Repentance: The Lost Chord of Preaching, Part V
REPENTANCE: THE LOST CHORD IN PREACHING
Part V --Substitutions the World Offers in the Place of
Text: "Except ye REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish." --Luke 13:3,5
In a previous edition, we delved into the import of the above text (Vol. III, No. 5) and saw that the word "perish" spoke of the utter and eternal ruination of our souls. In the second place, we saw that God is not at all moved by majorities, and therefore though ALL should neglect to repent, they shall "ALL LIKEWISE PERISH." In the third place, we saw that as the personal pronoun "ye" is used, so Repentance is a personal duty and therefore a personal responsibility. Then we concluded by pointing out from the text that God has but one plan of redemption and that is the grace conveyed upon the repentant soul.
Now the system of this world will have nothing to do with REPENTANCE. It writhes in hatred at the mere mention of this doctrine; and in its zeal to dethrone the Godhead, it has substituted the worship of humanism. As the Gospel of humanism knows nothing of Repentance, it offers four substitutions in its place: first, LEGISLATION, second, REHABILITATION, third, EDUCATION, and when these should fail, it offers PERSECUTION.
As an alternative to the doctrine of Repentance as revealed in the Word of God, society offers LEGISLATION as a means to change a manís PRINCIPLES. Society says, "When we legalize marijuana, we will remove the guilt feelings associated with it by its users." In other
words, society thinks that by changing the "social stigma" associated with the drug, people will not feel the need to repent for their use of it because it is "LEGAL."
"REHABILITATION" simply means to "reclothe," and is an attempt to change a manís WILL. Of what ultimate good is it to "reclothe" a wolf with sheepskin while still leaving the wolfís heart within? And of what ultimate use is it to seek to change a manís will while leaving his sinful heart still unchanged? The rehabilitation of criminal behavior cannot possibly work. It is doomed to failure.
EDUCATION is the attempt made to change a manís UNDERSTANDING. Why if we teach Sex education in our state schools, why our children will not want to be moral perverts, will they? Therefore, our society is far more moral than it used to be, right? This is what we are told.
Now when any people fail to respond to legislation-- to have their principles changed, and to rehabilitation-- to have their will changed, and to education-- to have their understanding changed, --then society offers its "ace in the hole" --PERSECUTION. This tool is used by the world to change menís CONSCIENCE.
Nevertheless, the Word of the Lord "standeth fast" that "except ye repent, ye shall perish." "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the THOUGHT of thine heart may be forgiven thee." --Acts 8:22
These four are used by society to remove the NEED of repentance: legislation, rehabilitation, education and persecution. But God the Son Himself preached the text found in Lukeís Gospel. Friend, does your heart know the grace of Repentance?
Part II-- His Influence
THE PASTOR--As the pastor of Hippo in North Africa, (392-430), he often preached five days in succession, even twice on some days. He was devoted to his people, laboring for them in the Word of God. He labored hard to assist the poor and to arbitrate their disputes.
He founded a seminary for training pastors and deacons, which taught ten bishops. And in addition, he founded several womenís societies.
Then, at the Synods that met in Hippo in 393 and in Carthage in 397, he strongly influenced the final settlement of the canon of Scripture.
THE AUTHOR--His work as an author rendered him the most powerful of the Latin Church Fathers. His writings belong to 5 divisions: first, his exegeticals involved literary works on several books of the Bible. Second, his apologetics among which is his renown, CITY OF GOD. Third, his polemics and dogmatics which were directed against the leading heresies of his day: the Manichaeans, the Donatists, and the Pelagians. The Manichaeans, as we have already noted, combined Persian
Zoroastrianism with those Christian tenets that were to their liking, while they were morally loose. The Donatists were as schismatic group, which were convinced they were the true church. They baptized all that came into their group and re-ordained pastors that joined their group. The Donatists believed if through the weakness of the flesh a Christian should betray his fellow believers, he needed to be re-baptized. In short, these schismatics believed only they comprised the true church so that those who had been baptized or ordained by orthodox brethren, their baptism and ordination were invalid.
The fourth area in which Augustine wrote was his ascetical and practical writings. Among these are his SOLILOQUIES, and MEDITATIONS.
Last follows his autobiographical writings. These involve his CONFESSIONS, and his RETRACTIONS. The latter is a revision of his philosophy later in life. And in addition to these he penned some 270 letters. It is in his CONFESSIONS that deal with his life up to his conversion that he made the most famous statement in the history of philosophy: "Thou, o Lord, hast made us for Thyself; and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee!"
THE THEOLOGIAN--Augustine was for all practical purposes the father of medieval scholasticism, as well as the father of medieval mysticism. The Protestant reformers will keenly feel his influence.... And one day, Martin Luther will himself emerge from his Augustinian conventicle.
Next edition --Augustine versus Pelagius
"Preacher, regard thyself to beóthe mirror of holiness, the exemplar of piety, the restorer of the church to truth; the defender of the faith, the teacher of nations, the guide of Christians, the friend of the Bridegroom, the refuge of the oppressed, the advocate of the poor, the hope of the suffering, the protector of orphans, the eyes of the blind, the tongue to the dumb, the staff of the aged, the avenger of crimes, a terror to evil-doers and a glory to the good, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, the priest of the Most High, THE ANOINTED OF THE LORD."
-Bernard of Clairvaux-