Summary: The Believer must Spiritually Repent
PROPOSITION: The believer must spiritually repent.
OBJECTIVE: To understand the concept of repent.
The gist of this section of scripture is Peter and John’s healing experience and Peter’s second sermon. There are no less than three major themes presented here. In no particular order, they are stewardship, unity, and birth pangs.
Stewardship is found in the healing of the crippled man. Peter and John had no money, opting instead to give what they had through Jesus. God works miracles when we have resources; God works miracles when we are resourceless.
Unity is seen in the conjoining of action evangelism, the doers and the tellers, the advocates of social action with the proponents of evangelism by word. This battle continues today in many churches with two opposing factions. One faction adheres to liberation theology, the doing, while the other is evangelical, the telling. Both are right and this section of Acts gives vivid understanding how they are expected to work together for the glory of God.
Also present, but often ignored, is the unedited issue of inflammatory rhetoric. If one were to read carefully, one can witness the pain that attended the birth of the early church as expressed in these verses.
Through all of this is the central theme of Peter’s preaching – repent. His single motive in preaching is a call to repent. In every sermon recorded of Peter, there is the call for the hearer to repent. It is in response to the call to repent that the church grew, and continues to grow today.
I believe that the understanding of the primitive church to the call to repent may have been a bit different than the understanding of the 21st century church. Over some time, I have watched the response to a call to repent. It has nearly always been linear in action. That is, the repenter is moving in a direction when in a linear response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, the individual turns 180º and begins at that point to live in the exact opposite direction.
What I believe the Bible is teaching the believer demands of you a paradigm change. This may be a new experience for some of you. However, to experience the fullness of repent, you must begin to think beyond linear and into the spiritual dimension. In linear, there is simply (sic) a 180º change in living. However, in the spiritual repent, the believer will “turn away,” “turn to,” “turn into,” and “turn toward.”
The Holy Spirit instills upon the believer to “turn away from old allegiances.” While some understand this in a linear format as turning away from all the “bad” stuff you did - lie, steal, cheat, and of the like – the spiritual format of repent expands the call to turn away from anything and everything that would interfere with an allegiance to Jesus Christ.
I once knew a man who loved fishing. He was a moral man who did moral things. He loved his wife and children. He did not lie, steal, cheat, or that kind of stuff. However, he loved to go fishing. Every opportunity he had, whether he actually had the opportunity or not, he went fishing.
He proclaimed to be a believer, having repented from all the bad stuff in his life. I say that his repentance was linear. He failed to “turn from” an old allegiance which interfered with his allegiance to Jesus Christ.
When applied to you, you must answer to your allegiance. Is you allegiance work? Is your allegiance academics? Is your allegiance H-D, golf, TV? Is there something to which you devote your time such that it interferes with your allegiance to Jesus Christ? That being said, when one repents, he turns from that allegiance turning to an allegiance of Jesus Christ.
The spiritual repent is to “turn from” old allegiances. It is also to “turn to” God in faith. Lest someone confuse turning to God in faith for fair weather, good grades, blue skies and green lights. That is all linear. The spiritual repent is to turn to God in faith for salvation.
The Bible is quite clear that you are saved by faith (in God), and not of your works. Too often this is misinterpreted as “you are saved through faith in your works for God.” A couple of prepositions, a movement of the subject – the negative result is linear repent rather than spiritual repent.
There are some who consider individual works incumbent on the salvation experience. If I visit so many people over a course of time, then my salvation is assured. If I have perfect attendance in Sunday School over a course of time, then my salvation is assured. If I give a tithe over a course of time, then my salvation is assured. Needless to say, all of this is linear.