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Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone 7.19.12

Soli Deo Gloria: For the Glory of God Alone 7.19.12

Posted: Thursday, July 19, 2012 6:00 pm

True Conversion

We have seen the depressing statistics: it is estimated that 25 to 50 percent (or higher, depending on which poll you consult) of church members in the United States are not saved.
What do these figures mean? Or to put it another way, what constitutes true conversion? Is this a question that should be on the heart of every Christian person? The men who composed the Heidelberg Catechism thought so.
Today’s lesson addresses this issue with a series of four questions and their answers.
The first question (Q.88) in our lesson gets right down to it: “What is involved in genuine repentance or conversion? Two things: the dying away of the old self (Ephesians 4:22), and the coming-to-life of the new (Ephesians 4:23-24).”  Paul gives a detailed description of this process in Colossians 3:5-10.
What is the dying away of the old self (Q.89)? The catechism answers, “It is to be genuinely sorry for sin, to hate it more and more, and to run from it” (2 Corinthians 7:10a). This godly sorrow is demonstrated by David in Psalm 51:3-4. He had committed adultery and murder, among other things, yet his sorrow focused on having rebelled against God. He exhibited a “broken and contrite heart.”
The Catechism goes on to note that we must also increasingly come to hate sin and to flee from it (Romans 8:12-13). Paul states that by no means are we to “go on sinning” (Romans 6:1-2). As he makes clear in Romans 7, we may still struggle with sin, but, more and more, we will regard it as repulsive and awful.
What is this “coming-to-life of the new self” in Question 90? Ezekiel speaks of “a new spirit,” and of a new, transformed heart in describing God’s act of regenerating (literally “re-creating”) those dead in sin (Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26). The Catechism describes this as a “wholehearted joy in God through Christ (Romans 5:1), with love and delight to live according to the will of God in all good works (Galatians 2:20).”
So then, having been saved “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8), the true convert is “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Question 91 asks, “What do we do that is good?” Only those things done out of true faith (John 15:5; Hebrews 11:6). This means our good works must conform to God’s law (1 Samuel 15:22) and be done for God’s glory (1 Peter 4:11) only. We should take especial care to never do that which is right in our own eyes or based on human tradition alone (Deuteronomy 12:32; Matthew 15:7-9).
There has been a peculiar notion that a person might have Jesus as Savior without having him as Lord. Ephesians 2:10 (quoted above) exposes this idea as another of the Devil’s lies (see also Matthew 5:13-14; Colossians 1:10).
Today’s four questions are listed in the Heidelberg under the sub-heading, “Gratitude.” This is the heart of the matter. Why would I, after God’s own Son has given his life for mine, continue to embrace sin? How could I dare to shirk my duty to his Church after he laid down his life for her?  If I exhibit no evidence of the Holy Spirit’s fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) in my life, should I not experience fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13)?
Professing Christian, what do you think?
Editor’s note: RB Tolar is a member of Grace Presbyterian Church in Troy. He strongly urges readers to consult the Scripture references used in this article “to see if these things are so” (Acts 17:11b).

Published in The Messenger 7.19.12

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