Anyone who has been a member of the same Church for many years will tell you how mistaken they were about certain people who came to faith in Jesus, went through all the discipleship programs, started to minister and then faded away. What had happened? Why would anyone follow through seriously and then literally dump all they have learnt about Jesus and His Gospel? People might offer many reasons but there is only one that describes fully what has taken place.
(a) John the Baptist preached for fruits of repentance.
Mt 3:8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
He called for tangible proof of turning to God.
(b) Jesus taught that unless the Gospel Seed falls into good soil, disaster follows.
Lk 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.
Testing, worries, riches and pleasures kills the sown seed that has no depth and no real maturity. As we return to Acts we find everything about the hearers and the Lord Jesus that needed to be said was said … now Peter tell them what to do and what will happened when they do as he says:
Ac 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
There is one word in these two verses that makes all the difference to following Jesus all the way to heaven. It is that six letter word “repent”. So small a word yet so meaningful and powerful. The root meaning of this word is “change”. Not a religious change and not even a moral change although this element is included. To repent is a spiritual matter because repentance is all about a relationship with God.
1) The reason the spiritual soils failed in Luke 8 is because there were not fruit in keeping with repentance as John the Baptist pointed out. This is where many fail in their commitment to Jesus because repentance is definite, decided, continuous and hard work. You see, anything spiritual is not easy because our enemy is always trying to cause our down fall.
(1) To repent means change. We often talk about turning one hundred and eighty degrees and moving in the other direction. That picture means stopping going the way you are and going in the other direction.
(2) To repent, being spiritual means turning away from the world, the flesh and the devil … by turning to God and His value system. This means the way of living in sin and hankering after sin needs to cease to follow the pathway of holiness making.
(3) To repent is not a onetime thing. It is continuous. Actually it is a life time pursuit.
(4) To repent literally means to cease a relationship with secularism and materialism to live for life within God’s Kingdom following His morality and ethics.
2) To repent is based upon God’s promise. Within the Gospel God promises a wonderful future for all who repent and follow Jesus.
Jn 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The most sensible thing in the world is to respond positively to the Gospel because the Gospel offers the believer eternal life. The promise you saw includes escaping eternal hell and damnation.
3) To repent is serious business. Each time in the Bible the word repent occurs, it seems to be an instruction. God does not want people to play games with Him and the holy things associated with the Gospel. If He instructs then He requires full obedience.
4) To repent is a mind shift. Everything one sees, hears, smells, feeling and tastes influences the mind. The sinful nature has a bent towards pleasing our depravity. This is why a mind shift is required. The old man satisfied the sinful nature as it was influenced by what the mind was fed with. This is the reason the new man in Jesus needs a mind shift because until this happens, repentance is impossible.
5) To repent means to be ruthless. We are familiar with circumcision being related to males … yet often miss the importance of the concept on the spiritual plain. Moses says:
Dt 10:16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.
And … Jeremiah says:
Jer 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, circumcise your hearts.
Once the mind is influenced, it messages the heart (inner being, true self) to respond according to instructions. Remember, Jesus said:
Mt 12:34 “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him”
Mt 15:18 “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man ‘unclean.’ 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”
Unless the heart is circumcised there cannot be any repentance.
6) To repent means turning to God. When you turn away from the world you have to turn to God otherwise there is no repentance!
Ac 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
See the flow
(a) Turn to God … so that …
(b) So that your sins may be wiped out. Once there is true repentance … fruits keeping with repentance … that is proof of true salvation and then the assurance of forgiveness is real and falling away is not going to happen.
(c) Sins wiped out. The word “wipe” means to “wipe away” or “obliterate”. Obliterate means to “destroy utterly”. There is more to wipe out sin than wipe away … it is that the sin is destroyed utterly … never to be brought back and held against you. Why … because that sin is destroyed … completely … utterly. It exists no more! Now it is possible for
(d) Times of refreshing to come from the Lord. The stage is set because what God requires has been done. The word “refreshing” means more than fresh and new. It carries the concept of being given attention! The refreshment that comes from the Lord is that now that the soul has been Born Again and is in a right standing with God … God gives that soul His attention! That is refreshing! An example is:
Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control.
Soul, have you truly repented?
Holy Spirit, thank You for the change You have made in my life through Jesus’ blood. Amen.