|Vol. 15 No. 8 August 2013||
Application of Repentance
Louis Rushmore, Editor
After conversion, MUST the new Christian give back what he obtained (1) illegally (2) sinfully? Example: What must he do with all his wealth, properties, cars, etc. that he obtained through selling drugs – this is illegal – or the same things obtained through gambling – sinful – or the same things and more, obtained by stealing over many years, and the entities or persons from whom he obtained these things cannot be identified or even known? ~ Denis Tomlin
The question really pertains to what is involved in repentance, or how ought repentance to be applied. There is one misnomer in the beginning of the question as it starts with the words “After conversion.” Repentance is one of the actions of an individual undergoing the process of conversion but before the conversion is complete or the precious soul is saved from his past sins. In other words, repentance comes before the forgiveness of sins. “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…” (Acts 2:38 NKJV). Repentance is an inward decision that ultimately affects the outward conduct. However, the activity of conversion, though decided upon prior to forgiveness of sins is an ongoing process (Acts 19:18-19) and may not be complete by the time one is baptized for the remission of his sins (Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). In the suggested scenario, for instance, one might have repented and have been baptized prior to being able to make restitution where possible.
One New Testament passage comes to mind that somewhat corresponds to the query presented. That concerns the Bible character and tax collector Zacchaeus. “Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold’” (Luke 19:8). The tax collectors or publicans had a reputation for extorting money for themselves beyond the required taxes they were obligated to collect (Luke 3:13). Zacchaeus expressed a penitent disposition, and he was willing to make ample restitution wherever possible for any instance in which he was at fault. Likewise, someone obeying the Gospel today, including repentance that precedes (Luke 13:3) as well as repentance that follows (Acts 8:22) conversion, will attempt to provide restitution to known victims of his sins. The person posing the initial question presupposes that it is impossible to provide restitution in some instances, and therefore, due to the impossibility introduced, he answers that portion of his question himself.
A second New Testament example of penitence preceding conversion pertains to the Philippian jailer of Acts 16:33, whereupon he washed the beaten backs of Paul and Silas. Obviously, the jailer could not undo the injuries that they had endured, but restitution in this case involved doing what he could do respecting those wounds. He could not take the stripes back, but he could wash them to lessen the drying blood clinging to the clothing and perhaps to prevent infection. Likewise, repentance today involves restitution to the extent whenever and wherever possible where one’s sins have injured others personally or have deprived others of their property.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
Who is Jesus’s brother? ~ Beauty Mlangeni
Jesus Christ was the firstborn son of Mary (Matthew 1:25), implying that Mary later bore other children as well, which is confirmed in the Gospel records (Matthew 13:55-56). The account in Matthew 12:46 (cf. Mark 3:31-32; Luke 8:19-21; John 2:12; Acts 1:14; 1 Corinthians 9:5) confirms that our Lord had siblings, and Jesus indicated in verse 50 (cf. Mark 3:35) of that context that He had both brothers and sisters (cf. Matthew 13:55-56). By inspiration, the apostle Paul confirmed that one of the brothers of Jesus was named James (Galatians 1:19). Matthew 13:55 gives the names of four brothers of Jesus: James, Joses [Joseph], Simon and Judas [Jude]. Jude 1 cites Jude and James as brothers. The general conclusion from consideration of various pieces of biblical evidence is that both the authors of the Book of James and the Book of Jude were the physical, half-brothers of Jesus Christ.
Louis Rushmore, Editor
There are several variations of “faith” noted in the Bible. Often, one’s faith is deficient and not satisfactory to God: “little faith” (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31; 16:8), failing faith (Luke 22:32), useless faith (John 12:42), erring faith (1 Timothy 6:21), weak faith (Romans 14:1), vain faith (1 Corinthians 15:2, 17), lacking faith (1 Thessalonians 3:10), devilish faith (James 2:19), “faith only” (James 2:24) or dead faith (James 2:14-26). Commendable faith with which God is pleased is described in Scripture, too: “great faith” (Matthew 8:10), saving faith (Luke 5:20; 7:50), “precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1), living faith (Hebrews 10:38), joyous faith (Philippians 1:25), grounded faith (Colossians 1:23), “common faith” (Titus 1:4), working faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3), patient faith (James 1:3), unwavering faith (James 1:6) or “holy faith” (Jude 20).
Summarized, one needs enough faith to lead him or her to obey God (Hebrews 11:4-40). For everyone living today, valid Christian faith must include professing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (Matthew 10:32; John 8:24), but more than acknowledging Jesus Christ is necessary to successfully pass the Judgment Seat of Christ to go into the heavenly city (Matthew 7:21-23). Biblical faith is obedient faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26). One must obey the Gospel (Romans 10:16; 2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). Obeying the Gospel includes exercising enough faith to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. “He who believes [has faith] and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:16 NKJV).
For further consideration of different types of faith mentioned in the New Testament, follow this URL: https://www.gospelgazette.com/gazette/2001/oct/page8.htm.