“This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.'” Jeremiah 6:16
In the Hebrew to live is to walk! Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:24). God called Abraham to walk before him (Genesis 17:1). Obedience is to walk in the Lord’s Way (Deuteronomy 5:33; 8:6; Psalm 1). Eastern people describe life in concrete language and metaphor that one can experience. Obedient living is walking with God or on his path.
In similar fashion sin is described as straying from the path God has commanded us to walk. Repentance is the action of recognizing the wrong choice of path, deciding to change one’s walk, and the return to the path pleasing to God. This is a metaphor portraying its truth.
Tshuvah is a word the Rabbis use to describe the Hebrew Bible’s call to repent from sinful ways and return to the Lord. It is derived from the Hebrew word Shuv which means ‘turn’ and is used often in the Hebrew Bible. The choice of this word visualizes repentance as a turning from something evil and to the good–from the wrong path to the right one which is pleasing to God. Amos repeatedly demands such ‘turning’ revealing that God has brought suffering into Israel’s life but they have not ‘returned’ to him (Amos 4:6-11) While repentance surely includes change of heart and mind and sorrow for offending God the choice of this concrete language in Scripture indicates God demands a change of action as well.
“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). It might be said the only thing we must do that Jesus did not do is repent–turn from the wrong path to the right one–for he was without sin. His walk was always obedient. It has always been my passion to walk with, and as Jesus. He called his disciples to repent (Matthew 4:17). So we must as well. Here is an example from Ray Vander Laan’s own ministry.
Some time ago I gave a lecture at a large church on the subject of women office bearers. In that talk I left his path and took a wrong path (disobedience). God soon called me to return to his path. I learned of this when a scholar for whom I have a great deal of respect and whose work I have in my library, wrote a critique of the lecture, and I received a copy. I confessed my sin and sought God’s forgiveness. I immediately asked that Church to stop distributing the message and they did. While the conclusions I presented I believe are correct, the evidence I used to support them was not.
My confession is:
“I used the research of others without checking its accuracy. I made a several statements as fact when they should have been called opinions of the author(s) I had consulted. Because of this failure I made several incorrect statements regarding Greek words and phrases and other technical details. This was the wrong path.
I have always tried to prepare meticulously and teach topics I am knowledgeable about. I always try to identify the opinions of other scholars. I did not this time. The fact I did not intend to mislead does not mitigate my responsibility. I have rededicated myself to the careful preparation I have always tried to do in the past. This is the right path. I ask God’s help to walk it faithfully.”
I have always taught that the Bible is the final authority on everything. It is inspired and infallible. Always submit to its truth I often tell my students. Hopefully all those who encounter my teachings–and those of others — will test all teaching by the Book alone. I have rededicated myself to doing the same.
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