (see below).

May the Lord work mightily in this wicked day we live in. Even more so, may He make us usable vessels of honor for His glory and lead us to live a life marked by the cross of Christ with a humble heart, a contrite spirit, and a lifestyle marked with true repentance. May we all spend far more hours on our knees in deep and passionate prayer than all the technology of this day.

 

The Modern Church and Repentance

By brother Jeremy B. Strang

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Peppered across the landscape of North America are church buildings of all types, shapes, sizes and names. Within this sea of metal, wood and plaster lies an obscure and poorly defined picture of the word church. Whenever we talk about the church in this day and age we must be diligent to clearly communicate what we are talking about. Therefore, I find it important that we bring to the surface, at least briefly, what we mean by the term, modern church, and its need for repentance.

What is meant by the term modern church?

A

Almost anything in our pampered age of self-pleasure and worldly prosperity has taken on the name christian[1]and has been welcomed by the masses. We have books, book stores, music, teachings, t-shirts, etc, of all kinds, whether biblically based or not, that have been tagged as christian. Very little of the said above has been weighed against the Bible before being openly accepted and labeled as such. People especially, have taken on themselves the wording, christian faith, and masqueraded under the verbal umbrella with mere Sunday attendance. It seems to be that few are found deeply rooted in the Word of God and fewer yet have a desire to be transformed deep within.[2]

With so much having been labeled under such a shallow mask, much of which is driven for monetary and selfish benefits of the flesh, it is difficult for many people to clearly see what is real and what is not; what is the redeemed remnant and what is being stored up to be burned.

The term modern church could most certainly be summed up by the word, Christendom,[3] meaning, the totality of that which has been labeled christian, including those individuals and groups who take any form or claim of being Christian. Modern church, really relates to the whole of the christian labeled society today. Here is where we must go forth and bring clarity to the meaning of the true church.

The Bible and the true Christian church.

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Today the foundation of biblical Christianity, especially in North America and Europe, had been white washed to accept any and all people, regardless of repentance or biblical thinking. Although we welcome all people to hear the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved, we should not call everyone who makes a verbal profession to the faith or shows up on Sunday a member of the church. We need to constantly be reminded that the Bible was inspired by God[4] and Jesus was the fulfillment of the Scriptures.[5] Therefore, if anyone calls himself or herself a Christian, they are accountable to what God has already declared to be true in His Word and are judged accordingly. Having said this, let us examine who is the head of the Christian church and who are the individuals of the true Christian church?

 

The Head

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At the very head of the true church is found the Author and Perfecter of our salvation,[6] and head of the church, namely Jesus The Christ.[7] Jesus Christ, the only way, truth, and life,[8] shares His authority and headship with no other. He alone is the Great High Priest.[9] There is no longer any need for a mediator of men, for it’s by Christ alone that we may enter boldly into the throne room of God.[10]

It is Christ alone as head of the church. No priest, no pastor, no elder, no preacher, not Joseph Smith, not Charles Taze Russell, not any of the damned false prophets today, nor Mary herself, can intercede for us – it is Christ alone, “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”[11] He is the head of the church and sits interceding for those who are His.[12]

The Body

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The true church is made up of individuals who have been born again.[13] They are saved from God’s wrath,[14] regenerated by God’s goodness, loving kindness and mercy,[15] have received His true grace,[16] and authentically live under the propitiation[17] of Jesus Christ’s love that was carried out upon Calvary’s hill. It is those who enter by way of the sheepfold’s door that are His. “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved.”[18] The sheep, those individuals who make up the bride of Christ, the true church, hear the Master’s voice and follow Him.[19]

Merely making a profession to the faith by twisting Romans 10:9, 10 into a purely humanistic decision, with no deep workings of God in the heart, means absolutely nothing. Attendance at some local building with a name, a door, and a 501C3, means absolutely nothing!

We must ask ourselves, if judgment begins with the house-hold of God,[20] shall we not see if Christ has truly been formed in us?[21] Are we willing to be examined in light of Scripture as to the validity of our profession to the Christian faith?

Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test![22]

The true Christian church is made up of people, not perfect, who have surrendered unto their Lord, turned from their lifestyle of sin and embraced the true grace of God.[23] The true believer does not use their privilege of God’s grace nor their liberty in Christ as an excuse to continue in willful sin.

Why do we need repentance?

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Let us move onto the matter before us, do we need repentance? I answer this with another question: Has the label, christian, in this modern church age, deviated from the Scriptures? Even more so, have you been living your life under the mask of Christian verbiage and yet void of the power of God in recreating the stony heart that lies deep within?[24]

As I look across at Christendom today, I see a great deal of christian labeling that is not in alignment with God’s Word. In addition, I see many people on one side of the pendulum using grace and the love of God as an excuse to continue in sin, and whenever confronted regarding their sin, they cry out saying they are being judged. On the other side of the pendulum I see numbers of people who claim to hold to a deeper theology or reformed doctrine, yet demonstrating little to no love and just as little piety.

Some people are self-proclaimed evangelists, many of whom, spread nothing more than pure hate, void of deep rooted love, spend little time in prayer and rarely, if ever, flow tears of sorrow over the souls they wish to reach. Others yet, carry proclamations, boasts and devotions to groups, self-agendas, buildings and methods. When I read many professing Christian’s online social media websites, I read of unjust weights and seriously unbalanced comments having only one argument and adopting only parts of the Scriptures. Although I believe most people are not intentional, regardless, the message comes across very lopsided. Obviously this is not an accurate description of everyone.

So what is the way out? Where is the pathway to repentance? What shall we do? Do we remain loyal to online media while wasting valuable time that could be utilized in the Word, in prayer or in verbal communication with others? Do we run from online media while so many can be reached via this useful tool? Where is the balance in all of this?

We must be ever so careful. Professing Christians, listen up, when our style of life does not match the verbal profession of our faith, then our message is made void of all its power, souls are not saved, and Christ is not honored. Let us examine ourselves – 2 Corinthians 13:5.

 

Where shall we turn? How shall we repent?

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Today there are countless numbers of people who have identified the ongoing problems in Christendom. We must remember, there is nothing new under the sun[25] and God is sovereign. Just because we are able to identify the problems and sins of today does not mean we are going to bring about godly sorrow and repentance.

“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”[26]

We must realize that many people who are labeled christians are truly unregenerate. Simply using teachings or discipleship will be to no avail. Only the regenerating and working power of God Himself will do. So what shall we do?

Yes we must recognize, be convicted, confess, and turn from our sin, but we must have our homes swept clean and be filled with the Light of Christ.[27] For us to wage a war against sin and yet continue looking at our sin will not bring about a sanctified godly life. We must turn our gaze and fix our eyes upon Christ alone. We will never gain any real victories when we rely on the flesh for our strength. Our eyes and our ears need to be locked firmly onto Christ, especially when in the midst of stresses and trials.

I bear witness, through varied trials and many failures, that most of us are unable to praise God, truly praise Him, during and for our times of stress because we get distracted, taking our eyes off of Christ and place them on ourselves. We forget that it is God working all things out for our eternal good and sanctification in Christ.[28] Only when we fully trust Christ and believe Him for all strength will we patiently endure hardships and authentically praise Him in truth.[29]

In Christ there is incredible balance. As I grow in Him, I am often reminded that godliness is a mystery.[30] We are told that we must repent and believe the Gospel,[31] yet we must remember that no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws them.[32] So what shall we say? As long as today is today and we have breath to breathe, we must remind ourselves and preach to others: God is calling all men to come and surrender their minds, their abilities, their hearts to Christ, embrace the finished work of Christ’s grace, enter into His rest, deny the self-life, pick up their cross and follow the way of Christ outside the camp.[33]

If we will set our eyes on Him, the Light will enter, darkness will flee, and our burden of sin and judgment of wrath will be removed. If we remain self-centered, self-seeking, self-driven, not only will we never see victory this side of heaven, but we may find that we are the fulfillment of Christ’s prophecy, “be away from Me, I never knew you.”[34]

What then shall we say? Shall we live as whitewashed tombs[35] having only the outside of the cup cleansed?[36] Shall we continue further in our self-professions to the Christian faith having begun by the Spirit and made null by the flesh?[37] Never! May it never be!

 

 

Absolute surrender is what we must be,

If we desire to live unto thee.

 

 

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”[38]

 

 

[1]Profession of faith means nothing if a transformed life in Jesus Christ is not evident – remaining in willful habitual sin is not a sign of a person being born again – for this very reason and to reduce further confusion, I will use a capital ‘C’ whenever I relate to the true church of Jesus Christ and I will use a small ‘c’ whenever I relate to the so called church in America today. The same capitalization of the letter ‘C’ in regards to true Christianity verses ‘c’ for a false Christianity. This was taken from, Urgency to Rise – a call to the American ‘church’ and Christian – A Dangerous Title to Claim. Also see Realities of a True Christian.

[2] Romans 12:1-2

[3] The territories, countries or regions inhabited by Christians, or those who profess to believe in the Christian religion. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

[4] 2 Timothy 3:16

[5] Matthew 5:17-19; Luke 4:20-22, 24:43-45

[6] Hebrews 2:10, 12:2

[7] See Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22, 5:23-25[here relating to husbands], 5:32[relating to marriage & the church]

[8] John 14:6

[9] Hebrews chapters 2-5

[10] Hebrews 10:19, 20

[11] Hebrews 12:2

[12] Hebrews 7:23-28

[13] John 3:5

[14] Romans 5:9, John 3:36

[15] Titus 3:4-6

[16] Titus 2:11-14

[17] Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2, 4:10

[18] John 10:9

[19] John 10:3, 4, 16,27

[20] 1 Peter 4:17

[21] Galatians 4:19

[22] 2 Corinthians 13:5, ESV

[23] Again, see Titus 2:11-14

[24] Ezekiel 36:26 (context see 36:22-32)

[25] Ecclesiastes 1:9

[26] 2 Corinthians 7:10

[27] Matthew 12:43-45

[28] Romans 8:28, 29

[29] James 1:2-8

[30] 1 Timothy 3:16

[31] Mark 1:15

[32] John 6:44

[33] Hebrews 13;13

[34] Matthew 7:21-23

[35] Matthew 23:27, 28

[36] Matthew 23:25, 26

[37] Galatians 3:3

[38] Hebrews 6:4-6

 

 

 

4 Replies to “The Modern Church and Repentance”

  1. I’m greatly blessed that our Lord had called brother Jeremy to help carry this burden he has given me! Along with two other dear brethren. May our Lord be glorified for He alone is worthy.

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  2. We must be ever so careful. Professing Christians, listen up, when our style of life does not match the verbal profession of our faith, then our message is made void of all its power, souls are not saved, and Christ is not honored. Let us examine ourselves – 2 Corinthians 13:5.

    Agree wholeheartedly with so much in this piece. Questioning the above excerpt. I am conflicted on this. While it is truth that we must practice righteousness and love in order to be born again, is it Scripturally accurate for the Gospel’s power to be dependent on the level of the speaker’s righteousness in order to have its power or intended effect?

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    1. Scott, thank you for your comment. I will try to answer.
      Is the power of God dependent upon our righteousness, the answer is no. It is God alone who empowers His word. Having said this, let me move farther to say, is God pleased to empower most of what is labeled Christendom, the answer again is no. If it were so, we would we would see a different type of Christendom today, one living in piety, truth, conviction, repentance, etc. When I read of men who were used mightily and with power, such as the Apostles, early church planters, Puritans, Scottish Covenanters, the Whitefield’s, the Spurgeon’s, etc. and the list goes on, I see people who were first greatly affected by God deep within and then went out with a clear demonstration of that “washing of water of the Word.” To simply say no or yes here is difficult as it does rely totally upon God to do the empowering and yet historically He seems to use or empower those who have truly had the Word do a deep work, living, not yet perfect lives, but lives that were stamped with the cross of Christ as a reality. Having said all this, I agree with the Scripture, “godliness is a mystery.” I hope this is somewhat clear and attempts to answer what you have asked.

      Blessings my brother,
      jeremy

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