A missing ingredient in the 21st Century Church
We live in an age of "Gospel Confusion"! We live in a time when there are so many "Gospel Preachers", "Gospel Choirs", "Gospel Programs, "Gospel Magazines", "Gospel Tracts", "Gospel Seminars" to motivate people to share the gospel, so many "Gospel Licenses" handed out to people to preach the gospel, and so much "Gospel Music", yet, people do not understand the gospel! The gospel of Jesus Christ has been humanized in our generation. It is no longer a God-centered gospel but rather a man-centered one! People are told to surrender to Christ, to find Him, to choose Him, to lean on Him, and to accept Him as if salvation depended upon man rather than upon God.
Another problem with the 21st century gospel is that many who preach it do not include "biblical repentance".People are led to believe that as long as they believe, they are saved in spite of the way they live. However, this view is directly opposed to Jesus and the first century apostles who gave repentance an important place in their preaching of the gospel. The word repentance comes from the Greek word metanoeo and it means to change one's mind; to heartily amend with abhorrence or hatred of one's past sin. It is used of those who are conscious of their past sins and are intent on obtaining God's pardon.
Both Jesus and John the Baptist preached repentance and believing. John taught that repentance was commanded by God (Matthew 3:1) and that it results in the fruit of a new conduct by the believer (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:10-15). Jesus taught that sinners are commanded to repent (Matthew 4:17) and that repentance and believing are essential to salvation. He says, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel." In Luke 3:3 and 5, He tells a group of men, "unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." Jesus also taught his disciples to preach repentance. (Mark 6:7,12).
When we look at the early church, we discover no difference in their preaching, repentance occupies an important place. On the day of Pentecost in his sermon (Act 2:38) and in his second sermon (Acts 3:19), Peter commanded his audience to repent. Paul also commanded Gentile sinners to repent in Acts 17:30 and he assigned repentance a central role in his gospel preaching. In Acts 26:20, He says that he "kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also to Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance." Since that was the case with our Lord and the believers of the first century, how can we ignore repentance in our gospel preaching today?
At this point, let's look at the source, the two sides, and the means of gospel repentance. There are two sources of biblical gospel repentance, God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 5:31, Peter says in his response to the High Priest, "He [Christ] is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." In another place, the church at Jerusalem says, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18b)." Paul in his letter to his spiritual son in the faith, Timothy, echoes the same truth when he says "And the Lord's bondservant must not be quarrelsome, correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth." Therefore, no one can truly repent, believe and be saved unless God the Father and the Son grant this to happen.
Secondly, what are the 2 sides of repentance? There is the negative side of repentance, which is a change of heart and the positive side which is bearing the fruit of repentance. On the negative side of repentance, God gives the sinner a new heart through the new birth. God takes his natural deceitful heart of stone (Jeremiah 17:9; Ezekiel 11:19) and gives him a new heart. Repentance therefore, is a fruit of regeneration (John3:1-15). On this side of repentance, a sinner turns to God with his new heart. On the positive side of repentance, a sinner turns from his sin. We live in a day when people want salvation "in their sins" rather than salvation "from their sins." People want Jesus and drugs", "Jesus and Adultery", "Jesus and Theft", "Jesus and greed", "Jesus and pornography", "Jesus and Sodomy",which is salvation without sanctification and Lordship!
True repentance bears fruit of the true repentance. Those who truly repent;
- Turn away from pride and selfishness (Luke 3:10-11)
- Turn away from greed and cheating (Luke 3:12,13)
- Turn away from violence, falsehood, and greed (Luke 3:13,14)
- Turn away from pride (Luke 13:1-5)
- Turn away from false religion (Acts 14:15)
- Turn away from witchcraft (Acts 19:18-20)
- Turn away from idols (I Thessalonians 1:9)
- Turn away from all sin (Titus 3:3-5; I Corinthians 6: 9-11)
It is time for sinners to repent of their sins and believe the gospel. Faith without repentance is phony faith! For a person to become a christian, is is necessary to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ but it is also necessary for him to repent of his sins. Without true repentance, faith in Jesus cannot be saving faith. Finally, for those of us who are saved, we need to repent for not preaching repentance side by side with faith in our presentations of the gospel and pray that God will give us a passion to preach the true gospel without compromise!