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REPENTANCE
    Acts 2:38 Mark 2:17 Revelation 16:9-11
Scriptural terms may have a basic, almost generic meaning applied to different situations. However, in both the Old and New Testaments, "repentance" has only a basic meaning applied to all situations: “change of mind”. A Biblical call to repentance demands a new mindset toward God, ourselves, and our ways.

Repentance is not merely a superficial intellectual agreement to something. It is a genuine mind-shift that includes the resulting change, usually in actions. People connect repentance with sorrow so much that sorrow becomes part of the definition of repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). In reality, sorrow may accompany a repentance, and the sense of sin may stir up a person's mind or conscience so that he or she realizes the need for a Savior, but until there is repentance and a change of mind about Jesus Christ, there will be no salvation.

The clearest use of the word repent in the saving sense is found in Peter's sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38). Some in the crowd, hearing Peter's plea to repent, may have wondered, Repent about what? If they listened closely—and if we recall what Peter's sermon was all about—the answer to that question is clear.
•    Peter first spoke about Jesus of Nazareth: His life, His death, and His resurrection (Acts 2:22-24).
•    Next, quoting from Psalm 16:8-11, Peter reminded his audience that Messiah would be raised from the dead (Acts 2:25-31).
•    Then he made it extremely clear that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead less than two months before in that very city, and He was Messiah.
•    Furthermore, since David also predicted in Psalm 110:1 that Messiah would ascend to the right hand of God, and Jesus of Nazareth had just done that also, Peter drew for the crowd the inescapable conclusion in Acts 2:36 that Jesus must be the Messiah.

Peter painted two pictures--one of Messiah from the Old Testament and the other of Jesus of Nazareth. Conviction overwhelmed the people. They asked what they should do, and Peter replied "Repent." The answer is the same today.
•    Change your minds about Jesus of Nazareth.
•    Whatever you thought about Him before or whoever you thought He was, change your minds.
•    Believe He is God and your Messiah who died and who rose from the dead.
That repentance saves.

Before any of us came to Christ, we had some conception of Him.
•    Perhaps it was fuzzy.
•    Perhaps it was reasonably clear.
•    Perhaps it was wrong.
But we turned from whatever conception we had and turned to Him as our Savior from sin. And that repentance brought eternal salvation. Repentance takes you from
•    Serving idols to serving God (1 Thessalonians 1:9).
•    Reviling Jesus to revering Him (Mark 15:32; Luke 23:39-43).
•    Feeding swine to returning to the father (Luke 15:11-21).
•    Being sorry to being saved (2 Corinthians 7:10).
•    Being rebuked to being reconciled (Luke 17:3-4).
•    Being captive to being free (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
•    Failing to overcoming (Revelation 2:17).

Mark 1:14-15 indicates that repentance is the key to salvation. Paul said in Acts 26:20 that he had preached everywhere that they “should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” But Acts 16:31 says he also preached that faith in Christ is the way to be saved. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” One could cite many verses stressing repentance and many that stress faith. Mental agreement with certain facts about Christ is not true saving faith. Nor would it produce salvation for a person merely to be sorry for his sins and change his behavior if he did not really trust from his heart in the person and work of Christ.

It is not "either/or" but "both/ and." One must bost have faith and repent.
•    One cannot truly repent (change his mind about Christ and His work, and his own life) without genuinely believing personally (have faith) that Christ died for his sins and rose again to provide his salvation.
•    Neither can one have genuine faith in Christ as Son of God and as his own personal Savior without repenting, having his life and attitude changed.

It is like two sides of the same coin—repentance on one side, faith on the other. We can only see one side at a time, but both are real and neither one of them can be there without the other. Paul gave the real "formula" for salvation in Acts 20:21. There can be no true conversion without conviction of sin. It is one thing to agree that you are a sinner. It is quite another thing to experience the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many have forgotten that the message is repentance toward God as well as faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ fittingly closes the volume of Holy Scripture with a most urgent call to repentance. Revelation 9:20-21 and Revelation 16:9-11 tell of men whom God had visited in grace and judgment who would not repent. The call to repent is also found in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and Revelation 3. The voice of the Lord comes to each one, declaring, "I know your works." Everything is open to His searching gaze. In these letters, the Lord has given us a diagnosis of every condition in which His churches may be found. Because the spiritual state of a local church reflects that of its members, these messages should be carefully considered and applied by every believer.
•    Only the Philadelphia and Pergamum churches were faithful.
•    Ephesus is rebuked because of having left her first love. Mere doctrinal correctness is not enough to keep the Gospel light brightly burning. It is only as the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit that our words count with others. An inconsistent, un-Christlike church will cause the world to turn in scorn from its message. So the Lord calls for repentance. Surely this call comes to many churches today, coupled with the warning that unless there be a new attitude, a turning back to the Lord in contrition and confession, He will take away the light, and we shall be useless witnessing for Him in a dark world.
•    The condition of the Pergamos church is even worse. There, positively evil things were tolerated and unholy alliances formed, which were an affront to the One they professed to serve. Again comes the call to repent. God cannot tolerate unjudged iniquity in His professed people. To boast of salvation by grace while living in sin is detestable to Him. Could anything be more needed today than such a message as this?
•    When we turn to the Thyatira church, we are confronted with conditions so grave and wickedness so shocking that we might naturally hesitate to recognize it as a church of God at all. Are there not many such churches now? How often have wealth and prominence protected wrongdoers and seemingly made it impossible to deal with them? Desperate diseases require drastic treatment.
•    In the church in Sardis, all is outwardly correct, but all is cold and formal. It is evident there was a time when this church was aflame with passionate devotion to Christ. Even today former strongholds of active evangelism might be a great turning to God, a repentance that would bring churches to their knees in brokenness of spirit. Only then will God open the windows of Heaven and pour out life-giving showers to revive the barren wastes and give the world to see again a mighty movement of His Holy Spirit.
•    Laodicea is lukewarm. It is an easy state to fall into. The believer out of fellowship with God may be quite satisfied for a time, boasting of being rich and increased with goods and needing nothing. Yet all the while the Lord detects the sad lack of practically everything that makes for vital godliness. He stands outside the door, knocking and seeking restoration of fellowship. The door is unlatched only by repentance.

Billy Sunday related a story of a well-known atheist seen running to a burning church building intent on joining with others in subduing flames. A neighbor exclaimed, "This is something new for you! I never saw you going to church before." The atheist replied, "Well, this is the first time I have ever seen a church on fire." Who can tell how many might be drawn to God if His people were only on fire for Christ and burning with zeal to win the lost!

Much preaching today lacks depth and seriousness. In efforts to make the Gospel simple and salvation easy, we sometimes fail to press on the consciences of our hearers the holy claims of truth. Today, if a preacher were to call upon his hearers to "repent and turn to God” he would, by many, be pronounced legalistic, ignorant, and so on. And yet this was precisely what the apostle Paul did (Acts 26:20). Paul preached the full, clear, precious Gospel of grace, but he also preached repentance.

The Holy Spirit will make the sinner feel and acknowledge his real condition by bringing the Word of God to bear on the conscience.
•    The Word is His hammer, with which He breaks the rock in pieces.
•    It is His plow, which He uses to break up the uncultivated ground.
•    He makes the furrow.
•    He casts in the incorruptible seed of the Gospel to germinate and bring forth fruit (Galatians 5:22-23) to the glory of God.

Repentance is not a good work whereby the sinner merits the favor of God. True repentance is the discovery and hearty confession of our utter ruin and guilt. This is serious work. There is no flippancy or levity when a soul is brought to repentance. In Luke 15:10 we learn that every case of true repentance touches the heart of God. It is one thing to see that repentance is required of man, but quite another to see that it is a joy to God (Isaiah 57:15).

The scribes and Pharisees murmured because Jesus received sinners (Mark 2:17). How little they understood Him! How little they knew of themselves! It was the "lost" that Jesus came to seek and save. But the scribes and Pharisees, like many church leaders today, did not think themselves lost.
•    They were thoroughly unbroken, unrepentant, self-confident.
•    All the learning of the scribes, and all the righteousness of the Pharisees, could not awaken a single note of joy in the presence of the angels of God.
•    Anyone who is building upon their own righteousness, who talks of their  duties, their doings, their sayings, their givings, is really insulting God.

The person who comes with a broken heart, a contrite spirit, repentant, self-judged--that is the person who gives joy to the heart of God. And why? Simply because such a one feels a need of God. To understand this is to grasp the full truth of the great question of repentance. A God of love desires to make His way to the sinner's heart. But there is no room for Him so long as that heart is hard and unremorseful. When the sinner sees himself a helpless, hopeless wreck, when like the prodigal he comes to himself and feels the depth and reality of his need, then there is room in his heart for God, and—marvelous truth!—God delights to come and fill it.

What is the sinner's duty? Acts 17:30 states firmly:  God commands all people everywhere to repent.
•    God's commandment binds them to do it.
•    His goodness leads them to it.
•    His judgment warns them to it.
•    He assures us that our repentance gives joy to His heart.
No one can meet God on the basis of works or duty. God can meet anyone on the ground of repentance, even Paul, who in 1 Timothy 1:15 called himself “the chief of sinners.”

How can we look at the cross where the Son of God bore the judgment of sin, or hear that solemn cry breaking forth from amid the shadows of Calvary, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" and not see the absolute necessity of repentance?

Sin is so terrible, so absolutely hateful to God, so perfectly intolerable to His holy nature, that He had to bruise His well beloved and only begotten Son on the cross in order to put it away. Shall we hear the glad tidings of full and free forgiveness of sins--a forgiveness which cost nothing less than the unutterable horrors and agonies of the cross—and be unmoved? If it was absolutely necessary that Christ should suffer for our sins, is it not morally fitting that we should repent of them?

The apostle Paul called upon sinners to judge themselves, and he called upon believers to subdue and deny themselves.
•    He did not preach a mesage that left people at ease in the world, satisfied with themselves, and occupied with earthly things.
•    He did not tell people that they were saved from the flames of Hell and were therefore free to enjoy the follies of earth.
•    He preached a message which, while it fully met the sinner's deepest need, also most fully maintained God's glory--the Gospel, Good News-- which, while it came down to the very lowest point of the sinner's condition, did not leave him there. Paul's message not only set forth a full, unconditional, forgiveness of sins, but also the believer's entire deliverance from this present evil world and from the present power and rule of sin through the death of Christ.

The period of time when God deals with souls is called a "space to repent" (Revelation 2:21). Think of God's patience with Israel. After they turned their back on God again and again, the longsuffering of God came to an end (2 Chronicles 36:16). But not so with the men of Nineveh. When judgment was pronounced upon them with only forty days of warning, the cry of God's prophet was heeded (Jonah 3:8-9). God gave Nineveh "space to repent," and she repented. 2 Peter 3:9 sums up God’s patience.

Have you yet been brought to true repentance, or are you filling up this long-suffering "space" of time with hardness and unbelief? If so, I would urge you to pause and solemnly consider how you stand with God. God has graciously granted you this time to turn to Him and trust Jesus Christ as your Savior (Genesis 6:3; Isaiah 55:6; John 14:6; Acts 16:31).

May it never be said of you in the Day of Judgment, "I gave her [or him] space to repent, and she [or he] did not repent."

THE INVITATION
★    You can't depend on your own goodness to get to Heaven. We've all sinned  (Romans 3:23). Jesus paid the penalty for your sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection (John 3:16).
★    To be forgiven and be guaranteed a place in Heaven, you need to repent of sin, confess that you are a sinner, and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ in your heart (Acts 2:21).
★    You can use the following prayer or your own words, but you must actually believe in your heart that your prayer is real:
              Lord Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God. I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed. Please forgive all my wrongdoing and let me live in relationship with You from now on.
              I receive You as my Savior and recognize that the work You accomplished once and for all on the cross was done on my behalf.
              Thank You for saving me. Help me to live a life that is pleasing to You.
                     In Your name I pray, Amen.

    Dr. Nicholas J. Gray, Pastor   Broadway Baptist Church   Sedalia, Missouri    September 27, 2015