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Sin, Repentance, and Walking in the Light
by Trillia Newbell
Our smallest offense deserves the full wrath of God. That’s hard to hear if we forget that God has not only covered our sin in Christ but also allows us to approach Him continually to receive that grace anew. We also know that God is holy—set apart in His perfection, glory, and majesty. We are sinners who sin every day. Our sin should grieve us but not condemn, because we serve a God who is good and gracious but also holy and just. So, what are we to do with this enigma of our sinfulness and God’s holiness that clings so close to us? Repent and receive God’s amazing grace.
God, the Boogeyman?
There it is again. That eerie dark shadow lurking in the closet. He seems so unpredictable. What might he do next? What might happen? Will he jump out and get me?
Those used to be my terrified thoughts as a young child. I would fearfully snuggle into my bed, waiting for the boogeyman to jump out of the closet and get me. When I became a Christian, I realized that much of the way I related to God was with that childlike fear of the boogeyman. I felt like I didn’t have much control over my life, but instead of realizing I was in the hands of a good and loving Father, I viewed Him as tyrannical. He had all the control, I thought, but the only love He showed was on the cross (which of course would have been enough). I really did think God was like the boogeyman hanging out in my closet, just waiting for the right moment to punish me or cause some harm.
How sad. If we only know God as the sovereign ruler of the world, then we might make the same mistake I did as a young Christian. It wasn’t until I understood the great love of God that I began to see His ways as good and loving. Yes, even those tough things in our lives come from God’s loving hand (1 Peter 1:3–9; Heb. 12:3–17). We can rest in the knowledge that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways, and yet He is still thoughtful of man (Ps. 8:4; Isa. 55:8).
We see evidence of this in Isaiah 55, which begins with an urgent call for us to come and drink: “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (v. 1). God delights in meeting our needs (spiritual and otherwise). We have a Father who invites us to the throne of grace to receive help in our time of need (Heb. 4:16). And though I didn’t fully grasp the significance of the cross as a young Christian, I now understand that God displayed His ultimate love for us through the sacrifice of His Son on our behalf. Is there a greater love than that?
God is not the boogeyman. He is the sovereign, loving, awesome God who came to redeem a people for Himself. He is good and loves us relentlessly. So, in response to our knowledge of His loving character, we discipline ourselves to repent daily of the sin for which Christ has already died.
Walk in the Light
One of the many side effects I’ve experienced from getting older is an inability to see the road while driving at night. Everything glows. If it rains, it’s as if someone is shining a bright light in my eyes. Like the responsible adult that I am, I have yet to go to an eye doctor. So, I’m driving around in the dark, blind as a bat.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do this as Christians. We’ve seen the light. The gospel has shined light into darkness. And this light isn’t disorienting; it’s a gift of grace that purifies and guides us.
But perhaps you’ve been walking around like you are still in the dark. God calls you to walk in the light. To walk in the light means to walk in the goodness and grace of God, living a life that is reflective of the Savior, and walking in a manner worthy of the gospel. Repentance is one of the clearest ways to walk in this light. The Apostle John tells us, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). To walk in darkness is either to walk with the knowledge of sin and ignore it or to walk as if we are completely without sin, never repenting (1 John 1:8). The grace of God allows us to not only acknowledge that we continue to struggle with sin, but also to turn from our sin.
We see clearly that our walking in the light isn’t perfect—not even close. We will never reach perfection on this earth. That’s why repentance is such a beautiful gift from our God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Oh, what grace. We confess our sins to God—acknowledging our great need for Him to turn us from our sin—and what does He do? He does what He’s already done—pours out the grace we need to change. His wrath was reserved for Jesus. We don’t receive punishment or wrath for our sins—we receive grace. There are, of course, consequences for sin, but even so, our standing before God doesn’t change. God is sovereign and rules over all.
He is holy, yet because of Jesus we can approach Him. Run, don’t walk, to the throne of grace. Don’t walk like a blind man while you can walk in the light that is available to you. Walk in the light. Confess your sin and receive grace. There is no condemnation for you.
Tabletalk Article copyright
© Tabletalk magazine
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Tabletalk.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343
The Gospel for the Hopeless: An Interview with John Barros
by John Barros
Tabletalk: What is “Who Will Stand“? What led you to start this ministry??
John Barros: I’ve been ministering at the Orlando Women’s Center for eleven years. I’m blessed beyond anything I could have imagined as I have been able to see God turn the hearts of hundreds who saw no hope. I started the website whowillstand.net to encourage other men to “adopt” their local abortion clinics and see the Lord work there as He does here.
TT: What is a typical day of ministry like at the abortion clinic?
JB: We pray for those on their way to the clinic, asking God to work on their hearts. When they arrive, we introduce ourselves, letting them know we are here for them and that God sent us to call them to trust Him. We give them the “In the Womb” tract and a card to the local crisis pregnancy center, which will do an immediate ultrasound. God turns many hearts right away.
When others go into the clinic for their paperwork, I preach. The building is twenty-five feet from the sidewalk. They hear every word. God uses His Word to move people’s hearts and open ears. Usually within an hour, someone begins asking questions or chooses life.
We stay until the end. We have seen some literally “get off the table” and come out. God doesn’t work on our timetable.
TT: What is the most common misconception evangelical Christians have about men and women who procure abortions?
JB: That they don’t know what they’re doing. God has written His law on everyone’s heart. That’s why they’re so angry to find us here. Second Timothy 2:25–26 says, “In humility [correct] those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (NKJV). People come in knowing what they’re doing, yet are spiritually blind, caught in a trap laid by the devil.
Baby sacrifice has been with us throughout history. There’s a demonic battle that has gone on since the days of Baal worship. Ephesians 6:12 says, “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places.” We come with the only answer to spiritual blindness: the gospel (Rom. 1:16). The Lord in His grace goes to the “gates of hell,” calling them to repentance. People respond to this almost every day.
TT: In the church’s response to the abortion crisis, what has the church done right? What has the church done wrong?
JB: I’m blessed to be a member of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., which has organized prayer support as well as Bible studies and groups that pray for the ministry at Orlando Women’s Center. All our pastors—R.C. Sproul, Burk Parsons, Don Bailey, and Kevin Struyk—preach against abortion, encouraging us to fight. They encourage us to get out on the street to love our neighbors and plead the cause of the widow and orphan. They even come to encourage us on the street. The students of Reformation Bible College are also encouraged to come. There’s not an hour that Orlando Women’s Center is open that a member of Saint Andrew’s isn’t there. When a woman chooses life, she’s turned over to a group of ladies from the church. They love and encourage her and see what her needs are. Sometimes a deacon is needed to see what kind of material needs there may be. We also have baby showers, etc. Many of the women live far from the church. We pick them up on Sunday mornings for worship. Saint Andrew’s serves them both physically and spiritually. We host a Bible study for those who have had an abortion and have come to Christ but wrestle with guilt.
Sadly, I think most churches don’t do anything. Francis Schaeffer said, “Every abortion clinic should have a sign in front stating, ‘Open by the permission of the church.’ ” If the church were to rise up with a united front, would there be any more abortions? Dr. James Pendergraft, the owner of the abortion clinic where I minister, said, “If it wasn’t for the evangelical church sending me their daughters, I’d be out of business.” Most people who come to kill their babies claim to be Christians. The church needs to repent of our apathy.
TT: How can Christians and churches serve women who are thinking about having an abortion? How can they serve women who have already had an abortion?
JB: First, the church needs to preach truth. Proverbs 6 says God hates the hands that shed innocent blood. It’s not a political theory of abortion that God hates. It’s the “hands,” the people involved in killing vulnerable babies. God is the author of life. God shows us that these little babies are precious gifts that He has a claim on. The church also has an obligation to serve the parents. If we want these babies to live, we must help with spiritual and tangible needs. Our deacons do the “nuts and bolts” work with those who need help—coming up with budgets, helping them to find services, and looking for jobs.
The church serves those who have had abortions by telling them the truth. If God has granted them repentance, they need to know that they’re forgiven, that 1 John 1:7 tells us the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us of all sin, including the sin of abortion.
TT: What objections do you hear most often from men and women when you are trying to persuade them not to proceed with an abortion? How do you answer those objections?
JB: First, ” ‘Thou shall not judge’ and you are judging me.” I tell them I love them and am there not to judge but to warn and help them. The close second is, “This is my choice, my legal right.” I explain that God’s law prohibits the muder of babies, that just because something is legal under man’s law doesn’t make it right.
TT: Suppose a local church wants to do more to combat abortion and minister to those who are considering going through with an abortion. Where do you start?
JB: The first step would be to find out when they’re open. Go before the clinic opens, offering help when the women arrive. I use the “In the Womb” tracts and a flier from a local crisis pregnancy center. Every abortion mill is different logistically, so they would have to adapt. I have some friends who minister at a clinic where they have to be some distance away. God’s been good; they see fruit even under these conditions. The main thing is to let the women know you love and care about them. The rest will fall into place.
TT: Tell us about someone to whom you have recently ministered who has been changed by the gospel.
JB: Last week, a young lady named Jenny pulled in. I offered her some brochures. She rolled down her window, and I told her about this place and that we could help. She listened as I warned her about what God says about abortion and how He sent me to call her to trust Him. She trembled, saying, “I’m not doing this.” I called the others to pray with her. After that, she wanted to talk more, saying she’s a Christian who’d fallen into sin. Her mother is a believer, and she was afraid to tell her of her baby. I said she could have gone to other clinics in Orlando, but God sent her to this one so that she could hear Him say, “Trust Me.” She sobbed uncontrollably and said she’d woken up that morning praying that God would send someone to stop her. She and her boyfriend later went to True Life Choice and had an ultrasound. They saw their baby together, and God touched her boyfriend too.
She called later, still nervous about her mother. I put her in touch with a dear lady in the church who agreed to go with Jenny to tell her mother. Before she could get there, Jenny called, grateful for our prayers and saying she’d told her mother and that everything went well. On Sunday, Jenny and the girl’s mother came to Saint Andrew’s to worship. Her mother thanked me for saving her grandbaby. I reminded her that only Jesus has the power to save. There is nothing like this ministry.
John Barros is director of Who Will Stand, a ministry dedicated to giving a voice to unborn children in Orlando, Fla. Each week, more than one hundred babies are killed at the Orlando Women’s Center. Every morning, Mr. Barros offers truth and love to abortion-bound mothers and fathers. He and his team pray, preach, and offer alternatives to the patients of OWC, including free sonograms, medical care, and safe housing. Members of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF), Mr. Barros and his wife, Vicki, have been involved in full-time sidewalk ministry outside the abortion clinic since 2010. In addition, Mr. Barros is a chaplain at the 33rd Street jail in Orlando.
Tabletalk Article copyright
© Tabletalk magazine
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Tabletalk.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.
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Article Info
INFO TABLE BEGINS HERE
From Tabletalk Magazine
Date November 1st, 2015
Topics Christianity and Culture, Ethics, Parenting
INFO TABLE ENDS HERE
John Barros
John Barros is director of Who Will Stand, a ministry dedicated to giving a voice to unborn children in Orlando, Fla. In addition, Mr. Barros is a chaplain at the 33rd Street jail in Orlando.
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Courage and Compassion
by Burk Parsons
Homosexual sin is a grievous and heinous sin. While it is indeed true that all sexual immorality is sin—adultery, fornication, pornography—homosexual sin is different. It is a more heinous and grievous sin because, as the Word of God makes clear, homosexual sin is contrary to nature (Rom. 1:26). Homosexual sin strikes against God’s created order in every way and mocks God’s design for procreation, thus making homosexuality logically self-defeating. Those who suggest the Bible is not clear about homosexual sin have never read the Bible or have not been given the ears to hear what the Bible plainly teaches.
The Bible is clear, so we must be clear. We cannot and must not waver in the face of seemingly overwhelming opposition. Although the world is changing, the Word of God is not. We must stand our ground on the unchanging Word of God in the midst of an ever-changing culture. For even if the whole world says homosexuality is acceptable, we must stand our ground on the authority of God’s Word and insist that it is in fact unacceptable and unconscionable. We must speak the truth even if it means persecution and imprisonment. We must insist that homosexual sin is wrong, and like all sins, sexual or otherwise, it is deserving of God’s righteous wrath and condemnation.
Make no mistake, this is not hate speech; it is love speech. We speak of the sinfulness of homosexual sin, sexual sin, and all sin not out of hate, but out of love. In fact, the most hateful thing we could do is not call sin what God calls sin. That would certainly be the easier path for us, but it is not the path of truth that leads to forgiveness and freedom. We love homosexuals just as we love adulterers and all sinners, which is precisely why we must speak the truth in love to them, just as we need the truth spoken in love to us about our own sins. The Bible calls us to be righteously vexed by sin and to hate sin—our sin and the sins of the world. The Bible also calls us to love sinners and to pray that they would repent of their sins and trust Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of repentant sinners. If only more Christians demonstrated Christian love as they should by praying for the sexually immoral of this world, by calling sin what God calls sin, and by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to the end that the sexually immoral might know their desperate need to repent and that, by the grace of God, they might cling to Christ and His righteousness. Then homosexuals might know how much we Christians love them. For we cannot love without speaking the truth, and we must not speak the truth without love. We must have compassion and courage as we live coram Deo, before the face of God, proclaiming His truth and His gospel to our homosexual neighbors, sexually immoral neighbors, and unrepentant, unbelieving neighbors, just as we preach the gospel to ourselves.
Tabletalk Article copyright
© Tabletalk magazine
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Tabletalk.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: tabletalk@ligonier.org. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343