Chapter 6 – Repentance
THE IMPORTANCE OF REPENTANCE
What place should repentance have in your presentation of the gospel? Is repentance the same thing as belief? Or is it something distinct from it? Is it important to emphasize repentance, or should we never mention it in this age of grace? What does repentance really mean, anyway? These are some of the questions the soulwinner must face (and answer) regarding the subject of repentance.
There can be little doubt that all men, from Adam on, have had to repent in order to have a right relationship with God. The importance of this is brought home when we realize men of every Biblical age preached it.
John the Baptist preached it (Mark 1:15); the Apostle John proclaimed its necessity (Rev. 2:5); Paul preached repentance wherever he went (Acts 17:30; 20:21 ); and the Lord Jesus Christ Himself strongly emphasized that men who refused to repent would perish (Luke 13:3, 5). So, you see, repentance is necessary for salvation.
THE MISUSE OF THE WORD
The question is, “What does the Bible MEAN by ‘repent,’ and how should it be presented to the lost?” The important thing is NOT what repentance has COME to mean down through the centuries since Christ’s time, but rather – and this is of utmost importance – what the word did mean WHEN IT WAS SPOKEN by Christ, Paul, Peter, and others in Biblical times.
If you look up “repent” or “repentance” in a modern dictionary you will read definitions like the following: “regret; to feel sorry for sin and seek forgiveness; to turn from sin.” Based on these definitions, preachers have been going about earnestly trying to get men to quit their sinning, or at least to work up a genuine sorrow for sin. But is this the divinely appointed task of Christians – to get men to change their ways?
No! This kind of preaching often leads to a form of self-righteousness and self-reformation – not to salvation. Does a sinner have to turn from or give up his sins to be saved? COULD he do this? Did you? Have you yet given up all sinning?
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (I John 1:8).
It is sadly apparent that our modern-day misuse of the word “repent” has done a great deal of harm and has confused multitudes. Because of the wrong use of the word “repent” men have gotten the idea that a Christian is one who doesn’t smoke, drink, curse, go to dances or movies, or do anything that is wrong or immoral.
This negativism has blinded people to the fact that a Christian is “one of Christ’s” – one who, through faith, has received Christ as his Saviour. Once a person has Christ and His power in his life, THEN his behavior often changes. But this change is the RESULT of being a child of God; it is not the CAUSE.
Smoking is a practice in which a substance is burned and the resulting smoke breathed in to be tasted and absorbed into the bloodstream.
Most commonly the substance is the dried leaves of the tobacco plant which have been rolled into a small square of rice paper to create a small, round cylinder called a “cigarette”.
The result and penalty of sin is death
…separation from God. “For the wages of sin is death…” (Rom 6:23). The payment for sin is death. Sin is not paid for by good works, penance, church membership, water baptism, etc. Sin is paid for by death. God does not hate the sinner, but He hates the sin. He hates sin because it separates us from Him (Isa 59:2), and He doesn’t want us to be separated from Him. “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2Th 1:8-9).
Except for those taken in the Rapture, everyone will die physically. The body goes back to dust, and the soul goes to heaven or hell. Everyone is born dead spiritually (Eph 2:1). The soul is separated from God because we are sinners. This is why Christ said in Joh 3:7, “…Ye must be born again.” Only through a new birth of the Spirit can man have eternal life. If a person dies without having trusted Christ as his Saviour, his soul will be separated from God and he will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire forever…the Bible calls this the “second death” (Rev 20:14-15).
PRESENTATION – For most people, a simple statement on this point is sufficient, as: “God loves us but hates our sin, because the payment for sin is death and separation from Him.” How to deal with specific “cult teachings” that differ from Scripture on this point will be covered in the chapters on Jehovah’s Witnesses and Christian Science. When you do not sense resistance on this point (and you usually won’t), move on to what you want to cover next.
Australian Archbishop Convicted of Sex Abuse Cover-Up Gets House Arrest
A former archbishop in Australia was let off easy following a conviction for his role in concealing child sex abuse, with officials determining he could serve his one year jail sentence at home.
- Philip Wilson, 67, was found guilty of failing to go to the police about the crimes committed by then-priest James Fletcher, who repeatedly abused two altar boys in the 1970s. (Wilson was an assistant priest at the time; Fletcher died in prison in 2006.)
Wilson denied the accusation, but nevertheless resigned from the clergy last month following mounting public pressure, the Washington Post reports.
Though he was convicted, he’ll be allowed to pass his sentence at the home of his sister, and will even be eligible for parole in just six months. The paper reports that Robert Stone, the magistrate who ordered the decision, found that Wilson showed no remorse or contrition for the cover-up, his primary motive being to protect the Catholic church. How noble. In fact:
- The magistrate accepted Wilson was unlikely to re-offend but found he had to serve a period of detention to deter others.
- He said home detention was adequate punishment given Wilson’s age and mental and physical conditions and that he had previously been of good character.
His age? I just watched my 63-year-old mother, essentially his contemporary, deadlift like 200 pounds at the gym this morning. (That’s a slight exaggeration, but she does work out almost every day, and would snap me like a twig in hand-to-hand combat.) Point being, maybe if he spent less time guilt-swallowing barbecued snags and being complicit in horrific crimes against children, he wouldn’t be in such bad shape now!
Outside the courthouse, one of Wilson’s victims, Peter Gogarty, asked Wilson if he planned to apologize. He received no response.
“I’m beside myself about this,” Gogarty later told reporters. “I’m still here, still hurting…and not a single, solitary word to say sorry.”
He called Wilson’s detention lenient, labelling it a vacation.
Born in Lebanon, Antoine Bou Ezz was once a transgender who is well-known in the fashion world. As a kid, he grew up being bullied and was discriminated for being gay. He was lonely and aching deep inside all his life and wasn’t able to live a normal life like his peers.
Antoine searched for his identity in many things, but he couldn’t find it. When he became a young adult, he had everything he wanted—underwent cosmetic surgeries, let his hair grow long, obtained fame and wealth, and became obsessed with perfection – yet he still felt empty. He could feel the emptiness in his heart no matter what achievements or gains he attained. He lived a luxurious life especially when he became successful in the fashion world. He indulged himself in pleasure, fame, and sought his value and worth in things of the world. He thought he would be happy, but it only became worse as every day he felt like he was living a life of torment.
Antoine searched for the love that he lacked, but it only left him broken every time. He knew he wasn’t happy and he knew his dreams and aspirations were wrong on his whole journey.
Until one day, he had a friend who shared the Good News with him. The Good News found only in Jesus Christ – the Savior who could take away all his sorrows and erase all his sins.
Antoine was touched by God. He understood that he was living a life battling Satan and against the will of God. He said he found his answers in God’s unchanging word, “Male and female He created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” [Genesis 5:2]. Then he felt a hunger inside to know more about God through the Holy Bible. There he found the truth:
- “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God”[John 3:3].
Antoine knew he had to be born again. This meant that he would allow God to renew his heart and recreate him. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” [2 Corinthians 5:17]. Through asking God’s forgiveness for all his sins and transgressions, he was changed into the man God created him to be.
- Since that day, Antoine’s world turned upside down. God granted him back his masculinity. He found true peace in his mind and soul, and a pure joy in the Lord. His days were now filled with rest and peace.
God pulled Antoine out of the pit of destruction the moment he humbled himself before God. He never knew the peace, joy, and satisfaction (that only God could give) even existed. The world and its pleasures never satisfied him no matter how successful he looked to the world. It is clear that only God alone can satisfy the longing in our hearts, the questions no one can answer, and all the love that we’re all desperately seeking.
“For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.” [Romans 11:36]