The journey begins
Repentance is the start of a totally new way of life. Those people who asked Peter and the rest of the apostles what to do, were there for religious reasons.
It was one of the seven feasts of Israel that we know as Shavuot (or the Feast of weeks and firstfruits) that occurs on the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan (somewhere between 14 May–15 June).
It marks the conclusion of the Counting of the Omer, and its date is directly linked to that of Passover.
Jews counted off seven complete weeks (49 days) and on the following day, the 50th day, held a feast (See Leviticus 23:15-19; Numbers 28:27-29; Deuteronomy 16:9-11 ) and it was on this special day we know as the Day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit came. The people who were there were all devout religious folk doing what God had commanded but lacked one very essential element—they were not saved!
There are hundreds and thousands of churches that people attend—millions of people who are not saved and they often call themselves Christians.
Going to church does not make one a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes someone a hamburger.
Someone may park their car in a garage, but that does not mean that they are a car.
If I were to give a definition of what it is to be a Christian, it would have to be something like, “One in whom Jesus lives”.
The Lord told a Jewish leader, who was a very devout man that he needed to be born again (John 3:1-21) and this means that we all need to make a fresh start and a new way of living and it is an ongoing process. We are saved; we are being saved and we shall be saved and are on a journey. Along the way, we will have a wide range of experiences. Some are great, but others can be very challenging. We can and will have many opportunities to fail, but we do not have to take them!
There were at least 3000 souls who heard Peter preach that day and they were all attending a church meeting, but had not yet made this fresh start.
Shavuot is linked with Passover and Passover represents a new beginning. It is a type or symbol of salvation. On that original Passover, the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed and its blood collected to be applied to the doorpost and lintel of every house. If it was not personally applied, it did not work. Salvation must be “personally applied” by each and every individual, or “it doesn’t work” and repentance is where it all begins.
It has nothing to do with emotional responses, but emotions can be involved. It really devolves down to a deliberate and personal decision making process. Those religious people deliberately asked Peter what had to be done and he told them to repent. Let us see what this means. Peter said one word—repent and in the Greek it is the word metanoeō. It is derived from two other words. The first one is meta and its main meaning is with. It refers to accompaniment, participation, proximity, transfer and sequence. True biblical repentance means that we turn from those things we once accompanied and participated in, or way of life so we can call it “to turn”.
The other word to look at is noeō that in turn comes from the word nous. This refers to the mind. Scriptures clearly tell us that the natural mind is an enemy to God. This is why we need to renew our minds and start thinking differently. See Romans8:1-7; 12:1-3
If we are not “saved” or “born again” our nature is such that we are at enmity with God, regardless of our religious observances and traditions. Our natural mind therefore has to have a change in motivation and direction.
Repentance therefore is to undergo a complete lifestyle reversal. It means that we decide to change our thoughts, behavior and action, for a total turn-around in the way we think, believe, act and live. Because the word nous is involved, it means that a radical decision to change one’s direction in lifestyle lies in the mind and not in the emotions.
It is a deliberate choice to stop doing what displeases God and do a u-turn or make a turnaround in our beliefs and ways of living.
The Hebrew word for way as seen in Isaiah’s prophecy telling us to prepare the way of the Lord is derek . It’s various meanings describe it as if we are walking a well trodden roadway, indicating a course of life or mode of action, custom, journey, manner, passenger, through, toward and so on.
John the Baptist preached along such lines, telling people to prepare themselves for the coming of Messiah. His message was addressed to God’s covenant people, telling them to get their acts together, because the long awaited Messiah was coming.
This is a kind of repentance. It was a major thrust of his message commencing as I said earlier with the single word repent.
False gods and idols
John’s message was not to the unsaved or heathen—but to God’s people. Jesus came to His own, not to “outsiders” .
Of course, God wants everyone to be saved everywhere, but it all started somewhere and like everything else needed a starting point. It started in Israel.
John’s message remains unchanged even now, because there are two differing classes of people—those who are saved or born again and those who are not.
The initial messages of both men were addressed to God’s people, telling them that they needed to repent.
They were Jews, many of whom were devout in their religion, but not born again. Likewise, there are thousands of peopel who attend a church somewhere who are not born again.
This is a principle that still remains.
People who attend a synagogue or a church still need to repent for two reasons. (i) in order to hear the Gospel message and act on it, leading to their new birth and (ii) if and when born again believers goof off and commit sin, we can repent, receive forgiveness, stop doing it, get over it and start off again.
If John had to come to warn God’s people to get their acts together to prepare the way of the Lord then—for His first appearing—we still require similar preaching today to God’s people, telling them to get ready for the Lord’s second appearing. Repentance is the common factor.
The root of the problem
Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica saying-
...you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.
For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything.
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10
Those believers turned or had a change in direction. They started to emulate Paul (who mimicked Jesus) and the Lord and they did so because they received the word of God. In the original language it was the word exēcheō, meaning to echo.
I could describe it as starting to talk the same way God talks. Paul preached Jesus! He did not preach any other gospel and told us that anyone who preached “another gospel” would be accursed. Galatians 1:6-9
The gospel is good news indeed but it all started with the word repent.
I became a Christian at 26 years of age and attended church before that, but never had a turning around experience in my life and now, almost 50 years later, after preaching, teaching, evangelizing and pastoring in various capacities, had a pleasant shock when seeking the Lord about my new ministry direction.
He recently said, “Preach My word”. I thought I had been preaching His word! He started to speak about my early ministry visions of evangelism and I realized that He wants us to return to the basics and those fundamentals started with the word repent. Have we drifted away from this basic foundation?
One of the things Paul said about the Thessalonians was that they had turned. They had turned To God From worshiping idols. This makes me wonder what idol worship entails. Is it bowing to an image or worshiping a false god?
If it is Yes, which I think it is, then we must determine what constitutes a false god and an idol. I am going to shock you perhaps, but anything can be an idol and a false god. If it takes precedence over God Himself, then it has become one.
It is possible to worship our church, a pastor, the ministry itself, the programs we have in church, worship (yes, I did say worship) or even the bible, when we make such things more important then God. I often tell people to go to the word of God, but this does not necessarily mean the bible, because the bible as such is a mere book and people do worship the book. Pure theology can focus more on the text, form, punctuation, grammar, parsing and such things (all of which are correct) than on applying the truths obtained by revelation to our personal lives and so if it is more important than our personal relationship with God it “may” be an idolatrous form of worship.
I grew up in a church that had crucifixes and sometimes wore a crucifix necklace that had been given to me. One day the Lord told me to get rid of it, saying that it was offensive to Him. He explained that He is no longer on the cross and that the tomb is empty, but religious folk keep Him there because of their traditions. That shook me up and as I started to explore this more, I came to see that what we call the church is often full of idols. I encourage you to take an honest look around for yourself and see if it what I say is right. Pray about it and weigh it up against scripture.
We can all adopt preconceived ideas about any topic and concentrate more on them than on the Lord Himself. If this is true then our pet doctrines can lead us astray from the truth and so can be a false god. What therefore constitutes a false god? It would have to be anything that is false, or anything that takes precedence over God...the person.
Let me explain this way. Is sickness in Heaven? I hope you said “No”. If so, then sickness is foreign to heaven and so is false, therefore by advocating a mentality that we must “suffer for Jesus” or that “God sends sickness to teach us lessons” and the like have to be false.
Poverty comes into this category, but so too does the excess prosperity doctrine when anything is taken to the extreme. Icons are also false gods. The only genuine “aids” to our devotions etc are the word of God and the Holy Spirit.
Perhaps we need to repent of our attitudes in some of these areas, so repentance is still of vital importance.
Those Thessalonians had previously been doing all kinds of things, mostly in serving or pleasing themselves and their idols, but when they were converted and had a turnaround in their lives they started serving God.
The Greek word for serving is douleuō that is a word for being a servant. Jesus was a servant. Paul called himself a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Derivatives of this word describe varying degrees of servant-hood up to and including slaves. We are not slaves. Neither are we servants in that sense, but the Lord’s friends, but those believers had such a radical change of direction in their lives, they no longer acted independently and selfishly, but considered themselves as being bound to Jesus as if they were his slaves.
Their conversion was so genuine and intense that it led to a total change in the way they thought, acted and lived. That’s repentance.
Genuine repentance begins with a deliberate decision to make an about face change that is made evident or proved by the change that occurs in one’s life. The outward conduct then gives testimony to that change and I am not talking about the legalism and similar attitudes that often prevail. They are often man-made rules dealing more with externals than the heart and can place people into bondage. True repentance and life changing experiences stem from the heart. If it is real, it is as natural as breathing, but if it is imposed in some way it is not natural or normal.
A punctured conscience
If you have ever had toothache or hurt yourself in some way, that pain seems to take over and dominate everything you do. It is amazing how a small problem like stubbing your toe seems to attract objects that you seem to keep running into, or a small cut on your finger always seems to get bumped. It is usually the one that hurts that the gets the unwanted attention. We can take painkillers, but once the medication wears off, the throbbing recommences. A few months ago I had a problem with a molar tooth and it had to come out. No amount of praying for myself, confessing some scriptures and everything else I could do worked. A nerve had died and decay had set in. I knew one of the leaders in the Argentinian revival who told me that in a big meeting in which he was part, when he and other pastors were on the platform talking about the next thing to do, people in the meeting all over the place started yelling and crying out loudly as they held their hands to their mouths. God was recreating their teeth and fillings were popping out of their mouths. I’d like to see that and wanted a miracle for my tooth, but no, it had to come out.
What I hate most is that needle they give you first and the after affects. Talk about dribbling when you try to drink something afterwards. The dentist asks you dumb questions with your mouth full of cotton wadding and that suction device pulling your tongue out and you cant talk anyhow. “Are you OK?” Seriously, I am in pain here and you are still drilling regardless and expect me to conduct a conversation? I am like a zomby for days until the anesthetic wears off.
What I am saying here is that we must get to the root of the problem and get it out and sometimes that hurts.
A melanoma (skin cancer) can kill if its roots grow down into the skin. Our skin varies in thickness in different parts of the body, but on average is around 0.1 mm thick (about as thick as a sheet of paper). A skin specialist will advise that if the cancer grows past 0.07mm, the roots can get into the blood stream and kill you. It is amazing how something so small can have such a drastic impact. It has to come out. The same principles apply spiritually.
Something small and seemingly insignificant can have real problems eventually, if we do not address them. We must get to the root of the problem. There is a trend today that wants to gloss over issues. People do not want to be corrected and told to fix things up. We are often told, even in some churches, that everything will be OK, but they will not always be OK. It can be painful to hear the truth, but the truth, when it is taken to heart and applied, can save someone from all kinds of problems.
Too much sugary, fatty, junk food can be detrimental to our health so any good preacher should exercise wisdom and balance in what is shared. I am very mindful that on many occasions, people may be influenced in what I share and so I try at all times to give a balanced diet that can edify, encourage, bless and inspire, but also address issues.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
We all like the blessing parts and the sermons that tell us the good things we want to hear, but balance is necessary
Sometimes giving warning and applying correction is required, but not popular. In Deuteronomy chapter eight, God clearly told His people to obey His commandments and to observe to do what He said and for good reason. It was so they could get the blessings. This included taking possession of their land as an inheritance. God mentioned “possessing the land” 328 times! In Deuteronomy chapter 28, we see that the blessings can overtake us!
Clearly, His intention is to bless. God said that we can be blessed in the city, in the country, on the bus, in an airplane, at school, sitting at your office desk, going in and coming out and everything in between and we like that—but it is conditional!
God said that we are to hearken diligently to His voice and to observe (do what He says) and that speaks of obedience. He will actually command the blessing upon us but we must meet His terms and conditions. I suppose that 99% of sermons we hear is about those blessings, but in this and several chapters following, He talks more about the penalties of falling short of the mark.
I am not talking about legalism, such as the keeping of The Law that Jesus fulfilled. It still remains, but we are now under a much higher law, that is the royal law of love. Nevertheless, our obedience is still required and this is why we have all the scriptures in correct balance. In Paul’s letter, he presents a balanced diet.
All scriptures (not the doctored ones but those in the original languages) are given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost to profit us.
They are also given to give us sound doctrine or Spirit inspired teaching and to reprove us if and when necessary.
That word reproof is conviction and evidence. If you have heard the phrase “under conviction”, it is like Holy Spirit poking you with His finger and pricking your conscience telling you something like “You should be doing this” when you are not or “You really shouldn’t be doing that you know” when in error. He does not accuse you, criticize you or condemn you, but gently and insistently probes so that you just know that you know and respond. That is a form of repentance.
Interestingly, the closer we get to the Lord as we develop and cultivate our relationship, the more sensitive we become and simply (almost automatically) do not want to do those things that offend Him and prefer to do all we can to please Him.
That word “correction” that Paul used is a long Greek word I will not even try to pronounce. It means to straighten things up and rectify what needs to be fixed up, again a result of true repentance.
The word for instruction is an “ouchy” one. It is tutorage and talks about chastening and disciplining. Many Christians fall down in this area, trying to ignore the “obedience” and “discipline” parts of our relationship and concentrate on the blessings parts, but fail to realize that they come together as a package deal. The purpose for all of this as Paul said is to bring us to a state of righteousness—so that we can be complete in all things.
Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit’s ministry in John’s gospel. One aspect is that of bringing correction, or reproof (John 16:8).
The Greek word is elenchō. It has a variety of meanings along the lines of admonish, convict, convince, fault, faultless, rebuke, reproof and reprove, tell a fault and convict. It is not designed to accuse us in a negative way, but to point out our shortcomings so that we will want to change and that is repentance.
This is just as much a part of the Holy Ghost’s job as so it is about talking in tongues and giving those nice goosebump feelings we like.
Jesus was an obedient Son in all aspects and if He could live that way as a man at that time, we can also. Hebrews 5:8 states that Jesus learned obedience and the word for learned describes the action of someone who is listening closely and being compliant and submissive.
We know of course that He always did what pleased the Father, not Himself. By analysis, this is a result of repentance. That is, no longer living for yourself and pleasing yourself, but listening to the Lord’s voice and doing what He says, rather than doing your own thing.
When Peter preached on that Day of Pentecost, those devout religious folk were pricked in their hearts so much by the Holy Spirit, they realized that, despite all their “spirituality” they were as lost as a goose in a fog and needed to do something about it. That’s repentance.
Peter had a no-nonsense and unapologetic direct approach in response to their criticism and mockery of the events of Pentecost. They were all there for religious reasons as I have already said, but God had now started to do something new and different that they either did not like or understand. Some of them wanted it too!
This is consistent with the things that still happen today. There are people who do not want what we have and fight it tooth and nail.
There are others who are so entrenched in their customary ways that it would take an atom bomb explosion in their laps to get them considering something different and there are those who mock and ridicule us. I’m talking of people in the church here! Thankfully, there are others who are hungry and thirsty for the truth and receptive to it.
These are the kinds of people in Jerusalem that day who heard Peter preach. He preached Jesus! He never talked about any other topic and 3000 souls were saved that day.
I really believe we need to return to the basics, if we are genuinely interested in winning the lost. I am becoming more convinced than ever that, despite the relative merits of all other topics that are good and necessary, we must preach Jesus and Him crucified (see Acts 8:35; 17:18; 2 Corinthians 11:4) more than we do now.
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
In Peter’s message of response (one that was not fore-planned and researched, but inspired by the Holy Spirit) he told the truth and led up to a climax.
...listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through him, as you well know.
But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed.
With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.
But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip. Acts 2:22-24
“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this.
Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today.
For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said, ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”’
“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!”
Peter’s words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Acts 2:32-37
This is the core of repentance. It is what we are supposed to be about. I know that I am talking like an evangelist now, but to be honest, this is really the focal point of our whole existence.
Someone may have asked you to come to church with them, or spoken about the Lord to you in your home. That’s evangelism.
You do not have to go to a church to get saved. Jesse Duplantis prayed a salvation prayer in the toilet of his hotel room.
Someone invited me to an evangelistic meeting and I responded. I do not remember what the sermon was about, because the Lord took the initiative and revealed Himself to me in the way He did (in a blaze of light just as He did to Paul), but someone took the initial steps and we can all do that!.
Those people there were so touched by Peter’s anointed preaching (not eloquent sermonizing) that the Holy Spirit started talking to them and pricked their consciences.
The account says that they were pricked to their heart. This word “pricked” appears only twice in the New Testament. It is katanyssō that means to prick, to stab, to puncture, to pierce and a few similar meanings. When Jesus was on the cross and that Roman soldier thrust his spear into His side, the same word was used. As I said, this word is only used twice and so it is very important.
The spear that punctured Jesus’ side was no mere stab wound. It sliced His side wide open and went right into His lungs.
Neither is the piercing of those people’s consciences a slight momentary annoyance in the way a splinter would annoy us as it pricks us. It was piercing right into the innermost being and opening it right up so much that they cried out for help.
The word of God can do that. For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. Hebrews 4:12-13
Peter’s message was no mere painkiller that would make them feel good temporarily without getting to the root of the problem.
It is a big concern to me that many churches are adopting a “user friendly” approach.
They want to find ways to bridge the gaps and attract folk to church and so we should. That’s OK to a point, but what really happens once the attractions wear off? We should attract people to Jesus not our church.
Has the person involved really had a life changing experience that will last the test of time?
If an altar call is held, does it appeal to the emotions and someone “prays the sinners’ prayer” but not had a life changing experience?
Those 3000 souls were already going to church, but their lives were not touched and when Peter preached, his words cut them so much they wanted to know what to do to get their lives straightened up.
Our job is twofold, namely, (i) bringing the lost to salvation and (ii) making disciples of them.
We are not to get ugly and harsh when presenting truth. Neither do we water down the gospel. When we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide us, He knows what condition the hearers are in and He can lead us to do what needs to be done on that occasion. No two meetings are alike. There may be different people in attendance, or an unusual situation could develop when someone is on the way to the meeting, so what worked once, may not be applicable every time. The Holy Spirit knows all this and He can led us to do the right things and say the right things at the right time in the right manner.
Under such conditions, we can speak and minister with compassion as well as conviction in such a way that the hearer’s problem or need can be identified and then make the choice to do something about it.
Our gospel message is the power of God unto salvation according to Romans 1:16, not some social make you feel nice homily that is theologically or politically correct, forgotten ever so quickly once the listener leaves the meeting. Our gospel message must have a bite in it...a sting of some kind that will cause the listener to respond and want to make a change. I want to see the change start—when they decide to accept Jesus, but this is the first step that will be a series of steps taken for the rest of the person’s life.
Don't reinvent the wheel
This is something I must touch on and it is something often overlooked. It is easy to get emotional over many things especially when an emotional appeal is given from the pulpit. I like to see folk respond and often with much weeping. I blubbered and bawled like a baby when I was saved, but I realize that once the emotion dies down, there has to be evidence of a change.
A major change came into my life overnight. It took me almost by surprise and from day one, I knew with absolute certainty that I had finally met the Jesus of the bible and that He had placed a demand on my life. It took several years before this call on my life started to take shape, but I knew I was a totally different man.
Crying is an action that emanates from the soul life and it is a good thing at times, but the core of the matter is the person’s spirit or spiritual condition with or without emotions. We can feel sorry about something, but not have a spiritual life changing relationship.
The word for sorrow describes pain or grief.
Paul wrote two letters to the believers at Corinth correcting error, misuse of the gifts of the Spirit, an incorrect attitude towards the Lord’s supper and marriage to name a few. They had pride, selfish ambition, drunkenness, party faction infighting and all kinds of strife. One notorious problem was immorality that was sanctioned, whereby a man was committing fornication with his father’s wife (see 1 Corinthians 5:1).
Many of these things never even went on amongst non Christian circles and he was horrified. He wrote to them asking them to fix it up before they were all contaminated. When he wrote next time, he said that he had made them sorry for his first letter in 2 Corinthians 7:8. Having said that, he said-
When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside.
But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.
His presence was a joy, but so was the news he brought of the encouragement he received from you. When he told us how much you long to see me, and how sorry you are for what happened, and how loyal you are to me, I was filled with joy!
I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:5-10
It seems therefore that there is a kind of sorrow, or an emotional response, that never produces what God wants that is our salvation and well being. Godly repentance leads to salvation. “Confession” that is practiced in some areas is not repentance, nor is it totally scriptural insofar as it might never lead to a change in one’s heart, or Godly repentance.
I lied like a pig in mud when I went to confessional and so do many others, little realizing that the absolution often sought comes not from man but from God. This leads me to a conclusion, although there is much more yet to cover. There are two issues I suppose and we have touched on the first one, but what happens if we goof off later? We all do. Do we have to start over again? Well, only up to a point.
Repentance is a foundational truth or a basic principle. A principle is something that means it is the original or something that has a beginning. When we are born again, the bible describes us as newborn babies. Newborn babies do not eat steaks, but drink mothers’ milk until the time comes when they can be weaned and start maturing.
Peter describes it this way-
As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. 1 Peter 2:2
Many believers are still drinking milk, never going further than the initial baby stage. There are many reasons of course, but the result is that they are still in the foundational truths and all but trying to reinvent the wheel. They have started the journey by laying the foundation when they repented and received Jesus as their savior and that’s great, but they remain in a state of perpetual infancy. It is the stage spoken of in Hebrews chapter six.
...let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.
You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. Hebrews 6:1-3. See also Hebrews 5:12-14
Those things are doctrines for beginners, or, the abc’s of faith. Some folk even struggle with them, so when problems emerge, opposition comes, all kinds of other things assail them and they succumb, they may think that they have to go right back to the beginning and start again.
A baby cannot do that! We cannot go back! We cannot go back into our mothers womb. We cannot lay the foundation again.
Our journey starts with the word “repent” but we do not remain there and along the journey you and I will probably fail somewhere.
This is why we are told to move forward. In the original it means that we must go on to perfection and, yes, I did say perfection. The meaning of this is wonderful because it implies that when we are struggling and feel weighed down by such failures that torment us, the Holy Spirit carries us along or bears us up. He carries us on further. He lifts us up and carries us from an infant stage to a perfection stages in the way that a baby graduates from infancy stage to child stage and from a child stage further onwards until we reach maturity.
We will continue this way until the day comes when we will stand before Jesus face-to-face, knowing as we are already known. We are a work in progress. It starts with initial repentance. It does not mean we have to go back to where we started.
I can hear you thinking, “Oh but Robert, you do not know what I am like” or “You do not know what I have done”, or, “You do not know what I am going through”. Really? What matters most is that God knows and He has made the way available for you and for me to pick ourselves up, brush the dust off our feet, stand up, apologize or repent and keep going.
Any parent will know that their baby does not walk from the moment he or she is born, but crawls, then sits, then stands (even if it is a little bit wobbly) and takes that first step.
There is many a time when there are many tears as baby falls over, but mother or father fusses and cares, picks their child up and encourages them to keep on going. That’s the order of things and God has made provision for it in His word. If you have had moments as I have, of failing, fixing it up, only to fail again and again and again, join the club. Paul did.
He had repented initially when he meet the Lord on the way to Damascus, but made mistake after mistake so often that he despaired of ever making the grade. The reason is that at that stage, he was still living in those basic and fundamental principles I mentioned. He would repent and start again only to have to repeat the process until he saw the light or received the revelation that he did not have to stay in that baby stage. This is why he wrote about it in Romans chapter seven.
He realized that no matter how hard he tried, he kept failing, repented, failed, repented, failed and so on until he saw the truth about his position that is the same truth about our position.
He made a choice to act on the revelation he received and was set free and this is what we all need to do. Therefore when we are going along in life and something happens that is not right, we can confess them to God and receive His forgiveness. That’s repenting.
This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth.
But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts. 1 John 1:5-10
That’s it! I could stop there, but there is more.
...humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. James 4:7-10
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9