Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Blessed Gift of Repentance

"And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." - Mark 2:16-17

In this Scripture we find a remarkable truth of the gospel of Christ; one to be laid hold of by all men everywhere. Recorded in three separate accounts (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is the story of Jesus eating amongst the sinners of His day, and the Pharisees calling His behavior into question.

"How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners?"

This seemed odd to the religiously 'pious' Pharisees, who prized themselves on being set apart from the men of ungodliness. I'm sure they were thinking Psalm 1:1: "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful." Who did this Jesus think He was?

But see how Jesus responds: "They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick." Was Jesus implying that the Pharisees were indeed whole then? He goes on to say:

"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

This statement is important. Was Jesus then saying that the Pharisees were righteous, without need of repentance? Absolutely not! Elsewhere, Jesus declares: "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness." (Matthew 23:27) The Pharisees only appeared righteous to others and to themselves, but inwardly they were tombs of death and sin, blinded by their own self-conceit. Rather, Jesus was revealing an important truth: that He came to call sinners to repentance, but if men do not think themselves to be sinners, then they are not able to hear His call! To hear Christ's call to repentance is nothing short of a miracle. It is a miracle for a man to humble himself under God's mighty hand and admit to his folly and sinfulness. Only then will He hear and believe Christ.

Those who hold on to their own self-righteousness are not able to repent, let alone hear the call. This is a scary thought! All men are commanded by God to repent and believe in Jesus, but because of spiritual blindness caused by pride and self-righteousness, such men cannot see their need to repent, and therefore cannot receive God's salvation. Repentance is not some obligatory chore which a person must undergo... it is an unspeakable blessing! A blessing not received by the haughty and proud: "for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

Oh brethren, let us look upon repentance in a whole new light: no longer as a painful obligation but as a precious blessing to those who are called! Because of Christ's victory over sin and death on the cross, we now can be forgiven and freed from all guilt and punishment! Now, when Jesus calls you to repent, say: "Yes Lord! I hear and understand! I will gladly believe in You, who freely gave Yourself for me!" Amen.

10 comments:

Karen Paynter said...

Eli we are so blessed by your ministry. You remind us a lot of the Apostle Paul. You're so fearless and zealous. It's both encouraging and inspiring for us.
This morning when I was reading my devotions I came across: John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its works are evil.
Truly that is why you face the opposition that you do because You tesitfy that the works of men are evil... and I'm glad you do it! We are in need of more people who will stand up for righteousness and not be ashamed.
Thank God there is repentance and forgiveness of sins!!!

Micah and Katie said...

This is cool stuff. Sometimes I can get caught up seeing the bad in people around me and forget that I need to be humble. I've always found repentance to be hard too though. I guess I've always always associated it with something that I need to do after I've done something wrong. Associated with a feeling of letting God down. But it is true, I understand what you are saying about how it is a gift that we can repent and have victory over sin and we shouln't ever see it as a chore or a bad thing! Thanks E! Micah

T.C. said...

hey,

wow Eli that's really good. We should look at it as a gift. And i have realized i need to be humble. As Micah said, he sometimes looks at the bad in people. Well i do the same, and for that i need to repent and become humble. And look at all in love as Christ did.
Good Post Eli!

-T

Gramp said...

That's a good word on repentance Eli!
2Tim 2:24-26 speaks to this problem, and even "false teachers" can be led to repentance by a servant of the Lord who is gentle and patient "in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and come to their senses, and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will"
This is what I see your preaching on the street is doing Eli--helping people who have been bound by the devil, to come to the Truth and accept this "gift of repentance" Bless you!

Logic said...

Eli,

First, I am confused by your emphasis on "gift of repentance". Perhaps it is my own inability to read, but I do not see where Jesus used this phrase.

Second, you claim that Jesus was saying: "those who claim to their own self-righteousness are not called to repentance." I believe you are reading into the text.

It seems, rather, that Jesus was saying exactly what he said: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Since he is drawing an analogy between how a physician relates to patients and how he relates to people, it is logical to conclude that he meant "it is not the righteous who need to be called, but the unrighteous."

Since Jesus emphasized so frequently, as you so astutely pointed out, that the Pharisees were "sinners", obviously they would be among those who Jesus was calling to repentance. I fail to see how the self-righteous are not called to repentance if they are actually unrighteous. It seems only rational to conclude that the self-righteous are sick, and need a doctor. Thus, they would be among those who are called to repentance, even if they do not heed the call.

The issue of whether or not the Pharisees would heed this call to repentance (and why) is a different topic.

Anyway, thats all for now

-Logic

Gramp said...

If "logic" is indeed trying to "pick a fight" with you Eli,they should at least identify themselves, and not hide behind an unknown name like "logic"

Adam wright said...

Eli,
Again, I will defend Logic's responses. I do not think that he's trying to pick a fight but rather to provoke a question/response dialogue in the forum. My advice is to give answer to the questions as best you can. It's alright for anyone of us to say that we don't know. We're trying to strive towards an answer together - the beauty of Christian discussion. Let's not let our pride get in the way of the real purpose of discussion.

Eli said...

Okay brother Adam, it's just sometimes I feel like Logic is just trying to stir up debate. This seems like a ridiculous debate too, in light of the Scriptures.

"But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do engender strifes." 2 Timothy 2:23

Logic said...

Eli,

I am not trying to pick a fight.

I am merely pointing out what I perceive to be an error in your explanation of what that scripture means. Your definition of repentance seems to be wrong, at least in the general sense of the term. I also believe you have read into the text on this occasion.

Quoting 2 Timothy 2:13 "Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels." (NIV)

I find it hard to imagine that Paul intended this to refer to debates over what Scripture means or what Jesus meant when he said something. If you think that arguing over what the correct interpretation of Scripture is constitutes a "stupid argument", I believe you are sadly mistaken.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear" 2 Timothy 4:3

I think Paul would say that it is very important to have sound doctrine, and thus, debates surrounding doctrine are not "stupid arguments".

Maybe instead of accusing me of picking a fight you should respond to my arguments.

"Watch your life and doctrine cloely" 1 Timothy 4:16

-Logic

Logic said...

Gramp,

I find it interesting how you accuse me of hiding behind the false name "logic" when you do not reveal your name but "hide behind an unknown name" 'Gramp'.

-Logic