Thy Soul Shall Be Required

Illustration drawn from Luke 12:16-21

A man, rich and prosperous in the things of this world, contemplated the future. His farmland had produced another bountiful return, and he had an abundance of goods. As he considered his wealth, he made plans to tear down his barns and build bigger barns to hold his possessions. “I have worked hard, and it is time to enjoy my wealth. I have enough money to last for many years. I will retire and relax—eating, drinking, and having fun.” Thus, this rich man thought as he planned for tomorrow.Read more

Editorial

And Peter went out, and wept bitterly. — Luke 22:62

While Jesus was being tried, Peter, who had followed afar off, denied the Lord three times. Afterward, Peter went outside and wept bitterly. His heart was broken, and he sorrowed deeply for denying his Lord and Savior. The beauty of this incident is that the story was not over. After Jesus rose from the dead, He especially wanted Peter to get the news that He was alive. While Peter had denied the Lord, God had accepted his repentant spirit, and Peter would have another opportunity to serve Jesus. Glory to God!Read more

Biblical Repentance

Scripture Reading: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out. — Acts 3:19

Definitions:
Repent: To change one’s mind; heartily to amend, with abhorrence of one’s past sins (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon).

Repentance: Contrition or regret for past wrong accompanied by a change of mind that involves a turning away from or a reversal from sin and a turning toward that which pleases God.

Summary: All sinners are called of God to repent and turn away from sin. The message of the gospel is to reject and forsake all ungodliness and to follow Jesus in holiness. Without repentance there is no true salvation.Read more

Biblical Repentance

Turn away from sin, reject the wrong, and be saved by the power of God. Wherever the message of Jesus Christ is preached, the message of true repentance must be heralded; for without repentance, there is no true salvation.
Turning Around

Repentance occurs when one is sorry for past sin and turns away from it in pursuit of Christ. It involves actively turning away from that which is wrong and a decision to never go back. Repentance infers a reversal or a change of direction. Many professed Christian churches are preaching Jesus Christ as the atonement for sin but are not preaching the message of repentance. It is one thing to accept Christ, but it is another to make a change and quit doing those things which are displeasing to God. While salvation is not attained by good works and is a divine gift of God, we also have personal responsibility. The apostle Peter told the people, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). God will only forgive people who are serious about their salvation to the extent that they are willing to completely forsake all ungodliness.Read more

Of What Value is Repentance to Salvation?

Repentance is unequivocally tied to an experience of salvation throughout the scripture. Jesus said to “repent…and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). God made provision for our salvation through the death of Jesus on the cross. He is willing and ready to forgive us our sins and to give us the gift of eternal life. However, that gift is only given to those who are sorry for their wrong and make a conscious decision to turn away from their sins.

Those that ask God for salvation but do not have godly repentance, will not have a true life-changing experience. There must be a desire above all else to leave sin and follow Christ. Jesus once told a rich, young man who desired to follow Him that he should go and sell all his possessions first. This man’s obedience would have been fruit of repentance and an indication that he was willing to forsake everything for the cause of Christ. Unfortunately, this young man was not willing to turn from the things of this world.

Often people confess their belief in Jesus Christ, and yet they continue in their sins. These people are not truly saved, for salvation is only given to the repentant heart. There might be an initial change of desire, but people that seek salvation without true repentance are plagued with up-and-down experiences. There must be an acknowledgment of wrong done and a godly sorrow for displeasing God. There must be a desire to forsake the sin of the past; if there is not, those same sins will creep back in. People then think that God’s work of salvation was not sufficient. It is not the work of God that is insufficient, it is the lack of repentance prior to salvation. Hence, repentance is of great value to getting saved, for without it one cannot be truly delivered from the power of sin.

The sinner must first open his heart to God and reject all unrighteousness. This paves the way for God to work the miracle of salvation that will enable an individual to walk in newness of life. It is for this reason that Jesus instructed the multitudes to count the cost. Consider what it means to take up your cross and follow Jesus. Give serious thought before making the decision. When you decide that you are willing to go all the way for God in repentance, you open the door to receive the fullness of God’s grace of salvation.

Is Feeling Bad About My Sin the Same as Repentance?

No. An unrepentant person can feel bad or sorry about doing something sinful, but there will be no lasting change. Consider the abusive husband that cries and tells his wife he is sorry after abusing her in a drunken rage. That sorrow only lasts until he gets drunk again, and the story is repeated. This is the sorrow of the world. Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10) is that which galvanizes the sinner to change no matter what the price. When someone is under conviction of the Holy Spirit they might feel bad and even cry because they know they are living in sin. However, tears or feelings of regret are not sufficient. There must be sorrow of a godly sort due to the recognition of wrongdoing accompanied with a purpose never to return to that life of sin. This is the only kind of sorrow that will bring true repentance.

Repentance of Nineveh

When Jonah preached in Nineveh that the city would be overthrown in forty days, the people believed God and proclaimed a fast. No living being in the city, neither man nor beast, ate food or drank water. Man and beast were covered with sackcloth in a sign of contrition and repentance. God spared the city! (Jonah 3:4-10).

The Goodness of God

Despisest thou the riches of his [God’s] goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? —Romans 2:4

There is no way to escape the judgment of God, for it is certain that “we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10) and give an account of how we lived life. However, the Lord in His infinite mercy is prolonging time that more people may be saved from the power of sin and have opportunity to prepare for eternity. God’s mercy is extended to the worst of evildoers, and His love reaches to the most despised of society. He has compassion on the vilest of sinners, and He cares for the ostracized and rejected.

So many are despising the goodness of God by ignoring His love and longsuffering and refusing to accept the beautiful plan of salvation. Indeed, it is the goodness of God that leads people to a condition of repentance. When one’s eyes are opened to the great love of God and to the gift of eternal life, it softens the heart and creates a desire to embrace all that God has provided.

We do not deserve kindness, longsuffering, or mercy because we have all been in a state of rebellion against God. It is in that state of rejecting God that He so often manifests His love by helping the sinner during difficult times of life.  When the storms come like a tornado, wreaking havoc, God once again demonstrates His care. When people’s actions cry out for judgment due to the harm and pain they cause others around them, God offers mercy and is longsuffering. He delays His judgment and withholds punishment with infinite kindness. The riches of His goodness are revealed time and time again to fallen mankind.

Why is God so longsuffering? Why is He so good to people when they do not deserve it? Because it is His goodness that will lead people to repentance (Romans 2:4). His goodness and love draw people and encourage them to turn around. It leads people to forsake wrong and cling to those things that please the Lord.

The door of mercy is open and forgiveness awaits the repentant heart. Praise God for His goodness! ■

The Power of the Parable

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:24 KJV). Using a simile, Jesus, the son of God, began to tell an engaging story to the crowds in simple yet profound language they could all understand. Without a seminary degree or specialized speech training, the Anointed One engaged multitudes of people with stories of common life that enlightened the listeners with spiritual truths. These stories evoked thought and stirred the spirit, emotions, and intellect. As Jesus ended the story of the wise man and foolish man, “the people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (28-29).Read more

The Purpose of Parables

Jesus used parables to teach a truth or to answer a question. He used real-life situations in His stories to connect with His audience. A lawyer once stood tempting Jesus and asked Him: “Who is my neighbour?” (Luke 10:29). Jesus proceeded to tell the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus then asked: “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” (v. 36). The answer was evident in the related story, but it caused the listeners to consider and think for themselves. It elicited truth from those who otherwise might have rejected a declarative statement.

The parables of Christ often reveal the truth in a way that a simple declaration would not. Those who have honest, seeking hearts will hear and understand. The telling of parables is a way to convey and reveal truth in ways easy to be understood as in the above illustration.

Other parables that Jesus told were presented in such a way as to conceal truth from those who were choosing to walk in darkness. “And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?  He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.” (Matthew 13:10-13). The unbeliever may incorrectly understand the primary point of a parable, as it is hidden to those who “hear not.” It was not uncommon for the disciples to return to Christ and ask for a more in-depth explanation of a parable.

Parables are easy to recall for their detailed imagery and hence are useful to remember spiritual truths. They were and remain vital to the preservation of truth for people of all cultures and backgrounds. ■