How is repentance an affirmation of lordship? Jeremiah 32 helps provide a picture of this from God’s perspective. Before getting to that point, several questions have come up since Drew began posting on repentance and the lordship controversy. Perhaps this will help the direction of the conversation. When affirming lordship salvation, it is important that we understand that no aspect of biblical conversion robs God of his glory in election, the Holy Spirit’s effectual ‘cut to the heart,’ or Christ’s supremacy in it all by calling any aspect of those things something that we do apart from God’s work. With that in mind, Jer. 32 explains how God intends to keep his people by his sustaining grace in a way that also affirms his lordship.
Before continuing, read Jer. 32:36-44, or the whole chapter for context. In the second half of verse 40, God tells them, “And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” In the context of chapter 32, the city has been given over to Babylon and to famine and pestilence according to the people. The sword, famine, and pestilence they are facing are, ultimately, a result of their rejection of God’s lordship in Jerusalem (v. 23, “But they did not obey your voice or walk in your law. They did nothing of all you commanded them to do. Therefore you have made all this disaster come upon them.”). Then, in v. 37, God says he will gather his people from all the countries to which he drove them in his wrath and judgment, and will bring them back to a place of safety. But how does he say he will sustain them?
Verse 38 begins the progression: “They shall be my people, and I will be their God.” Then in v. 39, he declares, “I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever.” At that point, he promises to give them a heart different than what they currently have. Why does he promise that? “For their own good and the good of their children after them” (v. 39b).
After v. 39, we see the lasting impact of God’s promise here and how it transcends the current strife of the people of Israel to the church. Verse 40 says, “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them.” God’s promise here is made apart from conditions and merit, and therefore is by grace alone. Then, at the end of v. 40, he explains how this relates to lordship and a restoration of what we were made for. He says, “And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.” At this point, and in the context of this discussion, there should be a fairly obvious correlation between God’s sovereign sustaining grace and our submission to his lordship. In this everlasting covenant, God will “put the fear of [himself] in [our] hearts, that [we] may not turn from [him].” This means that we will affirm his lordship by having an upright fear of God in a manner in which he is glorified by our joy in him, “that [he] may not turn away from doing good to [us].”
Finally, v. 41 takes it to its furthest extent: “I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.” So, God will rejoice with all his heart and soul in doing good to his children, who fear him and submit to his lordship in an upright manner. Therefore, in the context of these verses, lordship is set in place in order that God’s children would be restored to their position of man created to glorify God by enjoying him forever. We see here that in lordship, or having “the fear of God in our hearts,” we may not turn from him; therefore, God will rejoice in doing those who fear him good, and will plant them in his land of faithfulness, with all his heart and all his soul.
I include this in this series because we must see that an affirmation of lordship is absolutely necessary to salvation in its cosmic sense. With that in mind, an affirmation of the lordship of Christ begins in, and is sustained by, God’s sovereign grace for us in salvation. Repentance is a necessary fruit of the new birth in view of the everlasting covenant, and it is manifest both by contrition and a volitional turn from sin to the lordship of Christ. Therefore, every child of God called to salvation will also be called to and affirm Christ’s lordship, and it is to those who the fear of God is maintained and secured, is a gift that God will “not turn away from doing them good.”
Hopefully that, at least somewhat, clearly shows how lordship and repentance go together for salvation from God’s perspective. “Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.”