A closer look at repentance

The call to repentance is prominent in the message of Jesus and the early Church

  • Jesus said, “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:15).
  • Jesus’ mission was not “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
  • • “After he had risen from the dead, Jesus said, “It is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
  • Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” (Acts 3:19).
  • The apostle Paul said,   “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
  • The apostle Paul declared to the philosophers of Athens that God, “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30)
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

What does it mean to repent?

Look more closely at the Greek word behind our english word “repent.”
Repent – μετανοέω – metanoeo

Two parts – (meta and noeo)

1. Meta – change
2. Noeo- the mind and its thoughts, perceptions and disposition.

To repent means to change your mind or way of seeing things or perspective.

“Human life is fundamentally a life of the mind. The posture of the mind determines so much about the character of an individual’s life” (Robert C. Roberts, Spirituality and Human Emotion).

Insights from others

  • “To repent is to adopt God’s viewpoint in place of your own… In itself, far from being sorrowful, it is the most joyful thing in the world, because when you have done it you have adopted the viewpoint of truth itself and you are in fellowship with God.” (William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury)
  • C. S. Lewis explained repentance not as “something God demands of you before he will take you back; it is simply a description of what going back is like.”
  • “Repenting is what happens inside of us that leads to the fruits of new behavior. Repentance is not the new deeds, but the inward change that bears the fruit of new deeds.” (John Piper).
  • Repentance is not merely feeling bad about our sins. Repentance is sorrow for what we are in our deepest beings, that we are wrong in our deepest roots because our interior life is governed by Self and not by God.

Kindness and repentance

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:5)

Sorrow and repentance

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter” (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

Repent or perish

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5, cf. vv. 6-9).

Jesus warns them to change their perspective or risk perishing because their way of seeing things is based on a merit system rather than mercy and grace.

God grants repentance

“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses (return to a sound mind, free from illusions and intoxicated thinking, become sober) and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26).

Repentance is not a human work we contribute to salvation. It is the work of God who said,  “Let light shine out of darkness.” He made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).

The life of repentance involves ongoing habits of… 

  1. Acknowledging the deceitfulness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).
  2. Cultivating ongoing humility and self-suspicion (James 1:19-22; Philippians 2:3-5).
  3. Examining ourselves regularly for blind spots and evil (Psalm 139:23-24).
  4. Confessing and forsaking sin (I John 1:9-2:1)
  5. Renewing gratitude for God’s unfailing love and mercy (Lam. 3:22-23;Titus 3:2-5).

Steve Cornell

Link for audio messages on Repentance as the best way of life

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Our forgiving God

Here is one of the great promises given to us from the Lord Jesus Christ – “I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men” (Matthew 12:31). Jesus made only one exception to this promise – “but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” What is this unforgivable sin?

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Remind yourself often of these truths

  • “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.” (Psalm 131:3-4)
  • “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him” (Daniel 9:9).
  • “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).
  • “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).
  • “He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).
  • Jesus said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28).
  • “… through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness…

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No room for sadness (a closer look at depression)

Is it possible that our expectations for gregariousness are unrealistic? Have we been led to believe that there is no place for sadness in normal life?

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 Standard criteria for diagnosing depressive disorder does not adequately distinguish intense normal sadness from biologically disordered sadness.

Feeling depressed? You’re not alone. Treatment of depression in outpatient services increased by 300% toward the end of the 20th century. Antidepressant medications have become the largest selling prescription drugs in America. During the 1990s spending increased by 600% exceeding 7 billion dollars annually by the year 2000. Estimates indicate that Major Depression afflicts 10% of Americans.

Depression is real and, as a recent commercial reminds us, it hurts— everyone. Depression must be treated with care and sensitivity. But why has there been such an explosive growth of depression in our culture? Is it possible that our expectation for gregariousness is unrealistic? Have we been led to believe that there is no place for sadness in normal life?

Is it also possible that we are misdiagnosing normal sadness as depressive disorder because…

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Discontentment can sneak up on you

Discontentment can sneak up on us and if it is not corrected, it can lead to a life of disincentive and an overall loss of motivation.

Diminished hope can easily convert into a deflated spirit of resignation that gradually becomes justified pessimism or even dark cynicism. How do we conquer these challenges?

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Answering the "Why?" of lifePeople who are discontent with their lives tend to spread dis-contentment to others. (notice the dis on contentment).

If you spend too much time with discontented people, you might feel pulled toward their negative perspective.

Let’s be honest about it

Discontentment can sneak up on us — especially when maturity of life gives way to a spirit of melancholy. This can lead to a life of dis-incentive and an overall loss of motivation.

Diminished hope easily converts into a deflated spirit of resignation that (if not careful) gradually becomes justified pessimism or even dark cynicism.

Run with positive, uplifting, and encouraging people!

Avoid the infectious poison of dis-contentment. Try to redirect negative people toward God-honoring perspectives on life. If they refuse to see things from a godly perspective be careful not to adjust to their outlook on life.

Run with people who run with God because God…

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Four reactions to culture

How should we engage in truth-based dialogue and persuasion in settings like family, work, community and government?

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  1. Angry combatant – calling for a crusade
  2. Political activist – electing the right politicians.
  3. Disillusioned despondency  – taking a sabbatical
  4. Piously disengaged – retreating into an apolitical Christianized subculture — views political engagement is a distraction from evangelism and spiritual growth).

These reactions fail to respect our call to social engagement as agents of common grace. The opportunities and privileges afforded in a participatory form of government should not be taken lightly.

Thoughts for deeper influence

We don’t just need new policies in our nation, we need new ways of thinking. Answer the call (at all levels of life) to shape the minds of people based on truth.

We especially need a renewed and relentless emphasis on human dignity and the importance of the virtue of honor.

The ideological challenge we face is challenging the progressive vision of freedom based on radical individualism.

“We live in an age…

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Why believe?

Unbelief is a turning of one’s heart away from God to search for satisfaction from something or someone else.

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Why Would Anyone Believe in God? (Cognitive Science of Religion Series)After his roles as senior researcher at the University of Oxford’s Centre for Anthropology and Mind, and Lecturer in the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, Justin L. Barrett became the Director of the Thrive Center for Human Development, Thrive Professor of Developmental Science, and Professor of Psychology at Fuller Graduate School of Psychology.

In this work, Barrett explores evidence from cognitive science to demonstrate belief in God as a consequence of the minds humans have. His findings and conclusions are worth considering but we must also examine the cognitive or noetic affects of sin regarding why people refuse to believe. 

In a piece titled, Uncomfortable Unbelief, Wilfred M. McClay suggested that, “‘Unbelief would be untenable without the moral and metaphysical capital created and banked by the belief it displaced.”

There is more to unbelief than many realize. Unbelief involves an effort to live outside of more than just the…

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Ten guidelines for reconciliation

When your offender is genuinely repentant, it’s important to be open to restoration. Here are ten guidelines for those who have been deeply hurt and find themselves hesitant to reconcile.

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cropped-bp134.jpgThose who have been significantly (and repeatedly) hurt are not wrong if they feel hesitant about reconciling with their offenders (see – Forgiveness and Reconciliation)

When an offender is genuinely repentant, however, it’s important to be open to the possibility of restoration (unless there are clear issues of safety involved).

Jesus spoke about reconciliation with a sense of urgency (see – Matthew 5:23-24).

Here are ten guidelines for those who find themselves hesitant to reconcile. Seek the aid of a wise counselor as you work through these guidelines to protect yourself from using a process of reconciliation as a means of retaliation.

  1. Be honest about your motives – Make sure that your desire is to do what pleases God and not to get revenge. Settle the matter of forgiveness (as Joseph did) in the context of your relationship with God. Guidelines for reconciliation should not be retaliatory.
  2. Be…

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