Anthony W. Brooks
⚠️ Long Post
In the last Installment of this series I discussed a practical understanding of being born again. In this one we will discuss what the Gospel is (what are we believing in) and repentance (how we continue in that believing by turning from sin). So we will be basically hitting two birds with one stone. Exciting? But, word of warning, this is going to be a long post.
I have always believed in God. This is true, but I will tell you that I had more of a concern for theology and doctrine than the experiential aspect of belief. A general assent to God is not enough: “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9. I want to confess to you that my assent was merely a mouth confession. My heart was still wicked, even up to my college years.
My outward works were wicked. I lied, fornicated, experimented with drugs, etc. these were evil things. I had left my father’s house with bags of cash, wasted it, and fell into a pit of swine. At 20 I impregnated my fiancé, was forced to quit school, and found a job making $450 a check stocking shelves at Walmart.
When my son, Augustine, was born I had more responsibility than ever to make sure he didn’t make my mistakes. And that’s when it all fell apart.
When I Woke Up
He slept in that day longer than usual. My wife of less than a year called me and told me that he hadn’t wet a diaper all day. At 10 months old you expect several diaper changes a day, but not this time. It scared me. So I left work and we took him to the hospital down the street from our house. They saw him and said that it was nothing to be concerned about. This was the second hospital run that week, the first being for a high fever where they told us to give him Motrin for the fever. We didn’t connect the two at the time.
The next day was the same. Only this time he was crying in pain. We took him back and they said not to bring him back unless he was limp. Not satisfied with this we took him to the next town over and saw the doctors there. Immediately they put in a catheter and drew blood. My mother came to the hospital and that’s when we heard that our Augustine was dying. He would be flown to Dallas Children’s Hospital where the best Renal Experts in pediatric medicine would work to slow down the damage that his kidneys we’re experiencing.
I saw the helicopter take off. My wife and son were only going to take an hour and a half to teach the hospital where he would immediately be taken to the ICU for testing. I would be driven to the hospital but my father.
My wife is strong guys. She’s a trooper. I didn’t see her cry once. I was a mess of tears. When she arrived the doctors reviewed what was known and came to the conclusion that it was best to prepare my wife for the worse case scenario. So they told her to not expect him to recover. When I arrived I saw my son sleeping and my entire family sitting in the room. Every five minutes or so he would wake up in pain and scream. Because it was his kidneys they couldn’t give him medicine to quiet the pain.
I found the chapel in the hospital. I fell down and wept. I asked God why he did this to my son. Is it fair that he die for my sin? And it was my sin. But God’s decrees are just. I had held my family up as an idol in his place, done what I wanted for them and ignored him, and I knew better. I knew the gospel, but I wasn’t living it. So I asked for the only rational thing I could ask for, and that was for my son to be healed. I asked for forgiveness. I asked for reconciliation.
My sons numbers were in peril for five days. He was on a catheter for six barely collecting any waste in the bag. On day three we got to hold him for a time. And on day four I saw him smile for the first time in over a week since he first got sick. So on day six he was out of the ICU and they moved him down to the renal floor for observation.
I can tell you that there is a God. I’ve written extensive defenses using Apologetics and philosophy to try to prove this but my son’s situation has become the chief motivation for my faith. I saw in that horrible week the hand of God. I saw his willingness to reprove me for my spiritual weakness. Same thing with my recent car accident. Any time I tend to stray he reminds me of my mortality. And it drives me forward.
The Gospel is light, Sin is Heavy
God sent his son. Christ died for us. He was raised. John 3, Matthew 26-28, John 1. These are the passages I would focus in on. There is something to this that always surprised me. God is loving and just. Why me? Why my life over another? Why redeem me? It’s always had me running in circles. I’m not worth the mud stuck to Jesus’ sandals, but he shed all of that blood for me. He suffered an agonizing death and separation from the father for me, he descended into hell for me, he was humiliated for me. And in my eyes I’m not worth it. But apparently I am.
The Gospel has great responsibility to those who give themselves to it. I had at my disposal a host of resources to help me believe and teach the gospel but I blew it. It almost cost me a child. But the beautiful thing about all of this is that even though I sinned I still had an advocate with the father, Jesus Christ.
“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
Repentance, or turning away from your sin, is that mechanism that God gives to the Christian so that we continue in our being made perfect. This is a complete turning from and shunning of your sin, a promise to not repeat said sin, and a hatred to the point of death of this sin. It is a gift from God to the righteous being made perfect. God grants us repentance and he can keep it from us as well.
“Correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” – 2 Timothy 2:25
“16 that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal.
17 For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.” – Hebrews 12:16-17
Repentance is to be desired and asked for. God is not lax concerning his promises. He has promised to keep a people for himself, and has done so successfully. Sin is a heavy burden to a Christian, but Christ calls out saying, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Soli Deo Gloria!