Sunday 23rd February – Dudley Ward
The Thread of Repentance Throughout Scripture
Gen 3: 5 «God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened. You’ll be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree had fruit that was good to eat, nice to look at, and desirable for making someone wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then their eyes were opened, and they both realized that they were naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made clothes for themselves. 8 In the cool of the evening, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking around in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees in the garden. 9 The Lord God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” 10 He answered, “I heard you in the garden. I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” 11 God asked, “Who told you that you were naked? 21 The Lord God made clothes from animal skins for the man and his wife and dressed them.
Adam did not say ‘Oops, what have I done! This is terrible. Please forgive us for eating the fruit’.
No, instead he chose to blame Eve. Eve blames the serpent, who has not a leg to stand on…… and the scene is set. How gracious God is, considering this absence of true sorrow on the part of Adam and Eve. I am not saying they failed to feel such sorrow later on. I am only speaking of the record of failure right there in the garden.
Repentance is the element most significantly absent in the Garden after the Fall. It can be the element that can be absent from the Christian’s garden, an essential disposition we forget to cultivate in order that our garden become truly beautiful.
When you read of God ‘repenting’ it is in the sense of regret or relenting.
*Job 42:5 ‘I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear. But now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor (despise) myself and repent in dust and ashes.
In case you might feel righteous enough not to need this exhortation today, let us note that Job, for all his integrity, repents, even though Job had spoken what was right before God (42:8). God had accepted Job, no doubt because his walk with God is characterised by a spirit of repentance. Not just a season, an event or an an incident, but a characteristic.
Ezek. 14:6 Repent, turn away from your idols.
Ezek. 18:30 Repent, turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin.
In Joel 2: 12-13, the Lord calls to Israel, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
*2 Chron 7:14 If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
Psalm 51:4 Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight: that you may be justified when you speak, and be clear when you judge. 5 Behold, I was made in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 You desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
(In Hebrew: 1. NACHAM (Naa-chem) – to lament, to grieve. This word is describing the emotions that are aroused when motivated to take a different course of action.
2. SHUB (shoove) – This word expresses a radical change of mind toward sin and implies a conscious moral separation from sin and a decision to forsake it and agree with God.)
(The repentance (metanoia) called for throughout the Bible is a summons to a personal, absolute and ultimate unconditional surrender to God as Sovereign. Though it includes sorrow and regret, it is more than that. … In repenting, one makes a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God.)
We find it in *Mat. 3:2. from the lips of John the Baptist: ‘ Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’. Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight. Be done with crooked ways, deviousness, half-truth, half-measures.
*Mat. 4:17 Most interestingly, Jesus begins his ministry with the same words: ‘ From that time Jesus began to preach and to say ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (has drawn near).
Here we see that the Gospel begins with repentance. Not so much belief, not faith, though both are implied, but a change of heart, mind and direction.
One can confidently affirm that the first word of the
Gospel is repentance.
*Matthew 11:20 Then he began to denounce the cities in which most of his mighty works were done, because they did not repent.
*Mark. 1:15 Repent and believe the Gospel.
*Mt. 9:13 I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
*Mark 6:12 The disciples went out and preached that people should repent.
**Luke 13:3 Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.
Clearly, the spirit of repentance has a great deal to do with the kingdom of Christ and of heaven.
*Matthew 21:32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him: but the publicans and harlots believed him: and when you saw it, you did not repent, and believe him.
*Luke 15:7 I tell you, that in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety and nine just persons, who do not need to repent.
I venture to state that without this missing jewel of repentance, there can be little true growth in Christlikeness.
Repent of missed opportunities to speak.
Repent of things we have said that we should not have said.
Repent of things we should not have done, or that we should have done, or have done in the wrong spirit.
Repent of coldness of heart and lack of prayer and praise.
So what is repentance? It is a wholehearted turning away from all
questionable conduct, with confession of all wrongs and intent to travel a
different road, the upward way which leads to God’s throne.
Repentance had a high profile at the church’s birth:
*Acts2:32 ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know with certainty, that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. 37 Now when the people heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.’
*Acts 3:11 ‘And as the lame man who had been healed held onto Peter and John, all the people ran over gathering around them in the place called Solomon’s Porch, full of amazement. 12 ‘And when Peter saw it, he said to the people, Men of Israel, why are you so surprised at this and why do you stare at us, as if we made this man walk ?. . . v.19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins be blotted out. So that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’
*Acts. 17:30 Truly these times of ignorance God overlooked but now commands all men everywhere to repent.
*Rom. 2:4 Do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
*2 Cor. 7:9 Now I rejoice that your sorrow led to repentance. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation not to be regretted, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
Let’s note that repentance is part of the foundation of our relationship. You don’t remove the foundation of a building. The scaffolding can be removed. Repentance is not scaffolding, just to hold things up until the edifice is built. It is part of the foundation and remains so.
The spirit of repentance is everywhere present on the pages of the Bible.
When in *Col 3:1 we read ‘Seek those things that are above’ v.5 ‘Put to death your members which are on the earth. V. 8 You are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, v.10 Put on the new man v.12 ‘Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, kindness longsuffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another’. Such passages exemplify the spirit of repentance.
*Hebrews 6:1 Let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.
It is also the last word. Look at the letters to the churches in Revelation: 2:5. Five out of seven churches receive the order to repent. Yet things said about them could not be said of many of our churches today.
(Ephesus): Works, labour, patience, perseverance, discernment. but you have left your first love. Repent. Or else I will come and remove your lamp stand.
So our life hidden with Christ needs to be lived in a spirit of repentance.
Just as repentance was significantly absent in the Garden of Eden at the Fall, so will it be in the end times.
Repentance becomes the big hindrance. *Revelation 9:20 And the rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent or turn from the work of their hands, so as not to worship devils, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood: that cannot see, hear, or walk.
*Revelation 9:21 Nor did they repent of their murders, their sorceries, their fornication, or their thefts.
*Revelation 16:9 Men were scorched with fierce heat, and cursed the name of God, who has power over these plagues: but refused to repent and glorify him.
*Revelation 16:11 And cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but refused to repent of what they had done.
is not God’s intent. We read in *2 Peter
3:9 ‘God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to
Now the spirit of repentance is everywhere present on the pages of the Bible.
When in Col 3:1 we read ‘Seek those things that are above’ v.5 ‘Put to death your members which are on the earth. V. 8 You are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, v.10 Put on the new man v.12 ‘Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, kindness longsuffering, bearing with one another and forgiving one another’. We see that passages exemplify the spirit of repentance.
The Christian life is a daily turning away from the ways of natural man to the ways of God’s Holiness in Christ, appropriated and applied with God’s help in simple straightforward faith.
So how can we acquire and nurture this spirit of repentance?
Let us now quietly confess the un-Christlike bits in us, one by one, and tell God we need his help to repent. I know what I’m talking about. Many a nasty sin lurks behind a respectable exterior.
Pastors, Elders and deacons are not exempt. Nobody is exempt. We are all falling short and need this spirit. No trifling matter. The worst of all sins is pride. Satan fell through pride. I fall down through pride.
One can be so blatantly blind to oneself.
This desire to be changed is a good sign of our being saved. God’s goal was declared for all time: He has set the goal: we are destined to become more like Jesus. Rom. 8:29 ‘For whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of His son.’
The first priority is not evangelism, though that is a worthy and necessary thing. No, the top priority is to let oneself be changed. That is the testimony. Perhaps this changing of ourselves is the most convincing element in evangelism, for want of which our words so often can fall on deaf ears.
A good way to experience a deeper sense of the reality of eternal security is to cultivate a heart of worship and praise, and to walk in a spirit of daily repentance. Repentance is much more an essential ongoing exercise of heart and mind than just a vital element in our conversion. The churches mentioned in Revelation chapter three were warned, with the exception of Smyrna and Philadelphia, about needing a renewed experience of repentance.
Let us plead that the Lord keep us aware throughout the day of the potential perversity of our own heart. Let us therefore avoid the danger of complacently seeing repentance and the new birth as only events that are over and done with in our past, whereas repentance and trust in our living Savior need to continue to be components of our everyday walk.
*Romans 2:4 ‘Do you despise the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. *Psalm 51:7
Let us take time to share with our accountability group/person where our own heart still needs to be changed. (Transparency is one of the salient marks of repentant people).
Let us be specific (proud, unrepentant people like to deal in generalities).
Let’s allow ourselves to be touched by others’ needs and enter into prayer with them and for them and for ourselves.
1/ With open heart and empty hands, are we reaching out to God to receive all of His grace, counting only upon His mercy based on Christ’s sacrifice?
2/ Are we welcoming painful experiences (both outward and inward) in the knowledge that they can help us become more sensitive to our own needs and the needs of others and help us become more willing to serve?
3/ Are we letting go of our demanding spirit and counting upon God’s mercies?
4/ What is our goal in life, to be happy or to be holy? Finding more of our pleasure in God, is God truly finding more pleasure in me?
5/ Are we filled with compassion concerning the lot of our brothers and sisters in the world?
6/ Is our heart pure and clean? Are we experiencing daily cleansing inside that reaches to the bottom of our deceitful heart?
7/ Do we help reconcile people with each other and with God?
8/ Are we so identified with Christ that we can endure the hatred of a world which detests all that reminds one of Jesus Christ?
PROUD, UNBROKEN PEOPLE BROKEN, REPENTANT PEOPLE
25.Dislike sharing needs. Willing to be transparent Jas. 5:16
Have a hard time hard time saying Quick to acknowledge their own faults.
‘ I was wrong will you forgive me?’
28. Confess generalities. Deal in specifics.
34. Think they have nothing of Maintain a continual heart attitude
which to repent. toward repentance.