The Call to Repentance

The first proclamation that Jesus made when beginning His ministry was, “repent, all of you, for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; 4:17).  The call to repentance is to be given in all generations, because repentance serves as a means of grace to pull us away from a life devoted to sin, selfishness, and self-sufficiency; and to draw us toward a covenant relationship with the God of all creation. We must recognize our own failures, sin, depravity, and the destruction that we create throughout our lives—which ripple out and affects the lives of those around us.  Therefore, you O man, woman, and child are to recognize that you have been created by God Almighty for His pleasure, and that you will discover your highest pleasure and purpose in union with Christ Jesus who is the direct embodiment of Yahweh God (Deut. 10:14-15; Ps. 16:1-11; 63:1-8; Heb. 1:1-4) who came to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness and the power of sin through His sacrifice on the Cross (Col. 1:13; Heb. 2:10-18; 7:26-27; 9:11-15, 23-28; 10:1-14).  Since all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23) when we stand before the Judge of all the Earth, and simply confess our sin and acknowledge our violation of His law it is not enough to justify us, just as it is not enough to justify us in a human court of law.  It is Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin by accepting the punishment on our behalf; therefore, the satisfaction for sin is not given by repentance, but it is given by the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood on the cross who paid our legal debt-price through the grace of God at Calvary, and it is this which atones for sin (Heb. 7:27; 9:12, 26, 28; 10:1-4, 10, 12, 14).  Yet, faith and repentance are commanded by God as means of reconciliation and regeneration.

Just as a father and mother rejoices to see their children take responsibility for their own actions and begin taking the necessary steps towards being a mature and conscientious adult—so also does God rejoice (Deut. 10:15; 30:9; Jer. 32:41) over those whom He chooses, and those who acknowledge His greatness and seek to submit their lives to His holy will through the way of faith and repentance.  We must realize that all the commandments and rules that God sets out in the Bible are designed to not only please our Creator, but are designed for our good and protection.  The inevitable consequences of sin cannot be understated.  Oftentimes, our pain and suffering in life is a result of our own decisions.  For example, if we take some time and contemplate the heartaches, pain, guilt, disease, and death that could be prevented by waiting until marriage to consummate the union that occurs between a man and a woman—we would soon realize that society and future generations could greatly benefit from a life that is submitted to the simplicity of God’s will and ways.  God’s commandments are not designed to restrict us, but designed to fulfill us in such a way so as to minimize the consequences of pain and suffering that inevitably result from our actions.  We all come short of the glory and perfection of God, and because of this we need the imputed righteousness of Christ lest the wrath of God forever remain upon the children of disobedience.  For God made Jesus Christ who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21).  Therefore, the call to repent is a command given by God to all peoples (Acts 17:30) that we should humble ourselves, confess and forsake our iniquity, pray and acknowledge our utter need for the Living God to deliver us out of our transgressions by granting us forgiveness of sin and reconciliation as we cry out with all of our heart and soul to God for salvation and deliverance.

The first preaching of Jesus was a call to repent (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:14-15), and in each of these cases the call to repent that is given by Jesus Christ in the Greek text is found in the present tense, active voice, imperative mood, and in the plural which signifies that all people at all times are to actively repent continuously; namely, those who hear the call to repent are to mandatorily live a life of repentance which means to continuously turn from sin through the intellect, the emotions, and the will and to turn with one’s whole being towards God.  This call to repentance that Jesus makes is a command declaration that all people at all times must repent.  Martin Luther who in 1517 posted his 95 Theses at Wittenberg begins in his first Thesis when he said, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent,” he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”[1]  The child of God that has been set-apart by God (John 1:12-13) does not practice sin as a lifestyle (1 Jn. 3:4-9), but is commanded to pursue communion and abiding with God through denial of self and submission to God’s will (1 Jn. 3:24; 4:4, 7, 12-16; 5:1-3, 20; John 15:1-17; Matt. 11:28-30; Luke 9:23-27; James 4:6-10) by living a life that continuously turns away from sin (1 Cor. 10:13), and in turning away from sin turns to God as his refuge, rock, shield, and great deliverer (Psalms 18:1-2; 27:5; 91:1-16; Rom. 6:13).  Thus, it is crucial that every child of God immerses themselves in the Word of God, because it is Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone) which provides us with the necessary knowledge and insight for that which is well-pleasing to God as well as that which is abhorrent to the Most High.  Yet, let all the world open their ears to hear and know, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Prov. 28:9), and because of this, repentance is to be witnessed and experienced as a way of life.  Therefore, the heart that has been regenerated by God’s Spirit continues to pursue and please His Maker by continuously turning one’s heart, mind, and affections towards the God of Glory wherein one’s treasure is truly secure (cf. Hosea 6:1-6; Romans 5:1-5; 8:5-13; Matt. 6:19-21).

Do you regard the lovingkindness of God better than life itself?

Do you seek God early in the day?

Does your soul and flesh thirst and long after God your Savior?

Do you look towards God to see His power and glory?

How often do you lift up your voice in praise and worship in self-abandonment?

Are you satisfied with God and with His goodness?

How often do you remember God on your bed?

Do you meditate on God in the night watches?

Do you rejoice in God who gives you life and breath each moment?

Are you consciously seeking to follow closely the God of Truth?

These questions emerge from Psalm 63:1-8.  And if the answer is no—then repent and earnestly seek the forgiveness of God, and yearn to be united to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.  When God and His kingdom become our first priority in life we begin to restructure our thoughts, words, and actions in alignment with God’s natural law, and God’s spiritual law.

[1] Nichols, Stephen ed. Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses. New Jersey: P&R Publishing Company, 2002, p.23.

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