“how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Repentance and Faith
We have discussed who God is. We talked about how He speaks to us in His Word. How He is the Creator of all things who is holy, just and love. We then transitioned to man and our purpose as human beings. We studied how we have fallen from the purpose that God has created us for and deserve His wrath. The person and works of Jesus Christ became our focus after sin and we affectionately talked about His person and works as God’s Adoption Process.
What do we do with all this information? How do we respond to it? How do we urge others to respond to it? Here is where true Christians and false Christians divide.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:2 says. Repentance is a must when it comes to having a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ. What is repentance? In Matthew 3:2 the word repent is a translation of the word metanoeo. It is a hard word for us English speaking people to say but it means to think differently. It means to reconsider. It is a change of direction in ones thought process which leads to a change in attitude and actions.
Acts 16:30-31 says, “And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” The word “believe” is a translation of the greek word “pisteuo”. Another hard word for us to speak but it means to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing). Another way is to say to entrust or commit oneself to another.
You may have heard that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin and this is true. It is one action described by repent and believe. One can say it is a recipe of the mind. The ingredients needed are repentance and faith. The change of mind looks something like this. “I will stop trusting in my actions to make me right with God and I will start trusting in Jesus as my Lord and Savior to make me right with God.” In order to understand this deeper let’s take a look at what is not saving repentance and faith.
There is a thing called legal repentance. This repentance is like, “I need to stop speeding so I do not get a ticket.” People do this with God to. These people do not want to go to hell. Who does? It is normal for people to not want to go to hell. These people come to God out of fear of going to hell but this left to itself is not saving faith. They may start following the laws of God, confess Jesus as Lord and Savior but do it grudgingly as they would if they were trying to keep the speed limit in order to avoid a ticket. An unhealthy fear drives their repentance. They may look at the Lord as more of a task master with a frown on His face than a loving Savior or a loving Father who wants their best. This is not saving faith.
There is also faith without repentance. This person puts their faith in the Lord as their savior but there is really no change in their direction. They confess Jesus as their savior but still live a life of sin. The world is still their treasure but they have a fire insurance policy in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not saving faith. Faith without repentance is not saving faith.
Matthew 13:44 reads, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” This parable describes what true repentance and faith looks like. People who come to Jesus may at first seek escape from hell through legal means or may be relying on Him as a fire insurance policy. If the Spirit is at work in them then they never stay in those positions. Eventually they will see the treasure that Jesus is and with great joy they will stop worshiping the creation and start worshiping God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
If you think about it repentance and faith is an easy concept. It is turning from one direction and going in another direction. It is turning from worshiping the created world to worshiping the Creator of the world. It is changing from finding joy in the things of this world to finding ultimate joy in God through Jesus Christ. This is a simple concept but impossible to do without the work of the Holy Spirit regenerating your heart to love the Lord Jesus Christ – John 3:5. Love is at the center of repentance and faith. We as humans cannot change what we love. It is an action of dying of self-love in thoughts, words and deeds to loving our God in our thoughts, words and deeds. It is impossible with man but everything is possible with God! Praise Him for what He has done for you!
C.H Spurgeon wrote, “You must keep all earthy treasures out of your heart, and let Christ be your treasure, and let Him have your heart.” Let this be our motto as we seek the Lord and compel others to seek the Lord. We obey what we treasure. Let that treasure be the Lord Jesus Christ! To live is Christ, to die is gain!