Sometimes we need to grow up and move beyond our childhood Sunday School knowledge of the Scriptures. I was approached by one lady from the church after the service who was amazed at how good the messages from Jonah have been. God’s Word is so powerful! Not to pick on the lady, rather it is the PULPIT that is to blame as much as anything else. Too many milk-sodden pews leave the people in them with no defense against people like Rob Bell and his latest horrific offering to to consumer Christianity. No, I haven’t read Love Wins (and I find myself too busy now to give it my time), but the MSNBC interview with him showed me that the news guy has a better grasp on the Gospel than poor Rob does.
Some sound theologians respond to Love Wins
Michale Horton’s Whitehorse Inn
Tom Pryde’s Sermons in Song
Today we looked hard at an important aspect of the true Gospel, repentance. Repentance is a part of the Gospel. It is an integral part of the message of Jesus and the Apostles! The way we live in time reflects what our eternity will be like. If we embrace the message of the Gospel by faith, that faith will be demonstrated in a difference in the life we live from that point on.
John the Baptist preached it; Matthew 3:7-8 “But seeing many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Therefore produce fruits worthy of repentance, ”
Jesus Began His ministry with the message, Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'”
The Apostle Peter’s Pentecost sermon was capped with the very same command, Acts 2:38-39 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 ‘For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all those afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.'”
So, what does it truly mean to repent? When Jonah finally submitted to the command of the Lord and made it to Nineveh, we see true repentance. It is not so profound from the man of God as it is from the entire city of heathens. When God’s message reaches the people of Nineveh this is the response.
Jonah 3:8-9 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?
An acknowledgment of sin. A resignation to the authority and justice of God. A realization that only by His mercy will we ever be able to stand. A desire to turn away from that which God hates. Only when these things come together will we ever truly repent. Unless and until we do repent, we have no hope of God’s mercy. Separating repentance from the Gospel is like separating the office visit from going to the doctor. I believe I am sick. I have made an appointment. Then I sit at home and expect to get better without doing what is required. If I really believe I am sick and that the doctor is my hope of getting well, that will affect my behavior. I will go to the doctor.
If I believe I am God’s enemy because of my sin and that He can and will rightfully judge me; that my only hope is to trust in His method of redeeming me, then the act of trusting must be accompanied by an act of departing from that which initially made me His enemy. This is the message from the beginning of the Scriptures to the end. This is the Gospel. To ignore repentance is to take away the power of the Gospel to save and the evidence that salvation has taken place. “Therefore produce fruits worthy of repentance”
I challenge you to give the message from Jonah 3 a listen. Click on the link below and hear The Character of Repentance and see whether you have found true, biblical repentance.
The Character of Repentance – Jonah 3