Repentance is central to spiritual life (Ac_20:21), but exactly what is repentance?
Repentance is God’s gift causing us to change our minds, to become convinced of truth (2Ti 2:25), or to be persuaded(Lk 16:30-31) such that our behavior changes from within. It’s different from confessing sin, admitting guilt, being sorry and trying to obey. (2Co 7:10) It’s a renewing in our heart, a new way of thinking, and only God can do it. (Ps 51:10,19:13)
Repentance is what sets us free from the stranglehold of sin in our lives, delivering us from Satan’s power to hold us captive (2Ti 2:26), so we should immediately seek this gift whenever we find ourselves not acting, feeling, thinking or believing as we should (Is 55:6); any other response is loving our darkness instead of His light. (Jn 3:19) God never tells us to set aside time to repent … that’s like setting aside time to take antidotes; the longer we hold on to the poison of sin within us the more damage it does. Thinking any other way about repentance reveals we’re missing God in a big way.
When Jesus Christ died on the cross “he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.” (He 5:9) He does not offer a temporary salvation, but an eternalone.
By definition, salvation from Hell must be eternal, for if one ever ends up in Hell there can be no real sense in which one has ever been savedfrom it. In other words, a salvation that can be lost is no salvation at all.
Yet many complain that eternalsalvation – the once saved always saved kind – means we can “get saved” and then live like the devil. But this is not salvation; God saves from the dominion of sin as well as from its penalty (Ro 6:14), such that the saved obey Christ as new creatures, with a new nature. This renewing of our hearts is not by the will of Man (Jn 1:12-13); it is the work and gift of God. (Ep 2:8-10)
If salvation can be lost, the question to ask is, “How good do I have to be to keep it?” The question has only one safe answer: “Be perfect.” (Mt 19:20-21) We dare not presume a lower standard, and there is no higher one … yet it implies we can never know we have salvation.
But those who trust in Christ know they have eternal life(1Jn 5:13), and that it is not dependent on their works in any way. (Ro 4:5) They know God is able to keep them from falling and to present them faultless before Him. (Jud 1:24)
Those who don’t have an eternal salvation have not yet grasped the significance of the cross; Christ’s work is an efficacious, limited atonement for all — He did not merely make salvation a possibility for all, He has infallibly saved all who believe(He 7:25); their eternal end is already certain. (Ro 8:30)
“Give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” (2Pe 1:10) Once Jesus Christ pays your sin debt, you will never be condemned … ever. (Ro 4:6-8) Once we see the power of His cross we cannot doubt its efficacy, and we come to understand the only salvation there is … an eternal one. (He 7:25)
Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” (Mt 5:44) Perhaps it’s the cornerstone of all godliness, actively seeking the good of others, even those who’d harm us.
This is unnatural, certainly; it denies our self-protective instinct. Returning good for evil enables and strengthens our enemies to harm us even more. Yet it is our God’s example. (Mt 5:45)
Living this way as a manner of life requires an energy from another world, a Life beyond our own. It is perhaps the greatest witness of the reality of God, that we commit our physical care into His hands, just as we have our souls and spirits. (1Pe 4:19) It is only then that we live as children of our heavenly Father.
There is a time to resist abuse, and a time to suffer according to the will of God. It is the wisdom of God to tell these apart, but there is never a time to wish ill to another. (Ro 13:10) Let us not fear to follow God in suffering for His name, for our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. (2Co 4:16-18)
The particular text of interest is, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.”(Heb 13:9) There are many other great verses which might also be helpful here.
What is grace? What does it mean to be established with something? How can we live this out in God? What does it look like, and how do we get there?
My thought: being established with grace is more than knowing God’s love and forgiveness, more than resting in Christ’s unconditional acceptance; it is havingsupernatural confidencethat God is transforming me into the image of Christ, creating His likeness in me, enabling me to love and obey Him. (2Co 9:8) Through the power of the Holy Spirit I access grace by faith … that is, I rest in Christ’s utter sufficiency and faithfulness, delighting in Him, being filled withall joyand peace in believing, abounding in hope. (Ro 15:13)