"From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." Matthew 4:17
Mark 1:1-11; Matthew 3:1-12; 4:17; Luke 2:1-20; 3:1-22; John 1:1-18; 3:22-36
Who or what does your church follow?
Key point: We do not follow a personality or a movement, we follow Jesus our Lord! Let our Lord be the LORD, He is to be more; we are to be less. Be willing to learn about Him, to grow by His example in our obedience and be willing to go through times of waiting, confusion, discouragement and even suffering. See these as opportunities for personal growth, faith building and strengthening.
Jesus asks us to follow Him--the call we all have and must respond to. As hard as this can be for us, please imagine Jewish culture at that time. Jesus--and His great call--was unprecedented in the Jewish culture and understanding. Normally, a student would seek out a teacher, a rabbi. A rabbi would never seek students due to pride. Jesus did not have pride and arrogance. Again, He models that we are to be seekers of disciples and not just wait for them to come to us. We are to challenge each other to leave our comfort zones and enter the realm of His worship and service. Not make up more barriers by our contemporary pride and agendas.
How do we follow? This is surmised in one word, Repentance, not just the sorrow or emotion, but an actual change! This change allows us to feel the sorrow of the hurt we cause not only ourselves, but also the people around us, and even God! When one serves the Lord or has repented, the fruits will be manifested. If not, something is very wrong. OT repentance meant to return to a life of obedience and faithfulness within the Mosaic Covenant. Judas was sorrowful for his actions, but he did not repent (Matt. 4:17; 27:3; 2 Cor. 7:10-11; Gal. 5).
If we do not understand what it means to repent, we cannot be His disciples!
The call to repent was what Jesus proclaimed (Matt. 4:17; 9:13; 11:20; 12:41; Mk 1:14-15; Luke 24:46-47)! This is the same message the apostles proclaimed (Mt 10:7; Acts 2: 38; 3:4. 19; 17:30; 20:20-21; 26:19-20!
Repentance is the central pronouncement of Jesus' earthly ministry!
The "complete change," of all we are, our goals, aspirations, values, and behaviors, so that we turn a complete 180 degrees from the way we were (2 Cor. 7:9-10). Real repentance is a life that has been changed, that transforms our heart and mind, such as turning from sin to Christ (Psalm 51; Jer. 23:22; 25:4-5; Zech. 1:3-6; Mark 6:12; Matt. 4:17; Luke 13:1-8; 3:8; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 17:30; 26:20; Rom. 12:1-2; Rev. 2: 5-22).
- Repentance is a life that has been changed! Grace is the gift He gives by His choosing (Election), because God is pure and His decisions are just, and way beyond our understanding.
- Repentance and conversion are two different things. Repentance is our response to who and what Christ did on the cross. Conversion is our salvation given to us through grace (Eph. 2:8-9). It is not by our efforts, but given by the power of the Holy Spirit. They go together as the Spirit gives us our salvation and we respond to it by turning from sin and turning to God. This is followed by a changed life (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; 20:21)!
- We all need to repent. There are no people outside and above this need!
If we do not understand what it means to repent, we will miss the centrality of the Gospel message!
Repentance was not just the sorrow or emotion, but an actual change! This change allows us to feel the sorrow of the hurt we cause not only ourselves, but also the people around us, and even God! When one serves the Lord or has repented, the fruits will be manifested. If not, something is very wrong. OT repentance meant to return to a life of obedience and faithfulness within the Mosaic Covenant. Judas was sorrowful for his actions, but he did not repent (Matt. 4:17; 27:3; 2 Cor. 7:10-11; Gal. 5).
If we do not understand what it means to repent, we will miss the centrality of the Gospel message! If we do not understand what it means to repent, we cannot be His disciples!
Are you willing to obey Jesus as the One who is "God with us," and through whom "God is the Savior?"
All that you do in life must be a reflection of a life surrendered to Christ. If you are so self-willed there can be no room for the living Christ, this may mean that others will use you, take advantage of you, get mad at you, ignore you, go around you, ridicule you, and persecute you! But remember, what they do to you, they do to Him! Make sure you are not the one persecuting the Lord!
There are many Bible teachers/preachers who turn the gospel of Jesus Christ into some kind of "easy-believe-ism," where repentance is not necessary. However, as you can see, the Bible has something different to say. I would go with God's Word and not self-proclaimed prompters. John reminds us of the need to bear fruit in keeping with true repentance (Gal. 5)! Are you showing true acceptance of Jesus as your Lord? You can know this by doing what He says (Luke 6:46; John 3:30).
This message is still needed and required in your church, because we cannot have salvation without repentance.
Grace is free, but grace cannot come into a heart where it is not welcome. When we are being unrepentant, we will not welcome His grace!
We can have the faith and confidence that God does keep His word! We can trust Him with all of our needs, worries, and problems, even if we do not understand what God is doing!
Let us make sure our impact comes from a life transformed and carried on to the people around us!
Following is Discipleship, and it has a cost. Following Christ will cost us and require effort and consistency (Matt. 8:18-22; 10:38; Luke 9:57-58; 14:27). We must embrace our call and responsibility to be disciples and make disciples! If we are truly willing to learn and apply what Christ taught, we will truly be His disciples! The Church will be on fire by the Spirit and impacting the world!
Jesus ended His time on earth with an imperative command for us as individuals, and as a Church, to make more disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). Consequently, what has been your church's response to this? (Consider there is nothing we do as a church that could be more important that this! It is even more important than evangelism, which is our responsibility, but the only imperative command we are given by Christ is to do discipleship!)
Christianity does not end at repentance and conversion--it begins there!
How has this been so with you? If not, what is in the way?
© 2016 R.J. Krejcir, Ph.D., Francis A. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership Development www.churchleadership.org/