Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Philip Leads an Ethiopian to Faith in Christ

Bob Wilkin - "Philip Leads an Ethiopian to Faith in Christ"

Zane Hodges - The Sheep and the Goats

Zane Hodges - "The Sheep and the Goats"
This is also a much older recording. Again, the ending is cut off because of how the original tape was recorded.

Zane Hodges - The Rich Young Ruler

Zane Hodges - "The Rich Young Ruler"

This talk is quite a few years old and was rescued from an old cassette tape. The ending is incomplete due to the quality of the original recording equipment.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Repentance Toward God and Faith Toward Our Lord Jesus Christ?

By Bob Wilkin

When Paul spoke to the Ephesian elders in Miletus, he reminded them what he taught publicly and from house to house: “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Is Paul saying that repentance toward God is a condition of eternal life?

No, he is not.

Let’s make a few observations:

1. Paul doesn’t say what the person who repented received.
2. Paul doesn’t say what the person who believed received.
3. The repentance was directed toward God the Father. (Literally the Greek word order is “that which is toward God, repentance.”)
4. The faith was directed toward the Lord Jesus Christ. (Literally the Greek word of is “and faith which is toward our Lord Jesus.”)
5. In Greek repentance and faith are immediately joined with no words in between (“metonoian kai pistin,” repentance and faith).
6. God the Father is not the Lord Jesus Christ.
7. The repentance is directed to one member of the Trinity while faith is directed toward a different member of the Trinity.
8. This verse is addressed to Theophilus, a believer who already knows the saving message.
9. This passage is not evangelistic. Paul was speaking here not only to believers, but to mature believers, the elders of the church of Ephesus.
10. The calls to repentance and faith were part of Paul’s commitment to preach “the whole counsel of God” (20:27). Paul is not narrowly recounting only what he told unbelievers so that they might have eternal life. He is summarizing his ministry to believers and unbelievers.

These observations (combined with the study of the rest of the Bible) lead to several interpretations:

1. Paul is here emphasizing two major aspects of his preaching ministry, repentance and faith.
2. Paul called both Jews and Gentiles to turn from their sins (repentance) in order to escape the deadly consequences of sin in this life.
3. Paul called both Jews and Gentiles to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be born again.
4. Paul did not mix these messages. He never told anyone that if they simply believed in the Lord Jesus that they would escape the deadly consequences of sinful behavior. Nor did he ever tell anyone that if they repented they would be born again.

The change-of-mind view of repentance, which I advocated in my doctoral dissertation, does not explain this passage or other texts in the NT using metanoia and metanoew. Let’s say that we think that repentance is a change of mind about ourselves, recognizing that we are sinners and that our works cannot bring us eternal life. If that were the case, then Paul wouldn’t speak of repentance, which is changing one’s mind, directed toward God. He would speak of repentance, which is changing one’s mind, directed toward ourselves. But the repentance Paul preached was directed not at us and our works, but was directed at God the Father.

People must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be born again. They do not need to change their thinking about God the Father in order to have everlasting life.

If repentance means a decision to turn from one’s sins, it is easy to see how this is directed toward God. The Ninevites repented toward God the Father and He withheld the destruction of Nineveh and its inhabitants (John 3:5-10; compare Matt 12:41).
My Dad was an alcoholic. I urged him to stop drinking. While I didn’t use the word repentance, I was in reality calling my Dad to repentance toward God.

I never told my Dad that if he repented of his sins he would have eternal life. But I often told him that if he simply believed in the Lord Jesus Christ he would have everlasting life.

I preached both messages to my Dad.

Today I preach both messages in my public ministry as well. I call believers and unbelievers to repent of their sins and I call unbelievers to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.