By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
There is a verse in the Bible that calls us back to our roots, as far as our faith is concerned. It says, “It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith that was ‘once [i.e., originally]’ delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3, brackets mine).
We live in a very Antichristian culture. That means that there is a replete, perverse, and counterfeit version of Christianity that has been popularized and normalized into the whole mainstream society. And what’s worse, it is completely normalized into the Church too. And, the consequences for buying into that counterfeit may end up being eternal for you. Apostle Peter warns, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (2Peter 3:17).
So, for a moment, I want to look back at exactly what was “the faith that was originally delivered to the saints.” As a matter of fact, let’s get clarity on what were the very first words of our Lord Jesus with reference to the gospel message.
14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 And saying,The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: REPENT ye, and believe the gospel. Matthew 1:14-15
The Lord Jesus Christ, in these opening words of his ministry, said “REPENT.” As a matter of fact, we preachers often gloss over that and go straight to “believe.” Jesus however, announced repentance as a mandatory and necessary precursor to faith. And, a little ways down the road, in case there was a doubt in anyone’s mind, he spelled out the terms of the repentance he required, so that we could not miss it.,
And Jesus said to them all, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” Luke 9:23
The word ‘repent’ comes from a Greek word meaning to “change the mind.” But in Luke 9:23, Jesus added some meat to the bare bones of that definition. He broke down that definition, and reissued it in bullet-point form, in a breakdown of three statements.
- Deny yourself – Here ‘deny’ carries the force and connotation of: to say “No” to one’s SELF. This is not a mere call to put down any one or several vices that we may be aware of. No! Jesus is calling us to deal with the root of the whole tree of sin, which is the “SELF.” We are called to renounce all supposed right to try to rule our own lives. We are to totally disavow all claim to self-service as a lifestyle, or to live by any code of self-preservation. This is a complete rejection of all former belief that our life is our own. We turn around and say, “God, I am turning myself in to you. I now acknowledge that you own me.” We say ‘No’ to self, but “Yes,” always ‘yes’ to the Lord.
- Take up your cross daily – There is a song sung at Easter time that capsulizes the meaning of the cross. “On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross, the emblem of SUFFERING and SHAME.” Taking up YOUR cross daily bespeaks, having on a readiness to endure suffering and shame for the will of God, even as our Lord Jesus did. This is not a buck that you can pass on to Jesus alone, or to anyone else for that matter. Taking up your cross daily is like a policeman putting on his badge every day. Affixing your cross in your heart daily says, “I am an official representative of God’s will — for better or for worse — when the world likes it, and when they don’t.”
- Follow Christ – I distinctly remember, when I was a young teenager in the faith, someone came up to me and suggested that I set goals for my life that included getting college degrees, and a good job with good benefits. Then, according to them, I could take the Lord Jesus along with me and ask him to bless me. But, the Holy Spirit immediately rejected that philosophy, and I could not stomach their advice. The Holy Spirit said to me, “Is Jesus your pet, that he should follow you around like a dog on a leash? ‘No,’ He said. You follow Jesus, and submit to his will and all that he directs you to do.” This is the third point Jesus explained, and this is the only way to serve Christ acceptably. The other way, is trying to serve God, yet remain in control of your own life.
No beloved, Jesus is not a pet. He is the sovereign Master of our lives. And, he requires of us full and complete repentance as a fundamental precondition to our faith in him. As a matter of fact, it is absolutely necessary that we reaffirm our repentance and recommitment to his lordship every single day. Every day of life can be very trying. Every single day we face temptations to compromise and go back to doing things our own way. So, every day we must personally, sincerely, and earnestly recommit ourselves to the position and to the rigors of our original repentance. I certainly do. Every single morning, before the sun comes up, I am on my face praying and making supplication to God for my own weak, frail, finite, and wayward heart. And, in the words our Savior taught us, I pray, “Father, NOT my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42). I also pray, “Have your way, Lord. Let it not be my way, but your way.” Then, I follow those prayers up with a life throughout the day that is dedicated to immediate and spontaneous obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I call this Lifestyle Repentance. I recommend it to you, if you want to make sure that you don’t get caught up with this popular, Babylon Version of Christianity that is in the world today. Think about it. Selah. Maranatha. Amen.