I (Paul) did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ …. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God …. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God …. And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified. Acts 20:20-21, 24, 27, 32
And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: “God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get. But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was unwilling even to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 18:9-14
Today’s thoughts from today’s verse:
For the rest of the week we will begin each day’s Devotional looking at the portion of Acts 20 that is highlighted before we look at the next highlighted portion of our parable from Luke 18. Yesterday from Ephesians 3 we saw a statement from the Apostle Paul that described his call to be a minister of the gospel of grace. Our Acts 20 passage is a great description of him fulfilling that calling. Today’s highlighted portion says that the gospel of grace is all about “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” We join the Apostle Paul in being an agent of the gospel at the very moment we become a recipient of the gospel.
In essence we are called to help others do what we have done. If we are going to help someone with a response to the gospel that brings them to full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we need to take a closer look at our own understanding and experience with repentance and faith. Full repentance is more than just acknowledging our sin and sinfulness. A full repentance needs to get to the core of the matter which is this: God created us for himself to do with us whatever he desires and we chose to ignore him, not be available to him for whatever he desired for us, and we went our own way and did our own thing.
Turning from this rebellion and getting it right is not what repentance is about. Only Christ can turn our lives around so that we life fully for God. Repentance is an about face in perspective – a deep conviction that in rebellion against God we have existed for ourselves rather than him. Faith is all about seeing our need of a Savior who will rescue us from the plight of living for ourselves rather than God. It is receiving the forgiveness of sins so that Christ can live in us through the Holy Spirit and change us into someone who lives fully for God instead of someone who lives for themselves. Checking the foundation of our own repentance and faith and shoring things up with God will go a long way at helping us be agents of the gospel that are dedicated to the goal of bringing the gospel to a world that desperately needs to be rescued through full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today’s highlighted portion from our Luke 18 parable tells us of two men who went into the temple to pray. The first is a Pharisee who thinks he is all squared away with God (we will consider what the Pharisee has to say about this in tomorrow’s Devotional). The second is a tax collector who knows very well that he is not squared away with God (we will consider what the tax collector has to say about this in the following day’s Devotional). It is the difference in how these two men see themselves before God that serves as a line of demarcation for each and every human being down through ages. Being on one side of the line or the other will give a clear forecast to what one’s response will be to the gospel of grace. This is because the side of the line one is on shows whether they are able to respond to Christ in full repentance and faith or not.
Today’s prayer response from today’s thoughts:
Lord, I reaffirm my own repentance and faith and take my place before you accordingly. You are my Master and I am your servant. You do not exist for me but rather I exist for you. May others see that this is truly the kind of relationship I have with you. May they see the miracle of it and be drawn to you. Grant that I might live fully for you and be one who fully helps others respond to the gospel in a way that brings them to full repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen