More Like Jesus #3: Discussing Repentance

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Transcript:

Welcome to week 3 of our More Like Jesus series on our Sonrise Café channel for Shepherds Heart. Over the last few weeks, we have discussed the Holy Spirit, the person and work of Jesus, and what It looks like to practically obey and follow Jesus in all season of life. This week we are engaging the topic of repentance and the biblical vision for repentance in the life of the believer. On Wednesday morning we looked two texts that we felt captured the heart of biblical repentance: Isaiah 30:15 and Mark 1:14-15 and we will touch on those here in a minute… but during this episode, we are going to walk through some general questions: What is repentance? What are some obstacles to repentance:

What is repentance?

If you were to ask this question to three different people, you would likely get three different responses, as when we think about repentance a variety of things might come to mind. For example, when I was younger I witnessed the guy on the street corner with a megaphone and a sign that said, “Repent now before it’s too late” or something to that effect. It was a very vocal “turn or burn” style of preaching. That image stuck with me and framed a concept of repentance that didn’t sit well with me. I thought it was about saying you’re sorry and hoping you didn’t go to hell. It seemed to be fear-driven, not faith-driven.

So, what is repentance?

The word repent is not an exclusively Christian term, but the Bible uses it nearly several hundred times in a theological sense. To repent simply means to turn away, to change one’s mind, or to return. So biblically speaking, it means to turn away from sin and move towards God. Repentance is not simply saying sorry. It’s a complete change of direction that affects our entire being.

A theologian named Stanley Grenz offers us a great picture of how we should view repentance. In his book, Theology for the Community of God, he states,

[trx_quote title=”Stanley Grenz”]Repentance involves a total, radical alteration within the core of our personal being. It includes a mental change, as we gain a new attitude towards our actions, even towards our state of existence. It means admitting our spiritual poverty…Repentance likewise entails an emotional change. We feel regret, sorrow, even hatred for our conduct and for our pathetic spiritual situation…Repentance also marks a volitional change. Repentant persons desire to change their future course of action.[/trx_quote]

There you have it: Repentance affects us on an intellectual, emotional, and volitional level. In other words, what he is saying that repentance involves and implicates our mind, our heart, and our wills as we reorient our lives towards Jesus. It involves forsaking our sin and then following the savior.

I think a passage we read this morning really captures God’s heart for his people as it relates to repentance. In Isaiah 30:15 it states,

 

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength…”
Isaiah 30:15 (ESV)

Salvation is intrinsically tied to repentance as if we don’t see the need for forgiveness there is no salvation. Some people get caught up in “Well what comes first salvation or repentance?” and this leads to some debate, but in my opinion, it is kind of like asking “Which comes first the chicken or the egg..?” When reading Isaiah 30,:15 it seems like that trust in God and returning to God is so deeply connected that it’s hard to separate them. What’s important to know here is the in returning to God in trust, we find rest and strength. When Isaiah spoke this over God’s people about 700 years before Jesus was born, God’s people had no desire to repent. When we refuse to repent and turn towards God he simply allows us to continue in the direction of self in pursuit of our own desires.

Repentance is also not a one-time event at the moment of salvation, it is the daily recognition of our need for God and responding to the Spirit as he leads us towards Christ-likeness. It’s recognizing the impossibility to measure up and receiving the enabling and life-giving grace of God. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus revealed that we tend to focus on the physical acts of obedience to give us righteousness before God. He also shows us that it’s not about those physical acts, but rather the spiritual condition of our heart. If we were able to physically obey the whole law of God, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. We can’t, therefore we need a representative who can, who is Jesus.

During our gathering, there was a great conversation between two guys, Daniel and Paul, where they were discussing how important it was to not make repentance into a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts but to see it as a natural response for those who have the Holy Spirit.

Some obstacles to repentance

Biblical clarity. I hope we provided some clarity as we defined and described repentance. I think we naturally don’t participate in things we don’t understand and repentance can be one of those things.

Busyness. In our fast-paced culture, we often busy ourselves to the point where we have no time for reflection or contemplation regarding our walk the Lord. When we don’t make space and create margin for repentance, prayer, study, and other disciplines we are actually making space for the enemy to begin to create condemnation and guilt within because we know we need to spend time with God, but don’t. And the more guilt, the less we want to repent. In his book, “Weird,” Craig Groeschel mentioned that “if the devil can’t make you bad, then he will make you busy.” So if we are too busy to make some space for God, then we are already moving in the wrong direction.

Some final thoughts on repentance.

How do we call others to repentance in our post-Christian society? A passage from this morning really reveals how important repentance is to Jesus. In Mark 1:15, Jesus first words are

 

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Three things here: First of all, the text is saying that God’s Kingdom has broken into this world in and through Christ. A famous phrase in the church is that the Kingdom of God is both already and not yet here. It is already here because of the arrival of Jesus. It is not yet here because we are awaiting the Kings return. Secondly, the call to repentance is a response to good news, not bad news. We often view repentance in a negative light rather than a positive one. We tend to focus on what repentance might cost us…what we might lose in this world rather than thinking and focusing on what we gain in Christ. The message of Christ is salvation, justice, peace, hope, love, and flourishing – these are good things. Finally, repentance cannot be separated from the kingdom or the good news or it turns into simple good works that exhaust our souls.

That said, you can call people in a post-Christian society to repentance as Jesus did. In grace and love, not arrogantly and aggressively, but persuasively in and out of love. Sometimes Jesus called people to repent by asking them questions that led them to examine their hearts, other times he was more straight to the point. Pray the Spirit helps you be sensitive to those opportunities.

It is life-giving. When we come before the Lord and release our struggles, sins, and our worries the Holy Spirit gives us a sense of peace, rest, and assurance that God can handle and is not surprised by what we bring him.

I hope this episode has been helpful, and we could definitely spend a lot more time talking about repentance so please shoot us your questions and thoughts in the comments below.

We hope you all have a great weekend and be sure to subscribe to the podcast to stay connected.


Related Posts:

Reputation Transformation by Doug Hartzheim

Suggested Reading:

25 Bible Verses on Repentance by Bible Study Tools

Repentance Devotional by Oswald Chambers

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