Tuesday, December 19, 2006

YOUR SWORD FIRST by Charles Woodruff

A French officer, whose ship had been captured by British Admiral Nelson, was brought on board the latter's flagship. He walked up to the great Admiral and offered him his hand. "No," said Nelson: "Your sword first, if you please."

There are people today who would take Christ's hand. They tell the world they have made a "decision for Christ." They want to identify with Him, at least enough to hopefully receive the benefits of heaven. But, Christ says to them: ''Repent ye" (Mark 1:15 & Luke 13:3). He is saying in essence "Your sword first; you must lay down your weapons of rebellion." You cannot become His friend until He is acknowledged as your Lord (see Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Colossians 2:6).

You see, repentance is just this — a surrender. And when you surrender you do not keep your weapons. The war is over! You throw yourself at the mercy of your former enemy. The one you opposed and fought has you at His mercy. It is up to Him whether to save you or destroy you (James 4:12). Your will must bow to His or it is not a surrender. In other words, you must acknowledge Christ's Lordship in true conversion.

Of course, in evangelical repentance your surrender includes the idea of agreeing with a holy God that you are a hell-deserving sinner. True repentance does not argue with scripture, which declares that "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). "There is none righteous no, not one" (Rom. 3:10). "And all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags" (Isa. 64:6).

True repentance is a gift given by God's grace as a direct result of His goodness (Rom. 2:4). In 2 Corinthians 7:10 we note that, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation," and that this salvation is "not to be repented of." Many there are who have supposedly trusted Christ and yet have turned right around and picked back up their sword. With such the war is not over! “True repentance is inward, not merely external or superficial.” (Sinclair Ferguson)

I believe one of the biggest reasons why present day churches are full of rebels and "nominal Christians" is because repentance is a very missing note in most pulpits. People are not being taught that they are found guilty of treason, by the verdict of God's holy law, against the Lord of glory, and the law pronounces a terrible curse for this (Galatians 3:10; James 2:10). Our only escape is the mercy of God (Rom. 9:15-16).

“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” (Acts 3:19).

Have you laid down your sword?

"When you see a poor blind man here, you do not loathe him, nor hate him, but you pity him. Oh! But soul-blindness makes you abominable in the sight of God." (Thomas Brooks)

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