I recently stumbled across two intersecting lines of Divine Providence. A book I had wanted to buy for forty years was reprinted and is now available at a good price, and the same day I saw the ad for the book I found a website that offered the book as a free download. The book is by Harry Ironside and is titled Except Ye Repent. You can download it or read it at http://www.wholesomewords.org/siteindex.html (a good website to bookmark.)
The doctrine of repentance has fallen on hard times in many churches. We preach much about faith, but are strangely silent on the subject of repentance. These two essential doctrines, repentance and faith, are the femurs of the body of Christ. By that I mean that they are the longest and strongest bones in our doctrinal skeleton. They are the load bearing framework of truth in our preaching that makes the long strides of evangelistic work possible. They provide the balance we need to stand against the wiles of the Devil. On these we run the race with patience. By these we bear one another's burdens. This is not to make light of the glorious gospel of Christ. Surely that is the heart of the body. Nor is it intended to ignore the authority of Christ as head of the church, But the femurs must be repentance and faith. Dr. Paul Brand once told of a man he examined who had no tibia in one of his legs. His foot was held in place by a brace he wore over the outside of his leg. So it is in the body of Christ, the loss of any part of our doctrinal skeleton will require us to replace it with an invention of man, and will impede our walk, our warnings, and our warfare. Fundamental churches are in dire need of sound, doctrinal preaching. In a world that resembles Ezekiel's valley of dry bones with all its scattered and lifeless philosophies, pastors who are committed to preaching the whole counsel of God display to men the skeletal framework of sound doctrine. There is a tendency, as Tom Malone once said, for modern churches to be composed mostly of jawbone and wishbone and lacking in backbone. It is only when we assemble the whole “skeleton” together, including the femurs of repentance and faith, that the life of the body of Christ can be what God intended.
So what about the doctrine of repentance? Is it only an Old Testament doctrine and no longer needed by the church? Is it a work for salvation? Is it the same as faith? Is it absent from the preaching of Christ and the apostles?
I see some very interesting sights as I look out my window on the world. I see men, good men, looking everywhere but in the Word of God for answers to these questions. It is this simple observation that troubles me. Isn't the man of God to look first to God by looking in the Scriptures for answers? Even without Harry Ironside's book, or anybody else's books or sermons, I should be able to dig out the truth about repentance by simply consulting a concordance and then studying every verse in the Bible on the subject. After all, in the words of the old black preacher, “The Bible sho' do throw a lot of light on that there commentary.
Repentance is not just an Old Testament doctrine. It is not a work for salvation and never was. It is a change of mind that involves a change of attitude toward myself, my sin, and my God. It is a change of mind that can no longer tolerate disobedience to God. It is as much a forerunner of faith as John the Baptist (with his clarion call for Israel to repent!) was to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is as inseparable from saving faith as John was from Christ. It is the continual experience of the saints, whether it is Job (42:5,6) or Peter, or Paul, or the Corinthian church members (II Cor. 7:8-11). It is as old as the book of Job and as new as the book of Revelation.
There are strange people on the streets these days. Body piercings and mutilations of every kind shock us speechless. But surely the worst mutilation of all is that of the body of Christ, scarred and twisted almost beyond recognition by pastors who are forever removing the doctrinal and structural framework of our faith. One of the Hollywood harlots of years ago is reported to have had two of her lower ribs removed in order to enhance her figure. We scoff at this mutilation and then turn a blind eye toward present day mutilation of the body of Christ. I
visited one of these mutilated churches not long ago for an ordination service (never again!) The head elder preached his Calvinistic errors to a congregation of ecumenical hippies, old and young. The pianist, in his baseball cap and tattered jeans played his five note CCM chorus (of 25 verses) and the congregation waved their hands in the air and shouted hallelujah. Oh yes, and the candlesticks on the platform were filled with votive candles, burning brightly.
How did a Baptist church come to this mutilated distortion of the Christian faith? It's quite simple, somewhere along the way, the church did what teens are doing all over the world. The church decided it was stylish to mutilate the body by adding to or taking away from that “form of sound words” (2 Tim. 1:13) which is given us in the Holy Scriptures.
I suspect the world is watching to see how long we can remain standing after we have discarded the femur of repentance.
No church has ever stood for long or gone far on one leg.
Isn't it about time to go back to the Bible and get our other leg back?
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials