Repentance: The Lost Chord of Preaching, Part IV
REPENTANCE: THE LOST CHORD IN PREACHING
Part IV--WHY MEN DO NOT REPENT
Text: Isaiah 1:16c, 17a--"CEASE to do EVIL; LEARN to do WELL."
Repentance consists in two parts: a negative part, which God through the mouth of Isaiah the prophet declares is a "ceasing to do (practice) evil"; and a positive part, which God declares through the same mouth to be a "learning to do well." MEN DO NOT BIBLICALLY repent who fail in either of these parts, for the soul that is "almost persuaded" to be a Christian is still bound in the "darksome prisonhouse of sin." The Saviour has yet to proclaim liberty to this captive. And men who do not cease to practice sin and who have not learned to do well cannot in truth be said to be true penitents. The man who in truth has ceased to practice sin has learned to do well, and so he who has in truth learned to do well has in reality ceased to protect his sins.
MEN DO NOT REPENT in the first place, because they have never CEASED TO DO EVIL. They have never ceased to EXCUSE their sins by REDUCING the violence of them. For instance, some blame their sins on the UNIVERSALITY of sin and the fact that they are born in this world as death-ridden children because of a sin FULL father. Such persons can be heard to remark, "Everyone else practices sin." And consequently, they never come clean before God.
And there are others who blame their sins on their CONSTITUTION. You have likely heard such people to say, "Ah, Iím just weak, thatís all;" or "Itís only natural to do what I do."
Then, there are others who blame their sins on their SITUATION. You can hear these folks justify their actions by saying, "Well, you havenít been through what Iíve been through;" or, "When you are as old as I am...." And all the while these people cover their sins.
Such people not only never stop excusing their sins, but they also never stop ASKING A LITTLE MORE TIME TO INDULGE IN THEIR SINS. They may attempt to cut down on their sins, but they have never admitted their dire predicament and fled for refuge found only in the Saviour.
These have never ceased DEFENDING their sins. They may be heard to call evil, "Good;" and good, "Evil."
They have never stopped trying to ELEVATE their sins. Some have been heard to utter that the very Word of God is "Old-fashioned;" and the people of God are "Hypocrites," and who would be able to catalogue the various and sundry names they have called the faithful preachers of the Word of God! But by such detracting comments directed toward those who do seek to practice righteousness, they think they can justify themselves before the ALL-Wise God!
But Good News! If God has led you to perceive your hopeless condition, your filthiness as having been born and bred in the dunghill of sin, it is because He has already begun a good work in your heart. Take courage! "Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me!" cried the Saviour.
Dear Reader, have you ever learned to do well? Have you ever learned to frequent the Church? Have you slighted this institution which the Son of God Himself instituted "for the perfecting of the saints, and for the work of the ministry?" And when you do come, is it
merely out of form or habit; or is it because you have a Saviour to adore and brethren to encourage, and the service of your God to undertake?
Have you ever learned to give your substance? Do you well in taking care of the man called of God to Jabot in the Word and doctrine, as he shall give account of your soul?
Have you ever learned to gather together for prayer with those of like precious faith? Do you LOVE the BROTHERHOOD?
Do you find yourself thirsty for the Book of God?
Do you in all truth deplore your sins?
Dear Reader, if there is in your heart an insatiable desire for the righteousness which God bestows, will you not in child-like faith look upon the bleeding Sacrifice there on Calvary? If you will today cry out as the centurion of old, "Lord, I believe!" will you write me today and share with me the good news? Thank you.
THE LIFE OF AURELIUS AUGUSTINE
Part I--His Life--Continued
The Third Article in A Series
Augustine had resolved that before the truth of God would be revealed to him, he would have to leave the woman with whom he had lived for 15 years and all in an unmarried state. Then, he resolved to abandon his association with the Manichaeans, a sect comprised of part
Christian theology and part Zoroastrian philosophy and which was amoral in its practice.
But it was now that he fell under the sway of Neo-Platonism. Elgin Moyer, in his book Great Leaders of the Christian Church points out two truths not found in either Platonism or Neo-Platonism: the Incarnation of Him who is Truth, and a humble spirit manifesting itself
Augustine now began an earnest search of the Word of God, and a major study in the epistles of Paul.
One day while with his friend, Alypius, he conversed with a Christian general by the name of Ponticianus. The general told how two companions out strolling came upon a hermitís hut. Upon entering, they found a short biography of the monk, Anthony. The two companions were so gripped by the book they renounced their military commissions to devote themselves to the work of the Lord.
Upon hearing the account, Augustine rushed out into the garden. He sensed the utter worthlessness of his life, and in despair of soul, he cried out, "Thou, my Lord, how long yet? 0 Lord, how long yet wilt Thou be angry? Remember not the sins of my youth! How long? How long? Tomorrow, and again tomorrow? Why not today? Why not now? Why not in
this hour put an end to my shame?"
At that moment, he heard the chant of a child from a neighboring house: "Take up and read! Take Up and Read!" To Augustine, the voice of the child was the voice of God. And so it was that he hurried to the spot where he had left his scroll on Romans, as well as his friend, Alypius.
Snatching up the book, he opened it! His eyes fell on the 13th and 14th verses of the 13th chapter: "Not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying; but put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof."
Was this the answer for which his soul thirsted? Is this to be the day of his salvation and to end his long search for truth?
CONTINUED IN THE NEXT EDITION OF THE ANGELUS.