Summary: Repentance: The Forgotten Word in Positive Preaching by Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey encourages pastors to preach the whole counsel of God.
REPENTANCE: The Forgotten Word in Positive Preaching
By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey
“Repentance has been called the forgotten word in positive preaching. Dr. Don M. Boone, pastor of First Baptist Church, [Vancleave], Mississippi, has written a helpful book titled What Happened To Repentance? in which he says, "There are many today who preach faith without repentance. We have filled our churches with people who claim to know Jesus Christ in power and full salvation, and yet there is no sign of repentance in their lives. What happened?"1
Preaching to those in the Areopagus in Athens, Paul boldly declares: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31)
We find the other universal command in 1 John 3:23 which says, “And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.”
The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian elders: “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:20-21).
I. The Necessity of Genuine Repentance
Charles G. Finney published his Lectures of Professing Christians in 1837. One of the lectures is titled “True and False Repentance”. While we may not agree with all of Mr. Finney’s theology we must admit that repentance is much more than a cheap “I’m sorry,” and it involves more than merely saying, “I have sinned.”
A good Bible concordance will allow you to trace this phrase through the Bible. For example in the life of the Pharaoh of Egypt, he said, “I have sinned” (Exodus 9:27) and there was no change in his behavior. After being confronted for stealing the accursed things, Achan said, “I have sinned” (Joshua 7:20) but it was not genuine repentance. Saul, King of Israel, said, “I have sinned” (1 Samuel 15:24, 30) and yet it was not the repentance that God requires. Judas said, “I have sinned” (Matthew 27:4) after betraying our Lord Jesus Christ, but he then committed suicide. Someone has said, “David was a great sinner and a great repenter”. Examples of David’s repentance are recorded in 2 Samuel 12:13 and 24:10.
The “prodigal son” (Luke 15:18, 21) illustrates genuine repentance as well.
We see the necessity of genuine repentance in the following passages:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Repent, turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations” (Ezekiel 14:6).
“For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
“There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5).
“Then He said to them, “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, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
John writes in his first epistle: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 John 1:5-10).