Repentance / Atonement

I’d like to write about an email conversation I had with a retired pastor recently.  In that conversation he made know to me that he had a grandson in prison (his offense I do not know) who was not only unsaved; he was (and this is that pastors own word) INELIGIBLE for salvation because he was unrepentant of his sins in his heart.  I sent that pastor scripture after scripture but could not alter his belief.  How horrible the results of scriptural confusion.  No man alive on earth is ineligible for the cross-work of Christ.  Repentance prior to salvation is a work and we today are not saved by our works, but by God’s unmerited, undeserved favor (grace) alone.  We do NOT deserve to be saved, but God loves His creation enough (and has future plans for it as well) to do it anyway.

Romans 5:8… “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 

What a beautiful single verse gospel presentation!  Note carefully that Paul writes “while we were YET sinners” that Christ died for us.  This verse does not say that because we were repentant sinners, Christ died.  It says while we were actively sinning, Christ died.  We saw in Walk Worthy part 7, that Israel was commanded to repent (and to be baptized in water) by both John the baptist, Peter and the prophets.  Lets recap quickly via the prophet…

Zechariah 1:2-4… “The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers.  Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.  Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the Lord.

Question:  How was a heathen like me, a stranger to the covenants and promises God made to Israel (Ephesians 2:12), to know anything at all of repentance of my sins; turning from my evil ways; not to mention anything at all about the Lord Himself without anyone telling me?  Neither the prophets, John the baptist, Peter and the 11 or Christ Himself ever left Jerusalem to spread repentance or the gospel of the Kingdom.  They remained in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9).  The Kingdom was postponed due to Israel’s lack of belief in their Messiah.  The “great commission” remains unfulfilled by Israel (and it is NOT ours to go and do).  Praise God that He called Paul from His glorified place in Heaven, that Paul could tell me that while I was YET a sinner, Christ died for me!  I was not a “friend” to Christ in my sins.  Let’s continue on with Paul’s words in:

Romans 5:9-10… “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.  For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Notice carefully the verse states that when we were ENEMIES of God, Christ died for us.  Christ told the twelve that He was dying for His friends.

John 15:13… “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  And that’s what Israel’s Messiah went and did.  He died for His friends and His friends were those who did whatsoever He commanded them (John 15:14).  They repented and got baptized.  That was prophesied since the world began.  That Christ was dying for His enemies was kept secret since the world began and this information was revealed only to the Apostle Paul.  And that is not all, as Paul continues:

Romans 5:11… “And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Paul says that we (believers today) have NOW received the atonement.  That is the only location in the “NT” that the word atonement is used.  I like to break the word apart to see what it means: atonement… AtOneMent… At – One – Ment… we are now, as saved Christians, “at one” with God.  How does Webster define the word?

Atonement: 1) Agreement; concord; reconciliation after enmity or controversy.  2) Expiation; satisfaction or reparation made by giving equivalent for an injury or by doing or suffering that which is received in satisfaction for an offense or injury; with for.

Christ died for my sin.  I am atoned for.  Sin is not my problem.

We know what God says about reconciliation… He has reconciled Himself to the world and is now waiting gracefully for individuals to reconcile themselves to Him (2 Corinthians 5:19-20).  Therefore if an unsaved person, completely unaware of what God in Christ has ALREADY (past tense) done on his behalf; hears the gospel of his salvation (Christ died for his sin – Romans 5:8 above) and simply comes to believe the same; I ask, what role does the repentance of his sins play in that belief?  The natural response to hearing such amazing news is simply to say THANK YOU LORD!  Repentance will very likely set in shortly thereafter…

Before I place an even finer point on this, let me say right up front that any man, woman or child alive today, no matter his race, creed or religion, can simply believe this gospel and receive eternal life in an instant.  Gods grace is free!  Christ died for ALL men everywhere as Paul ALONE reveals in Holy Scripture.  But, you ask, “did not John say the same thing in 3:16?”  NO HE DID NOT.  At that time the WHOLE WORLD still had to approach the nation Israel (Christ’s “friends”) for salvation.  Gentile salvation was by way of Israel (Genesis 12:1-3).  The nation Israel WAS to be (WILL someday be) the channel of blessing from God to the whole world.  It is why they were formed (see: Why Israel?).  The prophet speaks of the 1,000 reign of Christ on earth in…

Zechariah 8:22… “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

This is NOT happening today… Israel is mostly hated throughout the world.  They are as evil as the USA or any other nation on earth, though they wield tremendous influence over many earthly affairs.  God did give His Son that the whole world could attain salvation, but at that time (John 3:16) free grace was absolutely unknown.  Believing “in Him” does not save a man today as it did for Israel; but believing in what He did (died for his sins – mystery kept secret), does.  Good news for Israel (gospel of circumcision – believe “in Him”) and good news for heathen (gospel of uncircumcision – believe what He could do and did).  Two gospels (Galatians 2:7).

If Paul goes out of his way to say that we believers today have NOW received the atonement, that implies that someone else has not yet received it.  That someone else is Israel.  As the Kingdom is postponed, Israel has not yet received her atonement.  National Israel is NOT “at one” today with their Creator God. They missed their Messiah.  Let me say again specifically… any Jewish person alive today can be saved by Gods free grace; Paul’s gospel in Christ Jesus.  Any Jewish person alive today who is waiting for the first coming of his “messiah” (this is almost every Jew alive today – it’s what defines them as a people) is waiting for anti-christ to make his appearance on the world stage, and they will believe that anti-christ is god because anti-christ said he would be like God (Isaiah 14:12-15) and has most of the world fooled already.

When does Israel receive her atonement?  Why MUST they repent (and we not)?  They yet have sin to repent of.  The Kingdom is no longer “at hand”.  Grace is at hand.  The Kingdom (1,000 years long) will be offered again after Gods wrath is poured out on the world when Christ’s enemies (those NOT saved by grace) are destroyed, and He claims His throne.  Follow…

Peter preaches a murder indictment to Israel in:

Acts 2:22-24, 36… “Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.  Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Those who were gathered and heard the Holy Ghost speak thusly through Peter had this response:

Acts 2:37… “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?

They said “oh no, we screwed up, now what do we do?”  Peter answers:

Acts 2:38… “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Note carefully that remission is NOT forgiveness.  Remission is temporary.  Cancer goes into remission.  Sin is soul cancer.  Peter softens the murder charge to “manslaughter” and further clarifies Gods position to another group of Jews in…

Acts 3:17-21… “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.  But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.  Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.  And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

These are some of the most important words spoken during the time when the Kingdom was “at hand”.  Let us dissect them carefully.  Peter (the Holy Ghost) commands that they (those Jews gathered) repent so that their sins could be “blotted out”.  Blotted out is wiped clean, forgiven totally (as ours are today – the atonement complete), not simply remitted.  When does this occur for them?  AFTER repentance “when the times of refreshing come”.  When are the times of refreshing?  When the Lord shows up for the second time… “from the presence of the Lord” (who is currently ascended into heaven and seated at Gods right hand) when God the Father returns Christ Jesus in wrath.  And when does that occur?  AFTER “the times of restitution of all things”, that is AFTER God judges this world of its sin cancer.  After the dispensation of free grace is through.

Note very well that Paul is not yet on the scene and therefore the dispensation of grace is as of yet unrevealed and therefore unknown to anyone, even the angels.

Israels atonement comes at the time of the restitution of all things… that is, Christ’s return (second coming) to earth to claim His rightful throne in Jerusalem.  Israel has not yet been made “at one” with God because they failed to see their Messiah.  One last time… any Jewish person today is free and highly encouraged to recognize that Christ died for their sins (all of them) and accept God’s gift of free grace without any further hesitation.  Paul went to the Jews always first… yet they always wanted to kill him because he took their authority away.  Gentiles no longer had to get to God through them.  Do not wait to go through the great tribulation that is fast approaching the unbelieving, unsaved world.  God has made a new way also written in the blood of Christ which has nothing to do with the promises God the Father made to Israel’s fathers.

People today are not saved the way Israel was saved 2,015+ years ago.  I don’t know how much longer God will be so longsuffering with the world.

Sin today is NOT the issue.  We are forgiven ALL trespasses through Christ (Colossians 2:13).  God made Christ to BE sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).  This was completely unknown to Israel and also the angels (1 Corinthians 2:8).  Today there is no sin to repent of.  Sin was destroyed completely by God on Christ’s cross.  The penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Christ was made to be sin.  God forsook sin (Mark 15:34) and killed sin on that cross (Mark 15:37).  We only know that by way of Pauline hindsight.  Those who were alive during that crucifixion had no idea what God was about to do in beginning the 2,015+ year dispensation of free grace.

Peter WAS aware of these prophetic words however as Paul’s dispensation was dawning on him…

Zechariah 12:10… “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

Zechariah 13:6… “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands?  Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends.

…and spoke these words, his last in the book of Acts…

Acts 15:11… “But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

He says; “shall be saved”.  That is future tense.  The future, when Israel looks upon the One whom they pierced, in mourning and repentance.

Why must Israel constantly repent?  Why does John say…

1 John 1:9… “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

…because their sins are not yet forgiven, just remitted.  This, for the same reason Jesus taught them to pray, “…give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”  If they don’t forgive, they will not be forgiven.  Fortunately, they will be Holy Spirit empowered to forgive.  They will be forgiven completely, made to be “at one” with God (atoned), when Christ sits on His rightful throne.  He is not there today.

I am in a constant state of amazement how supposed Bible believers and professing Christians can read these words and still place themselves under the bondage Israel was under.  They do not comprehend the grace that was given unto Paul to give to the world.  We don’t follow Peter (catholics and protestants – you are both wrong), we follow Paul.  Believers today are AT ONE with God through no effort or merit whatsoever of their own.  God has done it all.  If you, dear reader, do not realize this most simple fact, you are not saved… you are not yet a Christian though you profess to know Christ.  If you are repenting of your sins, you are not aware that God has forgiven you ALL your sins and your very sin nature.  This is the gospel for today.  Christ died for your sins.  You are forgiven all trespasses.  That is the free gift of God which a man must receive.  Believe it, and be saved today.  Amen.

That pastors grandson will not hear the gospel of his salvation from his grandfather because that pastor does not understand the simplicity that is in Christ Jesus as Paul describes in amazing detail throughout 13 Biblical epistles.  The epistles written directly to people today.  Being a retired pastor, he would have to come to immediate terms with the fact that he had been wrong about salvation for his entire “career” and has misled countless numbers of people.  That is a horrible realization.  He is FAR from alone however.  ALL psudo-christian-religion stands with him.  Is it not however, better to realize error now and be able to correct at least some of its results?  Only mans pride stands in the way.  God will make all things manifest in His time however.  Oh, the shame that man will feel… all for lack of literally believing Gods Word.

Next Post… “Sin and the Law (rightful liberty).

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