- God Commands All Men Every Where to Repent – It’s interesting to note that the Greek word rendered as “repenteth” and “repentance” is metanoeo (G3340), signifying a “change of mind or understanding”. Notice how verse 7 in Luke 15 makes the point that there are those who identify with the “… ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance”. Everyone in this category is merely “self-righteous” and have not been saved. It is the deluded, prideful expression of the Pharisee in Luke 18:11 as well. They do not understand their own sinfulness. Sadly, this is the essence of mankind’s fallen nature. We are sinful by birth, by nature, and by inheritance, as we learn from Rom 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned”. Furthermore, 1 John 1:8 reminds us: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us”. Deception is indeed the core foundation for all sin, and its roots go down very deep into the darkest chambers of our hearts. Sin also enslaves, as Jesus explained to the religious leaders of His day in John 8:34: “Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin”. Because man is spiritually dead, he will never of his own accord repent in a manner that is biblical. Rom 3:10-18 presents both a penetrating and convicting glimpse into the depths of an unbelievers heart. And Pro 30:12 further adds, “There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness”. A good example of the difference between the so-called “righteous” and “sinners” is found in the parable of Luke 18:9-14. In this very revealing passage we see that the publican’s estimation of himself was that he was indeed “the sinner”. Wonderfully, Christ’s mission was to redeem those who are spiritually diseased, as Mark 2:17 so beautifully affirms: “When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. Proclaiming his own righteousness, the Pharisee did not recognize the truth of Luke 16:15: “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts …”. Though multitudes of people seemingly pray and ask God for salvation (or mercy), we must understand that only those who are God’s elect will do so on God’s terms – that is, according to God’s Word, the Bible. Mat 9:13 declares, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. Wonderfully, Christ came to this world seeking sinners.
Rom 3:10-18 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. 13Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: 14Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: 15Their feet are swift to shed blood: 16Destruction and misery are in their ways: 17And the way of peace have they not known: 18There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
Eze 18:30-31 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. 31Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?”
Acts 17:30-31 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus] whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.”
- The Kingdom of God is at hand: Repent Ye – In 2 Cor 7:10, God is differentiating between “godly sorrow” (or repentance) and the “sorrow of the world” (or remorse) and , “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death”. We see in the historical context the literal fulfillment of “…the sorrow of the world worketh death” in Mat 27:3-5, because Judas committed suicide. However, this verse is not speaking about physical death but eternal death – eternal damnation in Hell. This is what the Lord Jesus was underscoring in Mat 26:24 when referring to Judas, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe [judgment] unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born”. Remorse is caused by conscience – God’s law written on all of our hearts (Rom 2:14-15). In Heb 12:16-17, we see Esau demonstrated remorse or regret – not genuine repentance at what he had done. “Godly sorrow” is a gift from God and has everything to do with salvation which produces, or causes, genuine repentance because it is the work of God in the hearts of His chosen people. Take note that salvation is a matter of the heart, or soul, or mind (all three are used interchangeably in the Bible): “And he [Jesus] said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts …” (Luke 16:15). Only God can create a new eternal soul, or “new heart”, and make a “new creature” of a person, as we read in Eze 36:26-27: “A new heart also will I [God] give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them”. God must draw the elect to Himself and grant them repentance, spiritual understanding, faith to trust Him, and a capacity to love and obey Him. This is why God must initiate and complete the entire work of salvation in each one of His chosen sheep. In Jon 3:4 God commanded Jonah to preach a simple message to Ninevites, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”. Keep in mind that Nineveh was a pagan culture – an enemy of Israel – that knew very little of the Bible, or the God of creation. How could it be that the King of Nineveh would be so remarkably compelled to issue the following proclamation to all of the 120,000 inhabitants of the city, as Jon 3:5-9 acknowledges: “… let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way …”. Undoubtedly, this has to be one of the most dramatic examples of salvation recorded in the Bible! Such genuine conversion can only be attributed to God’s incomparable mercy, as Acts 5:30-31 proclaims: “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel (Israel of God, or in other words believers), and forgiveness of sins”.
Luke 15:7, 10: “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance… Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”
Luke 18:9-14 “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”
Jon 3:4-9 “And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown. 5So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?”
- The Kingdom of God is at hand: Believe the Gospel – God commands mankind to repent, believe as Mark 1:14-15 attests, “Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel”. Prior to salvation everyone is spiritually blind and under Satan’s authority, as 2 Cor 4:4 indicates: “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world [Satan] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them”. Salvation occurs when God shines the light of the true Gospel into the souls of those He came to save and dispels the spiritual darkness. Notice the sequence of events in Jon 3:5: “So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them”. They first believed – everything else followed that. And we know that to believe is to have faith, and the faith related to salvation is a gift from God, according to Eph 2:8-10 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: …”. Thus repentance and good works are the result of salvation – not the cause. Notice how the word “meekness” in 2 Tim 2:25 can result from God’s granting repentance (or a change of mind) as a result of salvation, “… if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth”. The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is totally by God’s sovereign grace, love and mercy; and those three elements – along with everything else associated with salvation – are unearned gifts from God to His people. We also learn from 2 Pet 2:5 that Noah was not only a recipient of God’s righteousness, but also a preacher of that same righteousness: “And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly”. We believers are recipients of the Gospel as God applies His Word to our hearts by spiritual “hearing”, gives us faith, and causes us to obey the Gospel. One of the characteristics of those who have received salvation will be a willingness to be faithful in declaring (as well as in obeying) God’s Word. Then we are suppliers of the Gospel as we declare the Gospel to others and God draws more of His elect to Himself. If we, indeed, are those who “obey the Gospel”, we definitely “shall be saved” at the end of our lives when we receive our glorified, spiritual and eternal bodies at the resurrection of the Last Day.
Matt 3:1-2 “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Matt 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Mark 6:12 “And they [disciples] went out, and preached that men should repent.”
2 Tim 2:24-26 “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
Acts 11:16-18 “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”
Rom 10:13-17 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
- God is Longsuffering to Us-ward, Not Willing that Any should Perish – How can it be then that the Holy God who destroyed the world of Noah’s day has not destroyed us? How can it be that the God who destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah has not yet destroyed us? Why does God wait? Why not destroy this sin cursed earth along with the whole band of rebellious sinners that take great pleasure in their evil deeds? 2 Pet 3:9 gives the answer, God “is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. He is waiting for the last of His elect to become saved. He is not willing that “any” of His chosen people should perish. But He will put up with man and his scoffing and his sins until He draws that last sinner to Himself. God gives us the flood as the example of His longsuffering, patience near the end of the world in 1 Pet 3:20. What was God waiting for in the days of Noah? He was waiting for the ark to be prepared, which resulted in the salvation of Noah’s house hold: “Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water” (1 Pet 3:20). What is God waiting for today? He is waiting for the house of God to be completed. He is waiting for the last living stone to be inserted into the New Jerusalem. Turn back to 2 Pet 3:15; and we will see without question that the sun has risen today ONLY BECAUSE THE LAST OF GOD’S ELECT HAVE NOT BEEN SAVED: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation;” The Greek word translated as “leadeth” (ago:G71) in “… the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance (synonymous with salvation)” in Rom 2:4 emphasizes God’s sovereign power and grace to save His elect people, as 2 Pet 3:9 teaches, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”. God is merciful to His elect and saves them because of His goodness; and He works all things “together for good” in their lives, as we read in Rom 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”. As I mentioned earlier, repentance has to do with a “change of mind”. When a person becomes a child of God he is transformed spiritually, as Rom 12:2 instructs, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God”. And Tit 3:5 declares, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”. Php 1:6 states, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”.
2 Pet 3:3-7 “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, , perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”
2 Pet 3:8-9 “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.