Bible Teaching about Repentance

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True Bible Teaching - Gods Word Explained

Bible Teaching about Repentance

Bible Teaching about Repentance

The worst sin ever committed was the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus − God’s own Son. Yet God wants to forgive even that, and Jesus himself prayed “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Israel: God’s VineyardIsrael is God's Vineyard

In a parable (a story with a spiritual meaning), Jesus foretold what was going to happen to the nation of Israel (Matthew 21:33-43). He compared God to a landowner who let a farm out to tenants (meaning the Jewish nation). It was harvest time, so he sent a succession of messengers (meaning the Prophets) to collect the rent (meaning obedience to His law), but the tenants rejected the messengers and killed some of them.

At last the Landowner sent his son (meaning Jesus), but they treated him even worse than the others and killed him too. As a result, said Jesus, the landowner “will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons” (Matthew 21:41).

In case the hearers had not understood the teaching of the parable, this explanation was then given:

“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it” (21:43).

The Jewish nation, who had been God’s special nation, were in danger of losing their special position as the custodians of God’s Kingdom and the privilege would pass to all those people who were prepared to follow Jesus, whether they were Jews or not.

Just What Happened

The parable came true. The Jewish leaders handed Jesus over to the Romans and had him crucified.

Then about 40 years later the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and hundreds of thousands of Jews did indeed die ‘miserable deaths’.

Wonderfully, as God had promised in Psalm 16, Jesus did not remain in the grave. The power of God raised him to immortal life, and the people who had killed him were offered the hope of forgiveness. About six weeks after Jesus’ death, his apostle Peter appealed to a huge crowd of men and women in Jerusalem:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”.

That day about 3,000 people accepted Peter’s message, repented, were baptized, and were forgiven for their rejection of Jesus (Acts 2:36-38).

Taking God at His Word

Although we were not in the crowd that shouted for Jesus to be killed, we sin in other ways, and everyone who has not believed and obeyed the apostles’ teaching is guilty before God, as those Jews in Jerusalem were. The apostle John wrote:

He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son (1 John 5:10).

Even we human beings are hurt and angry when people refuse to believe us, or admit that they have wronged us, so we can understand what an insult it is to the Creator when men and women refuse to believe Him, and will not admit that they are wrong. God is deserving of our utmost respect and reverence. An Old Testament prophet once rebuked his hearers thus:

“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honour? And if I

am a Master, where is My reverence?” Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name (Malachi 1:6).

Like so many religious people nowadays, Malachi’s contemporaries thought that God was pleased with ceremonies, and they did what they thought He wanted in the cheapest way they could. They were so wrong!

“Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favourably?” says the Lord of hosts. “But now entreat God’s favour, that He may be gracious to us” (Malachi 1:8–9).

What God asks of us is that we realize, truly and deeply, how wrong many of our thoughts, words and actions are; that we are genuinely sorry about them; and that we repent.

The Bible word ‘repent’ means more than saying sorry, or even being truly sorry; it means ‘a change of mind’ − thinking differently from the way we did before and really wanting to go in a new direction, trying to please God in all that we say and think and do. In modern English we would say that it means having ‘a different mind-set’ whereby our motivation is focussed on pleasing God rather than ourselves.

God’s Response

The prophet Malachi goes on to say that it is when we respond to God’s invitation, He will abundantly blesses us:

Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name. “They shall be Mine,” says the Lord of hosts, “On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him.” Then you shall again discern between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him (Malachi 3:16–18).

May all those who truly repent be among this number in that great day when our Lord Jesus returns.

By John Woodall