What happened to REPENTANCE?

Some Christians believe repentance means simply to “turn around” and go in the opposite direction.  But the Bible tells us repentance is much more than this?  Repentance means to feel remorse and self-reproach for one’s sins against God; to be contrite, to want to change direction.”  True repentance includes a desire to change!

Moreover, simply being sorry does not constitute repentance.  Rather, true sorrow leads to repentance.  Paul states: “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of; but the sorrow of the world worketh death (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Paul is speaking here of a sorrow that is without regrets – one that is genuine, that “sticks” in the life of the repentant person.  This kind of godly sorrow naturally produces a repentance that includes a hatred for sin, a righteous fear of God and a desire to right all wrongs.”

“As I read Paul’s words, I find myself examining my own ministry.  And I must ask, “Have I cut short the gospel Jesus preached – the gospel of repentance?  Have I essentially taken scissors to my Bible and removed the higher cost of following Christ?  Have I lowered his standard by telling people, “Just believe and be saved?”

As I look at the church today, I wonder; do we evangelicals insist on a biblical “godly sorrow” as evidence of true repentance?  Or are we leading masses of unrepentant people into a false peace?  Are we wrongly instructing them that all God requires of them is to say, “I believe in you Jesus”?

Have we cut short genuine conviction for sins?  Have we jumped in and offered salvation to those who haven’t actually repented – who have not sorrowed over their trespasses, who haven’t seen the exceeding sinfulness of their sins, who have sought faith so they could merely hide their lusts behind it?

We constantly hear awful exaggerations about the numbers of people who come to Jesus through various ministries.  Christians report that scores of people were saved as they preached in prisons, schools, and tribal meetings.  They say, “Everybody in the place gave their heart to Jesus.  When I finished preaching, they all came forward for salvation.”

N0!  That is a tragic exaggeration!  All too often, what happens is that everyone simply repeats a prayer.  They merely pray what they are told to pray – few of them grasp what they are saying. Then most go back to their heathen ways!

Such people never experience a deep work of the Holy Spirit.  As a result, they never repent, never sorrow over their sins – and never honestly believe.  Tragically, we have offered them something Jesus himself never offered – salvation without repentance.

I believe the church has even taken feeling out of conviction.  Think about it – you hardly ever see tears on the cheeks of those who are asking Jesus to come into their heart anymore.  Of course, I know tears do not save anyone. But God made us all human, with very real feelings.  And any hell-bound sinner who has been moved upon by the Holy Spirit naturally feels a profound sorrow over the ways he has grieved the Lord.  The apostle Peter found this kind of godly sorrow when he denied knowing Jesus.  Suddenly, he was flooded with the memory of what Jesus had told him, (Luke 22:54-62).

C.H. Spurgeon, the powerful English preacher, said the following about the need for repentance:

“I trust that sorrowful penitence does still exist, though I have not heard much about it lately.  People seem to jump into faith very quickly nowadays . . . I hope my old friend repentance is not dead.  I am desperately in love with repentance; it seems to be the twin sister to faith.

I do not myself understand much about dry-eyed faith; I know that I came to Christ by the way of the weeping-cross . . .When I came to Calvary by faith, it was with great weeping and supplication, confessing my transgressions, and desiring to find salvation in Jesus, and Jesus only.”

C.H. Spurgeon testified, “I freely confess that I have a very much greater sorrow for sin today than I had when I came to the Savior more than thirty years ago.  I hate sin more intensely now than I did when I was under conviction.  There are something’s that I did not know to be sin then that I know to be sin now.  I have a much keener sense of the vileness of my own heart now than when I first came to Christ. . .

Sorrow for sin is a perpetual rain, a sweet, soft shower, which to a truly saved man lasts all his life long . . . He is always sorrowful that he has sinned . . . he will never stop grieving until all sin has gone.”   David Wilkerson, May 19, 1931 – April 27, 2011

(sw-h)

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