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Repent and Prepare
General James Green
C HRISTIANS AGREE that Christ Jesus has brought salvation to man, but many differ about how salvation may be obtained. Just how does a sinner obtain salvation?
The Answer IS IN THE BOOK
THE APOSTLE PAUL in Acts 20:21 tells us of two requirements for salvation. Let us read that verse: “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
1). Repentance toward God
2). Faith toward Christ
John the Baptist
THE BAPTIST puts forth these words as he was preaching in the Desert of Judea: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”—Matt. 3:2.
THOSE WHO KNOW GREEK tell us that the Gk word “metanoeite” or “metanoeo” means “to think differently or afterwards, i.e., reconsider.” This Greek word is compounded of a preposition with two meanings, “after” and “with,” and a verb meaning “to perceive,” and “to think as the result of perceiving.” Hence, the meaning “to think after a deed is done,” and “to think with,” in comparison with what ought to have been done, or might have been done...and so “to think differently after.” It is “a change of mind resulting in a change of conduct.” The emphasis is on the CHANGE OF MIND AND HEART—rather than on the sorrow which is the impulse that leads to the change of conduct.
One Bible professor has stated, “Repentance is to leave the sins we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve, by doing so no more.”
1). REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD
THE OLE DEVIL is very subtle. He has his messengers—“religious” ones, teaching that all men have to do is believe on the love and goodness of God, and they are saved. This sounds Biblical enough, BUT they leave out “repentance!” Many believe that there is a God, and that Jesus died for our sins, but we MUST repent and be baptized.
What Did Jesus Teach?
JESUS SPOKE TO a gathering of people about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Luke 13:2, 3 tells us: “…Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? (verse 3 tells us), “I tell you, NO! But unless you REPENT, you too will all perish.” Jesus repeats to the people in verse 5, “…unless you REPENT, you too will all perish.” Some would think those words of Jesus are just too harsh and unloving. NO! Leaving men IN THEIR SINS is harsh and unloving.
Metanoeo= To Turn Around
REPENTANCE MEANS a turning FROM sinful ways and turning TO Christ, i.e., FROM-TO. Once we turn TO Christ, we automatically, turn TO God (see Jn. 14:1, 6; Acts 8:22; 26:18, 1 Pet. 2:25).
The decision of our free will to turn FROM sin and TO salvation in Christ involves accepting Christ, not only as our personal Savior from the penalty of sin (which is death), but also as LORD of our life (master and ruler). Thus, repentance involves a change of lords—from the “lordship” of Satan (see Eph. 2:2), to the Lordship of Christ Jesus and His Word (Acts 26:18).
Facing Our Sins
IN REPENTING, we come face to face with our committed sins.
a). We settle the question of sin
b). We spring forth into action
Jesus puts forth this order in Matt. 21:32, “Ye repented not…that ye might believe.”
IF MEN DO NOT CONFESS their sins, they will not FORSAKE them. First John 1:9 tells us, “…if we confess our sin, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Free Will Choice
PLEASE DON’T give me the old lie that men are too depraved to repent, therefore God had to save us first before we can believe (have faith) to receive Him. This is silly! I might argue that some men are too demonized or possessed to believe and confess without the casting out of devils (we’ve done this before), but generally, men are capable of exercising their free will to get salvation.
IN THE ELEVENTH CHAPTER of Acts, Peter explains his actions about going to the Gentiles with the Gospel. The Church at Antioch heard about all this, and it says in vv. 20, 21 that “…telling them the good news (Gospel) about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people BELIEVED and TURNED to the Lord.” These seekers found salvation possible by the enabling grace given to them as they heard and believed the Gospel.
SOME THINK that “saving faith” is “mere trust” in Christ as Savior. This is partly true, but it is wholly inadequate in the light of Christ’s DEMAND for repentance. To define “saving faith” in a way that does not necessarily involve a radical break with sin is to dangerously distort the Biblical view of redemption.
Some Churches have gone so far backwards that they now teach “progressive salvation.” Friend, being born-again is not progressive! They have done this because men want to give up their sins a little at a time. This is damnable!
FAITH THAT INCLUDES REPENTANCE is always a condition for salvation (see Mk. 1:15; Luke. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:21).
Repentance was a basic message of the O.T. (O.T. means Old Testament) prophets (see Jer. 18:8; Ezek. 18:21; Mal. 3:7), John the Baptist (Matt. 3:21), Jesus (Matt. 4:17; 18:3; Luke. 5:32), and N.T. Christians (Acts 2:38; 8:22, 11:18; 2 Pet. 3:9). The preaching of repentance must ALWAYS accompany the Gospel message. In today’s modern, liberal, and politically correct Church, repentance is all but omitted. Now, we concentrate on the “love” of God, that is, He wants to save you for love’s sake, and there is no need to repent of one’s sins! This is NOT true preaching of the Gospel.
ROMANS 3:25; 1 Jn. 2:2 and 4:10 speaks of Jesus’ propitiation for our sin. The KJV uses “propitiation” whereas the NIV uses the words “atoning sacrifice.” As our “ATONING SACRIFICE,” Jesus took upon Himself the punishment for our sins and satisfied, or absorbed, God's righteous judgment against sin. FORGIVENESS IS NOW OFFERED TO EVERYONE throughout the whole world and is received by those who TURN FROM SIN TO CHRIST in REPENTANCE and FAITH (see 4:9, 14; Jn. 1:29; 3:16; 5:24).
In His Blood
Romans 3:25 says, “God presented Him (Jesus Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance, He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.”
Six Things Concerning Christ’s Death
1) It was a sacrifice, i.e., and offering of His own Blood, His life (see 2 Cor. 5:14-21; Eph. 5:2).
2) It was vicarious, i.e., He did it not for His own sake (He was sinless!), but for the sake of others—the whole lost world (Rom. 5:8, 8:32; Mk. 10:45; Eph. 5:2).
3) It was substitutionary, i.e., Christ suffered death as the penalty for our sin, as our substitute (see Rom. 6:23).
4) It was propitiatory, i.e., Christ’s death for sinners satisfied God's righteous nature and His moral order. There are Christian theologians who do not believe this fact! Nevertheless, Christ removed His Father’s wrath against the repentant sinner: He literally absorbed God's wrath.
The LORD’S integrity required that sin be punished and propitiation be made for us. Through this act, God's holiness remained uncompromised; and He was able to justly reveal His grace and love in salvation. You see, God did not need to be persuaded to show mercy and love, for already “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ” (2 Cor. 5:19; Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; 8:3, 32; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:4-6).
5) It was expiatory, i.e., a sacrifice to atone or make reparation for sin. As expiation, the sacrifice is directed toward annulling guilt (ALL men are guilty before Him). By Christ’s death, the guilt and power of sin that separated God and the believer were annulled—Praise God!
6) It was a victorious defeat! Christ defeated all principalities and the power of evil and was triumphant over the power of sin. His death was the initial victory over the spiritual enemies of both the Godhead and humanity (8:3; Jn. 12:31, 32; Col. 2:15). Thus, Christ’s bloody death is redemptive. By the ransom of His own life, He liberated us from the enemies that hold the fallen race in bondage, i.e., sin (see 1 Pet. 1:18, 19; Rom. 6:6). Death and Satan were also defeated (2 Tim. 1:10; 1 Cor. 15:54-57; Acts 10:38). All this accomplished, He made all those who would become Christian, free to serve God (Rom. 6:18). Oh, yes, we have our battles, but we also have our armour and weapons (see Eph Cpt. 6).
All the above results of Christ’s sacrificial death occur potentially for all people but only actually for individuals who, through faith, accept Jesus Christ the Lord and His atonement for them.
2). FAITH TOWARD JESUS CHRIST
REPENTANCE DOES not save the soul, even though it is essential heart preparation. We need faith—to believe in Him. “By grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8). It is by faith in Jesus’ atonement that we are declared righteous (Rom. 3:25). The apostle Paul also tells us that being “justified by faith, we have peace with God” (Rom. 5:1).
“Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 6:11) (see also Heb. 11:6).
Prepare Ye the Way of The Lord
GOING BACK TO MATTHEW 3:3, the Baptist tells the people to prepare the way of the Lord. John prepared the WAY by confirming the decisions to repent—verses 5, 6. The souls that were baptized had done business with their own souls. They made His paths straight. Luke quotes more fully from Isaiah, “every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth” (see Lk. 3:5). These things were done naturally on roads when dignities visited Palestine. But the Baptist was speaking in spiritual terms here—preparing one’s heart to receive the Lord Jesus.
PREPARING THE WAY was a witness to the fact that some great person was coming. Friend, is your heart prepared to meet the Lord? It says that the people “were baptized in Jordan, confessing their sins.” No one truly repents who does not also confess—to God the sins against God.
BAPTISM WAS the visible, public act of the renouncing of the “old life” of sin, and entering upon the “new and holy life” that belongs to the Kingdom of God. Public confession confirms the resolve to die to the “old man” and live unto the “new man.”
Put off—Put on
EPHESIANS 4:22-24 tells us to put off the old man and to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness.
EPHESIANS 4:21 tells us, “If so be that ye have heard Him (Jesus), and have been taught by Him, as the Truth is in Jesus.” Verse 21 is parenthetical, and the infinitives of vv. 22-24 (put off…be renewed…put on) are loosely dependent on the opening phrase “learned Christ,” which requires a complement (there is no other instance in Gk. of the use of this verb with a personal object). According to Gk. scholars, there is an ellipsis (the omission of a word or words necessary for complete grammatical construction but understood in the context), for the infinitives can be taken to depend only on a positive affirmation, which must be supplied as the converse of the negative statement “you did not so learn Christ.” Thus, you have, “you have not so learned Christ as to continue to live like the pagans, you have so learned Him as to put off the old nature…”
TODAY, MOST CHURCH FOLKS hold onto the “old nature” and pretend to live in the “new nature!” This is “Church”!!
The parenthesis of verse 21 is of course an assumption, not a condition. The clause “as the truth is in Jesus,” for all its familiarity (especially in the misquotation “the truth as it is in Jesus”), is, as the scholars point out, extraordinarily difficult to interpret with precision. In the Gk., the noun “truth” has no article; and it is difficult, if not impossible to discover any meaning in the clause if “truth” is the subject. They say it is possible to take “truth” as the predicate—“as He [i.e., Christ] is truth in Jesus,” the reference being to the manifestation of the Messianic office and nature in the human personality of Jesus.
Furthermore, the interpretation must at all events take account of the introduction of the name “Jesus” in place of the “Christ” of the preceding verse. This can be understood only as a reminder that the voice of “the Christ” is heard and His teaching received in the historical “Jesus.”
Scholars say there may be beneath the words, a shaft of polemic directed against some doctrine which represented “the Christ” as a heavenly spirit, essentially distinct from the man Jesus; this would be an anticipation of a doctrine which we know to have been put forward a generation or two later in some of the Gnostic schools.
To Put Off—To Put ON Cont.
THE INFINITIVES WILL then be taken, as specifying what this true Christian instruction means: the new doctrine MUST issue in a new life—“Put off” (v. 22) and “put on” (v. 24). The literal sense of these verbs, which has to do with the change of clothing, is extended metaphorically to signify a change of character. Gk. scholars say that both these infinitives are referring to a change that is made once for all. “Be renewed,” on the other hand, renders a present infinitive denoting a continuing process (see 2 Cor. 4:16): “Our inner nature is being renewed day by day.”
REPENTANCE, preparing the Way for the King (Jesus), and a continual renewing is what true Christianity is all about. Our “old nature…is corrupt” (literally, “is perishing”): the present participle suggests a progressive decay, the consequence of a governing principle of decay. Why, dear Christian, should you, or I follow the flesh (Gal. cpt. 5)? Why follow or walk in the flesh? Gal. 5:16 tells “…walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Verse 19-21 gives a list of fleshly (corrupt nature) works.
Grieving the Holy Spirit
VERSES LATER, in Eph. 4, Paul warns us, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” So, it is possible to grieve the Spirit of God by yielding to some of the things mentioned in vv. 25-30.
ON THE IMAGERY of “sealing”, in relation to the Holy Spirit, see 1:13; the phrase here emphasizes the obligation laid upon us to revere the Spirit as the pledge of our destiny; our present conduct must be worthy of the inheritance upon which we have begun to enter.
May each and every one of us who name His name be counted worthy of His atoning sacrifice. May we WALK WORTHY of our vocation wherein we are called. AMEN.