Discipline As Repentance and Belief

I don’t have a long thought for today, but I do have a thought that I think is worth sharing. It comes from a YouTube video that I have watched time and time again by Brad Johnson, professor of biblical languages at my alma mater, Asbury Theological Seminary. If you would like to watch the video, you can do so here.

While the idea of “repent and believe” has such a more pointed meaning in terms of the presentation of the gospel, it can apply to any direction in life we might want to turn in faith. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, we must be willing, by faith through grace, to repent from our old ways and believe in God to move us in the direction of His Kingdom. Likewise, as Christians, when we have any goal in life, we must ask God for the grace to get us there, if we wish to get there in the right way.

Let’s say you want to take better care of the gift that is your body. You might have lived a life thus far that is unhealthy, and you wish for change. Now there are a myriad of ways that you can lose weight without repentance or belief.  There are pills that, while causing you to lose weight, really are not great for your health, and isn’t that they point of “getting into shape”? You can do a fad diet, again, more than likely starving your body for appearances instead of health. The list goes on.

But, you know what most people find out when they try the “easy” way. It does not stick. Why? …because the change was forced, and it did not come from within, from the head and heart. It did not change them as a whole person, and we cannot neglect that we are integrated beings. When we want to do something right, we have to want it with both our head and heart.

So, what is “repentance” and “belief”? As Professor Johnson points out, our English language can often times obscure the actual meaning behind the words. We often think of repentance as something we do volitionally (action), and belief as something we accent to cognitively (thought). However, the words actually are quite the opposite. Repentance is a total change of heart, which does change our actions, if we allow God’s grace to flow through belief, which is putting what God has put in our heart into action. Repentance is learning a new way, coming to the realization that our own way has been flawed and learning what God would have us do. Then it is setting our minds to live it out. That is where faith takes over, which is putting your trust in God as you act out of what you have learned.

Discipline, then, which is full of life change, can never be complete until we consider the whole person, head and heart. If you want to discipline yourself to be different, you must make the effort to learn what is different and make that learning process that comes through prayer, bible reading, conversation and the like, a part of how you think as a person, what we would often call our “belief system.” Likewise, if you ever want these newly formed “beliefs” about how to do “it” right, whatever that thing is, to impact your life, you have to have the faith to walk it out, to act on what God is teaching:

“…by works faith was made perfect?” –James 2:22

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