“This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (Luke 26.46-47)
Seemingly few recognize that repentance is part of the message of the Great Commission. But that is clearly what Luke records Jesus as saying. Not only is a call to repentance connected to the forgiveness of our sin, but I am convinced that repentance is one of the ways in which we express “obedience” to everything Jesus commanded us. As Martin Luther postulated in the first of his 95 Theses:
When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said “Repent”, He willed that the whole life of believers be lived out in repentance.
Yet, just as seemingly few are aware that repentace is part of the Great Commisson, seemingly fewer realize repentance should be a way of life for the Christian. Building upon Luther’s observation, contemporary pastor/theologian Sinclair Ferguson declares:
“According to Scripture, the Christian Life is repentance from beginning to end! So long as the believer is at the same time righteous and yet a sinner, it can be no other way.”
In his masterful book on the subject, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel, Richard Owen Roberts offers a series of lists, including 7 Maxims of Repentance:
- True Repentance is a Gift of God
- True Repentance is NOT a Single Act but an Ongoing and Continual Attitude
- True Repentance is NOT Merely Turning From What You Have Done but From What You ARE
- True Repentance is Not What you Do for yourself but What You do for God
- True Repentance is Not Merely of the Fruits of Sin but of the Very Roots
- True Repentance is Not Secret but Open
- True Repentance is Both Negative and Positive
While I would wholeheartedly commend the reading of Roberts’ book, merely pondering this list will itself offer some rewarding insights as to the nature and benefits of repentance. While some maxims are more immediately understood than others, all are discernable.