ALL MANKIND SHOULD REPENT...
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (emphasis mine)
Whatever happened to the message of repentance? For that matter, what ever happened to the word repentance? Does anyone, any preacher or church still use that word in their messages or presentation of the gospel? If we're honest the answer would be sadly, no - repentance is not a word we hear much of in churches today - or in sermons for that matter. The early church understood what repentance meant, and knew that presenting the gospel message without it was to pervert and distort the plan of God as it was given to them. Let me say that another way, the early church leaders, apostles and even Jesus Himself always had in mind the idea of "repentance" being a part of their presentation of being reconciled to God. That is a mouthful to be sure, but make no mistake; leaving 'repentance' out of the gospel presentation is a mistake that many modern day preachers have fallen prey to. The only one, let me repeat that, the only one who would want to take the message of repentance out of the picture - would be Satan who understands how important that word is. We do well to read the closing words of the scripture above: ... "that all should come to repentance". That it is God's will that all people come to repentance is simply irrefutable! Hmmm, we best look closely at that word then...
MERRIAM WEBSTER: Definition of REPENT
1: to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life
2a : to feel regret or contrition
b : to change one's mind
1: to cause to feel regret or contrition
2: to feel sorrow, regret, or contrition for
REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS...
The definition above, mentions as part of the definition - the idea of "turning from sin", "having a change of mind", and the added element of being sorry or feeling contrition; that is godly sorrow for ones sins and acts of disobedience. Now, when we put these all together we find that true repentance is a very "active" thing on our part as human beings. To make this teaching all the more unsettling to our souls is the specific command and admonishment to repent of: DEAD WORKS. Interesting that the writer chose those two words to refer to the generic term of "sin" which even in that day had become diluted by overuse and misuse among preachers and those who claimed to be the religious leaders of the day. If we just take the word at its face it is easy to discern what the writer is saying: Dead Works are anything we do that has no life in it. Or put another way, Dead Works are anything done by us as humans, whether in word, deed, or thought; that God hates that God has declared to be evil. (no matter how good they may seem or appear to be)
Paul the apostle makes clear to us, and all who would read his' letter to the Galatians; exactly what Dead Works are when he lists in lengthy detail the "works of the flesh" as he calls them. The works of the flesh are in truth, the very same "Dead Works" that we are told to "repent of" in Hebrews, chapter six, verse 1. That many churches no longer teach these things that God hates is inexcusable. These evil and deadly acts that are common to sinful man, are the very reason, the very things that will keep you and I out of heaven. It is incumbent upon ourselves to know what God hates, and what Jesus died to save us from. Our task is to hate what God hates, and to repent of everything in our lives that would keep us from Him and would keep us from going to heaven... repentance is not optional. (see Gal.5:19-21)
Who's teaching Repentance anymore?
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, ...
The writer of the letter to the Christian Hebrews, makes reference to the very First Principle of Christ as: REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS. Wow! We find here that not only is the doctrine of repentance, the first of Six Principles(read verses 1-3), but is considered the "foundation" of our Christian faith, along with the other 5 principles that are listed. That being the case, it makes it all the more disturbing that today not only are many Christians unaware of how important the teaching of repentance is, but unfortunately - so are many pastors and evangelists/teachers today in the modern church.
Sin, the blood of Jesus, the cross, and the word repent have become words to be avoided, words to be left alone; seldom if ever mentioned by many of today's pastors and teachers. Why? It makes people uncomfortable. Using words that remind people of their sinfulness, and their need for a Savior are often left to lie undisturbed within the dusty pages of one's bible, rather than delivered in power and within a fiery and cutting sermon or message... to do that would be to risk losing some "offended members" of ones church or denomination. Woe to those who do not preach the whole counsel of God, who compromise the truth and integrity of God's word out of fear of man, or any other carnal consideration. I admit, the idea of repenting does not excite me, in fact it makes me squirm, it makes me want to "change the subject" - hmm, like can we talk about going to the beach or say - a concert?
In the end, how we feel about repenting, or what we think about it is not important if we are going to follow Christ's clear directive/command to teach and preach it... ours is but "TO DO"!
FINAL THOUGHTS... If you're in a healthy church, you will hear the message of "repentance" loud and clear, and not just in a "blue moon". A church that is being cleansed and purified by our Lord - will preach/teach and live the message of repentance as part of their everyday lives... How often should I repent? Whenever the Holy Spirit convicts me of sin or iniquity in my life. Once a day, maybe - but, often a man or woman following God and walking closely with Jesus; may have to ask God to forgive them many times in a day, or in a week. How often you have to repent is a matter between you and God; but to think repentance is a one time event, is to err on a grand scale... We don't want to use repentance as an "excuse" to sin over and over again, no - that is presumptuous and dangerous. But, a mature Christian is one who knows keeping his or her "conscience" clear before God is a full time job and requires repeated acts of repentance as God convicts of sins or things that we need to "repent of". I tell people I minister to, the sign of a godly man or woman is this: Someone who is quick to acknowledge their sins to God,
and with a sincere and broken heart. I leave you with scriptures to meditate upon:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.
1 Timothy 1:19
holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.
1 Timothy 3:9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
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I love God, people, and all of God's creation. For me there is always something or someone to write about...