PDA

View Full Version : Information Have you Repented ?



Rullion Green
Oct 16th 2009, 10:31 AM
I Can’t Repent

This article is taken from Spencer's incredible two-volume book, A Pastor's Sketches. [1853].

"I can’t repent," said he, (with a sort of determined and despairing accent, and so loudly as to startle us all.) Instantly, I felt sorry for this expression. But I thought it would not do to avoid noticing it, and leave it sounding in the ears of so many impenitent sinners. I immediately answered, as I stood before him, as gently and yet solemnly as I could: —"What an awfully wicked heart you must have! You can’t repent! You love sin so well; that you cannot be sorry for it — you cannot forsake it — you cannot hate it! — You must be in an awful condition indeed! You are so much the enemy of God; that you cannot be sorry for having offended him — you cannot cease to contend against him — and even now, while you are sensible of the impropriety and unhappiness of it, you cannot cease to resist the Holy Spirit, who strives with you to bring you to repentance! — You must have an awfully depraved heart!"

"I can’t repent," said he again, (with an accent of grief and intolerable vexation) — "I can’t repent, with such a heart!"

"That means," said I, "that you have become too wicked to desire to become any better; for nothing but wickedness makes repentance difficult. And then, you just plead one sin, as an excuse for another — the sin of your heart, as an excuse for the continued sin of your heart!"

Still he insisted. "I can’t repent! I should if I could!" — (and the tears rolled down his cheeks, of which he seemed to ho utterly unconscious, as well as unconscious of the presence of any one but myself.)

"You would if you could," said I, "is only a self-righteous and self-justifying excuse. Your deceitful heart means by it, that you are not so wicked as to continue in your impenitence willingly. It means that you are willing to repent, but you cannot. You are deceived. You are not willing. You think you are, but you are in an error. You never will be willing, unless God shall verify in you the promise, ‘My people shall be willing in the day of my power.’ In that power lies your only hope, as I have told you before, when I urged you to pray. If you are willing to repent, what hinders you? I am willing you should repent. All of us here are willing. Every angel in heaven is willing you should repent. Christ who died to redeem you is willing. God the Father is willing. The Holy Spirit is willing, who, at this moment strives with you to bring you to repentance. What hinders you, then? Yourself only! And when you say you can’t repent, you mean that you are not to be blamed for coming here to-night with an impenitent heart. You are woefully deceived! God blames you! The whole Bible blames you! Your own conscience, though you strive to silence it, blames you! — This excuse will not stand!"

"I can’t repent!" said he again, (in a harsh, vociferating voice, as if in anger.)

"Then God can’t save you," said I; "for he cannot lie, and he has said the impenitent shall be destroyed! You say you cannot repent. He has not said so. He commands you to repent."

He replied, with much agitation, but in a subdued tone: — "I am sure I have tried long; and my mind has been greatly tormented. All has done no good. I do not see as I can repent!"

"Other people have repented," said I. "There are a great many penitents in the world. I find there are some here to-night, who think they have come to repentance, since they were here last Sabbath evening. One of them told me then, very much the same thing you tell me now, that it did not seem to him he ever could turn from sin; but he has found out he can. As to your having tried so long, the length of time will not save you if a man has got his face turned the wrong way, the longer he goes on, the worse off he becomes. He would do well to stop, and turn about. Such is the call of the Bible: ‘Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die? Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions, so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord.’ Other people have turned to God, and you ought to. But your mind has seized on the idea of your trying and your trouble, and you make an excuse and a self-righteousness of them."

"Do you think I am self-righteous?" said he.

"I know you are. That is your grand difficulty. You have been trying to save yourself. You are trying now. When you tried to repent, your heart aimed after repentance, as something to recommend you to God, and constitute a reason why he should forgive and save you. It was just an operation of a self-righteous spirit. It was just an attempt to save yourself, to have your religion save you, instead of relying by faith upon Jesus Christ, to be saved from wrath through him. This is precisely the case with every impenitent sinner. The error is one. The forms of it may be various; but in all cases it is substantially the same thing. St. Paul has given a perfect description of it: ‘going about,’ (from one thing to another, from one device or attempt to another,) ‘going about to establish a righteousness of their own, they have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God; for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ One man tries to establish a righteousness of his own, out of his reformations; another one, out of his duties; another, out of his painful attempts or painful convictions; as you just now mentioned your own torments of mind. It is evident, that you are trying to be righteous before God, through your pain — and your attempted penitence. And if you should find any peace of mind in that way; it would only be a deception, not an item of religion in it. You ought to betake yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ, a poor, guilty, undone sinner, to be saved by him alone — saved by grace. You ought to go to him, just as you are, to be washed in his blood, to be clothed in his righteousness, to be sheltered from the thunders of God’s eternal law, in the security of his all-sufficient atonement. You ought to flee to Christ, like the man-slayer to the city of refuge, before he is cut down by the sword of the avenger of blood. You ought to go instantly, like the prodigal to his father, in all his poverty, starvation, and rags, as well as guilt. You ought to cry, like Peter sinking in the waves, "Lord, save me." But instead of this, you are just looking to yourself, striving to find something, or make something in your own heart, which shall recommend you to God. And in this miserable way, you are making salvation a far more difficult matter, than God has made it. You have forgotten the free grace of the gospel, the full atonement of Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of himself."

"But," said he, "I can’t repent and come to Christ, of myself."

"I certainly never said you could; and never wished you to think you could. In my opinion, God does not wish you to think so. And if you have found out, that you cannot repent of yourself, aside from divine aid, I am glad of it — you have found out an important truth. Most certainly God does not tell you to repent of yourself. He tells you, that ‘Christ is exalted to give repentance.’ He says to every sinner, ‘Thou hast destroyed thyself, in me is thy help: let him take hold on my strength that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.’ On the ground that they need it, he has promised ‘the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.’ God never expects you to repent, without divine aid, but with it. He knows you are too wicked to do it, that you are without strength, helpless, undone, a lost sinner! — And here lies the very heart of your error. You have been trying to repent, in a way that God never told you, just by your own powers, instead of trying to get God to have mercy upon you, and save you by his help. You have been looking to the powers within you, instead of looking to the aid above you. You have trusted to yourself, instead of trusting yourself to the grace of Christ. And that is the very reason why you have failed; and now you complain, that you cannot repent; while, in reality, you have exactly the same sufficiency, as the penitent all around you. What has been their help, may be your help. And the sooner you are driven off from all that self-seeking and self-reliance, the better it will be for you. You are in the double error of undervaluing the character of God, and over-valuing your own. God is more merciful and more gracious, than you think him to be. He is more ready to save you. And when he commands you to repent, he does not wish you to forget, that all your hope lies in the immediate aid of his Holy Spirit. Nor does he wish you to attempt to dispense with that proffered assistance, by your not believing, that you are as utterly helpless as you really are. He does not tell you to rely upon your own shattered strength; but you have done so. And when you have failed, you then turn round and complain, that you ‘can’t repent.’ You reject his offered help — the help of the omnipotent Spirit. And for this reason, you will be the more criminal, if you do not repent. That Divine Spirit is your only hope. If he leaves you to yourself, you are lost — eternally lost! Tread softly, my dear friend! The ground whereon thou standest is holy ground! Let not the Holy Spirit, who presides over the souls here this evening, bear witness against you in the day of the final judgment, — ‘because I have called and ye refused!’ You can repent; just in the way that others repent; just because God is your help. Trust him; and rely upon yourself no longer."

As I was saying these things, he appeared to become much less affected, but much more thoughtful. His tears and his agitations ceased; and he seemed to hang upon my lips, as if he was listening to some new wonder. When I had done, all was hushed as death; and in a deliberate, subdued, and solemn tone, he broke that expressive silence, saying: — "I hope, my God will help me."

"Let us pray," said I; — and a short prayer, pleading for God’s help, closed the exercises of the evening.

I afterwards found numerous reasons for believing, that that was one of the most profitable religious exercises, that I ever attended. Among others was the case of my friend, whose expression had drawn me somewhat out of my proposed mode of conducting the exercises of the evening. He became, as he hoped, a true believer. He stated to me the exercises of his mind, his repentance, his faith in Christ, his peace and hope, and his reliance upon the Holy Spirit. His mind appeared to seize upon the great truths of the gospel, almost without emotion. He had no ecstacy, no exultation, no joy. He had only peace and hope. lie told me, that his agitations had all been useless to him; that they were not faith and did not lead to faith; and that he thought "sinners ought to attend to the calls of God, in a believing and business manner." And when I asked him what had kept him from Christ so long, he replied: "I was trying to make myself better — to have a religion instead of trusting in Christ. What you said to me that night, showed me my mistake; and I went home with a deeper sense of my dependence, and a clear view of the free grace of God to sinners, through the redemption of Christ."

About six months after this he united with the church, and has continued to manifest an established and uniform faith.

To cut off the sinner from all reliance upon himself, his merits and his powers; and throw him, naked and helpless, into the hands of the Holy Spirit to lead him to Christ in faith; should be the one great aim of the ministry.

Sinners certainly ought to repent, for God commands them to repent. But in my opinion, he does not design to have them understand his command, as having respect only to their own ability to repent, and not having respect to the proffered aids of the Holy Spirit. Such aids constitute one grand ground on which his command is obligatory, and sweep away every possible excuse. No man ever did repent without the Holy Spirit, or ever will; and this is no small amount of proof that no man ever can. Nothing seems to be gained by making a sinner believe that he is able to repent without divine assistance. Such a belief will be very likely to mislead him to a reliance upon his own shattered strength And as to his conviction of criminality for not coming to repentance, surely there is strong ground for such conviction, since God offers him all the ability he needs, — in me is thy help, — let him take hold on my strength that he may make peace with me.

Quickened
Oct 16th 2009, 11:00 AM
This is slightly off topic but Spencer's book is awesome. I love the insight. There's a ton of great stories in there!!! Really pleased to see someone else read this!

In this excerpt i think its something that occurs alot. Obviously this man had a head knowledge of what was sin and it was something that he struggled with. He wanted to obtain righteousness yet by his own works.

I think thats why we see people backslide so much with the same sins. They try to do something on their own. While trying to "get right with God" they inadvertantly distance themselves and attempt such a feat on thier own.

I like how Ichabod brings the focus back on Christ


You ought to go to him, just as you are, to be washed in his blood, to be clothed in his righteousness, to be sheltered from the thunders of God’s eternal law, in the security of his all-sufficient atonement. You ought to flee to Christ, like the man-slayer to the city of refuge, before he is cut down by the sword of the avenger of blood. You ought to go instantly, like the prodigal to his father, in all his poverty, starvation, and rags, as well as guilt. You ought to cry, like Peter sinking in the waves, "Lord, save me." But instead of this, you are just looking to yourself, striving to find something, or make something in your own heart, which shall recommend you to God. And in this miserable way, you are making salvation a far more difficult matter, than God has made it. You have forgotten the free grace of the gospel, the full atonement of Jesus Christ, by the sacrifice of himself."

What better comparison then the prodigal? The prodigal realizes his situation and in his poverty and depravity gets up and runs to the father first and foremost.

As should we! The first step in repentance should be to run to God and bring our faults before him seeking forgiveness!


Luk 15:21 And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'


Its a step that sometimes is skipped. Repentence does not mean to merely just cease a particular action. It is incorporated with seeking forgiveness first and foremost. Addressing our heavenly Father in prayer. Seeking forgiveness and strength. To rely on Him to overcome sin and temptation! As in the Lord's prayer!

Can we do these things apart from the Lord? No. Pastor Spencer wisely points to Christ and to go to Him!

RabbiKnife
Oct 16th 2009, 11:03 AM
An unregenerated person can only repent -- "metanoia" -- literally, "change the mind" about one thing.....the sufficiency of the grace of God through Christ.

Regenerated persons can....and often throughout their lives as a believer ... repent of their behavior, attitudes, and thoughts.

An unsaved man can no more "repent" of his acts and deeds of unrighteousness than a cadaver can tie his shoes, no matter how badly they need tying.

Great post.]