From Survival To Revival The Necessity Of True Repentance
By George Akers
Remodeling a house is more difficult in many ways than simply building a house from ground up. In remodeling one has to first tear out what does not belong. In remodeling, one has to be careful not to damage what needs to remain. In remodeling, one has to take what belongs and incorporate it into what is already established.
We live in a trinitarian world influenced by Catholicism. So what we have to do first is take the ideology that the religious world has, even some of which has penetrated the Pentecostal church as well, and we have to tear out what does not belong. Then we can establish what is biblically true.
Repentance is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the religious world today. As a consequence, very few people really have true peace, true joy, and true righteousness. Very few people can say they live a life of complete victory and abundant life in Jesus Christ.
Most of ministry is seemingly centered on helping people simply to survive. However, this is not the will of God or purpose of God in life. So many times we try to help people to just stay saved, just to survive. Because of this, many people are never mightily used of God. They do not prosper spiritually or materially. They do not ever have abundant life or experience any kind of overcoming life. This is because they live in survival mode, just trying to stay saved.
Sadly, too many are in an “Apostolic survival” node. They constantly have to be encouraged from someone else. They have to he continuously patted on the hack and told, “You can do it. You’ve got what it takes to win. Come on, you can make it!” They have to he continually propped up.
Thus, instead of experiencing Apostolic revival we are encountering Apostolic survival! Instead of preaching to the lost, we are preaching to each other. We must get out of the survival mode and into revival!
One reason people battle with surviving is because they often do not understand what true repentance is. We think we know all there is to know. We think we have a proper understanding of the concept. And a lot of times our understanding comes from what we have been taught or from what we think we already know from a little shallow scriptural study of the Word. We try to add to our basic foundation, but if the foundation is not properly established, we have a faulty house. Without the proper concept of the doctrine of repentance, our Understanding is obstructed. This problem is magnified because repentance is a foundational doctrine which our entire Christian experience is founded upon. Therefore, if we are going to build a house that will bring Apostolic revival, it is imperative that our doctrine of repentance be biblically based in truth.
We cannot hang onto concepts that are simply traditional by nature. And we cannot hold onto concepts that are merely denominational by nature. These things are so fundamentally important that if we do not understand them, they will not work for us. It is similar to purchasing a do it yourself, build-it-yourself item, such as a bicycle or office furniture. When all the parts are laid out, we think we can figure our how to put it together. Without reading the instructions, we start putting the item together. When the project appears to he completed, however, several parts remain. Perplexed, we question, “Where do those
go?” In time the equipment is faulty; it starts breaking down. Now what? We finally turn to the instruction manual and figure out how to put it together properly.
Many times, lacking proper foundation, we proceed to build key aspects in our spiritual walk based solely on what Mom or Dad or others did. Sometimes we even build on what has been handed down from denominations. Then we wonder, “Why isn’t it working? Why can’t I overcome? Why do I battle the same things over and over and over again?” That is why we are in survival mode rather than revival mode.
We are addicted to feeling good. We Apostolics love to praise the Lord! We love to give God praise, because that brings God’s presence into our lives. And in so doing, we feel good. We love to sing, dance, run the aisles, and speak in other tongues. It makes us feel good. We love to dress up and go to church. Because in so doing, it brings a satisfaction, a good feeling. We are addicted to feeling. But that addiction has brought about some misconceptions about repentance.
To properly consider what repentance is, we must first examine what it is not. The Apostle Paul said, “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Hebrews 12:16-17). Watch out for the Esau Syndrome! He traded away God’s lifelong gift in order to satisfy a short-term appetite. He was sorry, he wept, he sought it, he wanted it. And yet Esau could find no place of repentance.
Repentance is not summed up in confession. That has been brought in by denominationalism which is a spawn of Catholicism. What happens is: you sin, you feel bad, you confess, and you feel better. The following cliche’ summarizes this concept: “Confession is good for the soul.”
By releasing it, or speaking it out, you relieve yourself of a lot of junk you feel inside, and subsequently you feel better! The word confession in the Greek “means to assent to or agree with.” So, when you confess, you have merely agreed with the Holy Ghost that has pointed out sin in your life. But that is not the sum of repentance. You have simply confessed and admitted, “Yes, I have done wrong.”
Repentance is not an emotion. Too many of us have understood repentance to be an emotion, a sensation, a sentiment, an expression that we exhibit kneeling at an altar weeping and wailing with hot tears of passion flowing. And in the process we have become addicted to feeling good. We sin, feel bad, then weep and wail and feel better. Ultimately our confession did not bring about change; it simply made us feel better.
We have an emotional release, but we still tend to battle the same old junk over and over! That is not the will of God. The problem is that people tend to equate the release of confession with feeling better and erroneously call it repentance. However, confession and repentance are two separate and distinct things. The simple release of the emotions of regret accompanied by weeping is not repentance.
Esau confessed his sins, and some would say that he repented. Esau wept and cried fervently, and some would say that he repented. He sought it carefully with tears. He sought it intensely, but he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.
I strongly believe in tears, but that is not repentance. I strongly believe in confession, but that is not repentance. There have been folks who have totally changed and never wept a tear. But I also see some folks that cry all the time, and they never have changed.
The good thing about weeping and tears is that it leads one to repentance. And the good thing about confession is that it leads one to the place of repentance. But the problem is that many times when people feel better they tend to stop short of true life-changing repentance.
When someone battles the same thing he waged war against a year ago, that is not repentance. That is not change and that is not the will of God.
Another problem with confession is that the accompanying emotions of sorrow are in direct proportion to the seriousness of the sin being confessed. The judgment one places on a particular sin parallels the seriousness one feels about it. A “big” sin, therefore, would potentially carry with it more tears and greater sorrow.
For example, one may say to himself, “Well, I didn’t pray today. Oh, have mercy on me Lord.” Or one may say, “I had a bad spirit today. I’m sorry Lord.” But if one were to tell a lie, he would fall at an altar and weep and cry, “Oh, God! Please forgive me!” Or if someone allowed anger to take him into a rage, totally embarrassing him and harming his witness, he would fall on an altar and cry out earnestly, “Oh, God! Please help me!”
In summation, the judgment we put on the sin is according to how badly we feel about it. And that is the depth of repenting we do when we ask God to forgive us. According to the Word of God, however, a lie is as bad as murder. Gossiping and murmuring are just as much sin as adultery. Complacency, prayerlessness, and indifference are just as sinful as fornication. Remember, it was the sin of omission that led King David to the sins of commission. But the weight one places on a particular sin is measured by the way one feels about it. But this is not what the Word of God says.
What, then, is true repentance? Unger’s Bible Dictionary defines repentance as a change of mind. A fundamental and thorough change in the hearts of men from sin and toward God.
The essential elements of repentance are as follows:
1. A genuine sorrow toward God on account of sin (II Corinthians 7:810; Psalm 51).
2. An inward repugnance to sin necessarily followed by the actual forsaking of it (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20; Hebrews 6:1). 3. A humble self-surrender to the will and service of God (Acts 9:6).
Repentance necessitates change. Change is the bottom line. The Spirit of Lord within causes change. We are to be changed into the image of Christ Jesus. And repentance is not a one-time act. It is a lifestyle. It is not just an event, it is a place to be lived in. It is the condition of change in the heart. This is why the Apostle Paul said that Esau “found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”
Confession and emotions are designed to lead one to repentance. Esau was guilty of what so many are guilty of today. Although he was appeased by his confessions and pacified by his emotions, Esau never arose from confession and changed. Esau never got up from the altar of weeping and changed his actions and lifestyle.
Repentance did not become Esau’s lifestyle. Are we any different today?
The Above Material Was Published By The Apostolic Witness, September, 2003, Pages 12-14. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.