“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…” (Hebrews 6:1)
Jacob wrestled all night with the angel, holding out for God’s full blessing (Genesis 32: 22-32). I guess he thought he could force God’s hand, which was futile; but he knew what he was after. Because he was so sincere, so determined in his quest for spiritual blessing, he finally won out. God gave Jacob the blessing he sought. Of course, Jacob took a heavy hit – the angel gave him a permanent limp to remind him that God is in charge after all, and He alone is the source of all good. When we get so desperate in our wrestlings with God that we are prepared to obey no matter the cost, the promised power will flow. The turning point for the sinner is called repentance. In the life of a wayward saint it’s sometimes called reconsecration or recommitment. How would you define or describe repentance?
Christians through the ages have described this turning point in a number of ways. Like Jacob, some say they wrestled with God. Some say the love of Jesus overwhelmed them. They realized that rebellion against God is an affront to His love. Others have seen their own arrogance and been humbled by the example of Jesus as the suffering servant. Other words for repentance include yield, surrender, commit, abandon self, change management, get off the throne of my life and let God take His rightful place, or acknowledge Christ’s lordship. No matter how the Spirit breaks through to us, we must finally come to the place where we give in unconditionally. We say, “I quit, you win!” That’s the turning point. Have you had such a turning point since your initial turning to God, your salvation repentance? If you have, write out your story in a paragraph, either here or in your journal.
Here’s a simple summary of how disobedience worked in my life. At first I knew I was. I had started a relationship with Christ and I thought that was enough. I didn’t worry much about what salvation was supposed to produce in my life. Both the goal and the way to the goal were blurry in my thinking, but I sensed something was lacking. Surely Christianity was more than a fire-insurance policy! The Holy Spirit convicted me of my selfishness and wrongdoing. As a result, I turned my life over to Him unconditionally. Unfortunately, I was still in the passive mode. My motto was: “God, You shove and I’ll move.” I wasn’t eager to find out how to make Him happy. I wasn’t trusting Him for any miracle change in my life, but a longing for a more genuine Christian experience began to grow in me. Finally, I had a moment of enlightenment. I realized that He has made full provision to do in me what I can’t do on my own, and He will do it if I only trust Him. I accepted that moment of enlightenment as God’s word to me. I began to trust Him to keep the promises in His Word. I began to grow. I began to understand more about God’s ways and experience the Spirit in my life.
Trust is central to our Christian experience. Trusting comes before yielding. We won’t surrender to God until we trust Him. But trust follows commitment as well. Sometimes “simply trusting” turns out to be not so simple! Since faith is a combination of yielding and trusting, we’ll also consider what we can do to increase our faith. Trust, whether in human beings or in God, must grow. We know that an electric appliance must be plugged in to operate. The plug-in that got me moving had two prongs: trust and yield. Of course, we cannot trust someone we do not know. Faith implies knowledge. To have faith you have to know the Holy Spirit. You must know how He acts, whether or not He is dependable, and how to connect with Him. Ignorance can keep you disconnected. Thus, the three elements of knowing, yielding, and trusting go together. They build upon each other. Stated negatively, three roots can result in failure in the Christian life: ignorance, unbelief, and unyieldedness. What keeps you from trusting God for all He has for you?