The Reality of Repentance
Pastor Tommy Wensil
Luke 13:3,5; Mt. 3:8 "fruits meet for repentance"
There is an obvious stirring of religious interest, promotions of Hollywood evangelism, and a bustling movement of church activity in the land today. The world is filled with a "Christless churchianity" and a "Churchless Christianity" yet the missing message among many church goers today is the message of repentance. Repentance is God’s ultimatum for a sin cursed, Hell-bound world. Since men are headed in the wrong direction down the broad road that leads to Hell, the message of repentance must be preached today.
I. Urgency Of It– Luke 13:3,5
The message of repentance is an urgent message. This fact is borne out in the ministry of Christ and in the message of Scripture.
A. Command of Christ– Luke 13:3,5 "except ye repent"
The Lord Jesus preached the message of repentance. Many today claim to serve the Lord and model their behavior after Christ in the ministry, yet they neglect to preach to men the old message of – "Heaven or Hell"-- "Repent or Perish"-- "Turn or Burn." Jesus emphatically gave to us the command for he repeated it twice in one chapter of the Scripture.
When Christ began his earthly ministry he began it with the message of repentance (Mk. 1:15). When the Lord was ready to ascend back to Heaven he left specific instructions that every preacher –preach repentance (Lk. 24:47).
B. Command of God– Acts 17:30; Isa. 55:7
God does not give to us an option in the matter of repentance. He commands all men, everywhere to repent. Every race, every social class, every individual young and old must head the message of repentance based upon the authority of God. Peter reminds us of God’s desire that men come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9).
C. Cry From Hell Itself– Lk. 16:24,30
The rich man in Hell cried out in torments. His message began with "mercy" and ended in "repent." If we could unearth the bowels of Hell today they would send the same cry back to earth today– seek God’s mercy and repent! If preachers today do not preach upon repentance and faith then Hell will enlarge it self with the multitudes of unwary souls who felt they were candidates for Heaven, when in reality they become "cord-wood" for Hell.
II. Simplicity of It– Acts 20:21"repentance toward God...faith"
There are many today who hope to repent in the 11th hour of their lives, yet they die at 10:30– and miss the simplicity of the message of repentance. The message of repentance is a simple message.
A. A Change of Mind– Lk. 13:3; 15:7 "came to himself"
The common word for "repent" used in Luke 13:3 is the Greek word "mentanoeo"
which refers to a change of mind; another word "metanoia" (Acts 20:21) refers to the reversal of a decision. Thus the word repent carries the idea of a "change of mind that leads to a change of actions." The prodigal son exhibited real repentance when he "came to himself" (Lk. 15:7). The prodigal changed his mind about sin (Lk. 15:18b) about himself (Lk. 15:19) and about his father (Lk. 15:17,21). When a person truly repents there is a change of mind about sin, self and the Savior.
B. A Change of Actions– Mt. 21:28,29
Jesus told the story of two sons who were given a command from their father. One immediately conceded to work in the father’s vineyard (21:30) and the other immediately refused (21:29), yet eventually repented and went (21:31). The son who changed his mind, and thus changed his actions becomes a vivid example of one who repents and turns to God. Jesus revealed that the son who did the will of God was one who "repented" (Mt. 21:29).
III. Reality of It– Mt. 3:8; Cor. 7:11
John the Baptist demanded that the Pharisees and religious people demonstrate "fruits meet for repentance" before they were baptized (Mt. 3:8). If the root work of repentance was accomplished in the heart then the fruit of repentance would manifest itself in the life.
Paul deals with the same thought of the reality of repentance in 2 Corinthians 7:8-11. The first letter to the Corinthian church was one of correction; the second letter was one of comfort. Paul was comforted that there were those who experienced godly sorrow (conviction) that worked repentance to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). Repentance is more than remorse, or regretfulness for sin. Often remorse is experienced by some simply because they "get caught." True conviction works godly sorrow in the heart and causes a person to turn from sin to the Savior. There are seven fruits of repentance found in 2 Corinthians 7:11:
1. Carefulness– earnestness, diligence, forwardness.
2. Clearing– answer in defense of (indisputable testimony).
3. Indignation– anger over sin (Jn. 2:13-15; Ps. 97:10).
4. Fear– alarm, or terror (over sin– new awareness of sin).
5. Vehement Desire– earnest desire (1 Pet. 2:2).
6. Zeal– heat, ardor, (to burn for God) 2 Kings 10:16; Jn 2:17
7. Revenge– vindication of the honor of God.
Years ago Dr. Harry Ironside called these seven evidences the "happy fruits of repentance." If a person has truly repented and placed faith in Christ– they will bring forth fruit "meet" (fitting, suitable) evidence of genuine repentance. The reality of repentance is seen in the evident fruit which a repentant sinner bears.