y David J. Stewart
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE" (2nd Peter 3:9). God wants ALL people to repent; that is, change their mind. Repentance is a change of mind. Most people try to rationalize and justify their sins. Romans 3:19 states... "Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become GUILTY before God." We are all guilty sinners, under the condemnation of God's Law, justly deserving of Hellfire. Thanks be to God the Father, He sent His only begotten Son into the world to pay for our sins by His own LITERAL blood (Hebrews 9:12).
To be saved, one must turn in faith to Christ alone, believing on Him for the forgiveness of sins. Acts 20:21 speaks of "repentance TOWARD GOD." The Word of God NEVER teaches repentance FROM sin to be saved; BUT, rather, repentance TOWARD GOD. Repentance is a change of mind concerning sin and the Savior. Childlike faith is all that is required for salvation. If a person knows they are a guilty sinner, bound for Hellfire, and turns in faith to Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and save them--that person has repented.
Repentance Towards God
You can put all the faith in Christ you want, it means nothing if you're in denial about your sins... "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1st John 1:10). The entire matter of salvation deals with OUR SINS. Thus, repentance is when we come to the realization that we have sinned AGAINST GOD. Notice what Joseph said to Potiphar's wicked, adulterous wife who tried to seduce him in Genesis 39:9... "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin AGAINST GOD?" Joseph realized that if he did commit adultery, he would be sinning AGAINST GOD! In Luke 15:21, the repentant prodigal son said... "Father, I have sinned AGAINST HEAVEN, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." Notice what king David said in Psalm 41:4... "LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned AGAINST THEE." Notice what the Apostle Paul taught in Acts 20:21... "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You see, lost sinners need to repent TOWARDS GOD. Carefully notice in Mark 1:15 what Jesus said... "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Notice that Jesus DIDN'T say "repent ye, and forsake your sins." No, rather, He said, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."
The Sin-Question and the Son-question
Tragically, few people today have genuinely repented. Many people today falsely claim to be "Christian," but they are not. They have never repented concerning their sins. Please note that I said "concerning their sins," and not "from their sins." There is a big difference. Salvation involves BOTH the sin-question and the Son-question:
THE SIN QUESTION. If a person does not see their need, then why would he or she need a Savior? To be saved, the sin-question must be dealt with. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), guilty before God (Romans 3:19), and justly deserving of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). 1st John 1:10 states that we are calling God a LIAR if we deny that we have sinned. Many people today falsely think they are going to Heaven because they "committed their life to Christ," or "made a decision for Christ." There can be NO salvation without the Law of God.
Many unrepentant people today, who are proud and self-righteous, "think" they are saved simply because they "gave their life to Jesus." This is the nonsense being taught in Charismatic circles today, and by their televangelists. Judas gave his life to Jesus and went to Hell. The Pharisees gave their lives to God, and went to Hell. You'd better get BORN-AGAIN! We are saved through Jesus' blood, that takes our sins away. The great evangelist Charles Finney said...
"The severity of the Law should be unsparingly applied to the conscience until the sinner's self-righteousness is annihilated, and he stands speechless and condemned before the Holy God."
Too many preachers today explain the CURE without the GUILT of sin. We don't hear much today about the GUILT of sin. What we do hear a lot about is the CURE. Televangelists utterly fail to preach against America's sins. All we hear is how someone was on the brink of bankruptcy, but then sent in their last $20 to The 700 Club, and now their life is a bed of roses. 2nd Peter 2:3 describes these greedy imposters in exact Words... "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." Woe unto America's televangelists!!!
THE SON QUESTION. It is not enough to merely decide to turn over a new leaf to be saved. One cannot admit his or her sinful condition, and then attempt to reform the sinful flesh, expecting to be saved. Only Jesus has the nail-scared hands and feet, and we can only be saved through Christ. Roman Catholics readily admit their sinfulness, but foolishly trust the Catholic Church to save them, instead of relying on Jesus Christ alone as the Word of God teaches (John 14:6). There can be NO salvation apart from the name of JESUS (Acts 4:10-12).
Thus, repentance is a change of mind, i.e. turning by faith to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, because of the acknowledgment of one's sinful condition. It's that simple. It is the blood of Jesus that washes our sins away; not water baptism, not church membership, not turning over a new leaf, not surrendering one's life to God, not forsaking one's sins, et cetera. We are sinners, and Jesus is the Savior! To go to Heaven, our sins must be washed away by Jesus' blood, and all we have to do is BELIEVE upon the Lord as our Savior.
Except Ye Repent, Ye Shall All Likewise Perish!
There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).
Some people had brought bad news to Jesus, about the tragic deaths of others. We experience these same types of reports almost daily in modern times. In fact, there's not a day that passes that we don't hear from the newsmedia about the tragic deaths of so many people. Death is often sudden, and without warning. This is what Jesus meant when He warned... Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Jesus was simply saying that life is unpredictably short, and all that matters is whether or not we're ready to meet our Maker! Hebrews 9:27 states that we all have an appointment with death. Death is often sudden and we have no guarantee of tomorrow (Proverb 27:1). Are we any better than others, that we are immune to heartache and tragedy? No, not for one moment. Are you ready to die?
I recall hearing of a tornado that ripped through a little Baptist church in Georgia, killing many of the members. Were they being judged by God? No, not at all. The earth is under a curse because of man's sin, and all men are susceptible to the woes of living in a fallen world. Life is short. All that will matter 100 years from now is whether you died in the Lord (Revelation 14:13), or in your sins (John 8:24). Hopefully, you'll die in the Lord. 2nd Corinthians 6:2 states, "...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Only a fool would postpone getting saved.
The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and neon signs. The road to life is plain and simple. The road to Hell exalts religion; but the road to Heaven exalts Jesus. There are two types of religions in the world: DO and DONE. Either you believe that you must DO something to get into Heaven OR you are simply resting upon Jesus and His precious blood. DO or DONE, which are you? I’m in the DONE category!
Repentance is Not an Option
God COMMANDS us to repent... "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). It is not an option whether or not we want to repent, it is a divine command from Almighty God. 2nd Thessalonians 1:8,9 WARNS... "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction..." This is a serious matter friend. God has commanded all men to repent.
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