Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Repentance

Update - April 20, 2106

A few days ago I came upon an article at the website for Open Doors titled Muslims Turn to Christ in Unprecedented Numbers. It was posted on February 10, 2016 and advances the idea, that Muslims are embracing Christianity as a result of visions of seeing and speaking to someone they identify as Jesus.

I posted a comment and received feedback from 2 other posters - Walter and Carla. By the time I was able to respond, only Walter's post is still showing, so am not sure what happened to Carla's. However, I did reply to both of them, quoting the relevant portion of Carla's post.

Download a free PDF of the original article posted March 19, 2014.

I began reading Tom Doyle's Dreams and Visions a few weeks ago. and am writing this article after reading the first chapter. I assume that a writer (any writer) is going to establish in his first chapter the direction he intends to go in the rest of the book. Upon completion of this article, I intend to finish reading the book and read a similar book, Which None Can Shut, by Reema Goode.

The question at the heart of the book is whether or not God is presenting Himself to Muslims in dreams that ultimately lead to their being evangelized and becoming disciples of Christ. The first chapter does not encourage me to believe that God is doing such.

Before I briefly examine the story told in that first chapter, it is necessary to establish what the true Gospel is. Not all that passes for the Gospel is the true biblical Gospel. In two separate passages in the writings of Paul he speaks of another Jesus and a different Gospel.

2 Corinthians 11:4

For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted-you may well put up with it! [emphaisis mine]

Galatians 1:6-9

I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. [emphaisis mine]

Since there is other Jesus and a different gospel, it is incumbent upon believers to make sure that we proclaim the true gospel. It is easy for believers to recognize the false religions that reject the Bible completely. In contrast, it is more difficult to recognize different gospels that contain a substantial amount of truth. In other words, religions that are wholly untrue are fairly easy to identify, but gospels that are NOT wholly untrue, but which contain significant truth, are much harder to detect. It's not so much what the false gospels include as it is what is excluded that shows them to be false. A false gospel will focus on a portion of the gospel, while ignoring the foundation of the gospel.

The true gospel focuses on man's greatest need-that of a Savior-and is a gospel that requires repentance and faith. Any gospel that leaves out repentance and faith is a false gospel. Sadly, in many otherwise good churches, the message of repentance and faith is passed over in preaching, thus presenting a partial gospel that is missing the foundation. I don't believe an individual can be truly born again if all they have heard and affirmed is a partial Gospel.

John MacArthur, in The Gospel According to Jesus, writes:

Any message that fails to define and confront the severity of personal sin is a deficient gospel. [p.67]

NOTE: page numbers are from the 1994 edition.

He goes on to add:

This is the theme of the gospel according to Jesus. He came to call sinners to repentance. The corollary is that until people have been brought to see that they are sinners, until they realize their thirst, until they feel the weight of sin and long to be rid of it, the Lord will not give them salvation. [p.72]

Here are some passages that speak to the necessity of repentance:

1 Kings 8:46-51

When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, 'We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness'; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You; and grant them compassion before those who took them captive, that they may have compassion on them (for they are Your people and Your inheritance, whom You brought out of Egypt, out of the iron furnace),

Matthew, Mark, and Luke record that John the Baptist preached a message of repentance.

Matthew 3:2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Mark 1:4-6

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Luke 3:3

And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

The Gospels also record that Jesus himself preached repentance.

Matthew 4:17

Jesus began to preach, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

Mark 1:14-15

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

Luke 5:32

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.

Luke ends his Gospel by stating that "repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).

In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter ends his message with a call to repentance:

Acts 2:38

And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Paul, preaching to the philosophers in Athens, also ends his sermon with a call to repentance:

Acts 17:30

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

MacArthur notes that "repentance has always been the foundation of the New Testament call to salvation. [p.183]"

One of the remarkable features of the Gospel that commands repentance is that God provides both repentance and faith as gifts which then actuate in belief.

In Acts 11, when Peter explains to the "apostles and brethren who were in Judea" that "Gentiles had also received the word of God," they respond by glorifying God because he "has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life" (Acts 11:18).

In 2 Timothy 2:24-26, we again read about God granting repentance.

And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

In 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Paul notes that "not all have faith," and in 2 Peter 1:1, Peter addresses his letter to "those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ."

The true Gospel focuses on mankind's need of a Savior and shows that God provides the necessary repentance and faith that obtains salvation. A gospel that ignores repentance is a different Gospel.

In Doyle's book we learn that Noor's husband has taken a fourth wife, who is much younger and more beautiful. Dream Jesus walks beside her along a lake and professes a great love for her, leaving her with a feeling of great peace. He instructs her to find Kamal, who will answer her questions. The following day she finds him in the market and shares the dream with him and they converse for some period of time.

Dream Jesus is presented as a lover not a Savior, and yet her greatest need (like all mankind) is for a Savior. From her perspective, Noor's greatest need is for someone to love her as her husband used to, and Dream Jesus is just that person. It's also interesting to note that she has peace even before she becomes a believer. When she meets Kamal he answers her questions and asks her if she is willing to be persecuted and to die for Dream Jesus. What is glaringly missing from the story is any discussion of her need to repent. Neither Dream Jesus nor Kamal says anything to her about her sin and the necessity of repentance. There's talk about the failure of religion, her giving herself to Jesus, persecution that probably will follow, but nothing about her sin and the necessity of repentance. This Dream Jesus is very different from the Jesus who meets a Samaritan woman at the well, recorded in John 4.

We noted 2 Corinthians 11:4 above, and further in that chapter we're told that Satan disguises "himself as an angel of light" (v.14). Based on Doyle's first chapter, I believe that Dream Jesus is not the real Jesus, but is in fact an angel of light.

Dennis McBride wrote a lengthy article on the subject for the monthly publication Think on These Things. It was published in two parts in 2013. The following is from Part 1:

What Isa Doesn't Say: I'm most struck by what Isa doesn't say in the accounts I've read. Although the encounters are said to prepare the dreamers for the gospel, there is little or no mention of sin, repentance, confession, righteousness, or forgiveness; and no presentation of God's holiness or justice. Simply put, the need for salvation isn't clarified (or in some cases even mentioned), yet that was at the heart of Christ's communication with unbelievers when He was on earth. But Isa's "gospel" is minimalistic and void of any clear and concise call to repentance. Gospel clarity and precision would be especially important for those Muslims who don't have a biblical background to draw from and who would therefore need to understand what God requires of them.

Does Isa Pass the Test? Jesus used a variety of approaches when speaking with unbelievers, depending on the individual or group (e.g., Nicodemus, Rich Young Ruler, Woman at the Well), but typically He identified who He was, confronted their sin, called them to repentance, called them to believe in Him, cautioned them to count the cost of discipleship, and then to take up their crosses daily and follow Him. He didn't state all those elements in every case, but collectively they constituted the thrust of His message.

By way of contrast, Isa typically identifies who he is (or the dreamer instinctively knows who he is), and tells the dreamer he loves him and wants him (the dreamer) to follow him (Isa). Sometimes the dreamer is overwhelmed with a sense of love and peace just by being in Isa's presence (which was never the case with unbelievers in the presence of Jesus). So the message that emerges is one of believing in Isa and following him apparently apart from the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

The full text of McBride's two-part article can be found here:

Part 1

Part 2


Here are more resources on the subject:

Muslim Dreams and Visions of Jesus by Fred Butler

Thoughts About Muslims Seeing Jesus also by Fred Butler

Don't You Believe It by Richard Fisher


Scripture taken from the New King James Version.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.