There was a time when school was all about building a foundation from which we were able to develop the tools to begin to discover life. Today it seems that school is more about being indoctrinated with someone’s beliefs and not basic facts. I have recently had to assist a young man in his late 20’s in learning how to do basic math and I have had to dispel false conceptions and understanding about the basis upon which this country was founded, sadly only to be told that I don’t understand how things have changed. The basic problem, however, is that while some things change, the basis of our foundation, our personal foundation as a Christian, cannot be allowed to change. It’s like the 3 R’s… Read’n, Rite’n and Rithmatic. They do not change, no matter how much the world changes around them. And so it is with God’s 3 R’s… Repentance, Reconciliation and Regeneration.
2 Tim 2:24-26 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 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.
The key here is the word “patient.” Here it is anexikakos, which means to endure or be patient in the face of “wrong.” We are to forebear in humility; prauteti… meekness. And this is where we often times fail in our attempts to follow God’s 3 R’s. In our desire to share the gospel we sometimes get ahead of the Holy Spirit in our rush to see someone who is lost be saved. We forget that someone doesn’t just change their mind (Repentance), they have to change their heart (Regeneration), which is the work of the Holy Spirit that comes with changing their will (Reconciliation). We often set our focus on Repentance as we share the gospel, forgetting that true Repentance comes by the Holy Spirit who first convicts of sin, righteousness and judgement. He is the One who awakens the conscience to create the condition that makes Repentance possible.
Look at it this way. When the Holy Spirit is at work in bringing someone to Repentance, His first step is “conviction.” which brings that person to the place where they are able to acknowledge and know the Truth. That word “know” is epignosis, which means having precise, experiential knowledge. It is only then that they can come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil. Just like the prodigal son, he first came to his own senses in that pig sty after knowing the truth and repenting of his actions. It was then that he was able to return to his father and ask for forgiveness.
I have to continually remind myself when sharing the gospel that I am but a messenger sharing the good news. It is the Holy Spirit who does the convicting that brings about the Repentance, the Reconciliation and the Regeneration. The prodigal son had to first come to himself, and then he was able to come to his father, and the same is for the lost soul today. We can’t forget that the process is not “psychological” (not someone’s opinion), it’s “spiritual.” Psychology just deals with the symptoms while the Holy Spirit deals with causes.
So, the 3 R’s. We are called to be gentle, to teach and be patient and humble in sharing the good news that God has opened the way for Reconciliation through Jesus. And that way is opened by the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement, which leads to Repentance and Regeneration. But we have to be patient and follow the Holy Spirit as He prepares the heart to receive the good news.
Read’n, Rite’n and Rithmatic… their not opinions, they’re facts!