Summary: Repentance is a term that isn’t used outside the church. However, many within the church do not understand it’s meaning either.
14Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (New King James Version)
Lillian Pearsall of Moravia, N.Y. tells this story of when she was a telephone operator.
A customer talked overtime on a long-distance call from a pay telephone booth. Even with my friendly reminders, he refused to deposit his overtime coins. Instead he slammed down the phone, irate and verbally abusive.
A few seconds later, he was back on my line--somewhat calmer.
"Operator, please let me out of the phone booth--I’ll pay, I’ll pay, just let me out!"
The customer mistakenly thought I had control of the phone booth’s doors and had locked him in!
He gladly paid the overtime charge and with my advice gave the booth door a hefty kick to free himself.
-- Lillian Pearsall, Moravia, N.Y. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader. (Copied from Bible Illustrator)
Have you ever felt locked into a sinful habit and couldn’t get out? We continue to ignore the warnings. Then we find ourselves locked in not knowing how to get out.
Jesus began his public ministry by calling people to repentance. Repentance is a term we do not hear much. In fact, outside the church, you’ll probably never hear the word. So, what did Jesus mean when he called people to repent?
Definition of Repentance
3 Greek Words for Repentance:
Metamellomia - regret
3When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and other leaders. 4“I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.”
Recognition of sin
This is when we begin to realize that we are sinners. We feel the guilt of sin, but do nothing about it. We feel regret, but continue to live in sin.
Metanoeo - think differently
Confession of sin
We begin to change our thinking about ourselves and about our sinful life. We begin to understand that we are not as good as we thought we were. We begin to want to change our behavior.
This is a stress-filled way to live. Because our actions do not match our beliefs.
Metanoia - reversal
This is true repentance.
Luke 3:7-14 (NLT)
7Here is a sample of John’s preaching to the crowds that came for baptism: “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee God’s coming judgment? 8Prove by the way you live that you have really turned from your sins and turned to God [metanoia]. Don’t just say, ‘We’re safe—we’re the descendants of Abraham.’ That proves nothing. God can change these stones here into children of Abraham. 9Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever your roots. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.”
10The crowd asked, “What should we do?”
11John replied, “If you have two coats, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”
12Even corrupt tax collectors came to be baptized and asked, “Teacher, what should we do?”
13“Show your honesty,” he replied. “Make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to.”
14“What should we do?” asked some soldiers.
John replied, “Don’t extort money, and don’t accuse people of things you know they didn’t do. And be content with your pay.”
Charles Colson told the following story in an address at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi:
I love the illustration about a man named Jack Eckerd. A few years ago I was on the Bill Buckley television program, talking about restitution (one of my favorite subjects) and criminal justice. Bill Buckley agreed with me. A few days later I got a call from Jack Eckerd, a businessman from Florida, the founder of the Eckerd Drug chain, the second largest drug chain in America. He saw me on television and asked me to come to Florida. He agreed Florida had a criminal justice crisis, would I come down and do something about it? And we did. We got the attorney general of the state, the president of the senate; we got on Jack Eckerd’s Lear jet; we went around the State of Florida advocating criminal justice reforms, and everywhere we would go Jack Eckerd would introduce me to the crowds and say, "This is Chuck Colson, my friend; I met him on Bill Buckley’s television program. He’s born again, I’m not. I wish I were." And then he’d sit down. We’d get on the airplane and I’d tell him about Jesus. We’d get off at the next stop, he’d repeat it, we’d do the same thing again, and I’d talk to him about Jesus. When we left I gave him some of R. C. Sproul’s books and I gave him C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity, which had such an impact on me. I sent him my books. About a year went by and I kept pestering Jack Eckerd. And eventually one day he read some things including the story of Watergate and the Resurrection out of my book, Loving God, and decided that Jesus was, in fact, resurrected from the dead. He called me up to tell me he believed that, and I asked him some other things. When he got through telling me what he believed I said, "You’re born again!" He said, "No, I’m not, I haven’t felt anything." I said, "Yes, you are! Pray with me right now." After we prayed he said, "I am? Marvelous!" The first thing he did was to walk into one of his drugstores and walked down through the book shelves and he saw Playboy and Penthouse. And he’d seen it there many times before, but it never bothered him before. Now he saw them with new eyes. He’d become a Christian.