|Vol. 14 No. 3 March 2012||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
Our Lord strongly warned, “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3b). Repentance is clearly an individual matter, and no one is exempt from it (cf. Acts 17:30-31). Even in my limited experience, I have noticed that repentance is often misunderstood. Repentance is quite possibly the most difficult of all the commands of Jesus for one to obey. The late J.W. McGarvey astutely observed that, “The greatest obstacle to the salvation of men is the obstinacy of the human will” (97). Repentance must be understood and obeyed if we are ever to enter heaven.
Firstly, note the explanation of repentance. What is repentance? Simply explained, repentance is a change of mind brought about by godly sorrow, which results in the reformation of one’s life. Repentance is not just being sorry (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10). Bible repentance is evident in one’s life from a change in the fruit we produce (cf. Luke 3:8). One cannot truly repent and continue in the same sin for which he professedly repented! One who biblically repents does not persist in sin (Romans 6:1-2; Galatians 2:20).
Secondly, let’s note some examples of repentance. When Israelites were convicted of taking unauthorized wives, they repented by “putting away” the sinful unions (Ezra 10:1ff). Israel had godly sorrow, which led to a change of mind, which ultimately led to a change of life. When the prophet Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh, the people were made sorry that they had offended God (Jonah 3:5a), which led to their change of mind (John 3:5b-7a), which resulted in their change of lifestyle (Jonah 3:7b-10). When Paul preached to those in Ephesus, they were sorry for their sins, they changed their minds (Acts 19:18), which led to a change of lifestyle (Acts 19:19). They did not persist in using curious arts! Had they persisted in their witchcraft, they would not have biblically repented.
Lastly, consider the encouragement to repent. There are essentially two reasons that would cause one to be sorry for sin, change his or her mind, and change one’s lifestyle. Both God’s goodness and God’s severity are encouraging reasons for one to repent (cf. Romans 2:4-6; 11:22). God’s relentless patience, rich blessings and repeated mercies ought to drive us to penitent knees, where with tear-filled eyes, changed minds and reformed lives we begin again. God is so good, that you and I must leave our sinful ways and follow Him! However, if His goodness does not drive one to repent, then maybe His severity will bring about repentance. Each one will stand before Jesus the Judge and attempt somehow to give a defense as to why he or she did not repent (c.f. Acts 17:30-31). What defense could one give? What possibly could we say? God is waiting for each one who is in need of repentance to do so before it is eternally too late (2 Peter 3:9)!
What is keeping you from godly sorrow, from changing your mind, which ultimately will lead to a changed life? Whatever it is, remove that sinful thing today! We entreat you Dear Reader to repent, because “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”!
McGarvey, J.W. Sermons. Cincinnati: Standard, n.d.
How does God speak to you? Perhaps with greater frequency than any other this question is asked of me regularly. I have spent many hours encouraging folks to daily commune with God to hear His voice and take heart, not in some mystical, magical “crossed over” sort of way, but by the means that He details for us in His Word. Now, make no mistake about it; I am not saying that all you have to do is read the Bible or study it. If that were so, then why give all the commands and encouragement to “meditate” on His Word or encourage us to “pray for wisdom?”
Think about it for a moment. How many ways do you communicate? Obviously, you speak words, but there is much more. As a matter of fact, researchers will tell you that well over half of what you communicate is not verbal, but through some other means. We will gesture, add various tones to our words and indicate attitude through posture or emotion. When we begin to break each of these down further, then we can truly see that what we communicate and how we communicate comes in many different forms. The young man who bursts through my office door, storms to the nearest chair, throws himself in it and wrings his hands incessantly, has pretty much told me that something is wrong, and he is in need of help without ever speaking a word.
Now, the Bible is God’s verbal communication to us, and it is wonderful, amazing and a marvelous thing that gives us all the information we need to become and remain His children. It is also the Rosetta Stone of understanding all the other ways that God communicates with us, which are no less valuable. For instance, God speaks to us through the natural world in volumes that are just amazing. Think for a moment of the natural beauty and variety we see around us each day. Do they not speak of just how loving God is toward us? Think of all the cycles of nature built into the natural order of things. Do they not speak of the unmistakable care and concern of God?
These, my friends, are the nonverbal communications of God, and by them, He speaks to you every day. Every day we are reminded that people die, life is beautiful, time must be used wisely and so much more – through the gift of His nonverbal communication.
In this day may you realize that God is continually trying to influence you in many ways. Hear His voice and heed it today. Give yourself to Him and live. “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 NKJV). “The heavens declare his righteousness, and all the people see his glory” (Psalm 97:6). “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).