Though Jesus delivers the Gospel in several ways and on multiple occasions, for some reason we often tend to think of His message as the one time it is recorded in Mark 1:15,
Repent and believe in the gospel.
Jesus more often says “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” or simply, “Repent, lest you perish.” But let’s go with “Repent and believe” for a moment, shall we?
My wife mentioned something this afternoon that struck me. How often have we heard sermons urging us to repent, but has it ever occurred to you that they seldom, if ever, urge us to something…only from something—from sin.
So we jaunt through life under the impression that the Gospel is a 2-step process:
- Repent, and
It’s a remarkably convenient way to think about it. Aye; for if the culmination of our action, repentance, is to simply believe, than we’ve done the hard part; we’ve turned from sin and now we simply change our minds, and life moves on, jolly well a lot like it was before we changed our minds.
But “repent” is a compound word.
The first part of repent is to turn from something, but the second part is to turn toward its replacement. You are running away from the ways of the kingdom of darkness and turning around and now running toward the ways of the kingdom of light.
For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification. (Romans 6:19)
From: “My son, do not forget my teaching,”
To: “but let your heart keep my commandments”
To: “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
To: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart
From: “and do not lean on your own understanding.”
To: “In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
From: “Be not wise in your own eyes;
To: “fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. (note that it doesn’t stop there)
To: Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;”
Conclusion: “Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold. … do not lose sight of these– keep sound wisdom and discretion, and they will be life for your soul and adornment for your neck. Then you will walk on your way securely, and your foot will not stumble.” (Proverbs 3:1-23 ESV)
Why do we shrink away from urging one another all the more toward love and good deeds? (Hebrews 10:24)? After all, the good works, the commandments of the Lord that the Psalmist so passionately loved, that we are urged to meditate upon day and night, are the very things that we were created for!
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Let’s stop cutting our sermons in half! Let’s recall that repentance is a two-part process, and let’s start calling people from sin and to godliness!
Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort! Shall we continue to sin that grace may abound? God forbid! Make yourself a slave to righteousness; it’s your destiny.
Perhaps we ought to stop feeling satisfied that we’re struggling to walk away from sin, and start feeling desperate about the reality that we’re not consumed with occupying our day-to-day lives with walking toward godliness. Incidentally, it is much easier to find success when you’re dedicated to something than it is when you’re struggle against something.
What are you dedicated to? What are you moving towards?