(Digging Deep t-shirts! Five more days to order at www.thecolleyhouse.org. (Sale ends at noon on Friday. We will also have a limited quantity on hand for the seminar at West Huntsville.) Also, we still have room for several more at the Living with Purpose seminar on September 25th and 26th. So clear your calendar and do something healthy for your soul! It’ll be worth the time. All registration and meal fees will be refunded if not completely satisfied (since there are no fees!) Register here: seminar.westhuntsville.org/.)
And about Maria…The question that had surfaced several times was the topic I had reserved for the very last characteristic we’d study about how we identify the first century church in the chaotic 21st century religious world. What does a person need to do to become a member of the New Testament church? Was it indeed what most religious organizations in “Christendom” today believe and teach about what a woman must do to become part of the church?
We went, once again, to the book of Acts. That’s where you go if you want to know about the origins and firsts of the church. We read again what 3000 people did on the day of Pentecost to get into the original church. There were many who did not choose to accept the overwhelming evidence presented by the apostles on that day that Jesus was, indeed, the Son of God. But those who were convicted of His deity, asked what they “must do to be saved’ (Acts 2:37) and were told in simple terms: “Repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins.”
Repentance was a big part of our discussion that day. Maria was unclear about exactly what repentance entails. We defined it from scripture as being more than a feeling of remorse. Repentance has to involve both changing your mind about sin and resigning from sinful actions. We talked about how repentance is really a change in direction. A woman is walking in one direction and decides to go in the opposite direction, turns around and walks the other way. But Maria was seeing the sorrowful results of sin all around her and did not need convincing that her life needed repentance.
As in all studies, though, I parked right there at repentance for a while. I told Maria that this was because I am convicted that repentance is the most challenging and difficult part of God’s salvation plan. The world argues most about baptism (the most overwhelmingly obvious part of the plan, from scripture). But the part of the plan that takes the most humility, introspection, fortitude, courage, resolve, determination… well, it’s easily repentance. Baptism requires a moment with the right heart. Repentance takes a lifetime of assessing, deciding, re-assessing, choosing, standing firm, submitting and figuring out how to be true to the promise you made when you went under the water. It means that the will of the One who took your place at the cross is forever more important to you than your own. Repentance is a change of the affections finding reflection in your future direction.
We looked at Galatians five and how that repentance means that the works of the flesh are replaced in your life by the fruit of the spirit. We spoke of the eternal fulfillment that the difficult challenges of repentance brings. Maria was a penitent spirit. But I still wanted to walk through some key chapters in Acts about conversion with her…