Daily Light from the Lighthouse
"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
REPENT!! The word in itself conjures up images in one's mind of fear and judgment. Some picture a man standing on a street corner with a beard that needed to be trimmed years ago shouting the word while wearing a sign over his shoulders with random Scriptures of condemnation and judgment. Others see in their mind's eye a memory of a red-faced preacher ominously slumped over a pulpit with sweat rolling down his face and spit coming from the corners of his mouth. With these mental images the word "repent" becomes a horrid thought seemingly intended to inflict bondage over those who would follow such a command. Is that really what Jesus meant though?
It is interesting that the first recorded "sermon" of Jesus started with these words. It would become the theme of His ministry, so obviously we need to understand what He was calling for. The word itself is a combination of two words which means "with understanding". Jesus is calling people to believe by faith in Him but with an understanding that doing so they are making a conscious decision to turn from sin and live only by His call and direction. There is most definitely a change that will take place in their lives by making such a decision.
Some would argue that it is enough to have faith and believe on the name of Christ. Simply by faith believe that Jesus is who He says He is and call upon Him and all will be well. James argued against this reasoning by saying that faith without works is dead. Repentance is the evidence that faith is real. Faith without repentance is like a car without gas. It might look good, but it is not going to get you very far. Jesus would not commit Himself to some who "believed in His name" at the end of John 2, because He knew that there was no sincerity in their belief. When one can profess that they believe in Christ but there is no evidence of change, it has to be questioned whether or not they understand the true message of salvation that is found through not simply a belief system but through a holy God that is calling men to Himself through repentance.
It is not man's works that constitutes true repentance; it is a dependence on His grace through faith to live for Him so that we may be like Him. God's call was consistent from the Old Testament all the way through the New Testament: You be holy, for I am holy!
May we live with Christ in mind and not ourselves today!