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February 14, 2018, 7:01 AM

A Change of Direction

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

“When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.’ (Acts 2:37-38)

Often in the Christian experience, it is not that we don’t want to do the right thing, we simply don’t know what the right thing is to do. The question found in Acts 2:37 came in response to Peter’s proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the day when Pentecost marked the coming of the Holy Spirit. Upon hearing of the death burial, and resurrection of Jesus, people felt convicted of their sins, their “hearts were cut,” and they cried out, “What shall we do?” Peter’s pointed yet poignant one-word response was “Repent” (v. 38). Now if there was ever a lost word in our twenty-first century Christian vocabulary and the modern era of positive preaching, repentance is the forgotten word!

Although too often relegated to a dusty shelf today, repentance was the central theme of our Lord’s message. Jesus started His ministry with this theme: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Matt. 4:17). Jesus continued to share this message in His ministry: “I tell you… unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). And Jesus concluded His ministry with that same truth: “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations…” (Luke 24:46-47). Sadly, repentance is among the most misunderstood and, I daresay, most ignored disciplines of the Christian life. So, what is it?

Repentance is not remorse. Repentance is not simply being sorry that we have sinned – or that we’ve been caught in our sins. Repentance is not regret. Repentance is not merely wishing the deed had never happened and regretting it. Repentance is not resolve. All of us have made New Year’s resolutions. Most of us have resolved at one time or another to, for instance, strive to live by a new set of moral standards.  We want to live life on a higher plan, but we often fail to do so because we are attempting to substitute resolve for genuine repentance. Repentance is not reform. Repentance is not simply turning over a new leaf and trying hard to reform one’s ways. So, “What shall we do?”

The Greek word translated “repent” simply means to change one’s mind. The genuine change of mind is always evidenced in three ways. First comes a new attitude. Repentance begins intellectually with a change of mind. After this occurs, we experience a change of heart, a change of affections. A change in our will, our volition, will follow, and that is evident in a change of action. Therefore, the grace of God finds us in the dark and leads us to repentance. In response, “What shall we do?” Believe upon Christ, set your mind on Him and your heart will follow, and then your actions will also.

Let us join in prayer: Dear Lord, grant me absolution and remission for all my sins, true repentance, amendment of life and the grace and consolation of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

You are Loved!

Pastor Jason Stevens

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