What No One is Talking About: Repentance – Part 2
Acts 2:36-38 New International Version
36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.”
37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”
38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
In Pastor Barclift’s second sermon on repentance, he points out again that no one seems to be willing to talk about it. Does repentance make us uneasy or unhappy? So many want to claim that God is love and since he loves us no matter what, why repent and why talk about it? There is however a balance between a just God and a God of love. Repentance comes into as a significant part of that balance.
Being made in the image of God, we all come to a point where we need a savior. Being good, doing good and trying to make ourselves worthy can never replace our need for our Savior. Like a child who has displeased an earthly parent, we long to be made right with God. Repentance can lead to a change of heart, attitude and behaviours. Repentance means to turn and go the other way.
1 John 1:9 (NIV) says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” This shows that repentance and forgiveness go together. God is then faithful and just and purifies us from the unrighteous things and changes our attitudes, motives, actions and priorities. It is an ongoing relationship, not just a flip of a switch that turns us into religious robots. Like Christ did the will of the Father, we too will be willing to do His will too, when we trust in him.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. Have you ever considered repentance to be a gift? It is God’s Holy Spirit who draws us to repentance and who gives us the capacity to repent. Repentance opens up the opportunity to receive more of God. Isaiah found that to be true when he encountered God as related in Isaiah 6.
Isaiah 6: 1- 8
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying.
3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah’s experience was real, moving and life changing. Peter says to preach repentance and God’s grace will open the heart to receive forgiveness. Isaiah was there. He knew he needed to have a new experience with God. He knew that he needed to stop all his busyness and listen to God and be cleansed. We are taught to pray the Lord’s prayer and to ask for our trespasses to be forgiven and to not be led into temptation and delivered from evil. How often does our own busyness, our own hardness to the spiritual side of life keep the seed of God’s word from landing on fertile ground? Just as Isaiah recognized that he needed to surrender fully to the will of God, we too need to commit to the will of God. This is that same will that we are praying about when we say, “thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” When do we become tired of going through the motions of religion and commit to God’s will? Through repentance, God has more to give each and every one of us!
Christians need be aware of complacency in one’s salvation. Just like any human relationship, our spiritual relationship with God requires attention to keep it growing. Couples who find themselves falling in love are excited about the relationship and long to spend good, quality time with their beloved. One of the seven churches John addresses in Revelation is Ephesus. It started out as a vital church; one whose members included Mary, the mother of Jesus and the apostle John. It was busy doing good works and was highly thought of, but God said he had one thing that they needed to change. They had lost their first love, the love that an eager person feels when they first fall in love with their beloved. They needed to repent and return to their first love and experience the fullness of God! We have the same opportunity to repent and return to our first love.