Provoking Thoughts

"Consider thy ways . . ." -Hag 1:7

Volume 1 No. 3

Thursday, December 8, 1994


Let's Study About Repentance

Lowering The Standard

What Our Congress Used To Be Like

What Is The Evidence of Salvation?

A Hope That Can Never Be Disappointed

What Is Holy Ghost Conviction?

Repentance: The Missing Ingredient

Hope For The Hopeless

Let's Study About Repentance

Let us reason together, brethren, on this doctrine of repentance. With all this confusion and diversity of thought on this subject there have to be questions raised in your mind, as well as mine. With the help of God, meditation, and searching the Scriptures I believe we can come to some basic understanding of this Bible doctrine.

Let us first ask some questions and I hope you will also ask some of me and of yourself until we find what God desires of us or demands of us concerning Salvation. Let's ask questions of ourselves such as:

1.Does God actually do the repenting for a sinner?

2.Is it part of Grace given to us?

3.Must a sinner repent in order to be saved?

What is Bible repentance - change of mind? change of heart? change of actions? change of affections? What are the ingredients - substance of it? Is Jesus speaking of repenting after Salvation when He says, "Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish?"

Let us ask questions also as to the relationship between repentance and forgiveness:

1.Can sins be forgiven by God when a person still loves and continues in that sin?

2.Will he truly find mercy for sin he never forsakes?

3.How forceful and demanding should we be when dealing with sinners (about sin), when witnessing to them about salvation?

4.Should we tell sinners, "Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish?"

5.Is the Psalmist speaking of a repentant heart when he says, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart: and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit?" - Psalm 34:18

Maybe we need to ask questions about the spiritual state of those that never repent - that continue in sin thinking grace will abound. Questions such as:

1.Does repentance settle and remove a sin from a person's life?

2.Is he done with that sin or is repentance merely confession, as Catholicism teaches?

3.Do we turn, only to turn back again, is that true repentance?

Brethren, we must admit our people live a very low quality Christianity compared to our forefathers. Do you think we might have gotten soft on repentance and what it really means? Are we teaching our people that the only prerequisite to Salvation is belief in the record? Is faith inactive or is there a response and work, as James teaches?

Can we separate our responsibilities from works? Why is repentance looked upon as works? We know the atonement is all wrapped up in Jesus - a gift from God, but does that mean that we have no responsibility to repent?

In our study, with the help of God, I trust you and I can find the answers to these and many more questions. My brother, if repentance is essential, then we'd best be preaching it right. We could be charged with scattering.

Please respond with your comments on this subject or others we put forth. Your input will received with love, respect, and much consideration. Do you think it's possible that we have strayed from the old paths and need to challenge one another to a common faith? Ever wonder what this unregenerate world thinks about our different views and teachings on the same Bible? It might just be that we are in the days Paul spoke of, under inspiration, when he wrote that the way of Truth will be evil spoken of. In my short walk with God of 22 years I've seen many changes take place in what people think the Bible says about Salvation. My prayer is that our sweet, loving, Saviour and Lord guide us all in the truth of His Word.

P.S. Do you have a subject or doctrine you are interested in, or desire of us to write about? Please write us or call. We are not closed minded and controlled by some fellowship or special interest group. I'll be glad to deal with most subjects as the Lord gives wisdom and understanding. Truly, He is our light.

Lowering The Standard

Saints or Sinners?

Last month we talked about how the standard of holiness is being lowered by exalting the sins of the prophets and great men of the Bible. It seems strange that those who are supposedly laboring to prepare a people for the Lord would want to bring the standard of holiness down. Many men are doing this without realizing what they are doing and that is the reason for this article - to point out that the message intended is not always the message the people receive.

One of the great sins of Israel that brought on God's judgment was the failure to make clear the difference between the holy and the profane, between the clean and the unclean:

Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean, and have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them. (Eze 22.26)

It is also one the major sins of our day. Many "Christians" call themselves "sinners, saved by grace", which is a confusing statement. It is confusing because it doesn't tell the whole story. We WERE sinners before we were saved, cleansed, washed, sanctified, accepted in the beloved, adopted into God's family, made joint-heirs with Christ, etc. We are a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, a NEW CREATURE and a HOLY people, not to be confused with a sinful, wicked, unregenerate person. Yet there are some who will vigorously defend themselves as "sinners", yet "saved sinners."

Their logic is that we still sin after we are saved, so therefore, we are still sinners. One sin, they say, makes you a sinner. Let's apply that logic to something else and see if it works. I might be capable of driving a truck down the highway without running into the ditch, but that doesn't make me a truck driver. I might be able to fly an airplane for a short time, but that doesn't make me an airline pilot. I might give someone some medicine that makes them feel better, but that doesn't make me a doctor. As a Christian, I might commit a sin, but it isn't my daily practice and lifestyle. A "sinner" sins continually and habitually - that is his life and practice. A "saint" may commit a sin, but he doesn't live that way continually.

While the motive for mixing things up like this is to appear humble and honest, the real effect is that the difference between the holy and the profane is blurred. A real "sinner" sees no need to repent because those he thought were "saints" are as bad off as he is by their own testimony. The "saints" see no need to try to live holy because they are told they are still "sinners" like the drunkard and the harlot, no matter how clean they live. Also, believing they are still a sinner makes it somewhat easier to commit sin without feeling so bad about it. The bottom line is that the standard has been lowered. Why would anyone who claims to be saved defend themselves as being still a "sinner"?

Why not stick to the Bible? There is never any confusion there on this matter. Saints are the children of God who have been born again of the Spirit of God. That is the way they are referred to throughout the New Testament in the epistles. Sinners are those who love the works of darkness and know not God, being condemned in their sin. God meant for the prophets of Israel to distinguish the difference between the holy and the profane. He means for men of God in 1994 to do the same.

What Our Congress Used To Be Like

May 17, 1776

Congress appoints a day of fasting and prayer for the colonies so they might "by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease God's righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation Jesus Christ, obtain His pardon and forgiveness."

November 1, 1777

Continental Congress issues the first proclamation of thanksgiving extending to all colonies: " . . . That with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor and together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they have forfeited every favour, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance . . . and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost."

What Is The Evidence of Salvation?

(continued from last month)

"If you were to be tried in court for the crime of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

What is the real evidence that someone is saved? Maybe the best way to tell is to look for some things that are NOT there. The Bible does tell us a few things that are always present in the life of a Christian. If these things are missing, then we have reason to be concerned about that person's soul. (continued on page 2)


If the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5:22-23 isn't obvious in the life of a person, then there is reason to question whether the Spirit of God dwells in that person. A real Christian will manifest love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. All Christians have the right to weigh a professor of Christianity on this scale.


A real Christian will love the church and the brethren in Christ - he always will!

John 13.35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

1 John 4.20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

1 John 3.14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

1 John 3.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 2.9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

We have the right and the RESPONSIBILITY to judge others by this measure. If we don't we will be failing them and God. If a person professes to know Christ and doesn't love the church and the brethren, it is a dangerous sign of the real condition of his soul.


While a righteous life isn't conclusive evidence to prove one's salvation, the continual lack of it is evidence that the person is lost and doesn't know God. A saved person will not live in habitual, continual sin! If that isn't true, then we surely can't trust the Bible, because if one thing is clear in the Scripture this is it.

1 John 3.10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

1 John 3.7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

Righteousness doesn't save a person, but it ALWAYS accompanies real salvation. The unrighteous ARE NOT GOING TO HEAVEN, (1 Corinthians 6) and there are two distinct groups - the righteous and the unrighteous - they aren't mixed together beyond recognition.


Friendship with the world is enmity with God. If you are a friend of the world, you are God's enemy - it is really that simple. There is no such thing as a "worldly Christian." You won't find one in the New Testament and you won't find one in 1994. People who love the world are God's enemies according to the Bible. The only way you can believe in "worldly Christians" is to have a different standard and rule for discernment than the Bible. Many preachers have taken a different standard than the Bible in this matter. They say, "Well, I have so many people like that in my church, and I know they can't all be lost." What a foolish mistake! What a disservice to the souls that have been given to his care! What will a preacher like that face at the judgment seat when he is called to account for the souls of those he has deceived? Why would a preacher of the Gospel DEFEND worldliness in his church members?



The whole basis of Christianity is that someone gave Himself for us. He was crucified that we might live. He said that if a man doesn't deny himself, take up the cross, and follow Him, he CANNOT BE HIS DISCIPLE! Selfish people are NOT going to heaven. If any man will save his life, he will lose it, but if he will lose his life for Christ's sake, he will find it. God doesn't save us for our gain, but for His Glory. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life make us selfish and we know that "they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts." (Gal 5.24) So it is obvious that a Christian cannot live a selfish life.


A saved person has "ears to hear" what the Spirit saith.

John 8.47 He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.

1 John 4.6 We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

Patience is always in order to teach people and give them space to understand, but a person who bucks up and will not receive instruction is telling the real condition of his heart. Spurgeon said that if you can't take the Bible and gently instruct a man and correct him from the Word of God, you need not pamper the man, because he is a lost man.

No doubt there is much more we could get into in this matter, but time and space won't permit. The point is: it is your responsibility as a Christian to discern the condition of the souls of others. This old "judge not", taken out of context, needs to be cast aside and the real teaching of the Bible put in it's place. We are commanded not to yoke up with unbelievers, so you have to make a discernment in order to obey God. Applying the Bible standards for salvation is NOT the judging talked about in Romans 2 and Matthew 7.

A Hope That Can Never Be Disappointed:

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

-Hebrews 6:18-19

What Is Holy Ghost Conviction?

When a crime or transgression of the law has been committed there is a standard procedure to prove who has committed the crime and exact the punishment deserved.

First, the man is accused and charges are leveled against him. He must appear before a judge and the judge decides whether he is guilty or not according to the evidence presented. The man knows whether he committed the crime or not before he ever hears the verdict of the judge. But he doesn't feel CONVICTED until he hears the voice of the judge saying, "I find this man guilty" and the hammer hitting the gavel after the sentence is read condemning him to suffer the punishment he deserves. He isn't convicted until his doom is sealed and there is no escape.

Feeling convicted is not being convicted. Being convicted means being convinced beyond any doubt that there is no hope of escape from the punishment.

Holy Ghost conviction is referred to most of the time as something like a trance or some strange feeling that comes over a person. Sometimes (probably most of the time) Holy Ghost conviction is confused with a desire to be saved or a desire to miss Hell and go to Heaven. Many people have those desires, but are not convicted by the Holy Ghost of God. They have never been convinced by the Holy Spirit that they are doomed and need a Saviour. They have never reached the point that they could hear the voice that sounds like mighty thunderings and many waters calling their name and condemning them to torment.

Not many sinners today are being convinced that they are sinners. We are not seeing much Holy Ghost conviction in our services these days. That brings to mind a few questions:

1. Is it because they aren't being charged?
2. Is it because no specific charges have been leveled against them personally?
3. Whose job is it to accuse and bring charges against sinners?
4. Do they think that they are somehow going to escape the punishment for their sin?


Several years ago a prominent underworld figure attended a large evangelistic crusade. Realizing that the cause of evil would be weakened if this man would be converted, those conducting the meeting witnessed to him about Christ. One night they urged him to "open the door" of his heart and let Jesus in. The man supposedly accepted the Lord, but as the months passed his lifestyle remained the same. When confronted with this fact, the gangster said that no one had told him that in saying yes to Jesus he would be turning his back on his former life. After all, he reasoned, there were Christian football players, Christian cowboys, Christian politicians--why not a Christian gangster? Only then did they explain the need for repentance. Upon hearing this, the man wanted nothing more to do with Christianity.

"Repentance is turning from all known sin in order to turn from all sin when it becomes known."

Hope for the Hopeless

A missionary friend of mine sent me this little story. Maybe it will be a blessing to you, too.

Years ago, in a mental institution just outside Boston, Massachusetts, was a young girl known as "Little Annie" who was locked in a dungeon. The doctors felt that a dungeon was the only place for those who were "hopelessly" insane. In Little Annie's case, they saw no hope for her, so she was consigned to a living death in that small cage which received little light and even less hope.

An elderly nurse in the institution was nearing retirement. She felt there was hope for all of God's creatures, so she started taking her lunch into the dungeon and eating outside Little Annie's cage. She felt perhaps she could communicate some love and hope to the little girl.

In many ways, Little Annie was like an animal. At times, she would violently attack the person who come into her cage; and at other times, she would ignore them. One day, the elderly nurse brought some brownies and left them outside the cage. The next day the brownies were gone. From then on, the nurse would bring brownies when she made her Thursday visit. After a period of time, the doctors noticed a change in Little Annie and moved her upstairs. Finally, the day came when this "hopeless" case was told she could return home.

Many years later, Queen Victoria of England, while pinning England's highest award on a foreigner, asked Helen Keller, "How do you account for your remarkable accomplishments in life? How do you explain the fact that even though you were both blind and deaf, you were able to accomplish so much?" Without a moment's hesitation, Helen Keller said that had it not been for Anne Sullivan - Little Annie -, the name of Helen Keller would have remained unknown.

God's ways are not our ways. The only people who can do something for God are those who can truly say that God has done something for them.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world . . . And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. - 1 Cor 1.28-29

Philippians 2: 14-15

Do all things without murmurings and disputing:

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

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Midway Bible Baptist Church

Pastor: 540-943-3064
Church: 540-943-1678

Pastor Owen
OR Bro. Mike Miller


Midway Bible Baptist Church
P.O. Box 419
Fishersville, Virginia 22939

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