The Salvation of Jesus - Repenting
THE SALVATION OF THE JESUS: REPENTING Daniel Lange December 10, 2017 Repent! If one were to stand and have opportunity to hear the opening proclamation of our Lord’s earthly ministry, one of the first words he would have heard fall out of our Lord’s mouth, would not have been one of great sweetness, or sugariness, to the taste of one’s hearing, but rather one of quite bitterness, tartness, pungency. The apostle Matthew says that after the devil left Jesus in the wilderness, and the Lord came and dwelt by Capernaum, He began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” According to Webster’s dictionary, the first definition listed in describing the meaning of repentance is to, “turn from sin, and dedicate oneself to the amendment (or correction) of one’s life.” Merriam-Webster, Inc. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003. And while I am no Greek Scholar, and I really don’t stand in a position to criticize or critique the council of most translation boards, it appears to me that this is a very good definition of the Greek word, metanoeo, meta- afterwards, noeo- to think, to “think afterwards,” or to “think it over again.” “Whoops! I’ve been doing it this way,” or “I’ve been thinking about it this way, and I need to re-think this again, and change the way I’m going about this.” Repentance! A change in mind. A change in course. A change in direction. A “conversion.” “Repent therefore and be converted,” Acts 3:19. Be changed! Change your life, friend. Repent. And so it is when we hear those kinds of words, words like “change,” “think it over,” “turn away,” we are hit with a sort of bitterness in our mouths. But we’ll have more to say about that in a moment. Right now, what is important, is that we understand what our Lord and Savior is expecting and asking for when He issues forth this command to repent. Distinguishing between Repentance & Sorrow Sometimes when people hear the word repent they immediately confuse sorrow with repentance. On the other hand, there are also a few who completely disconnect sorrow and repentance. In both cases, both parties are incorrect at least in terms of describing the repentance Jesus asks for. Again, if you’re following along with me in your Bible, turn with me to 2 Cor. 7:8-12. In this section of Scripture, Paul is following up on a previous letter he wrote to the church at Corinth chastising them for some of their errors and transgressions. Paul here then draws a distinction between sorrow and repentance, or as we might say today, “being made to feel bad,” vs. “changing the direction of our life.” Notice what Paul says, beginning in verse nine: “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Notice that sorrow and repentance are two separate things, and yet they are still two very connected things. Sorrow is not repentance, but it does lead to it and produce it, at least, one kind of sorrow does, and that is “godly sorrow,” a sorrow that is brought about by godliness and not worldliness. “Sorrow of the world,” according to Paul, “produces death,” not repentance. An easy illustration and explanation of Paul’s writing here might be best illustrated by the events that transpired between Peter and Judas at the crucifixion of Jesus. In one instance, we have the man Judas who was made very sorrowful by his transgressions and faults, but his sorrow was not a godly sorrow, leading to repentance, and unto salvation, but his sorrow was a sorrow of the world. He was sorry because of the way his betrayal made him feel, and so to rid himself of that feeling, he hung himself, and quite literally, his sorrow did produce death. On the other hand, we see Peter, whose denial of the Christ three times caused him great pain and grief, but his sorrow was a godly sorrow, sorry because his sin transgressed the will of God and the will of His Savior, and thus his only way forward was to repent, and to do the Lord’s will again. For the taking of his own life would have been contrary to the will of God and would not have expressed godly sorrow, not in the least. But do let us be sure of this, while sorrow and repentance are two different things, let’s not forget that both are necessary. It is not right to say as we do sometimes even to our spouse and children, “Don’t be sorry, just change.” Have you ever been guilty of saying that? I know I have been guilty a time or two of saying that, but such could not be further from the truth. When I say things like that, what I’m almost saying, while I may not intend to convey it, but what I’m almost saying is, “It doesn’t matter how you feel. It only matters how you act.” And that friends is a very earthly view of things. Because while I may certainly benefit more instantaneously from a change on the outside, I will ultimately benefit more from a change on the inside. A change on the inside will eventually lead to a change on the outside. The only problem is, man grows impatient with change. So instead of wanting change on the inside, he only wants the immediate change on the outside. But God knows He needs both, and God wants to have both. And first he wants the inside, and then he wants the outside. We are living in a world today that is increasingly being made to feel unashamed and unabashed about their sins and ungodly ways. And we are seeing how sometimes the world will changes its ways and changes its ways for the better, how they behave toward women, how they think about materialism, but sadly, they haven’t really changed the person on the inside. They haven’t changed because someone said, “This is a sin and transgression against God and man.” Instead, we are left with a pragmatic world, only changing, shifting and conforming much like a chameleon would in the nature and the jungle to favor its own circumstances. God says, “Be sorry because of your sins, repent, and change course.” Repent of…? It should be evident and plain to see as we speak about these things that when Jesus speaks of repentance in Matthew 4:17, he speaks of change and redirection from that of sin and transgression. Turning again to the words of our Lord in Luke 13 this time if your following along, Jesus asks the question: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you no, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” It is evident that many historical and tragic events occurred in an around Jesus time, just as they occur in our time today. But as Jesus looked out and observed these events that transpired he challenged people to consider whether or not their suffering was really an indication of whether or not they were worse sinners than others. The answer of course was no. We all suffer. We all sin. And we all need to repent. Repentance is demanded not on account of our measure of suffering, not on account of our measure of sin, but truly it is on account of whom it is that we all must give account to, the holy and righteous God of heaven. The “judge,” whom Jesus speaks of in the verses just previous to this section, who will ensure that justice is done to the very last mite (Luke 12:59). A judge who will take up a reckoning of our works that are done in the body, whether good or evil. 2 Cor. 5:10 We must repent of sin, because sin will be judged, and the wages of sin is death. Rom. 6:21 If you don’t repent, Jesus says, “You will perish.” Do Christians Need to Repent? Before we close this study, some will ask, “Do Christians need to repent?” That is a very good question, because the people Jesus was addressing were a mixed multitude of people, some disciples, some not. And yet, Jesus did say, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” So does this include disciples also, or only those outside of Christ? I would simply divert your attention once more to Peter’s question in Luke 12:41, which actually seems to be a running stream that continues to trickle into the thirteenth chapter of Luke, and really the entire book as a whole. There Peter asks Jesus the question, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” As I’ve pointed out to some before, ironically Peter is actually wondering if the Lord’s warnings and teachings apply to those on the outside, and not just the inside. In other words, Peter naturally understands that the things the Lord says applies to the disciples, but he’s wondering if they also apply to those on the outside. And Jesus ultimately answers Peter’s question in the verse that follow. They do apply to both. They are universal. And in fact, those who are on the inside will be even more strictly judged than those on the outside! Remember, that when Paul spoke to the church at Corinth about repentance, he was writing to the church, not the world. Does a Christian need to repent? “God forbid!” we might say, but the reality is, some will taste the divine grace, and fall back into the corruption of the world again.