Why I Don’t Talk Much About Repentance

Why I Don't Talk Much About Repentance

This week, I’ve really had something on my heart.

 

After reading a blog post on the importance of repentance, and realizing I tend to avoid the topic on my blog, I decided it best for me to explain my reasons behind not talking about it much.

 

I am not anti-repentance. For us to let go of our pride and accept what we know we could not earn – salvation – is a truly powerful thing.

 

However, I believe that we Christians often overemphasize the teaching of repentance where it really does not belong.

 

For starters, Hebrews 6:1 refers to repentance as an elementary doctrine. Elementary means simple. Baseline. Something that’s a building block.

 

“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God[.]”

 

This verse in Hebrews tells us to leave the elementary doctrine of repentance. I believe this is such an important point, and I’ll elaborate in order to explain what I mean, though it seems confusing at first.

 

When we get saved, we’re usually told to repent of our sins (though I believe it’s more accurate to tell people to acknowledge the fact that they’re sinners, not to repent of every sin they’ve ever committed). We’re told to repent and receive forgiveness. But that’s not all.

 

We’re then told that when we sin, we must confess it to God in order to stay right with Him.

 

But wait a minute. I don’t see how that’s actually accurate.

 

We believe that Jesus died to pay for our sins, right? And we believe that He was the perfect sacrifice, covering every single one of our wrongdoings: past, present, and future, correct?

 

When we put such an emphasis on repenting for every one of our sins, we underscore ourselves. Going with the idea that we must apologize to God for every sin we commit after we’re saved, does that mean that if we die without confessing our last sin, we’ll go to Hell?

 

I know we don’t mean this, or I surely hope we don’t. What about what Jesus said, in John 10:28?

 

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

 

No one will snatch them out of my hand. That, my friends, is assurance of salvation. That when we put our trust in Jesus for salvation, we cannot lose that.

 

When we put such an emphasis on ourselves, and on making sure we don’t sin without confessing it, we forget about God’s grace.

 

Do we remember what Galatians 2:20-21 says?

 

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

 

Paul points out a few imperative things here.

 

1) Sin’s controlling power does not live any longer, for it is Christ’s righteousness that lives in us.

2) We live by faith, not by ‘trying harder.’

3) Our right-standing with God is not through us obeying the law; it is by grace. For if it were, Christ died pointlessly.

 

What’s the central message of this? Living under grace. God knows we’re not perfect, and that’s why Jesus came! For what other reason would He have come to earth? To be a ‘good moral teacher?’ No!

 

If we put such an emphasis on post-salvation repentance, we disregard God’s grace. We disregard the fact that when we received salvation, the righteousness of JESUS HIMSELF was poured out on us. Our sins have been removed from us completely.

 

See, the Bible even explicitly states it in Psalm 103:12.

 

“As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

 

Colossians 2:13-14

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

 

Have you ever forgiven someone for something they’ve done to hurt you, but they still apologize profusely, even after you have assured them that it’s all good? When that happens with me, I just want to say, “Chill out! I forgive you, and we don’t need to keep revisiting what you did. I don’t hold it against you; can we move on?”

 

I think we forget that it’s a bit like that with God.

 

Jesus has forgiven all of our sins. God has pardoned every last one of them. By forcing people to repent of every sin (the ones that Jesus’ blood has already covered), we minimize the power of the cross.

 

We make it about us, instead of making it about Him.

 

And while I definitely have more to say on this, I’ll leave you with this thought in closing:

 

We are forgiven already. Let us move on from stressing repentance, and let’s stress His grace instead and see how important it is to live filled with the Spirit.

 

Come back on Saturday for part 2, where I’ll be digging deeper into what repentance should mean for us, and how to live in grace in a biblical sense.

 

*aj

Simply The Cross

Simply The Cross

A low-key post today. Wherein I discuss the cross, and sin, and Jesus.

Does anybody remember back in April, when I did a four-part blog series on the Resurrection? Well, perhaps some of you are newer here, and don’t remember, but that’s okay. Basically, I talked about what the Resurrection of Jesus really means. (I’m not too fond of my older posts, seeing as I was still figuring my way around this blog and attempting to grasp at the essential threads of writing and blogging, among other things. So I won’t link up to them here. However, if you’re really curious and want to read them still, use the search bar on the side of the website to search for “The Resurrection” posts.)

I know it’s not Easter. I know that I’m talking about the Cross. It’s just about exactly halfway between Easters. Still, I love the significance of this Holyday in our lives. Because it honestly doesn’t matter that one Sunday a year we talk about Jesus dying and raising from the dead, it matters that we think about it every day. The weight of sin and the power of the Resurrection aren’t to be taken lightly.

So today, I want to address this. Specifically, the Cross and the Grave.

Yesterday, I was pondering this topic when a revelation hit me.

A lot of us may have grown up in church, like me, and practically lived there. Although that can be a really great thing, and strengthen our faith when we’re young, we may also take Biblical truths for granted. Perhaps simply because we’ve learned to recite them. It’s so easy to.

“Jesus died on the cross for our sins. He was buried and rose from the dead three days later.”

What hit me yesterday was the connection between this pretty-much-every-Christian-has-memorized mantra and Galatians 2:20.

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Crucified. Killed. Destroyed. Buried deep in the grave. That’s what happened to Jesus.

Remember how He took the sins of the world upon Himself, and then He died? Well, guess what. Those sins – the sins that once defined us – died too. I have been crucified with Christ means that the sin was crucified too.

Then Jesus rose from the dead, but the sin didn’t. Our sin that condemned us to death stayed DEAD. When Jesus came back, sin didn’t. And what defines us now is Jesus, who took the place of sin in our hearts.

Christ who lives in me is the one that empowers me to live a life pleasing to God.

It’s not my effort.

It’s not my good deeds.

It’s not me.

Faith is it. Living by the strength of the Holy Spirit is it.

And if Jesus didn’t love us and give Himself for us, we’d still be hopeless.

Hope isn’t a wish, it’s assurance. We have assurance that we are forgiven because the weight of sin is gone.

Doesn’t mean we won’t mess up and still sin now. But condemnation is now gone because of grace.

And between grace and the Holy Spirit, we won’t want to sin any more.

So that’s the connection. I know it’s simple. Very simple, in fact. But sometimes, this church girl needs a reminder of the everyday things, not just the Easter things. Or at least the reminder that they’re connected.

COMMENTS, ANYONE? I’d love to hear from you. Any simple revelations lately? Can anybody relate to tending to tune out truth? Any thoughts on this post? How about this topic? Comment below in the little comment box that’s calling out for you to type into.

*aj

Knowledge and Belief: From The Head To The Heart

Waves in Ocean

My head knows, but my heart doesn’t always accept it.

Yes, oh yes, that’s how a lot of my life goes.

I know the truth. I know it.

But sometimes, I have a hard time believing.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “The eighteen inches between the head and the heart are the most dangerous eighteen inches in the world.”

Or something.

The point being, it’s not enough to just know something. It’s imperative that it’s also believed.

See, in my head, I know that God is good. Great, in fact. I know that He has great plans for me, and that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that I’m never alone, and that He has everything under control, and that I don’t need to worry.

I know all this. I really do.

But do I actually believe it?

Now here, I’m not trying to second-guess myself or anything like that. I’m not trying to “prove” that I believe and not just know, or “try to be better,” or whatever.

But it’s definitely more reassuring when I can believe something and not just know it.

For example, I can spout out facts all day long about how strong a trapeze is, and how there’s a totally-safe net under it, and how I have a tight harness, and how 105% secure I am on that trapeze. But it’s not very reassuring if I’m asked to get up there and don’t believe that I’m actually safe.

Right?

Because unless I believe something in my heart, pure and raw knowledge alone won’t get me to trust God with my life.

See, I know that God is good. Like I said. Like it says in the Bible. I know that He will take care of me, and I don’t need to worry.

But when the pressure turns on, and I have to trust God and trust Him alone, it’s hard. It’s hard to bring what I know in my head to be what I believe in my heart.

And every day I have a choice.

Because hard things happen, and life breaks us, and tears jump out of our eyes, and Satan stabs away our joy, we have a choice.

Do we jump on the trapeze in surrender and trust, or shrink back and spout out facts that we’ll never put into practice?

I’m going with the former.

I heard another quote, and it’s like this.

“Surrendering to God isn’t losing or giving up. It’s winning, because once we surrender to God, we have transferred to the ‘right’ side and we have already won.”

God has fought for our souls, and we have proof that He is good.

The Cross has proven to us that the love of God is great enough for us, that the grace of God is enough to carry us through it all, that the forgiveness of God is enough to change us from the inside out, that the peace of God is great enough to comfort us in terrible times of despair, and that the mercy of God was made manifest in the torture of His own Son – because of His compassionate and loving heart.

Doubts will creep in, and waves will crash down on me, and despair will plague me, and there will be times when I question if God is really enough. Times will come when I can’t see God past the cloud of worldliness. There are going to be days when I can’t feel the goodness of God, and it feels like Satan is winning.

But when I look at the Cross, it is the most powerful thing. The Cross is greater than all my doubts, insecurities, faithlessness, and hopelessness, for death itself has been defeated by what Jesus has done on the Cross for me.

The step of getting what I know from my head to my heart is a mere eighteen inches, albeit a very important eighteen inches.

The Cross is where knowledge turns to belief. There is proof.

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loved us from the very beginning, but He proved it by sending His Son to save us.

Once we accept the Cross, there is a bridge between the head and the heart.

I pray that we would all accept the bridge, for it’s never worth it to live in unbelief!

*aj

Covered by the Cross

Covered by the Cross

Sometimes, I think we see ourselves as dirt.

Yeah, something like that. Like maybe we don’t feel like we are good enough.

Or we don’t believe that God hears our prayers because we think we are so sinful and hopeless…

But we’re not.

We’re not hopeless. We’re not seen as sinners anymore. We’re not living under the law. Why? The blood of Jesus rescued us.

Hebrews 10:19-23 says this to us in encouragement.

 

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

We have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus. Because of His death, we have communion and a relationship with God.

Because of the blood of Jesus, we are seen through the lens of His holiness. The curtain between God and us has been torn. His love for us broke the separation.

We have a full assurance of faith! Our hearts are sprinkled clean and we are counted pure. We have hope! And God is faithful.

That passage is soooooooo encouraging to me. See, I know that my sin nature is, well, sinful. Nobody needs to tell me that. HOWEVER. My sin does not define me, because it has been paid for. The blood of Jesus (via the cross) is what purifies me. Not by anything I’ve done, of course!

There’s one thing that’s the most important to know: The Cross is enough.

 

I can’t do anything to add to the finished work of Christ because it has already been done.

We are not perfect, but we are holy because of Christ. He has rescued us and poured His holiness over us.

There is nothing we can do to make Him love us more, to hear our prayers any better, to give us more blessings, to make us “less sinful”, to make us more joyful. It’s been done.  We are loved infinitely, and we will never be loved or accepted by God any more than we already are.

The Cross covers it all.

We are pure. We are loved. We are adored. We are accepted. We are holy. We are blameless. We are redeemed. We are worthy. We are wanted. We are hope-filled. We are defined by the Cross. We are blessed. We are children of God. We are saved. We are good enough. We are righteous. We are forgiven. We are more than conquerors.

But why are we all these things?

We are all these things because of what Jesus has done. We are all these things, yet we cannot boast about it. Why? Because when we were undeserving, He came to save us.

 

Seriously, we did not do anything to earn this. It’s a free gift.

And that’s what makes it so AMAZING. We are forgiven because of the blood of our Savior.

We are holy, righteous, and redeemed. We are loved, and we are forgiven.

We need to live in light of that.

*aj

Who Am I, Really?

Hey guys! So…I’m still on this Easter kick thing. Yes, I know that today is Saint Patrick’s Day, and yes, he was a pretty cool guy (he was a missionary, not a leprechaun by the way). But Easter just makes me SO happy! I mean really. Forgiveness! Love! Hope! Acceptance! Joy! Peace! I have all these things because of the cross. So enjoy, reflect, and rejoice this Easter because of what’s been done for you.




“Who am I, really?” The piercing words echo in my head. I’ve known myself for almost fifteen years and I’m not always convinced that I know the true AJ. 

Who am I, really?


People say I’m beautiful. But I don’t feel beautiful. 
People say I’m smart. But I feel like a failure. 

know who I am. 

I’m a sinner. I am broken in pieces that I could never fix. I’m not always loving, joyful, or peaceful. My words are not always patient, gentle, or kind.  I am unfaithful. Good does not always define me. Self-control isn’t exactly one of my strong suits either. 

Why am I like this?!

Welcome to Planet Earth. I’m human. I’m an ordinary citizen here, which means that I’m a sinner.

I look at myself in the mirror, and half the time, I don’t even recognize myself. Who is that girl? What makes her who she is?

I don’t want to live behind a mask, trying to be someone I’m not. “Because,” I’ve heard someone say, “the more you live behind the mask, the more the mask defines you.”


Wow. I don’t want to be living behind a mask. I don’t want the mask to define me! I don’t care what people think about the real Amanda, all that matters is that who I am is the real thing. 

So what defines me? Who am I really? Well, there’s a dozen things I could think of…my guitar and piano, my surfboard, my blog, my bookshelf…you get the picture. But those things aren’t really who I am on the inside. 

I am defined by The Cross. 

What do I mean by that? Well, I’ve struggled with not letting my performance define who I am. It’s all fun and games until I get a C. Until I remember I *still* can’t play “that chord” on the guitar. Until I realize I just can’t catch the wave I’ve been trying to. I realize that I’ll never measure up on my own…and I forget who I really am. 

I am defined by The Cross. 

Because of what Jesus did at the cross, I am who I am. I am blameless in God’s sight.

I’ve fallen into the trap in my (actually pretty short) life of making achievement an addiction. When I can’t achieve “that thing,” I forget who I really am. I’m a child of God, because of The Cross. 

Grace covers Amanda. The Cross has forgiven AJ. The love of God has been lavished on her. 

Conditional things – popularity, beauty, money, talent – cannot define me. Because once I fail (which I do), then who am I? What makes me who I am? Popularity dies down. Beauty fades. Money gets wasted. Talent eventually fails too.

Just one thing will stand. 

Who I really am. 

I am a child of God. 

I am pure in His eyes.

I have been counted blameless. 

I am truly, 100% forgiven. 

I am defined by The Cross.

*aj

What Does The Cross Mean To Me?



Happy Saturday everyone! Today we have a special treat. On Monday, this post will be featured on my friend Rachel Schaus’ blog, Notes From My Corner Of Creation. Enjoy this sneak peek in honor of Easter!


What does the cross mean to me?


For me, the cross means acceptance.

 

The cross is the place where I was counted blameless and accepted in the sight of God. Not because of what I did, but because of what Jesus did for me. He took my place in death and shame and gave me the right to be a child of God.

 

John 1:12-13 says,  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God.”

 

I am accepted. I do not have to be perfect. I do not have to earn my way to the love and acceptance of God. I do not have to do a certain number of good deeds to be cherished by God. Because I am not accepted by what I do-I am accepted because of what Christ did at the cross for me.

 

All I have to do is believe in His name! Accept the love he has for me! I am a child of God. Nobody can take that away.

 

The cross means acceptance. I think that we’ve all chased acceptance in our lives. We want to be loved, accepted, a part of the “in” group. Because, we think, maybe that will make us better people. Maybe we will have more privileges, our problems will all go away, or we will be satisfied…But our only perfect satisfaction by acceptance can come from God’s acceptance of us. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

 

Stop trying to be accepted in worldly terms. Accept the acceptance of God. He loves us no matter what.
He knows we are not perfect. He knows that we will fail. He knows all this, and still loves us and accepts us.

 

Never once will we walk alone. Never once will God turn his back on us. Never once will we lose the love of God. Rest in the embrace of the Almighty – by what was done at the cross – FOR YOU.


*aj