Saturday, May 26, 2012


The concept of repentance, as taught in modern Christian denominations, can often elicit some form of controversy or confusion, largely because it ostensibly contradicts the solas doctrine,  especially solus Christus and sola gratia.  If Jesus Christ is the sole proprietor, author, and perfector of our faith (Heb. 12:2), then it's somewhat paradoxical for the mandate of repentance to be inscribed in Christian dogma.  Many who grow up in the church will likely hear things like: "You must repent before entering the kingdom of heaven" and like phrases.  This was indeed one of the preeminent challenges to my understanding of theology-- how could we be saved wholly reliant on God's grace but still fail to enter His kingdom by omission of repentance?

I believe repentance, actually, is taught incorrectly in modern Protestant denominations.  The reason why the aforementioned paradox appears to be a contradiction is largely how repentance is framed.  It is commonly held that repentance essentially means permanently refraining from committing a sin or multiple sins that were persistent in one's life.  Indeed, when not expounded upon, it sounds like repentance essentially demands that one stops sinning entirely.  The fatal flaw is that this diminishes the value of repentance to works, an action that we ourselves can take and have control over.  When fit into the clause: "one must repent to enter the kingdom of God," then we are left with a statement that says salvation is to be earned through work.  From scripture, we know this is entirely incorrect.

Because salvation through grace is not earned from works, or earned at all in fact, it is impossible and contradictory to teach repentance both as a prerequisite for salvation and as something that constitutes a body of works.  So what is repentance?  Repentance is an entirely God-given fundamental adoption of the new and living way (Heb. 10:20), an alteration of worldview so that the operation of living is no longer done for one's selfish and sinful purposes of pleasing the flesh, but done entirely in submission to God and His glory.  In other words, you are no longer living for sin and the world (in essence, our  life out of the first Adam) but now living for His kingdom (life given by Christ, the second Adam), as an adopted child of God.

Repentance, then, is not the eradication of sin out of life but the transformation from a life enslaved by sin to a life enslaved by God (more on this later).  As a result, it should follow that a repentant heart will also yield the effect of sin being less and less apparent in his or her life.  Above all, repentance is a process completely authored by God and only possible through His grace.  We can never incline ourselves to repent without the initiation of God's love first.  As we recognize that, then can we begin to undergo the true transformation of repentance.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A long time coming

It's been more than three years since my last entry in my old politics and faith blog, and since then my worldview has evolved dramatically.  I don't treat politics as my spiritual battleground anymore, nor do I ascribe to any particular partisan ideology.  One thing that hasn't changed is my faith... though that, too, is questionable as I contemplate how my spiritual life has progressed over this time.

College has not been kind to me.  For the entirety of my tenure in university, I suffered an obsessive-compulsive academic complex that was by its nature, intrinsically focused on advancing my professional agenda.  Yes, agenda.  I say "agenda" because that's what it has been; a doctrinal subscription to normative worldly values.  All this has come at great expense to my walk and other areas in my life, which have suffered miserably.

Through it all, I've learned the value of keeping near to God.  It's unbelievable how one discovers he or she is proven wrong as life goes on.  A few years, I conceded that skipping out on my studies in Chinese school was detriment to my capacity as a bilingual speaker.  Now, I realize that not reading my Bible all these years has left me theologically stupid.

It's a challenge, but one I'm willing to overcome.  I'm reigniting blogging in this area of my life as a challenge to myself, not just for scrutiny and exegesis of the faith, but to document (in a sense) my walk as I move out of college.  As a youth ministry coordinator at church, I cannot afford to do anything less than to reach for the status of Christlikeness.

Above all, I can only look to God, who is my Shepherd.  Everything I do, the whole purpose of this, is for His glory.  As I challenge myself now, I must ascribe to His ways and let my identity be transformed by the Spirit into a disciple and bondslave of Christ.  I can only hope that these words will serve as a reminder that this is the call that awaits me, and all of us under Christ.