Repent and believe

Published 2:30 pm Monday, October 2, 2023

“…From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” — Matthew 4:17 (NKJV)

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1:15

We would do well to remember Jesus’ first word after coming out of the wilderness where Satan tempted Him. Repentance is so important to forgiveness and salvation that it was the first word that Jesus spoke as He began His ministry. In Mark’s gospel His first message was repent, and believe the gospel. John the Baptist preached repentance, (Luke 3:3) as did Peter on the Day of Pentecost, (Acts 2:38). Jesus told the man at the pool of Bethesda to “sin no more” (John 5:14).

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Jesus spoke often about the necessity of repentance and yet today we seldom hear this message. It is as though we have become so wise and sophisticated that we have taken ourselves out from under the need to repent.

Secure in our own minds, we have devised another way, a way that allows for us to remain in our sins and “do” enough good deeds to cover the need for repentance. How foolish of mankind, how utterly despicable in God’s eyes must the doctrine of works righteousness be. If we could “work” our way into salvation then Jesus died needlessly, God made a huge mistake, and we can live as we please.

Yes friends, the Church would do well to revisit the Bible and learn again the lesson in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” “No one” in the Greek means, strangely enough, “No one.”

It means that all of us who have hope of eternal peace with the Father must come through Jesus, and if the righteous (those who have followed Jesus by being obedient to His teachings and have repented of their sins) be scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and sinner appear? (1Peter 4:18)

Repentance is not just a one-time thing; it is a way of life, of turning away from those actions and attitudes that are not of God and turning toward Him. The need for repentance is only removed when there is no longer sin, or a sinful nature residing in us.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.