Repentance is crucial
By Lars Hyldgård
I could have chosen either of two headlines for this article:
“Repentance is crucial,” or “repentance is life-giving!”
Both are true statements – not least the last. But repentance is more than just some offer that God gives to us. It is far more important. It is a crucial acceptance of the salvation God offers.
Jesus spoke about it all the time…
When I read the Bible, and look at what Jesus said was important, it gives me a serious dose of respect for living in what you might call “personal repentance.”
Jesus emphasizes that we need to repent (change our attitude), so that we can receive the life that He wants to give us. He does not try to hide the fact, that one day, we will be held accountable for our actions, and that it is possible to be either rejected or receive a reward from God. How well things will turn out for us on that day, will, according to Jesus, depend on our willingness to repent. To do this, we may very well need the help of God!
Repentance is agreeing with God
Repentance starts when we examine ourselves in God’s light. Here, we will see our true state, that we are helpless in the eyesight of a holy and loving God. We need to agree with God. In this situation, we can decide to turn to the cross, repent and confess our sin. When we do this, we are forgiven! (Look in 1. John 1:9). But God’s plan doesn’t end here. He wants us to allow His word to fully penetrate our hearts, so that it may change and shape us. Sincere repentance will make us give ourselves wholly over to God, trusting that He, by His word and His Spirit, will change our hearts, so that we will look more like Jesus. God wants to have this place in our lives!
Jesus questioned the basic willingness that the Jews had to repent.
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Luke 13:34-35).
“and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44).
Jesus wants to pick us up, protect us and give us life in abundance. But it was the unwillingness of change in the hearts, that laid the foundation for the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., which Jesus here predicted. Jesus is saying, that the one who has received a lot, of him will be required so much more. The Jews, to whom so much had been given by God, so much was also required from, and Jesus wept in advance because of what would come over them. However, there were some ten thousand-scores of Jews that chose to repent and believe in Jesus. They were saved, just like brood under the wings of the hen. When Jerusalem was leveled to the ground – and close to everyone in the city were killed, God had led the Jesus-believing Jews into the desert.
There’s no way around repentance
Jesus speaks a lot about how essential it is to repent. For instance, He clearly separates things in the following section: The house built on the rock and the house built on sand (Luke 6:47-49). The parable of the sower (Luke 8:4-15). About following Him (Luke 9:23-27). Woes because of the lack of repentance in Galilee (Luke 10:13-16). The Galileans that were killed, and the fallen tower (Luke 13:1-5). The parable about the fruitless tree (Luke 13:6-9). The parable about the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). And many more!
A test for Christians: how are things looking right now?
Am I really looking to walk as much according to the heart of God as I possibly can? Do I approach Jesus and His word daily? Or do I avoid the true light? Do I live in His power, or am I walking on my own? Do I need to repent – based on what Jesus says? How long time does God need to wait for me? What will I regret, when one day, I stand in front of the throne of God?
In which areas can I repent?
There are many areas I can chose to repent in. All kinds of sin, of course. Most importantly, we need to turn our hearts to God and listen to Jesus through the Bible. We can only receive His kingdom on His terms. We need to believe in the goodness of God, to be humble and grateful because of Him and the salvation He offers. Then He will shape us to “lead us in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake,” as it says in Psalm 23.
Why is repentance so important?
- Because repentance brings us on track with God.
- Because a lack of repentance will bring tragedy with it sooner or later.
- Because, if we give Him permission to shape us, we become useful in God’s redemptive plan.
If we carry around the name of being a Christian as something outward, without giving God the right to show His power in our lives, we can be a great hindrance in God working out His plan on earth.
On the other hand: If we allow God’s word to grow and spring forth freely in our hearts, we become “fertile ground” and will carry much fruit.
REMEMBER: Jesus will not turn anyone away that comes to Him in honesty and sincerity! He says:
“The one who comes to Me, I will by no means cast out” (John 6:37).
Therefore, come to Jesus now – and always!
Tips for repenting:
- Our relation to God’s word.
- Our relation to Jesus.
- Our attitude toward other people.
- Repentance from sin: unforgiveness towards others, slander, greed, selfishness…
Through repentance to faith
A teaching about repentance and faith
Repent of your sins towards God
A teaching about what repentance really is