Calling To Repentance

A Bit At A Time?

"Take it easy! Be Gentle!" . . . This is the cry of many in response to Christians opposing compromise. What am I talking about? Here's an example:

A Christian couple has opinions on godly living. They tend to live exemplary, but feel they can't call for it in others. This couple is closely involved with a woman who's not a Christian. She's divorced and is living with a man. He's relatively nice, and they plan on marriage. She becomes a Christian. The Christian couple doesn't want to say anything about living out of wedlock, since they plan on marrying soon. The couple also refrains from admonishing her not to marry an unbeliever.

This lack of action is based on a certain philosophy:

"Christians shouldn't tread on other believer's toes, lest they offend them, causing them to turn from Christ. If we tread too heavily, they might turn thinking, 'this is too heavy a cost'."

They believe that by slowly nurturing, a little enlightenment at a time, they will accept all, eventually. This is false! I've witnessed this philosophy in action on the scale of a whole church. It took probably 10-years to run its full course. The end result? The ungodly didn't come closer to God and iniquity increased. Non-repentant "Christians" moved up into positions of leadership. Needless to say, the church became a spiritual corpse.


Whats the Bible say about this? Let's start with Jesus' response to the rich young ruler:

And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22

Jesus demanded more than the young man could pay. He was searching and willing to pay some price to obtain eternal life. Jesus' price was too high. Based on the "take it easy" philosophy, Jesus would have to change His tactic. He could have called out after the young man, "Hey, maybe I was a little hasty! How about a compromise, like putting your estate in a trust fund or naming the benefactors of your will as the local poor. You'd still have your money if you suddenly needed it, and the poor would still get full benefit when you pass on." This isn't what Jesus did. This action would have been called, "watering down the gospel."

In Luke's account of the Great Commission, we see the call to repentance is part of the Commission, part of the Gospel:

And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. Luke 24:46-49

To call for only partial repentance, isn't really repentance. It's striking a compromise!


A study like this wouldn't be complete without a look at some men in the Bible and their dealings with this:


We have Phinehas (Numbers 25:1-13). From this passage, we see the strength of his fury in dealing with the sin. We also see God's approval.


Next we have the priest Ezra (Ezra 9:1-10:17). His fury over intermarriage was great. He didn't just say, "What you did was wrong, but since it's been done, just don't anyone else do it." He forced annulments of the marriages.


In Nehemiah you find the same account as Ezra, but read another godly man's response in Nehemiah 13:23-31. Can you imagine displaying such fury over anything in the church today? If you did, everyone would be sure you were loony and very ungodly. How our perspective has changed!


When looking at the godly men of the Old Testament, you can't overlook the prophets. Not just one, either. All of them speak fiercely for a call to repentance. Enoch, Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, the minor prophets. To those who don't like the firm call to repentance, these prophets would prove very offensive, if they met them today.


John the Baptist answered to every sort of sin (Luke 3:7-14). He specifically itemized sin in his call to repent. He even hit the King in his condemnations (Luke 3:19,20). It cost John his life.


Next look at what the Apostle Paul did:

Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:26 To refrain from preaching any of the Bible, is to not preach the whole counsel of God. In this passage, we see that failing to warn them to repent incurs the guilt of that person's behavior and its consequences upon ourselves. To say nothing or to say it mildly, is a terrifying position to be in.

We also see Paul's uncompromising spirit in 1 Corinthians chapter 5, 2 Thess. 3:6,14,15, Gal. 3:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:2,3.


In looking at Jesus, we also see His furious rebukes to the Pharisees, Sadducees, lawyers and scribes of His day (Matthew Ch. 23; Luke 11:39-54). We see His offensive message of being the bread and blood for our life (John Ch. 6). This sermon cost Him all but 12 of His disciples. Look at the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). He knew her heart, so granted forgiveness, but even there He told her "sin no more" (John 8:11). When He ministered to the harlots and publicans, He showed love, but not without calling to repentance. Look at Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). He demonstrated what kind of ministering Jesus was doing. Zacchaeus believed and his cry of conversion declared repentance on a grand scale.


We have looked at godly examples, but I felt a look at one bad example is of great benefit. This man is Eli (1 Samuel 2:12-17,22-36). He found his sons were behaving wickedly and mildly rebuked them. God contacted Eli and told him He would curse Eli's house, because of his failure to correct his sons. A mild, "no, no young man" doesn't count as correction in God's book. In God's eyes, it's as good as doing nothing.


This issue brings up the thought of gentleness. There is a place for gentleness, but not without holiness (Heb. 12:14,15). We find appropriate gentleness described:

And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. 2 Timothy 2:24-26

Note it says "in meekness instructing those..." This meekness denotes an attitude of realizing our weakness. This verse, nevertheless, demands we tell them to turn back to God, that's the "instructing" part. Galatians 6:1,2 says the same thing.

In Ephesians, we're called to speak the truth in love. To hide the truth is certainly not showing love, and to keep silent when rebuke's necessary, is truly unloving:

But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: Ephesians 4:15

Couple that with the following:

Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:17,18

We're to act out of love, and love demands rebuke when sin is present. If you only rebuke what you feel they can handle, and keep silent over the rest, you violate this scripture. A heart that loves God, wants to hear if they're displeasing to God. They're zealous to correct it and want to please and glorify God (Titus 2:14).

We find that a true friend rebukes:

Open rebuke is better than secret love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. Proverbs 27:5,6

He that rebuketh a man afterwards shall find more favour than he that flattereth with the tongue. Proverbs 28:23

We find many verses in Proverbs that show the wise listen to rebuke and the wicked hate reproof:

Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded. Proverbs 13:13

5 A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent. 10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die. 12 A scorner loveth not one that reproveth him: neither will he go unto the wise. 31 The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise. 32 He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. Proverbs 15:5,10,12,31,32

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

In Psalm 119, we see the lover of God seeks correction, not hates it:

Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD. Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart. They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways. Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. O that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes! Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments. I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, when I shall have learned thy righteous judgments. I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. Psalms 119:1-11

If their heart's after God, it will be like Paul's which cried:

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Philippians 3:12-15

They seek perfection and are trusting to have deficiencies revealed, so they can turn from them.


A major problem lies in misconceptions of what the church is and its basis of assembly. People invite non-Christians to church and hope they'll start attending. They do, and think they're Christians. Those who invited them don't rock the boat by truly challenging them with the gospel.

Let's take a quick look at what the church is and its responsibilities. The local church is the assembly of Christians in an area. They gather for worship, teaching, communion, uplifting, challenging, etc. They are a family with family responsibilities. Every family has business that isn't to be aired in public. The church is to evangelize as well as minister to each other. The public needs to be aware there's a difference between family business and evangelistic outreach. If the public attends a family gathering, they need to realize the family has responsibilities to each other. If the individual that has come from the public says they're a Christian, a part of the family, they need to be aware there are family responsibilities, and this family bears its responsibilities. If they are just observers, they need be shown their lost state. We can never condone accepting as part of the body, those who are unsaved. If they haven't been born-again, we can't pretend they're in fellowship along with everyone else. Either a person is saved and is in fellowship along with the family responsibilities, or he's not and needs to understand the difference. To go along with them in make believe, is to help them rest easy in a false position. This act may keep them from ever really making the step into the household of faith (For a more in-depth study of the issue of the church see The Sin of Denominationalism by Darrell Farkas and The Normal Christian Church Life by Watchman Nee.)


Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1,2

This calls for certain gentleness, but also demands action. Silence is not endorsed in this passage.

And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Ephesians 5:11-13

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. John 3:19-21

For those walking in the truth, there's no fear of seeing light or hearing rebuke. Drawing back comes from the love of darkness. Those who love light want darkness in themselves exposed, they want all to be light. If they love light, they also understand the above scriptures call for reproof. ONLY DARKNESS HATES REPROOF!

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. 2 Timothy 3:16,17

We see here the Bible has its primary purpose of reproving and correcting! How can we claim to help anyone if we withhold what the Bible intends them to see?

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 2 Timothy 4:2,3

This passage is clearly not gentle. Man tends to head into corruption. If man's left to himself, he will assuredly go bad. Only by actively working to "reprove, rebuke and exhort" can that trend be changed. In this passage you see the itching ear. That's the one who doesn't want to hear "reproof, rebuke or exhortation." Doesn't that tell you something?

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:15,16

"Holy" is a big word. Does it sound reasonable to say, "someone's partly holy, partly profane"? No, of course not! Impure is impure. This verse calls for complete correction in us. Peter made this call to Christians. If Peter was of the 'take it easy' philosophy, he certainly wouldn't have written these words. He felt this needed repeating!

(The tracts Little Sins and Itching Ears go with this study, and are a necessary compliment to it.)

A manifestation of true love: If a vicious dog came in your yard snarling at your children, would you be gentle to that dog? Out of love for your children, you would kill that dog if necessary.

We love people, but hate the leaven spreading sin (1 Cor. Ch. 5; Gal. 5:9). If the people cleave to sin refusing to let go, we have to cut them off, lest the leaven of sin spread in the body. Gentleness must become firmness when repentance isn't forthcoming. The philosophy of silence isn't taught in the Bible. Fact is, as we've seen, it's condemned. This philosophy is a gangrene in the body. It will spread death if the diseased part isn't removed. This lack of backbone (to stand for what's right and call for it) needs to be repented of. We shouldn't like controversy, but true godliness can't be without it (Matthew 10:34-36). We need to follow Paul's admonitions to have a mind to suffer (1 Cor. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:12; Heb. 11:25; 1 Peter 2:20, 3:14).

Follow that famous call:

"Gird up thy loins now like a man." Job 40:7

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Free to Copy under Creative Commons BY-NC-ND3.0 License by Darrell Farkas
All quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible

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