Scripture Passages: Isaiah 55: 6-10 and Acts 17:26-31
John the Baptist: His word was unmistakable – Repent! Nobody could miss the emphasis of the words of John the Baptist. This was a man who lived to preach repentance, and who died because of it. He preached a baptism of repentance. But we must not be content with an outward show of repentance, this has to be for real – must bring forth fruits worthy of repentance.
Jesus: When our Lord stepped into public life there were 4 clear notes in His preaching and one of those was repentance.
- The time is fulfilled. The Kingdom of God is come, repent and believe the Gospel.
- I have come not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance
- There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents – this tells us a lot about God and a great deal about repentance
- Instruction to disciples:- Repentance for the forgiveness of sins to be preached in my name to all nations.
Peter: Peter preached repentance – turn from their sins to God.
Paul: Acts 17 at the Areopagus Paul spoke to the court – God now commands all men everywhere to repent because He has fixed a day of judgement.
Repentance was clearly mattered to the early church. The consistent theme that runs through the New Testament is repentance. A message to:
- to Jews & Gentiles
WHY DOES REPENTANCE MATTER?
- Men called to repent because God’s blessing in their lives depend on it. There is one means of entry to the Kingdom of God – by the new birth and that involves repentance.
- Repentance has to do directly with an experience of the forgiveness of sins. We cannot experience the release from sins without turning from them in repentance to God.
- Because God has fixed a day of judgement. The universe in which we live has a moral reference and God will hold all men accountable and the day is coming in the calendar of God in which all the world will be summoned to answer to its maker – Judgement in righteousness.
IF IT MATTERS, WHAT IS REPENTANCE?
Repentance is a radical change in the conscious life of a person. It involves having such a sense of sin as to abhor it and turn from it.
The Shorter catechism says:
Question: What is repentance unto life?
Answer: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience.
Repentance is a deep seated thing. It affects how we think, who we feel, how we act. Repentance has to do with the whole personality, with our mind, with our heart and with our will.
… and unless all these parts are engaged,, then it cannot be true repentance.
Repentance involves a change of mind – a different view of God, of sin, of ourselves.
Repentance involves a Reckoning with the holiness of God, as well as His love and His mercy. We need to recognise God is unchanging in His person. God cannot tolerate sin. God is not to be taken for granted. It is common to have a sense of shame when come into God’s presence.
- I cannot think lightly of sin and say – Christ died for our sins.
- I cannot trifle with sin and say – Christ suffered untold agonies at the cross for sin.
It is not just having sorrow for the consequences of our sin. It is not just to be sorry for the consequences of our sin, but to have an abhorrence of it – recognise it for what it is, before Almighty God. It is not just recognising in our heads, not just remorse.
It is not a morbid dwelling on our sin and despair. His call to repent has a distinct and saving purpose for our good. Not to bring us into misery, but to get us out of it. It is a change of purpose/direction, a desire for pardon and cleansing.
It should be a lifelong matter. Calvin said: we cannot confine repentance for a time, it will be with us all our days. Let us bow our hearts in grief and arise in joy, as we know the blessedness of the joy of the Lord.