Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Holy Spirit: Power Presence and Purpose Part 79

The Advent Part 71

Acts 2:38, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let ever one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Those who had been cut to the heart had asked a question, perhaps the most important question of their lives, and Peter gives them the answer poignantly and succinctly. They had asked what they should do, and Peter simply tells them, ‘repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.’

If we were to ask Christ the same question when He walked the earth, we would receive the same answer from Him as well, namely that we must repent, and if today we were to ask God Himself, the answer would be identical as well.

Ever since God called me to ministry and I began preaching, unless I was doing a teaching on a certain topic like the end times, or an exegesis on a certain Bible passage like we are doing now, every sermon has centered on repentance because it is of paramount importance to those who would seek to be reconciled unto God.

Preaching repentance has fallen out of favor in our day and age, and few men still possess the wherewithal to preach it consistently, but just because men have strayed from the truth, it does not change the reality of truth. Repentance is necessary for every individual, regardless of who they are, how well educated they might be, or how good a person they consider themselves to have been.

We have replaced repentance with prosperity because prosperity is easier to stomach than is the need for a transformation of one’s mind, heart, desires, actions and trajectory, but unless the Word of God has changed and I didn’t get the memo, repentance is still the first step one must undertake after being cut to the heart by the hearing of the Word of God.

So what is repentance?

Simply put, repentance is the transformation of one’s mind followed by the transformation of one’s life. Repentance isn’t just feeling sorry or feeling regret for one’s past sins, but it is the cessation of an old life of sin, and the beginning of a new life in Christ. When we truly repent of a sin, we do not return to it, we do not consider it, nor do we remember it fondly. When we truly repent, we turn from that which was death toward that which is life, that which was darkness toward that which is light.

True repentance implies our turning toward God, and away from the world, hating that which we once were realizing the death and destruction that would have surely followed if we continued down said path.

As previously mentioned the Jews that had heard Peter speak were all devout men, they were very religious, yet the message that they received upon inquiring what they should do was still one of repentance. Yes, even devout men needed repentance, and these who had assembled to hear Peter speak not only needed to repent of moral failings they might have committed, but also repent of their religiosity that they might receive the Christ who in turn gives salvation through a new life, and faith in His sacrifice and resurrection.

Repentance begins with the work of God in men’s hearts, that of His Word cutting to the depths of our being, and is then followed by the transformation of which every Biblical writer speaks.

Another aspect of repentance that we must take into account is that of confession, another practice of the early church that has largely fallen out of favor in our modern era. Whether due to the fact that some consider confession an embarrassing exercise, or because they fear that their confessor will spread the news of their past sins like a wildfire in the Arizona desert, countless souls go about their lives with sins that they have not confessed weighing them down and grinding them into the earth. The Word is clear, confession of one’s faults and sins must be a practice that accompanies repentance, that once our sin is confessed and repented of it is likewise forgiven.

1 John 2:1-2, “My little children, these things I write to you, that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.”

1 John 1:9, ‘If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

In this sense, repentance is not a one-time event in a believer’s life, but something that is practiced as often as one stumbles on the path of righteousness. If we transgress against God, then we repent and confess our transgression before Him that we might be forgiven. If we transgress against a brother or a sister, then we confess and ask forgiveness of the individual, but also of God since He is the only one that can forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

There is a conditionality placed on the act of confession, the Word telling us that if we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us.

For such a little word, the word ‘if’ has great impact, and whenever it is used in the Bible, we must acknowledge the conditionality of what follows it. Some have even gone so far as to say that the word ‘if’ is the biggest word in the Bible, because of the varied implications that one can readily deduce whenever it is used. Yes, if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, and once more we see the reciprocity of action, and the undeniable truth that God requires certain things of us, things that we must dutifully carry out that we might be in right standing with Him.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

No comments: