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[thoughts] The Call to Repentance (September 1-7, 2008)

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  • Mark Roth
    Thoughts for the Week Mark Roth http://www.anabaptists.org/clp/youth/ ... This edition goes out today to 4054 subscribers. Thank you! ... THE CALL TO
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2008
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      Thoughts for the Week
      Mark Roth

      This edition goes out today to 4054 subscribers. Thank you!

      (Matthew 3:1-3, 5-8; Mark 1:1-8)


      Repentance is regret and sorrow for personal wrongdoing.
      Repentance acknowledges moral and personal failure, accepting
      personal responsibility for it.

      Repentance includes an amending of life. In addition to grieving
      over the wrong done, it chooses a new course that will take it
      away from that wrong.


      Repentance, both as an issue and as a word, appears in the
      biblical account long before John the Baptist was even born.
      However, our King James Version records only six Old
      Testament verses using *repent* or *repented* as something a
      human did, or should do, of his sins. Of those six verses, only
      one registers an individual repenting -- Job (Job 42:6); only one
      records a people repenting -- Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:19); and
      only two chronicle a divine call to repent and turn from sin
      (Ezekiel 14:6; 18:30). The other two usages appear in 1 Kings
      8:47 and Jeremiah 8:6.

      A careful study of the Old Testament shows an occasional appeal
      for a changed heart. For the most part, however, action centered
      around a sacrifice for sin that could be offered whether or not
      the person's heart had experienced a fundamental change. As I
      write this, I am in a country where the predominant religion
      takes that old approach -- confession and sacrifice will get you
      by without needing genuine repentance.

      The New Testament is an entirely different proposition. Early in
      the Church Age, Peter preached, "Repent ye therefore, and be
      converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). In his
      message on Mars' hill, Paul stated clearly and emphatically that
      the old approach is abolished, for God "now commandeth all
      men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). From Matthew to
      Revelation, *repent* and its derivatives surface repeatedly. And
      John the Baptist launched the new emphasis -- "Repent ye: for
      the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2); the Lord and
      His men echoed that clarion call (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15;
      6:12; Acts 20:21; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 12:21; 2
      Timothy 2:25; 2 Peter 3:9). John forcefully preached repentance
      as the new condition for the remission of sins (Matthew 3:11;
      Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3); Jesus and His disciples continued that
      emphasis (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38). John also introduced baptism
      as an outward sign of that inner state. You might say that John
      the Baptist was on the cutting edge of what was to become the
      New Testament approach to sin and guilt (Acts 13:24).

      Later on in His ministry, Jesus issued proclamations that surely
      startled His listeners: "I am not come to call the righteous, but
      sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13); "Except ye repent, ye
      shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3,5); "Joy shall be in heaven
      over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine
      just persons, which need no repentance" (Luke 15:7). In His
      messages to the churches in Revelation, the Lord waxes equally
      direct; here is one example: "Remember therefore from whence
      thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will
      come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of
      his place, except thou repent" (2:5).


      Many in the church would have us believe that repentance is
      only a personal affair. They openly proclaim the repentance issue
      a matter between God and the individual alone, with everyone
      else being closed out. Obviously, they are right in the sense that
      I cannot force it on anyone else. However, they are wrong when
      they insist I cannot observe the effects of that repentance. Both
      John the Baptist and Paul called for fruits and works "meet for
      repentance" (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20).

      SO PROVE IT!

      Both John and Jesus spoke very severely to those whose
      righteousness did not touch their hearts. Both of them rejected
      righteousness for show, yet both of them demanded that
      righteousness show.

      If I say I have experienced repentance, the inward change I
      profess should be very obvious outwardly. In other words, what
      I am will *always* reveal itself with visible fruit. Just as a
      lemon tree produces lemons, so repentance produces right living.
      If I say I have changed but you can't tell I have changed, have
      I really changed?

      John stated plainly, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for
      repentance" (Matthew 3:8). Then he gave this warning of a
      coming test and judgment: "Every tree which bringeth not forth
      good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matthew 3:10).

      Let us also give life-changing heed to these words of the Master:
      "Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.... Every tree that
      bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the
      fire" (Matthew 7:17,19). Thankfully, Jesus also assured us, "He
      that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much
      fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5).


      Paul announced, "God...now commandeth all men every where
      to repent" (Acts 17:30). John the Baptist came announcing the
      Kingdom of God with a powerful call for repentance. Jesus did
      likewise, and so did Peter. And so have many others. Why does
      God command repentance?

      Because God is done winking. At the ignorance of people who
      in all sincerity worship idols. At the
      love-your-friend-hate-your-enemy approach to life. At the focus
      on form at the expense of substance. At divorce and so many
      other things. He's been done with all this for almost two
      thousand years. Jesus came! And now God commands "all men
      every where to repent." Do we get the message? Out?

      Because without it, we cannot experience conversion and
      cleansing from sin. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that
      your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). So...what's the status
      of *your* sin?

      Because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the
      world. Oh the mercy and loving kindness of God to give us the
      opportunity for and call to repentance! He could have just quit
      winking and judged the whole lot of us. But not God. Do not
      despise this time of waiting. Make sure *you* are ready, then
      help others get ready!

      "...God...hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath
      given to us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:18).

      "...The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Romans 2:4).

      "...If God peradventure will give them repentance to the
      acknowledging of the truth" (2 Timothy 2:25).


      Thanks again for subscribing!
      Mark Roth

      Reaching Out Magazine

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