By Stan Adams
A few months ago, I was talking with a precious brother in Christ, who is a member of a black congregation nearby. He was concerned about the number of brethren where he attends who seem to have no concept of what repentance is, according to Scripture. He related that the same folks where coming up all the time, and “repenting” of the same thing. He told me how he had handled this, after it went on for several weeks. He told them one Sunday morning that he couldn’t judge anyone’s heart, and he was as willing as anyone to forgive, but that many of them were about to “wear the Lord out”! He told them that he wasn’t too sure whether they were “repenting or reporting.” He expanded on that and let them know that the Lord already knows what we have done, he doesn’t need a report. What the Lord wants us to do is to stop sinning and turn from our evil and not just tell him what we have done and then continue doing it over and over again. I told him I thought he handled it really well, and that I wish more brethren would wake up and see his point. Where he worships is evidently, not the only place where this confusion exists.
Brethren, like many of you, I have been observing many of the antics of some brethren with dismay and disappointment. There seems to be an attitude among many brethren, that “reporting” is enough. Even if they say they do not believe it themselves, many are more than willing and anxious to come to the aid of those who do hold this view. They refuse to speak out and stand firmly for what is right. I think the brother I spoke with, hit the nail on the head. “Reporting” is not enough. It is not scriptural for someone to simply admit to a sin (such as fornication, or unscriptural marriage), and then continue in it. It violates Romans 6:1,2; Matthew 3:8; 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, just to mention a few. Also, repentance carries the idea of not only turning from sin, but also turning to God. It is, if you please, an about face, ceasing from the sin, as well as regretting it.
We all know that the Lord is willing and able to forgive us, as often as we repent. However, he has not promised to forgive anyone for simply reporting.
Brethren, what has happened? Where is our common sense and militance toward error? Have we become, or are we fast approaching, a status as people who will tolerate anything? Will we sell our convictions simply because we admire someone? Will we refuse to preach the truth, on any subject, because it might be “controversial”? I hope that we will not become hirelings who will preach whatever pleases the people. We need to get back to plain old common sense preaching, and need to quit trying to impress folks with how “intelligent” we can be (you can’t fool people but so long, anyway). Brother Eric Norford related to me a statement that I think is great, that was made to him and other preaching students by Dee Bowman at Florida College. It went something like this: “Preaching that does not storm the will is not gospel preaching.” I think that is true. Gospel preaching should never be demoted to an exercise in ear-scratching. We should not shun to declare the whole counsel of God, anywhere we preach. It might mean that we will alienate close associates, or that we will lose support, or be fired, but we can sleep at night, and face ourselves in the mirror the next morning, with a clear conscience before God.
Foy Smith wrote in the Firm Foundation (Vol. 80, No. 5), some years ago, the following admonition:
Brother, roll up your sleeves and thunder forth that message that rocked the hills and vales around Jordan long ago that pierced the hearts and convicted thousands on the day of Pentecost and subsequent days – that vibrated through the hills and valleys of Kentucky and Ohio in the days of the restoration, and that still thrills and influences the hearts of men, when it is given its rightful place and emphasis! Preach it because you love it. Preach it because you are afraid not to preach it. Preach it exactly as it is written, neither fearing nor favoring men. Preach it every time you go into the pulpit like that time will be your last time. Preach it as a “dying man to dying men!”
I have this hanging on my wall in my study and I have made copies for three young preachers whom I have worked with. May we all develop more courage and stamina in preaching, and get back to the simple common sense approach to proclaiming truth.
“Repenting or reporting”? Some have already made their choice, for “reporting.” The only problem is, there is no Scripture for it. Don’t “wear the Lord out, brother!”
Guardian of Truth XXXV: 5, p. 135
March 7, 1991