Part 1

In the readings, pay special attention to the word 'repent' and 'repentance.'

A statement about the ministry of John the Baptist:

  • Matthew 3:1,2 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

    A statement about Jesus' ministry:

  • Matthew 4:12-17 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: "The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-- The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great Light, And those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, Upon them a Light dawned." From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."

    A statement from Jesus to the Jewish cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum:

  • Matthew 11:20-24 Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent. "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You will descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you."

    A statement from Mark about Jesus' ministry:

  • Mark 1:14,15 Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."

    A statement from Mark about Jesus sending his twelve disciples on the limited commission:

  • Mark 6:7-12 And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits; and He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff--no bread, no bag, no money in their belt--but to wear sandals; and He added, "Do not put on two tunics." And He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you go out from there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet for a testimony against them." They went out and preached that men should repent.

    Tonight I want us to focus on a word we are quite familiar with that represents a concept we are not nearly as familiar with as we should be.

    The word 'repent' declares a concept that all of us struggle with in daily life on a continuing basis. How do you know when someone has really changed? If the person is claiming he or she has changed, how do you know if the change occurred? In a business person who had taken advantage of you? In an authority figure who has lied to you? In a spouse who has betrayed you? In an adult child who has broken promises? How do you know when they truly repent?

    1. The word repent focuses on very simple concept: it simply talks about a change in a person the produces a redirection of life.
      1. A genuine Bible repentance involves much more than saying you are sorry.
        1. In an act of repentance, a person can be sorry for lots of reasons.
          1. "I am sorry I got caught."
          2. "I am sorry I have to pay the consequences."
          3. "I regret what I will lose."
          4. "I am sorry I chose to do that then," rather than, "I regret having involved my life in that lifestyle."
        2. The repentance that the Bible discusses involves two basic considerations:
          1. "I realize my life has been going in the wrong direction, and I truly want to change the direction of my life."
          2. "I appreciate God so much, I want God to inform me about the direction my life should take."
      2. Conversion must be based on a person's desire to direct his or her life in God's direction.
        1. Repentance is a faith in God and Jesus Christ response.
        2. It basically declares that the person has such appreciation for what God did and does in Jesus Christ that he or she wants God to determine how he or she lives.

    2. This evening I want to call your attention to some facts.
      1. Fact one: note that all the readings we used and will use were directed to the Jewish people.
        1. All these people believed that Jehovah God was the only God.
        2. They all believed that God was the living, creator God.
        3. They all believed a person should keep the commands of God.
        4. They all believed they were the people of God.
        5. Yet, they were told to repent.
        6. That would be like Jesus coming to this assembly tonight and saying to us as Christians, "You people need to repent."
        7. The message of repentance was declared to many people who did not think they needed to repent--after all, they were God's people.
      2. Fact two: they needed to redirect their lives because their understanding of God's purposes and objectives were incorrect.
        1. What they thought were God's purposes and what God's purposes actually were, were two different things.
          1. Some of them saw that they misunderstood God's purposes, and were open to repenting.
          2. However, time revealed those people were a minority.
          3. Most Jews did not think they misunderstood God's purposes and did not repent.
        2. To illustrate the problem, I am going to do something risky because it is entirely possible I could be misunderstood.
        3. These verses have long been adopted as the original mission purpose statement of the church.
          Matthew 28:19,20 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
        4. We, and most other evangelistic churches, regard that statement as a mandate for Christian evangelism.
        5. Do not take the statements I am about to make as anti-evangelism statements.
          1. I thoroughly, without question, believe in evangelism.
          2. I am deeply impressed with what many of the people we support are doing, as well as some I likely know that you have no contact with.
          3. I have used my life in a lot of ways the last 50 years because I believe in our call to evangelism.
        6. Let me declare to you my understanding of the Matthew 28:19, 20 statement made by the resurrected Jesus who had all of God's authority.
          1. First, there was a reason for going into all the world to share the good news.
            1. The reason was to make disciples.
            2. A disciple is the follower of a teacher--in this case a person who wanted to follow Jesus' teachings.
            3. If ever there was a man who lived by the principles he taught, it was Jesus.
          2. Second, they were to baptize men and women who wanted to be disciples.
            1. They did not convince them of the need to be disciples after they were baptized.
            2. They baptized the person because he or she wanted to be a disciple.
            3. To me it is artificial to separate baptism and a commitment to discipleship.
          3. Third, they were to continue to teach those who were baptized in their desire to be disciples after baptism was a past event.
            1. They taught them Jesus' teachings in order to keep God's instructions.
            2. That teaching did not involve church buildings and programs--such did not exist.
            3. To me, it involved learning how to live and act as a person who is a disciple of Jesus Christ.
      3. Does a failure to understand Jesus' basic emphasis cause us problems?
        1. I say it surely does!
        2. We baptize a number of people who have neither a desire to be nor are committed to be disciples of Jesus.
        3. Then we spend years trying to teach that baptized person the need to be a disciple when he or she has no desire to live the lifestyle of a disciple.
        4. There is more involved in becoming a Christian than hearing, believing, repenting, confessing, and being baptized as those things are often presented today.
        5. There must be a kind of love for Jesus that motivates a person to desire to be a follower of Jesus.
        6. We will not convert the world to Christ:
          1. Through politics.
          2. Through superior programs.
          3. Just because it is a responsibility.
          4. Or because we find an effective way to 'win' in the competition.
        7. We will give meaning and appeal to what we teach by a lifestyle based on love of Jesus Christ.
          1. Anything less than that will be inadequate!
          2. Faith in Christ is meaningless to most others until faith in Christ changes the way we live!

    3. Let me share a reading with you. Listen in an understanding of our call to repentance.
      Luke 13:1-5 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 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? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish."
      1. Suffice it to say in both of these instances two unexpected, really bad things happened
        1. How do you explain people offering God a sacrifice being killed?
        2. How do you explain something representing security and safety unexpectedly killing people?
        3. They were just like us in that the unusual occurrence needed an explanation.
      2. They explained it much like many people today explain it.
        1. Those people did something really evil, and God was punishing them for it.
        2. Jesus said, "Wrong explanation!"
      3. Jesus said something astounding to them that, if understood, is just as astounding to us.
        1. He said, "Those people were no more in need of repentance than you are!"
        2. "In fact, if you do not repent, God will destroy you."
        3. Who was Jesus talking to? Religious people who studied the same scriptures we do, and they did that every week in the synagogue! Jesus spoke to people who in a lot of ways were much like us.
      4. You want to help teach society and the world to repent? Then live a life that repents!

    Use your life to show people how to live for Christ! Live your life in a way that shows people how to repent!

    David Chadwell

    West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
    Evening Sermon, 26 March 2006

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