And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” (Acts 2:38-39 ESV)
Recently as I was preparing for our Wednesday night Bible study, I was intrigued by a verse from Chapter 6 of Mark, the verse recounts the message of the Apostles Jesus had sent out “two by two” (Mark 6:7). So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. (Mark 6:12 ESV) The reason that this verse was interesting to me is simple: the message of John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostles, and Peter after the resurrection is the same: repent (see Matthew 3:2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 6:12, Acts 2:38).
As I think about where we are in the 21st century, it seems now more than ever that the church needs to get back to the simplistic evangelistic call to the world: repent. With all our programs, lights, perfectly crafted media, flawless orators, stories and object lessons, it seems sometimes as if we have over complicated the simple message of the Gospel: we are sinners and we desperately need a Savior.
Until we see our own sinfulness, our inability to change ourselves, and the holy perfection required to experience a relationship with God, we will never come to the startling realization: we can’t save ourselves, others can’t save us, only God Himself can save us.
Scripture teaches us that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Because God is holy and perfect, sin cannot enter into HIs presence. For you and me, as sinners, this is bad news. The Scripture tells us that the wages or payment of sin is death (Romans 5:8). These truths combined mean that we are sinners, we cannot enter into the presence of God, and the penalty for our sin is death and eternal separation from God. If the story ended here, I would have to say that this is the most terrible news to ever come across my mind.
But, thank God, the story doesn’t end with us stuck in our own sin and separation. God did something incredible in the midst of our brokenness, He sent His only Son Jesus into the world to save us (John 3:16). Jesus, God’s only Son, came into the world, lived a perfect life without sin, and died the death you and I deserved. God poured out His wrath against His perfect, sinless Son on the cross at Calvary. Jesus paid the price for our sin so we wouldn’t have to.
Thank God that Jesus didn’t stay dead! Three days after being crucified and laid in a borrowed tomb, Jesus rose again defeating death and the grave. His resurrection is proof that God accepted His sacrifice as the payment for our sins. We become Christians once we confess Jesus as Lord of our lives and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead (see Romans 10:9).
One pastor said that repentance is a “change of mind that leads to a change of direction.” Biblical repentance begins with acknowledging that God’s way and God’s Word is right, our way (and any other way opposed to His) is wrong. Once we acknowledge this truth, we can make a decision turn away from sin and turn to God through faith in Jesus. Repentance isn’t a secondary step of the Christian faith, it is an initial (and continual) part of journey as Christ followers.
Once we become born again followers of Jesus Christ, our need for repentance doesn’t end. It is an ongoing part of the Christian experience. The Apostle John says it this way: 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 ESV) So… today I’d just like to ask one simple question: have you trusted in Jesus as Lord and repented of your sin? If you are a follower of Jesus, do you have sins you need to confess and repent of? In the words of John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the Apostles: repent.
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