“For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription,
TO THE UNKNOWN GOD,
whom therefore ye ignorantly worship
him declare I unto you …
And the times of this ignorance
God winked at;
but now commandeth all men every where to repent;”
If I asked my family to repeat a saying their dad uses often, I would be surprised if no one answered, “I am not stubborn. I am steadfast.” In many respects being steadfast can be good – steadfast in the truth; steadfast in walking with God; steadfast in loving others. These are good things, which do belong to my husband. But other things i.e. refusing to ask for help, refusing to read directions when the project before you lies in a shambles, or refusing to turn around when you’ve traveled miles in the wrong direction. Many of us identify with these things and the frustration accompanying them. Until, as a last resort, we turn from our own thinking and seek the help we need.
Many people hang on to a belief system they steadfastly refuse to turn from even when a mountain of proof shows they are going the wrong way, and they need to seek a different way. I read once, and I believe it was in David Guzik’s comments found on the Blue Letter Bible website, that the first word of the Gospel Jesus came preaching was, “repent.”
We don’t hear that word preached much anymore. It is one of those old time words, but it is where the Gospel begins.
“Repent; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand …
Now after that John was put in prison,
Jesus came into Galilee,
preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,
The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand:
repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14,15
When the Lord God spoke to the prophet Ezekiel, He left us a good definition for repentance.
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God.
- Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions;
- so iniquity shall not be your ruin.
- Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed:
- and make you a new heart and a new spirit:
- for why will ye die, O house of Israel?
- For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord God:wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye.”(18:30-32)
Repentance turns from an old way of life – to a new life due to a change in of the mind and heart. It is a turning away from a life filled with self to a life filled with Christ. Godly repentance is demonstrated in a new life found in turning away from the ways of the world, the lies of the world, and the ultimate death of the world and turning to –
Jesus Christ who says:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life:
no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Jesus began his earthly ministry preaching repentance. He gave instructions to his followers to continue preaching it.
“Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. And said unto them,
Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer,
and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached
in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
After Christ’s ascension he appeared to John and preached repentance to five of the seven churches in Revelation. Also, in the last chapter of Revelation an angel says the call to repent stops when Christ returns. He tells the apostle John.
“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still;
and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still:
and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still:
and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”
Jesus then interjects the reason why:
“And, behold, I come quickly;
and my reward is with me,
to give every man according as his work shall be.”
There will not be time to repent when Jesus returns. Our eternity is sealed.
How do you define repentance?