SIMPLE TRUTH: Unless we repentBy Staff Reports Published 9:30am Thursday, June 13, 2013
By Charles Christmas
My column title is “Simple Truth.” From the beginning, more than six years ago, those two words state exactly my purpose: Bible truth presented with simplicity.
Such is the purpose as I begin a series of articles with titles taken from my eleven Confessing Caps, referred to in last week’s column. I choose to begin with the brief confessing statement, which I consider to be the priority one of all eleven: Unless We Repent.
See four things about this statement at a glance: First, it’s the word “we,” rather than “you.” It is inclusive. Draw a circle around yourself. We are all within the circle; no finger pointing; this is for all of us.
Second is the word “unless:” an absolute, all-inclusive warning from God for each of us.
Third is the word “repent,” which means to turn around, to change your mind, your attitude and your actions, and go in God’s direction.
Fourth, you see, it is an open-ended statement from God. He alone finishes the statement and fills in the blanks, which we shall see from his word that he has already done.
I will write four articles relating to the statement “Unless we repent.” Today relates to any person; next, a Christian; then, the church; and finally, our nation.
Clearly and simply, the Bible states that no person can be saved unless he or she repents. “Saved” is that much-used Bible word which simply means to be set free, delivered, rescued or saved from our guilt of sins (forgiven); from sin as our master (changed); and from sins’ (some of sins’) consequences in this life and in the life after death. Saved means that God has accepted you and received you; he looks upon you as if you had never sinned. It means that you have fully become a child of God and that death will mean heaven for you. Being saved is a gift we could never deserve, but made available to us only from God’s love and through Jesus Christ, who died in our place and rose from the dead. It is “in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God,” as the Apostle Paul relates in I Corinthians 6:11. And, I repeat: no one can be saved without repentance.
The first recorded preaching or teaching of Jesus was these words: “The time has come. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” The last recorded words of Jesus after his resurrection in the Gospel of Luke included, “and repentance and forgiveness of sins shall be preached in my name to all nations.” Even to the self-righteous “good” persons, Jesus stated and warned in Luke 13:3, 5, “Unless you repent, you, too, will all perish.” In Luke 16, Jesus described the thinking, feeling, desire and understanding of a person beyond death who had missed heaven. After being informed that his condition was fixed, the man’s concern turned toward his five brothers who were yet alive on earth. His request was, “Send someone to them that they might repent and not come where I am.” Those who miss heaven understand that it is because they did not repent when they had opportunity to do so.
The Apostle Paul was God’s instrument as a speaking voice and has been God’s instrument as a writing voice concerning the requirements to be saved for two thousand years. He summarized and condensed the requirements for being saved in Acts 20:20: “You must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” He said, “That’s it: for a Gentile or a Jew. Whether I explain it publicly or privately, that is all that you must know. When I tell you that, then I am no longer responsible; you are responsible. If you miss heaven, your blood will not be on my hands but on yours.” That’s it: Turn to God in repentance and place your faith, trust and dependence upon our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s it… unless you repent.
—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.