The Necessity of Repentance
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The Necessity of Repentance
1 John 3:1-7
My new manager likes to have HGTV playing on the waiting area TV at work. He believes that it is better than having something like the news playing because sometimes that can cause some negativity or arguments between people especially when much of it is political these days. One of the shows on HGTV is Flip or Flop. The premise is of this couple that seeks out to buy homes at a decent price that may be under-valued compared to the other house in the area. They then make small renovations to raise the value and attempt to sell the home at a profit. The question is whether they will be able to sell this home at a decent profit which would be a flip or would they have to flop and lose money on the sale just to get out of the deal. It seems that our culture and world today has made a flip flop from its past in what we value and in what we see as morality.
60 plus years ago the cultures view of sin and morality was completely different. Abortion, homosexuality, sex before marriage, living together before marriage, as well as adultery were looked down upon as sinful. You would be encouraged to repent of these things and live a new life in Christ. Essentially, you would be asked to flip flop your old way of life. However, in our culture today if you speak out against such things and encourage people to repent then you are told that you are speak hate speech and that you should go to jail or pay a fine for what you are saying. Your call for repentance would be considered hateful and dangerous rhetoric. It seems that our culture has made an entire flip flop before our eyes and unfortunately it is our fault for letting this happen. In many ways this is because the church itself has slowly allowed a flop on sound doctrine and only listen to what their ears wish to hear. I heard this week that statistics show that 57% of Christians believe that salvation can be found through other paths of faith other than that of the faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Either the Christians are not really listening in church or the truth is not being preached from the pulpit. I am here to tell you today contrary to popular belief in our culture today that repentance is necessary for salvation.
In our scripture from Acts 3 this morning. Peter heals a man in the name and power of Jesus Christ and the people are all amazed curious of what has happened. They all start to gather and begin to believe Peter as some powerful person. Peter asks them why they are surprised as if he did so by his own power. For it was not by his power but by that of Jesus Christ whom they had killed even though Pilate wanted to let him go. Now that Peter has their attention, he gives them a calling. He asks them to flip and flop on their old way of life and start to live a holy life. If they do then Jesus will forgive them of their sins. For it is only by this way that they may have salvation and truly be free from their lawlessness.
John tells us in his epistle, “Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” 60 plus years ago in this country God’s law was the standard for morality. Therefore, you were a law breaker when you broke God’s law. This was defined as sinful. I say 60 plus years ago but really if you think about it humanity in general has had a history of flipping and flopping between Man’s law and desires and following God’s law and desires. However, now it is the flip side. Man is the deciding factor for what is moral and ethical and if you break man’s law then you are immoral, unethical, or a hater. What is man’s law today? To have what ever man desires which is the opposite of what God desires. The problem though is that it really does not matter what man thinks the law is or should be. God’s law is still sovereign and God’s judgment is still sovereign over man’s law.
It is because God’s law is still sovereign and because he knows that the heart of man cannot and will not follow God’s law perfectly that he sent his son Jesus Christ the messiah to take our place of punishment for breaking God’s law. He did this in the hopes that we will flip our flop and repent of our sinfulness or lawlessness and begin to obey the sovereign law. It unfortunately is not good enough to believe and yet continue to break the law. This is like stealing from someone and getting caught but receiving forgiveness from the person but then you just go and steal again from that person. That is what it means to remain in lawlessness.
Some people have their reasons for why they remain in their lawlessness or in their struggles. Some people feel unworthy of such forgiveness so why bother changing. The truth is that they are unworthy of this forgiveness. There is nothing that we could do too ever be worthy. Despite all of this Jesus died for us anyway because he loves us. He was worthy to make up for our unworthiness. He calls us to live holy lives separate from the world and from man’s law and man’s morality. This is why there is a necessity for repentance. There is a necessity to flip our flop into righteousness through faith and obedience to the sovereign creator of the universe.
Luke gives us his account of the upper room when Jesus appears in chapter 24. Jesus appears before them and proves that he bodily rose from the dead by eating in front of them. They were all frightened at first because they thought they were seeing a ghost. Jesus proves to them that this was not so and he opens their minds to the scriptures so that they can see and understand that everything followed the what the prophets had foretold and what was written in the law of Moses as well as the Psalms. Jesus says, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.” Jesus himself tells us first there is repentance and then there is forgiveness. How can we receive forgiveness if we have no intention of learning from our mistakes and changing? We must have intent to turn ourselves around from our own ways. Jesus builds that desire into us when we understand the sacrifice that he made for us. He transforms us into a new creation. It is not by our own power but by his alone. We can never do anything to deserve this forgiveness and we will never be worthy of it. Jesus knows that sometimes the things we do are disappointing. He knows that sometime the inside of us in ugly and we can do ugly things. He knows this and despite all of that he says he loves us anyway. You know the phrase that this child has a face that only a mother could love. Well, we all have a soul that only a savior and creator could love. Jesus loves us and he is asking us to flip our flop in the church and in our nation and in our world.