1999-06-15 - R2: Repentance
The Holy Alphabet Series
Matthew 3:2 Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
"Repentance is a saving grace whereby a sinner out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth with grief and hatred to his sin turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after new obedience, Acts 11:18, 2:37, 38, Joel 2:12, Jeremiah 3:22, 31:18, 19, Ezekiel 36:31, 1 Corinthians 7:11, Isaiah 1:16, 17." Robert Port
The words of John the Baptist, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," are not just words spoken long ago to a bygone generation. Rather they are words we need to take heed of today. Repentance, as Port says, is a saving grace.
The Greek word we translate repentance is met-an-oy-ah. It really means to change your mind. It signifies change in both intent and practice. Repentance admits that, "I used to think, believe, act, behave this way, and now I think, believe, act and behave this other way."
Saving repentance, for the Christian, comes with an understanding of the guilt we have because of our sin. This guilt is our guilt. It is our personal guilt for the things we have done, thought, or desired. Repentance, in turn, is also personal. We repent for our sins, personally. Sorrow for sin is not something we can rent, or hire someone to feel for us. It, just like sin, is personal.
Saving repentance, for the Christian, also comes with a perception, or as Port says, an apprehension, of the mercy of God in Christ. If we end up with our guilt, we end in despair. But if our repentance leads us to comprehend and experience the mercy, and love of God to us in Christ, then we have experienced saving repentance.
Obviously, what Port and we have been dwelling on is saving repentance, or the saving element in repentance where we become united with Christ in His death and Resurrection. But what most of us experience daily is the need for ongoing repentance. Ongoing repentance is the continual process of sorrow for our sins by confession and repentance.
Like saving repentance, ongoing repentance also exhibits a change of mind. In ongoing repentance we repent of those things we do, think or desire that are not in keeping with the change of mind we had when we repented for the first time. Repentance is ongoing because we are always understanding better and seeing clearer what is required of a Child of God.
Ongoing repentance endeavors to purify and strengthen that initial change of mind that we first experienced when we were first saved by the grace of God. May we all grow and learn more and more where those needed areas of ongoing repentance exist in our lives.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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