Monday, January 22, 2018

Repentance (From Unbelief to Belief)

Repentance only means to believe in the Gospel (Jesus Christ) from a state of unbelief (not believing / believing falsely).

Repentance is one of those “big” words we can often find in church and reading the Bible. John the Baptist spoke of it leading into the ministry of Jesus Christ. And then when He began His ministry, Jesus Christ spoke of it as well. But what is repentance, and what is called of us to do?

Matthew 3:1-2
In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Matthew 4:17
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

First, let’s clarify what John and Jesus was telling them to repent of by what Mark says in his recount. For John the Baptist, we see that he told the people to repent of their sins, and they came out confessing their sins (that they saw themselves as sinners—something we should never see ourselves as post-Cross).

Mark 1:4-5
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

This baptism is the washing away of the old, to become renewed in a person’s mind and heart—that they have been made clean. Similar for the Israelites as to their crossing of the Red Sea (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). But moreso, a clear conscience towards God—especially now for us because of what Jesus Christ accomplished in His once-for-all sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:1-2
For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

1 Peter 3:21
The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And having been cleared in their conscience, they were set-up to now accept and believe in Christ Jesus as their Messiah.

This type of confession was related to and a transition from, the ritualistic Temple sacrifices they performed as Israelites. But in all that John the Baptist was doing, was to point to Jesus as the One and Only who came to take away the sin of the whole world and all who live on this earth.

Mark 1:7-8
John preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John’s request for repentance was then really that they should believe on Jesus (turning from their belief in anything else). This is what Paul confirms.

Acts 19:1-7
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, he said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.

But for John the Baptist (and similarly for Jesus) it was the Pharisees and Sadducees who refused to repent and be baptized by John (and likewise for Jesus). John scalded them as “broods of vipers” in Matthew 3:7-12. Why? Because they saw themselves as “righteous” in their own eyes—deceived in their own false religion and behind their “whitewashed sepulcher” facades. They refused to see themselves as needing to change.

And that’s the key word here: CHANGE. This is what repentance means (Greek word, metanoéō):
  • Vines Expository: “to change one's mind or purpose”
  • Strongs (G3340): “to change one's mind, i.e. to repent"
  • From the Greek words:
o   G3326, meta: “with, after, behind”
o   G3539, noeō: “”to perceive with the mind, to understand, to have understanding”

The Pharisees and Sadducees refused to turn from their self-deceptive practices of “righteousness” to admit they needed a Saviour. Which is exactly the type of repentance Jesus called for, clarifying what Matthew 4:17 says.

Mark 1:14-15
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent, indeed, believe the Gospel.

Jesus told them they needed to believe the Gospel—which is that Jesus Christ came and did forgive all and every sin of the world (for all and every human being), making all righteous, healing all sickness, restoring the relationship of God as a Father lost by Adam, and pouring out the Holy Spirit upon all human beings. In essence, doing all the work required for us to be in right-standing with God the Father.

Jesus was telling them to repent from anything they held onto as a belief that was not the Gospel! A turning away from believing anything else to turning to believing in the Gospel.
For the Pharisees and Sadducees, this would be the turning away from the Law and their own attempts at self-righteousness. Dead works.

Hebrews 6:1
Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.

For others, turning away from any form of unbelief (of which we saw Jesus admonishing even His own Disciples for their unbelief). A turning away from a belief in something not of God to a direction to God in belief.

Which is exactly the same convincing that is the work of the Holy Spirit—convincing a person to believe on Christ Jesus! This being the Sin of not believing in Jesus Christ.

John 16:7-11
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin [of sin, because they believe not on me], and of righteousness [of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more], and of judgment [of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged].

If repentance were about turning from “sins”, it is only speaking of one Sin, and that is the Sin of not believing in Jesus Christ. And what does this repentance look like? A turning and change of direction in one’s thinking. To stop thinking towards unbelief and thinking to belief. This is God’s will that we all come to salvation through believing in Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (believe on Jesus Christ).

If repentance were about turning away from a person’s sins of the flesh for salvation or grace, it would be false. A person does not need to believe in God for them to turn away from sin. This is simple morality. Christianity and belief have nothing to do with morality as a purpose and goal. Anyone can be moral. Even Jesus told the Pharisees that they, though being evil, still gave good gifts (Matthew 7:11). They morally did right things, but were far from God.

Take a compass that has North, South, East, and West on it. If we place God “North” and sin “South”, one can easily turn from sin either “East” or “West” and not be turned to God. Thus, repentance is not about turning from one’s sins to then be “right with God”. And moreso, even if you did think you could turn from sin “East” or “West”, the Lord has removed our sins as far as the East is from the West! (Psalm 103:12). Our sins have been completely forgiven, removed, and forgotten (never to be remembered again)!

We are all, and have all been made, right with God because of what Jesus Christ fully and completely accomplished to us and for us.

John 3:16-17
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Romans 3:21-26
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Hebrews 10:12-18
but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

So if we have all been forgiven of every sin of the flesh and been given (Gifted) without self-effort and work a right-standing with God as a Father, how can we then think we need to confess our sins or turn from them to maintain a right-standing, or to gain salvation. It can then only be about turning from a way of thinking to gain access to salvation or God, to a turning to a belief in the Gospel as salvation and acknowledgment of Christ Jesus who gave us back our right-standing.

But what is even more interesting, is that we were never really enemies to God; we only thought we were (or think we are)—"alienated and enemies in your mind”.

Colossians 1:19-22
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.

So, this goes back to a “thinking” and belief, and not about our sins of the flesh; all about the thinking and belief in only the Gospel.

Paul wrote a harsh letter to the Galatian church for turning away from the Gospel (repenting from the Gospel) back into the Law and Legalism (self-works).

Galatians 1:6-7
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.

Galatians 3:1-4
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

And if repentance of sins had anything to do with acquiring salvation, why were none of the new believers in Acts were told to repent—they were only told to believe!

Acts 8:12-13
when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.

Acts 8:36-37
And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 16:29-32
Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.

Even Jesus confirmed that in order to be saved, all you need to do is believe!

John 3:15-16
that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:35-36
The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 3 does not say that to earn salvation you need to believe and “repent from sins”; nor does it say that if you don’t “repent from your sins”, you would not see life and the wrath of God is on him. Sin is not an issue with God!

Jesus even goes further by saying all you need to do is believe for you to perform the same and even greater miracles as Jesus Himself did!

John 14:12-14
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

Furthermore, if repentance had only to do with sin, Paul would not have said that even salvation (which is not sin) could be repented of:

2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Even Hebrews says one can repent of salvation (that being belief in Jesus Christ).

Hebrews 6:4-6
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance [believing in Jesus Christ]; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

So after all that, we must clearly see that repentance only means to believe in the Gospel (Jesus Christ) from a state of unbelief (not believing / believing falsely). To turn the Gospel in belief away from the unbelief of:
  • Legal thinking.
  • Dead works.
  • A sin-conscience.
  • That God is angry with you.
  • The mindset of a “sinner saved by grace”.

When we believe in the Gospel, we repent from those things. We change our thinking to whom we are in relation with God the Father and set ourselves free for freedoms sake that is the Gospel.

Sin really is not an issue with God! Why do we remember our sins when God doesn’t? What part of “remember no more” do we doubt! I don’t doubt the Faith that God has to keep His own Word!

Hebrews 10:17-18
and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now since there is now (because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice) remission of all these sins and iniquities, there is therefore no more offering for sin.

And since there is no more offering we can do for sins, there is nothing to “repent of” or “confess” to gain right-standing with God or Salvation. This then sets us free from sin and from sinning because we have a clear-conscience (righteous-conscience) that can focus on our perpetual right-standing with God without needing to focus on sins or any sin we may or may not commit.

When we learn to let go of sin, we learn to Love others as Jesus demonstrated that Love (not judge others or ourself). The more we focus on sin, the more we get caught up in sin. The more we sin, the more we fear God. The more we fear God, the less we have relationship with Him. And the less we have relationship, the less we have His Life!

And if there is a “sin of the flesh” in our lives, we have the ability and authority of Christ Jesus in us and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit out from us to overcome and set ourself free from bondage and strongholds. Not out of our own flesh-ability, but Him in and through us. He does the work for us as we get to eliminate fear and worry with the KNOWING that we cannot change what Christ accomplished on the Cross and our relationship with God!

This is the freedom Christ came to set us free from: sin. Once and for all time, forever and forever (Hebrews 10). Which is the Gospel we are told to believe in!