Friday, August 05, 2011

Repent, part 2


I finally decided to do a little looking into the word "repent" from scripture. Among we evangelicals there is somewhat of a "divergence" as to what repentance actually is?

If one were to look in the notes of the Ryrie Study Bible under his article on "Salvation" one would find Dr. Ryrie has a section that he calls "false additions to salvation." Among the several things he presents as false additions is "repentance." His statement goes something like this, "If one makes repentance a requirement for salvation then one makes repentance a 'work' and this makes salvation a 'work' of man, something man must 'work' for." (this is my paraphrase, but it is what he states.)

So ... we have this divergence about the necessity for "repentance." We have the camp of those that say for example, following Dr. Ryrie's logic, "Believe Plus Nothing." In other words they make a strong differentiation between "believing" and "repenting." And we have those that make "repentance" a fundamental part of the confession of/for salvation .... so it becomes a pretty wide gap of understanding ... and some will actually make it a "test of fellowship." (If you know what that means!)

Anyway ... I decided to do my own little study from the scriptures to come to some kind of personal .... conclusion of the matter. What I found was frankly a surprise to me! I have always liked the idea that the first use of a word in scripture gives a special significance to the use of that word in the rest of scripture ... the theory or principle of "1st use" if you will. So I decided to find where the word 'repent' was 1st used in our text. That is where the surprise came from. The Hebrew word is actually used 1st in Genesis 5:29, and used there 2 times. Here is the verse from the HCSB:
Genesis 5: 28-29, "Lamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. 29 And he named him Noah, saying, "This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the Lord has cursed."
The 2 times used are the name 'Noah' itself, and the word 'relief' in our text. Noah being the noun form of the verb 'relief' ... the Hebrew 'nĂ¢cham'. Of course, reading simply from our English texts one would not know that this is our word for 'repent'.

As I have thought about this, the impact/implications are both amazing and fun to me!

The 1st use of the word is in fact a freeing of the individual, and creation itself, from the curse of harsh labor as a result of the fall and the curse of the ground by God. As a result of this I have come up with what I think is the appropriate biblical definition of repent, and that being, "cease your labor." So now I have been going casually through the scriptures applying my little definition in the place of the word when reading. For example, In Matthew 4:17 where Jesus says, "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" ... I read, "Cease your labor, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!"

Therefore, the call to repentance has taken on a whole new meaning to me. Instead of repentance being a call to "do" something ... it has become a call to "stop" our religious labor, which is the result of the fall, and receive/enjoy/exult in what God has done/accomplished through the work of salvation by the work Christ did ... on Calvary.

xtnyoda, ahalomed

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