Do We Need to Repent?

article by site founder, Connie Rice:

We’ve all seen people on street corners holding a hand-made sign that says to repent. There’s a tendency for many to ignore or to think they are a bit weird. Perhaps a few might wave at them or give them a thumb’s up. How many of us would consider making a sign of our own and using our free time to stand somewhere, warning people to repent? Movies and TV shows will sometimes show people doing that and they are generally portrayed as social misfits or someone who is mentally challenged. In reading in the book of Matthew recently, I found myself wondering how people in our culture would respond if John the Baptist had instead arrived in our day and was publicly calling people to repent because the kingdom of God was near. He is described differently from others in Scripture. He didn’t seem to have a regular home and was clothed in camel hair with a leather belt and ate honey and locusts. His appearing followed a 400-year period of God’s silence. That’s a long time that encompassed many generations.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near’. This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him’.’ John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.”

Matthew 3:1-6

Comparing that to present day, I was reminded of how each generation in recent history has moved farther away from God and the truth of His Word in merely 75 years. Being American and having a worldview that was generally biblical went hand in hand. The evils of the 20th Century with the holocaust horrors of World War II as well as the murderous communist takeover in China were plain to see. There were also violent communist takeovers in Cuba, Cambodia, and Viet Nam (the last two influenced by U.S. media reports and communist-funded student anti-war protests). You can learn more from The Epoch Times series, “The Dark Origins of Communism”. The 60’s brought many changes to American culture, but most people still wanted good to prevail and recognized that God was the source of what was good and that He had blessed America and miraculously protected her since inception.

“Historically, the Christian Worldview has been determined by the answers to two questions: What is Truth? Why are we alive? These are the two most basic questions that can be asked about human existence. Of course, for us to even ask these questions flies in the face of the common modern worldviews, which deny the existence of Truth, Purpose, and Direction in the universe. For us to say, ‘these questions make sense’,” presupposes the Christian Worldview.”

quote from article, “The Essential Christian Worldview What is Truth? Why are We Alive? “ by Bible.org

So much has changed in my lifetime. Younger generations have had Bible reading and prayer removed from public schools and have been taught Darwinian evolution as fact (even thought recent discoveries has brought more problems with that premise than when I was taught evolution as a theory). The history of America in textbooks has been altered with leftist ideology. This, along with a cultural acceptance of both immoral behavior (according to God) and the killing of unborn children being sold as freedoms are just some of the influences that have drawn America farther away from God and subsequently farther from His blessings and protection. There are so many amazing quotes from our founding fathers. The familiar quote from Patrick Henry is, “Give me liberty or give me death!”, but he said more than that:

Bad men cannot make good citizens. It is when a people forget God that tyrants forge their chains. A vitiated state of morals, a corrupted public conscience, is incompatible with freedom. No free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue; and by a frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.

Patrick Henry

The history of our country has been rewritten so that younger generations do not understand the principles on which our nation was founded or how precious our freedoms are (America had been referred to as a beacon of hope around the world, where liberty and self-determination set the stage for people to have the opportunity to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from – to form a classless society unlike previous nations). Ronald Reagan’s quote is proving to be quite prophetic:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”

Ronald Reagan

Those even somewhat familiar with the Bible know of John the Baptist and his call to repent, but if he were here now – would people receive his message and submit their lives to God, repenting of their sin? Would they instead dismiss him as an odd character? What does it mean to repent? Is the call to repent something we should take seriously or do we consider it to be outdated and extreme? Does anyone else in the Bible call people to repent? If so, who are they and what do they say about it? Just a sample of Scripture examples are included below – from the Old Testament, the New Testament (including Jesus’ words and from the book of Revelation describing the end times):

“To repent and to convert involved obedience to God’s revealed will, placing trust in Him, turning away from all evil and ungodliness. Each person was to ‘turn from his wicked evil way’ ( Jer 26:3 ; 36:3 ). Amos gave God’s lament, that despite all He had done for or to the people, ‘yet you have not returned to me’ (4:4, 8-11). Hosea anticipated the day when Israel ‘will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king’ ( 3:5 ). Thus he pled with them to return to the Lord their God and to say, ‘Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously’ ( 14:2b ).”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing Old Testament Scripture

“In both Mark ( 1:15 ) and Matthew ( 4:17 ) Jesus began His public proclamation with the call ‘Repent.’ Mark connects it with believing the good news; Matthew, with the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. While Luke does not include this initial call, he notes several strong calls for repentance in Jesus’ teachings (see esp. 10:13 ; 11:32 ; Luke 13:3 Luke 13:5 ; 17:3-4 ). The Book of Acts often connects metanoia [metavnoia] with remission of sins (see 2:38 ; 3:19 ; 5:31 ; 8:22 ; Acts 26:18 Acts 26:20 ). There are strong reminiscences here of John’s proclamations, but one striking difference is in the audiences. While John addressed Jewish hearers only, those in Acts were comprised of Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. The first four incidents feature Peter as speaker; the last text refers to Paul’s statement about his mission. In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to ‘turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus’ ( 20:21 ). These two elements are also found in the Markan account, where Jesus called people to ‘repent and believe [in the good news about himself]’ ( Mark 1:15 ). Further, metanoia [metavnoia] is joined with epistrepho [ejpistrevfw] in Acts 3:19 (Peter) and 26:20 (Paul). Thus, repentance leads to conversion, and ‘deeds consistent with repentance’ are to follow.”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing some New Testament Scripture & Jesus’s words

These are just some of the references in the Bible about the necessity of turning away from our sin and toward God. In His revealed Word (the Bible), God reveals Himself to us, explains what sin is and what following Him is, and progressively reveals the way of salvation. He didn’t hide from us or leave us ignorant of who we are and how to live. He gave us truth both through His inspired word in print and in the person of Jesus Christ. The importance of repentance is reiterated throughout Scripture and Jesus Himself called on people to repent and believe (in Him for salvation). The role of John the Baptist was to show people their need to repent (turn away) from their sins and be baptized with water in order to prepare them for the arrival of the “lamb of God” (Jesus Christ) from whom they would receive salvation and be baptized with the Holy Spirit.

“The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’!”

John 1:29

The book of Revelation references the end times. Believers are called to repent here too, before the second coming of the Lord. Sadly, those outside the church did not those warnings and thus would still be dead in their sins standing alone (without the righteousness of Christ) in judgment before a holy God. The time to make a decision to repent and turn from what God calls sin (not what the world says) is now. He wants that none should perish, but give us the freedom to not choose Him and His ways. The consequences of our choice is eternal and can be grave. We will all die and leave our physical bodies. The question for all of us is, will we repent of our sin (we have all fallen short of God’s perfection) and accept the salvation Jesus freely offers us while we still can or will we delay thinking about it until our time runs out? We may not have John the Baptist in our day calling on us to repent, but God has protected the Bible throughout the ages so we could still clearly hear the message.

“Finally, metanoia [metanoevw] is frequent in Revelation, often as part of formulaic exhortations (Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:16 Revelation 2:21-22 ; Revelation 3:3 Revelation 3:19 ). Believers are called to repent of various malpractices, and to exercise their former faithfulness. Those outside the church, despite various warnings, did not repent of their deeds ( 9:20-21; Revelation 16:9 Revelation 16:11 ).”

quote from Bible study tools definition of “repentance” referencing New Testament Scripture from book of Revelation

We do not know the date Jesus is coming back, but we know He will come for His children and then He will come to fight evil. Since we’ve read the end of the book, we know He will be victorious. Don’t let the lies, deceptions, and temptations from the prince of this world rob you of eternity in heaven and the peace and soul satisfaction here on earth that only comes from God. We really are in a battle between good and evil (which can be dressed up to appear good – Satan offers only counterfeits of what God offers and leaves people unsatisfied). Accept the gift that Jesus freely offers because of His love for you (although it cost Him everything). You can learn more about this on this site’s “Good News” page. Study the Bible so you can develop discernment and not be a patsy for the Father of Lies (as Jesus calls him) who seeks to destroy. His influence is revealed where conflict, division, greed, arrogance, pride, self-centeredness, or lust for power/money/control exists (our human nature easily goes there).

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

© Constance Rice 2021

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