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Repent! The End Is Near!

The first time I actually remember seeing the word “repent” was in a newspaper cartoon. In the drawing there was a rather scraggly looking person holding a sign which said, “REPENT! THE END IS NEAR!” I guess my first thought about this as a child was that when you know the end is coming, you had better repent so that you can go to heaven. I really didn’t think about the possibility that the end could come before you expected it to and you might not have a chance to repent. I knew, however, that repenting was important. You had to tell God you were sorry for all the bad things you had done – before you died – in order to be admitted into heaven. To me, at that time, repentance meant having to say you are sorry.

Wayne Grudem writes in his Systematic Theology that repentance is: “A heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.” In other words, repentance is not simply saying you are sorry and feeling bad about your sin. Repentance is rebuking our tendency to sin and actually turning away from it – giving it up. The experience of repentance is to hate sin. A sorrow that does nothing is not repentance. Hating the consequences of sin is no virtue either. It is because God has chosen to love me and I have known the experience of fullness and joy in His love that I am now moved to hate sin.

Fortunately for me, Jesus declares “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) Jesus came for me and, if you are not righteous, He came for you too. Repentance delivers us from the darkness of death. When Jesus began preaching, He proclaimed to all who would listen: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Unlike the cartoon character I recalled, it is not the “end,” but the kingdom of heaven that awaits us through Jesus Christ and Godly sorrow that brings repentance unto salvation. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

Jesus also said, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7) In that case, some of us should expect pretty big receptions as we enter the gates of heaven. But seriously, Martin Luther said “To do it no more is the truest repentance.” Man is born into opposition and rebellion against God. We have all turned our backs on Him. When Jesus calls us through the merit of His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, we are turned around 180 degrees. Only then is revealed the light of the kingdom of heaven. By this light, we truly see our sins for what they are. By this light we, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” (Luke 3:8)

Are you a sinner? Turn to God, confess your sins, and repent. He will welcome you into His kingdom.

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2 Responses

  1. I always will remember being taught that repentance is when you “turn around.” You can ask for forgiveness, but if you keep walking the same direction, it is not true repentance. You must actually turn and walk in a different direction, so to speak.

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