16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.
from Isaiah 1 Modern KJV
Substance the American Heritage College Dictionary definition:
1. a. that which has mass and occupies space; matter.
5. Material possessions; goods; wealth.
The purpose of this lesson is point out the fact that repentance is more than quitting; it is doing.
Such righteousness not only needs to be taught; it must be learned through practice.
The first teaching on repentance in the New Testament
John the Baptist preached for the people to repent for the kingdom of the heavens was at hand. He warned them that the ax was already laid at the roots of the trees and that every tree that did not bring forth good fruit was going to be cut down and thrown into the fire. He warned them not to have confidence in their religious heritage for a sense of security. When they wanted to know what to therefore do, he started by teaching them a Repentance that involved Substance and not just turning away from stuff. Luke 3:7-11
Carefully and prayerfully read through the following verses. He taught them to start sharing their substance.
Luke Chapter 3
7 Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8 “Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
9 “And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.“
10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?“
11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.“
Luke 3:7-11 MKJV
Repenting By Beginning to Do Good
There is more to his teaching of repentance, as you will see if you read beyond verse 11, but I want to turn your focus to the first thing that he brought up in teaching them repentance, which is material sharing; that is the sharing of ones actual substance.
This is repentance not just in word and not just in tongue. You see this in verse 11. In God’s eyes this is good. It pleases Him when we share as John the Baptist commanded the people to do.
It’s not just quitting
The question that the people had asked John, was, “what shall we do, then?” It was not, what shall we stop doing? Today churches are full of bored people who have stopped doing things, but have not started doing what God desires that they do. True as it is, you do see from reading forward from verse 12, that he taught those who were doing wrong things to stop.
If we go forward to when the apostles preach repentance in Acts 2, we only have to keep reading to see the manifestation of substance based repentance. Selfish hording and greed were replaced with selfless sharing.
Acts 2:44 and 45
This type of repentance was understood in those days. John the Baptist and Jesus had gone before, making repentance plain. The apostles taught these things to the people for Jesus had commanded them to teach the people “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…” Therefore as the apostles taught the people, they did not fail to teach them substance based repentance, just as they had been taught it by Jesus.
The people “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine…” As a result, we see the fruit of such teachings manifested early in the book of Acts. Read farther in Acts 4:32-35.
Non- substantial Repentance
There is a type of repentance that is practiced and taken for granted today. It is a repentance of just quitting things, or just leaving bad things alone. This is only half repentance. Is half repentance good enough? No. John told them to actually bring forth something, that is, fruits befitting repentance.
Repentance has two sides
When, after we have repented, we are still blind to the fact that we should share our substance with those in need when it is within our power, this might well indicate that we are caught up in the delusion of half repentance. Half repentance leads to disappointment. Our repentance is non-substantial if it does not have as its fruits the sharing of our substance. It is virtual repentance in which there is no giving of material things, except, maybe to the ministry (an admonition that is seldom neglected). People know to give to the ministry, but they do not know to share with one another.
Let us open our eyes some. While you are limiting yourself to this type of giving, where is Jesus?
From Matthew 25 KJV
25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] unto me.
Who was Jesus? He was the brethren who were in need.
In the book of Acts they got it right:
Acts 4:32 All the believers were of one heart and mind, and they felt that what they owned was not their own; they shared everything they had.
33 And the apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great favor was upon them all.
34 There was no poverty among them, because people who owned land or houses sold them
35 and brought the money to the apostles to give to others in need.
From Acts 4, New Living Translation
The repentance of today is partial; you are living a clean life, albeit, a sterile life in that it does not involve sharing with those really in need. This is sin, as you can see without controversy when you have read the passage in Matthew given above.
What James taught in James in chapter 2, verse 15-17 is not to be casually ignored by churches:
15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,
16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?
17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
From James 2 Modern KJV
Going back to Isaiah chapter 1, we see God telling the people to stop doing bad things and to learn to do what is good:
Isaiah 1:16 and 17
Learn? Things are not learned when they are not practiced.
Sharing where sharing is needed is a way to learn these things by practicing them. This is how we have this become a part of us.
Our actions testify of our faith and reveal our actual faith toward God and love toward our brothers and sisters. God responds to faith which works through love.
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