Friday, November 18, 2011


Mark 6:7-13 (ESV) And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. [8] He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— [9] but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. [10] And he said to them, "Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. [11] And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them." [12] So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. [13] And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them. “So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent.” How does one repent? One sometimes wishes that you could hear a few of these sermons. See what they are about. How they instructed people to repent. Repent. It’s a word that confuses today. People think of repentence as saying sorry, or perhaps changing behavior. It is more than that. I think the misnomer occurs because of a confusion as to what sin is. Sin is unbelief. To repent of sin means to believe. I’ll illustrate it. What is the first commandment? “you shall have no other gods.” If we were to keep this commandment perfectly the other nine would not even be a question for us. Every time we break any one of the nine commandments that follow the first, we show that there is something we fear, love and or trust in more than God. This isn’t about crass idolatry, though it covers that too. But every sin we commit is a product of unbelief. Which means Christians are always left standing like the father praying “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.” One cannot repent without grabbing hold of the Gospel. One cannot repent without holding to the gospel, without being forgiven of one’s sins. To be forgiven, to receive forgiveness with joy, the kingdom of God, his reign in your heart, that is repentance. And this is where modern notions of repentance, are most often at odds with true repentance. When repentance becomes a prerequisite for forgiveness, it is not repentance. When repentance is thought of as something we must do, something that is akin to holding up our end of the bargain, it is not repentance. Repentance, when thought of as merely curbing bad behavior, is not repentance, though repentance will have the effect of curbing bad behavior, even when you find you still engage in it. Repentance, if it be repentance, is a gift from God, every bit as much a gift from God as is faith, indeed, repentance can’t be had without faith. So for true repentance to be proclaimed, Christ and him Crucified needs to be proclaimed. It’s that simple. For telling one to repent, is like telling someone they need to believe. They can’t believe if you don’t give them something to believe in. If you don’t preach Christ and him Crucified, if you don’t let the world know that it has been reconciled to God through Christ, then you haven’t preached faith or repentance, you have turned them back to the same god’s they had before, themselves.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this excellent post. I'm reminded, every time I start to "worry" about something, how that is such a sin of unbelief. My recollection from being in a "nondenominational" church for a time years ago is that repentance was indeed reduced to some sort of change in external behavior more than anything, though no doubt some understood it in different ways. That might be the default position for many such churches, assuming "repent" is even a relevant word in the Osteen era. In fact, I looked at that church's Web site recently and was shocked at how much it has changed from even when I was there. It invites newcomers "as we try to be better human beings, trying to make the world a better place, reaching out a helping hand just as Jesus reached out to us." Sounds like Osteen / purpose-driven language to me. Actually, it sounds just like mainstream liberalism. I can't imagine "true" repentance fitting in with that structure. Sorry to go on a bit, but your post was helpful and thought-provoking. I certainly can point to my own misconceptions in this area without noting others' shortcomings.

-- Dennis

Bror Erickson said...

I'm glad you enjoyed this post Dennis. I think we have all shared these misconceptions regarding Repent.