In what ways are you showing that you belong to Jesus Christ?
Is repentance in mind when you answer this question?
We’ll take up three parts in our discussion. This is the first.
Look at this question and answer of a summary teaching point, the Westminster Shorter Catechism:
Q. 87. What is repentance unto life?
A. Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after new obedience. Repentance means that our love for God turns us away from sin; and it directs our heart, mind, and practical obedience to the Lord.
See the following words from the Book of Joel, “Turn to Me with all your heart…”
Joel 2:12-13 12 " Now, therefore," says the LORD, ‘Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.’ 13 So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.”
Acts 17:30-31 30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."
Repentance requires that we pursue the Lord with new, full, whole-hearted obedience in the strength of the Lord Jesus. Showing our love for Christ demonstrates faith—we take the practical steps to turn from sin, in order that we turn and follow the Lord in discipleship.
Charles Colson (1931-2012), author and teacher, and the one-time President and Executive Director of Prison Fellowship wrote the following below.
“All told, the words ‘repent’ or ‘repentance’ appear more than fifty times in the New Testament. Repentance is an inescapable consequence of regeneration and indispensable part of the conversion process that takes place under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. But repentance is also a continuing state of mind. We are warned, for example, to repent before partaking of communion. Also, believers ‘prove their repentance by their deeds.’ Without a continuing repentant attitude—a persistent desire to turn away from our own nature and seek God’s nature—Christian growth is impossible. Loving God is impossible.
If all this is true, then, some may ask, why is repentance so seldom preached and so little understood? I believe there are three reasons.
Noted church historian J. Edwin Orr sums [it up to speak of our weak ways of doing evangelism]: the appeal of modern evangelism is ‘not for repentance but for enlistment.’ To put it even more bluntly, some evangelists see converts as trophies in a big game hunt and measure their success by numbers; thus, they do not want to frighten off their prey. One Christian leader, asked why he never mentioned repentance, smiled and replied, ‘Get ‘em first, let them see what Christianity is, and then they’ll see their need to repent.’ Tragically, this attitude pervades the church not only because we’re afraid the truth will scare newcomers, but because it might also drive a number of the nodding regulars right out their comfortable pews.
Repentance can be a threatening message—and rightly so. The Gospel must be the bad news of the conviction of sin before it can be the good news of redemption. Because that message is unpalatable for many middle-class congregations preoccupied with protecting their affluent lifestyles, many pastors endowed with a normal sense of self-preservation tiptoe warily round the subject. And the phenomenal growth of the electronic church has only aggravated this trend, for while the Sunday morning pew-dweller is trapped, unable to escape gracefully when a tough subject like repentance comes up, the TV viewer has only to flip a switch or go out to the refrigerator. The result of all this is a water-down message that, in large part, accounts for today’s epidemic spread of easy believe-ism…”
[This is from Colson’s Loving God, pp. 95-96.]
So, in this first place, our message about Jesus Christ must include words about turning to God, turning away from our sin, and giving Christ our all in all. Telling others about Christ requires repentance from sin; it means to put away sin. This too calls for faith, putting our trust in Christ.