‘Repent’ or Perish?

After about 400 years without a prophet in Israel, John the Baptist appeared on the scene with a simple message:

“In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” – Luke 3: 1-3

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4

The Gospel of Mark records the following concerning the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry:

“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”” – Mark 1:14-15

You could say that the command to repent is the first word of the gospel message. Later during his ministry, Jesus spoke again of repentance, this time to

“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; 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 offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” – Luke 13:1-5

Jesus spoke of repentance again after his resurrection, this time to his disciples:

“Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”” – Luke24:45-47

What is repentance and what is its connection to salvation?

The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. The action is a turning away from one thing and toward another. Concerning salvation it is a turning from sin and toward Christ. To believe in Christ means to believe that he bore our sins on the cross in our place. Therefore repentance is inherent to the concept of believing in Christ for the forgiveness of our sin. To desire forgiveness for sin begins with changing one’s mind about it, else why would one ask to be forgiven? Jesus stated in Luke 13:1-5 that lack of repentance from sin results in perishing, or condemnation. We also know that the sin of unbelief results in condemnation (John 3:18). Do you see the inescapable connection between repentance and belief?

How does a person come to a place of repentance? Is it a human or divine work?

Repentance is not a work of man, but a gift from God. When Peter and his small band of Jewish believers were at the home of Cornelius the Gentile and heard Cornelius story of having been instructed by an angel to find Peter and bring him, we are told:

“When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” – Acts 11:18

When the Apostle Paul was teaching young Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul instructed him:

“And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” 2 Tim 2:24-26

Relevant questions.

If repentance and belief in Christ go hand in hand, why is it that we hear so little about repentance from our pulpits and megachurch stages? Why is it that in our little evangelistic 5 or 6 steps to Jesus, the term ‘repent’ is not found? Instead we begin by telling people God loves them and has a wonderful plan for them, a phrase not to be found in scripture.

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Evangelism – Understanding Our Message

Adapted from “Crossing the Barriers”, Truth for Life Ministries

To evangelize is to present Christ Jesus to sinful people in order that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, they may come to put their trust in God through Him.

John Stott, in his 1967 book, “Our Guilty Silence,” suggested that one of the main reasons for our silence is that, “we lack either a thorough knowledge of the gospel or a conviction about its truth or both. There can be no evangelism without an evangel, no mission without a message.” He quoted a Buddhist monk who said:

“It looks as if Christianity has reached the stage in adolescence when the child is slightly ashamed of his father and embarrassed when talking about him.”

It is vitally important that we have a solid grasp of three areas of ‘gospel truth’ which must be declared and explained before any response should be anticipated; essential facts about Jesus, essential facts about the unconverted, and the benefits promised by the Gospel.

Essential facts about the gospel:

1. The central truth of the good news is Christ Himself.

The Apostle Paul, clearly stated that the proclamation of Christ was his mission, even as he was in prison for preaching the gospel:

Colossians 1:28, 29: Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”

2. Christ’s purpose in coming into the world and in dying upon the cross was to save sinners.

Matthew 1:21; “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (The angel’s words to Joseph)

1 Timothy 1:15: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (Paul’s declaration to young Timothy; either about his persecution of the before his conversion, or the conviction of the Holy Spirit of remaining sin)

3. Christ’s coming and death were no accident, but were part of God’s eternal plan.

Acts 2:23: ” …this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Peter’s sermon at Pentecost to the Jewish crowd, after the upper room experience.)

1 Peter 1:20 :He (Jesus) was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you.” (Peter’s word’s to Jewish Christians living in exile.)

4. Christ’s resurrection was the Father’s declaration of Christ as His Son and evidence of His satisfaction with His work.

Romans 1:1- 4: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Paul, in his opening words to Christians in Rome:)

 The benefits promised by the gospel:

1. Reconciliation with God.

2 Corinthians 5:18-21: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

2. Justification.

1 Corinthians 1:30: “And because of him (God) you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,”

1 Corinthians 6:11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (Paul to believers in Corinth)

3. Deliverance from condemnation

John 3:18: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

4. Belonging to the people of God.

Acts 2:41: ” So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Those who believed on the Day of Pentecost)

1 Corinthians 1:2: “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” (Paul’s greeting to believers in Corinth)

1 Corinthians 6:1, 2: “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?”

1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9: “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . .For it stands in Scripture: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

5. Membership in the family/kingdom of God.

Colossians 1:13: “He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”

6. The gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor. 2:12)

Acts 2:38: ” And Peter said to them, “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.” (Peter preaching at Pentecost)

7. Eternal life.

John 3:16:“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (Jesus to Nicodemus)

John 11:25-26: “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jesus to Martha at Lazarus grave)

8. The resurrection of the body.

1 Corinthians 6:14:”And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.”

Remember, and communicate clearly and with much love, that to enter into the benefits of Christ’s work – to know forgiveness , the gift of God’s Spirit and a place in His kingdom – repentance and open confession of Christ are required. (Acts 2:38)

Mark 1:15: “”The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Jesus at the beginning of his ministry)

Act 2:38: “And Peter said to them, “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.” (Peter at Pentecost, after the hearers of his sermon asked “What shall we do?”)

Also remember that it is the presentation of the Gospel, not its content that changes with time.

“The gospel is true always and everywhere, or it is not a gospel at all, or true at all.” – William Temple

"All you need is a personal relationship with Jesus!"

The Battle Cry

Picture this conversation between a couple of guys, perhaps friends at work, or school, during a lunch break. One is a Christian (Eager ‘Evangelist’) looking for an opportunity to share Jesus. The other guy is a known nonbeliever (Lost Soul) who has been going through some tough ‘stuff of life’ – marriage in trouble or girlfriend dumped him, having problems paying bills, maybe he even was on the wrong end of an IRS audit, whatever. The list could go on and on. The poor guy is almost in tears and the moment is ripe for our eager ‘evangelist’

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “All you really need is a  personal relationship with Jesus, and everything work out OK!”

Lost Soul: “Really? I just need a personal relationship with Jesus and all my problems in life can be solved? What do you mean?”

Eager ‘Evangelist’: “Just that God loves YOU, and has a really…

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