1: What God Wants, Part 1 - Repentance

Dan Parks October 10, 2018

What is Christianity?  And what is the point?  Lesson 1: What God Wants, Part 1: Repentance

The Good News:

John 3: 16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 Corinthians 15: 1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

Isaiah 53:         3 He was despised and rejected by men,

   a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 4 Surely he took up our infirmities    and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God,    smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,    he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,    and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

   each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him    the iniquity of us all.

The response He wants:

Mark 1:  4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  …  7 And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”  …

 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Matthew 11:  20 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”

Luke 24:  45 Then [Jesus] opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance

and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

Acts 20:  17 From Miletus, Paul sent to Ephesus for the elders of the church. 18 When they arrived, he said to them: “You know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I came into the province of Asia. 19 I served the Lord with great humility and with tears, although I was severely tested by the plots of the Jews. 20 You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. 21 I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”

So what is “repentance”?

Acts 2: 36 [Peter:] “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

To “repent” means to turn.

Acts 3:  17 [Peter:] “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer. 19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. 21 He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.’

 24 “Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”

Ezekiel 33: 10 “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”’ 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’”

This turning is not something we add to our lives, & it’s not a part of our lives — this is not                       in addition, but instead:

Isaiah 53:         6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

   each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him    the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 55:          6 Seek the LORD while he may be found;

   call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way    and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him,    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

 8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,    neither are your ways my ways,”             declares the LORD. 9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,    so are my ways higher than your ways    and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

Matthew 11: 28 [Jesus:] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

God has called us to stake everything on Him:

Matthew 6: 25 [Jesus:] “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

   28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 13: 44 [Jesus:] “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

   45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Why would we do this?  Faith — we believe He knows what’s best, wants what’s best, & can         accomplish what’s best.

Hebrews 11: 1 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.  …

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

And even more, we believe He Is what’s best:

Philippians 3: 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Such faith is the key to “tak[ing] hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of” us (Philippians 3:12):

Romans 3: 21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

Romans 4: 3 What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”  …

23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 5: 1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.

And Biblically, this is “faith”: “Forget about your stuff.  You follow Me, & I’ll take care of you.”

This is what it means to “believe in Him”: To trust Him — enough to      let Him lead:

Proverbs 3:       5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart

   and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him,    and he will make your paths straight.

 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;    fear the LORD and shun evil.

Luke 6: 46 [Jesus:] “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.”

Jonah 3: 3 Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very important city—a visit required three days. 4 On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

 6 When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 Then he issued a proclamation in Nineveh:

   “By the decree of the king and his nobles:

   Do not let any man or beast, herd or flock, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”

 10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

John 5: 44 [Jesus:] “How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?”

John 12: 35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.” …

 44 Then Jesus cried out, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

So what does it mean — Biblically — to be a “Christian”?

1 Peter 4: 16However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.

Acts 26: 28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

Acts 11: 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Not just “the Twelve”:

Luke 6: 13When morning came, [Jesus] called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles …

Matthew 28: 16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. … 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 6: 1In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, … 2the Twelve gathered all the disciples together ….

7The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

So what is a “disciple”?

Mark 1: 16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him.

 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

John 6: 66From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

John 21: 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

 20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”

So — Biblically — a “Christian” is a disciple of Christ, & a “disciple” is a

follower.  So a Christian is a follower of Christ.

So how do we follow now?  (How did the disciples in many of the verses above?)

1) Follow His commands:

John 8: 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

John 13: 34 [Jesus:] “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

2) Follow His example:

John 13: 12 When [Jesus] had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

1 John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

3) Follow His Spirit:

Romans 8: 14 … those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

Galatians 5: 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

So Who Is “the Spirit”?

John 7: 37 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is

thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

John 14: 15 [Jesus:] “If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”

Romans 8: 9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

John 10: 30 “I and the Father are one.”

John 14: 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”

1 Kings 8: [King Solomon, at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem:]27 “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”

Consider again the example of Christ, of the Spirit:

John 5: 19 Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do

only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.  …

 30 “By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.”

John 6: 38 [Jesus:] “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.”

John 7: 16 Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. 17 If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. 18 He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.”

John 8: [Jesus:] 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”

 27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”

John 12: 47 [Jesus:] “As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that

his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.”

John 14: 10 [Jesus:] “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  …

24 “He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.  …

30 “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, 31 but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.  …”

John 16:  12 [Jesus:] “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.”

Mark 14: 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

 35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

And Christ Has called us to the same:

Luke 6: 40 [Jesus:] “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”

John 20: 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 5: 7 We live by faith, not by sight.  …  9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.  …

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. …

1 Corinthians 10: 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 16: 14 Do everything in love.

What is the focus of Christ’s commands?

John 13: 34 [Jesus:] “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

           

John 15: 12 [Jesus:] “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Matthew 22: 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with

all your mind [and with all your strength*].’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”                                                                            [*In parallel passage in Mark 12:30]

What is the nature of Christ’s example?

Romans 5: 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Mark 10: 45 [Jesus:] “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

1 John 3: 16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.

And what does Scripture teach us about His Spirit?

Romans 5: 5 …God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Galatians 5: 22 … the fruit of the Spirit is love….

1 John 4: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The aim of His commands, of His example, of His Spirit is love.

1 Timothy 1: 5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

Ephesians 4: 11 It was [Christ] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  …

 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Romans 13: 8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not murder,” “Do not steal,” “Do not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 Corinthians 13: 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  …

 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

So what — Biblically — is “love”?

The love God commands — & displays — is always selfless, others-focused.

Matthew 7: 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Galatians 6: 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Corinthians 10: 24 Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.  …

 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Romans 15: 1 We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

Philippians 2: 1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

 6 Who, being in very nature God,    did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing,    taking the very nature of a servant,    being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man,    he humbled himself    and became obedient to death—       even death on a cross!

To “love,” Biblically, is to seek the good of others, ahead & instead of what I want.

And Who Alone knows & perfectly wants what’s best for everyone in any situation?

And this absolutely, necessarily involves obedience — there is no Biblical love,       repentance, or faith that does not include obedience:

John 14: 23 Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.”

Acts 26: 19 [Paul:] “So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven. 20 First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

2 Corinthians 9: 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ….

John 5: 1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. 2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4 for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

Romans 1: 5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

But it’s obedience on a much bigger scale than we tend to think:

Romans 1: 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Galatians 5: 6 …  The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Romans 14: 23 … everything that does not come from faith is sin.

So the Christian life — the disciple’s life — is a life of turning, by faith,

from sin to love,

from selfishness to selflessness (seeking good for others),

from seeking what we want to seeking what God wants.

In short, the Christian life is a life of turning from our worse ways to God’s better ones.

The Christian life is a whole new way of life.  It is in fact an entirely new life:

John 3: 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2 He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

 3 In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

 4 “How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

 5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6 Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.”

1 Peter 1: 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  …

 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For,

   “All men are like grass,    and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall,  25 but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

   And this is the word that was preached to you.

John 6: 63 [Jesus:] “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

James 1: 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.  …

 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.

John 1: 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.

 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.  …

 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

In fact, the old life must die:

1 Corinthians 15: 35 But someone may ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.  …

 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. …

 50 I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

John 12: 24 [Jesus:] “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

Romans 6: 1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

 11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

There is no possible compromise here, & this is not just selfishness in boundaries.

1 Corinthians 6: 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 15: 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

And this new, Christian life is not contained to Sunday mornings.  It’s not contained at all:

John 8: 31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”

John 15: 1 [Jesus:] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

   5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

   9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

God has called us to repent, to turn, to die even, to our old way of life — self-service, pleasing

ourselves, trying to accomplish our purposes in our strength & our wisdom, for our own

glory — so that we can live a new life, a bigger, better life:

Colossians 3: 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

“in His Name”: with & in Him, under His orders, by His direction, after His example, as His           representatives, with & under & in His authority, for His purposes, with His provision,               in His wisdom, in His power, in His honor, for His glory — & so on

A beautiful picture of the Christian walk, the disciple’s life — no longer living for himself or trying

to justify himself:

Galatians 2: 20 [Paul:] “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Dan Parks

B.A., English Writing, DePauw University
M.F.A, Creative Writing, The University of Alabama

Dan and his wife, Brooke, have attended Faith since 2015. They have two children, Anna-Claire and Isaiah, and live in the North End of Lafayette. Dan helps to coordinate Faith Church North's men's ministries and the greeting team