Unless You Repent
Something I used to wonder is if I were to start to teach the entire Bible, where would be the place to start? Eventually, I came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter. Begin your journey anywhere on the road of Truth, and you will at some point in time find you have once again arrived at the place you started. Truth has no beginning or end. Truth is united and complete. So no matter where you start, the revelation is the same. It is told in many ways, with numerous stories, tons of parables and many metaphors, but all of their revelations are of the same Truth. And that Truth never changes, it is constant in eternity. This Truth of which I speak is of course Jesus Christ, the Messiah, Son of Man and Son of God, the Savior of the whole world. The Bible is all about Jesus, the Truth, so whatever Jesus says should receive our utmost attention.
While there may be no starting places in the Bible, there seem to be some places that appear to possess a special distinction. They have the quality of indicating both the beginning and the end. That is, these verses or passages seem to allow us to see the starting point and the ending point all in the same words. Romans 8:1 is a good example. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Reflect on the magnitude of these words, and you can see a pattern of circles all passing through this one point. Start at Romans 8:1 and you will ultimately end up right back at the good news that there is “no condemnation for those who are in [covenant with] Christ Jesus.”
Another such example is found in the passage below.
1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.
2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate?
3 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
4 “Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem?
5 “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
“Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Jesus said it twice, practically in the same breath. Let me say that it doesn’t get any more important than that. “Unless you repent” is such an unconditional statement. It means exactly what it says: There is no getting around the need for you to repent if you wish to be saved from perishing. Hence, there is nowhere else to go after ‘unless you repent’ except right back to ‘unless you repent’. Nothing can alter this declaration of truth from the mouth of Truth Himself. Unless you, me or anyone and everyone repents, we cannot be saved form the penalty of eternal death.
It seems to me that we should all be extremely interested in repentance. Repentance is critical because it is a beginning and an end. It is the beginning of a new life in Christ, and it is the end of an old life of sin in Satan. One thing repentance is not. It is not a replacement for confessing our sins. The word, repent, as Jesus is using it has to do with the complete turnaround of becoming born again. However, in today’s church vocabulary, repent, is often used to describe the act of turning away from one or another sin.
Turning away from sin without first confessing it short circuits God’s plan. You need to confess your sins not merely turn from them. James teaches that you should “Confess your sins” (James 5:16a) not repent of them. It is important that you confess your sins, not to let God know you sinned, but so you know that God knows. And if you know He knows, you can expect to receive the appropriate discipline. As we discussed in a previous article, believers in Christ are disciplined and not condemned for their unintended sinful acts. Every parent knows that it is most beneficial to discipline a child when they know the reason for the discipline. God is our heavenly Father, and He desires to discipline us when we know the cause. When we confess a sin, we know the reason for the discipline. However, if we merely repent of (turn away from or stop doing) the sin, we won’t know the reason for being disciplined. This can lead to bitterness toward God. Of course, we might choose not to confess thinking we might avoid discipline all together. That is probably not going to happen.
Repentance is the one and only way to escape our inherited death sentence and enter a new covenant and a new life with Jesus Christ.
“For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” (Ezekiel 18:32)
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2)
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent.” (Acts 17:30)
The desire of God’s heart is that all people everywhere should repent. Shouldn’t that be the desire of the hearts of all men, women and children as well?
The topic of discussion in, Entering The Eternal Covenant: Part V, is the importance of the heart in repentance.