Everyone has heard it, “If you were to die today, do you know where you will go?” This question has been asked so much it has desensitized so many people from its implications in being asked!
A few years back, when on a mission trip in Haiti, we were out doing street evangelism. We were driven to what seemed to be a town square–which was very different in this third-world country–and split up into a few groups. From here, each group went out on a journey in different directions with one purpose, to share the gospel with as many people as would hear it. This day was interesting due to all the myriad of conversations we had. We spoke with those involved in Voodoo (very common in Haiti), Jehovah’s Witnesses, and those who have heard of Jesus, but don’t want to believe.
As we ventured further away from civilization and out into the country of Haiti, we came to one house where we found a group of men taking a break from their work. One of them was holding his machete, putting me a little on edge (no pun intended). As we began to share the gospel, he stated that he knew of Jesus, but simply did not choose to believe. At this point, one of my friends asked him, “If you were to die tonight, do you know where you would go?” He answered, without hesitation, “Hell.”
He was clearly not afraid of it, for he did not believe in it. Sadly, this is often not the case. So many preachers get up proclaiming the depths, depravity, and dangers of hell, while missing the beauty, hope, and life in Christ!
A repentance done in fear is not done in love of Christ, but in love of self. It is done out of worry rather than worship. It is done out of a selfish nature.
This fear-based repentance is based on a “worldly grief.” Paul tells us that it is precisely this “worldly grief” that “produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Why does it produce death? The answer is simple: As we run from Satan, we have not necessarily run to God, who is life. We can run from Satan all we want, but until we run to God, we have not come to full repentance, nor full salvation, nor full life.
As Tim Keller says, “Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”
When our repentance is done in faith, it is done in trust. As we trust Jesus Christ, placing our faith in Him for our repentance, we have the firm foundation, the Cornerstone, the house built on the rock!
Simply put, true repentance is done without a worry about our status before God, but about His status before us. Though His status as God is static, unchanging, our belief and recognition of that can and must change.
This is done when we have a godly grief, viewing the hellish nature of sin from the same vantage point that God would. It is “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Kevin Deyoung stated, “Godly grief recognizes the utter sinfulness of sin and hates it more and more.”
Your Personal Repentance
It is a simple, but scary question: Is your salvation due to running away from Satan or running to God? Were you saved due to a fear of hell or a faith in the heavenly God? One must come first. Either you run from Satan with God being the byproduct or you run to God with Satan being the byproduct. One is biblical, the other is not. God is not a byproduct, but the precedent!
Is your salvation out of fear or faith? When you think of hell, do you grow fearful, or faithful? When we realize that we have run to God, we have naturally run from Satan as a resulting byproduct. It is in this circumstance that our fear is gone. John helps us to understand as he tells us that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfect in love” (1 John 4:18).
When one’s salvation is a result from running from Satan, it is not complete, for they have not run to God. Genuine salvation is running to God, not only running from Satan. Is your salvation genuine? Is it complete?