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Repentance From Dead Works (26)

So far in our study of Repentance from Dead Works as the first of six foundational Christian doctrines, we have seen that repentance is a turning away from a course of action which was thought to be a right course, but which has now become convincingly clear to be a wrong course. In turning away from such a wrong course, we must turn to the right course, not to another wrong course. Upon the realization that we were on the wrong track, we not only change to the right course, but we also resolve never to return to the wrong track. Also, where it becomes necessary for a repentant person to make restitution, he must, without delay, and as much as is possible, do so. This is the basic principle of genuine repentance. More specifically though, we have been looking at repentance as it relates to dead works, and, through the study of five of seven churches which existed in the region of Asia Minor in the 1st Century A.D. so far, we have seen from the Lords assessment that dead works include church activities which are done without the love of God in our hearts; the avoidance of persecution and poverty, when it is the will of God for you; tolerating the teaching and propagation of doctrines that contradict the word of God in the church of God; permitting Jezebelsseductive and sensual womento teach in the church, and thereby allow them to cause the redeemed of God to commit fornication and adultery, and, to manifest covetousness and spiritual idolatry; and, doing the work of God for public consumption and for personal aggrandisement, rather than for the glory of God.

Upon alighting on the Lord Jesus assessment of the church in Sardis, we have not been allowed by Him to leave without thoroughly reviewing His comments to those who repented from the sins associated with dead works in that churchhypocrisy, spiritual insensitivity, doing things based on sense, rather than on the word of God, and such like. Revelation 3:5-6: He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. In the sixth verse, we read that the call to repentance is being made to all those who engaged in, or are engaging in dead works, in other churches as wellboth at that time, and in generations ever since, including our generation and beyond!

We saw from our last broadcast that the phrase, He that overcometh refers to all those who are either not engaging in dead works, or, those who would shun the lure to continue to engage in dead works, and turn to God in repentance. To such overcomers, the Lord made three promises of eternal value:
1. They would walk with Him in white raiment, which is the special garment that will be given to all those who enter into heaven.
2. Their names will not be blotted out from the book of life. This is a significant eternal promise, because a person whose name is written in the book of life, may actually have his name removed from that book if he lives contrary to God! And if a persons name is not found in the book of life, he becomes a candidate for hell! If, however, a person continues to live for Christ until he departs this world, his name will never be blotted from the book of life, and he will enter into heaven. Unfortunately, some people have been deceived into believing that by saying a sinners prayer, they will enter into heaven, even when they have not turned away from sinful living! Friend, the truth is that even if you are born again, but live contrary to the word of God, your name will be removed from the book of life, and you will end up in hell! So, we counsel all who are living contrary to the word of God, to repent now, and begin to live in line with Gods will!
3. And lastly, their names (that is, those who overcome) will be proclaimed before God, the Father, and before the angels.

This last promise is what we shall be discussing today. In proclaiming the names of all those whose names are written in the book of life, before the Father, the Lord will, in essence, be openly acknowledging that these people are deserving of honour. In those days, when a person is ushered into the court of a king, and his name is announced in the process, it is because he is an important dignitary. This is particularly true when a victorious soldier from the battle field is being presented to the king for gallantry and for performance over and above the call of duty in the field of battle. In the same way, the additional promise of announcing the names of all those whose names are written in the book of life to God, the Father, is the Lord Jesus way of presenting to His Father, all those who have overcome the battles of life here on earth, and who have been victorious over the devil. What an honour! And, in proclaiming those names before the angels, the Lord wants the angels to be aware that such a person is not to be trifled with, but is to be treated with the utmost regard. In 1 Corinthians 6:3, the bible says that those who make it into heaven will judge angels; so, the Lord will be announcing the names of those who will judge the angels, to the angels; thus letting them know that these are they who will judge them, and hence, should be respected!

In Matthew 10:32-33, the Lord said to His disciples, which includes all those in this present Age who are born again, and who are living by His doctrines, Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Also, in Luke 12:8-9, the Lord said, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God.

What the Lord is saying in both instances is that all those who publicly acknowledge that they belong to Christ, not just with their mouth, but by their lifestyle; these, He will in turn acknowledge before His Father, and the angels, that they indeed belong to Him; and all those who refuse to acknowledge Him as their Lord publicly by their lips and lifestyle; these He will likewise refuse to acknowledge before His Father in heaven. To acknowledge the Lord before men, is to choose to live like Christ lived, and like Christ wants you to live, regardless of whether it would cost you your job, your career, and even your very life. For example, if you work in a place where the norm is to take bribes; to confess Christ is to shun bribery, even if they threaten to sack you, and actually do sack you. If as a policeman, while you were on patrol, an innocent man was murdered in cold blood by one of your patrol colleagues, and you have to make a statement; to confess Christ is to give the right statement, even if you are threatened with death! If you are a lady working in an establishment, and the norm is to dress like a prostitute so that you can make sales particularly from male clients; to confess Christ, is to dress as God approves, whether or not you make the sales quota, even if they sack you. Brethren, the ultimate in the things of God is, who you are listening to: whether it is Christ or menyour boss, your colleagues, fashion, or, this is how we do it, and so on and so forth! On the other hand, to deny Christ is to do what Peter did, when he was asked if he knew Jesus: he not only said that he did not know Him (which is bad enough), but he went on to swear and to publicly declare by an oath that he had never known Jesus; all because he was afraid of being tried along with Jesus. Brethren, many people have denied Christ, and are still denying Christ, in very many ways: when you live like the people of the world doliving by their senses, rather than by faith, you are denying Christ! When you are in competition with other believers in Christ, and even with the world, you are denying Christfor as a believer in Christ, you are to cooperate with other believers, and you are not to copy the manner of the world system, which is competitiveness. One wonders if it is Christ that we are proclaiming when five churches are located in the same three-storey buildingtwo each on a floor, and the fifth on the last floor! There was the sad case of a bishop who unilaterally increased the rent of the space he was using for church services, so that the other churches in the same location would be edged out. What of churches buying up property that another church is located in, and chasing that other church away so that they can occupy the place, and of course, co-opt the members of the church that has been chased awayshame on us, because we are shaming the Name of Christ, and denying Him! Is this really for the gospel, or is it for money? Remember, you cannot serve God and Mammon (which is the spirit of the lust for money and capitalism)! You either love God and hate Mammon, or, you hate God and love Mammonyou cannot love them both! You are either for Jesus or against Himyou cannot have it both ways!

In Luke 14:25-28, the bible documents an event which we want to conclude with And there went great multitudes with him [that is, with the Lord Jesus]: and he turned, and said unto them, If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? My brothers and sisters, the Lord was not moved by the great multitudes that followed Him! In fact at one point, when many of His disciples left because they felt His teachings were hard, He asked the few that remained (twelve in number) if they also wanted to go! There is a cost to being a Christian! This new found Christianity which really is not Christianity, where you are told to recite some words and that that is all there is to Christianity is no Christianity! Friend, Christianity involves the giving up of all things, as well as the signing of a death warrant (that is, the carrying of the cross which is saying, I have made up my mind to die for the cause of the gospel; so onward I go!) The Lord counsels everyone in these verses of scripture to first sit down and count the cost of being a Christian before seeking to receive Him as the Saviour and Lord! Friend, if you have never counted the cost of being a Christian, then, you dont know what you have entered into. Dont be deceived, you will one day reach a point where you will have to take a life-and-death decision regarding following the Lord Jesus Christit is better that you do so now, and begin to pray to God to help you not to deny Him when you reach that life-and-death decision point! And you better believe it; that time has come! It has come in the form of whether or not to go to church to worship God in spite of Boko Haram bombings of churches. It has come in the form of the choice to continue to keep your shop open or to go and worship God during the times and days of service. It has come in the form of whether or not to inflate the value of a contract so as to make returns to unscrupulous people working in the organization awarding the contract. It has come in the form of whether to dress like the people of the worldnaked and shamelessly, or to dress as a true child of Godsoberly and in moderation. My brother, my sister, will your name be announced before the Father and the angels? Or will it be announced before the devil and his demons in hell?

Let us pray!