Introduction: What does it mean to “repent?” This is a matter to which I’ve given a fair amount of thought, but cannot recall specifically writing about it. If we are required to “repent” of specific sins, isn’t that just another argument for salvation by works? If you fail to repent, or if you miss something to which you should repent, or if you are not serious enough in your repentance, then you are lost.  If I don’t do something correctly, I’m lost! Let’s turn to the Bible and see what it teaches us about repentance!

  1.         Jesus and Repentance

  1.         Read Matthew 3:1-2. What does John mean when he says that the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?” (He is talking about Jesus coming to earth.)

  1.         If we are correct about John saying that Jesus is coming, how would it make any sense for John to call for people to repent?  Why not say, “Get ready?”  “Watch for him?, ”Be alert?” Or, something like that? (John is obviously not asking his listeners to confess their sins. Rather, he is asking them to be open to something new.)

  1.         Read Matthew 4:17. Now we have Jesus saying the same thing as John the Baptist – at least they agree! But, what exactly are they agreeing on?  Is Jesus saying “Repent” because I’m here?  

  1.         If so, of what would his listeners think they should repent? (Once again, this does not seem to deal with specific sins.  Jesus is telling them to change their thinking because He is here on earth. Both John and Jesus are saying that here is something new that will challenge the thinking of the people.)

  1.         Read Mark 1:14-15. Here we have more detail. What is the change that constitutes repentance? (Believing in the gospel.)

  1.         What is the belief from which they should repent?  What belief are they abandoning for belief in the gospel? (Consider the audience. They believed in the sacrificial system, the temple system. This is obviously not about a specific sin, this is about a new way of looking at things. Specifically, that the Lamb of God has now come to fulfill the symbolism of the temple system.)

  1.         Read Acts 2:36-38. This is the conclusion of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost. What does repent mean here? Remember, that many of those present had no part of Jesus’ crucifixion for they had traveled to Jerusalem for Pentecost.

  1.         What sins are being forgiven here? (Baptism, as we discussed two weeks ago, is the way in which we join in Jesus’ perfect life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection to eternal life. Peter is talking about a new understanding of how humans make the transition from eternal death to eternal life.)

  1.         Read Acts 17:22-23. What is Paul doing here? (He is sharing the gospel with Greeks who apparently know nothing about Jesus.)

  1.         Read Acts 17:24-29. What is different about Jesus compared to the known gods of the Greeks?

  1.         Read Acts 17:30-31. What does repentance mean to these men of Athens? (It means learning new information and leaving your old way of thinking behind.)

  1.         Let’s step back and consider all of the ways we have seen repentance used when it relates to Jesus. How do you understand the meaning of the word “repentance?” (Although sin is involved, the word has nothing to do with specific sins. It has everything to do with changing the way of thinking about God and salvation.)

  1.         Deuteronomy and Repentance

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 4:25. Are these people who should know better?  That is, are they people who simply do not understand God’s ways? (No. They have “grown old” in the system.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 4:26-28. What is the future for knowingly turning away from serving God and engaging in idiotic behavior? (Things don’t go well for you.  Notice how Moses sets out the level of stupidity of these decisions. You turn from worshiping the great God of heaven to worshiping something that you made that is unable to do the most basic things – like seeing, hearing, eating, or smelling.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 4:29-31. Is there hope for people who make stupid decisions when it comes to their relationship with God? (Yes! Praise God!)

  1.         On what does hope turn? (Returning to God. Seeking for Him, searching for Him, finding Him, and obeying Him.)

  1.         What word would you use for this change of attitude and actions? (How about “repent?” You change your direction in life. You decide that idiotic actions do not serve you well, and you decide to serve the living God.)

  1.         Look again at Deuteronomy 4:31. How would you summarize this description of God? (He is always ready to take you back – a merciful God.)

  1.         It would be well to scan Deuteronomy 28 & 29. In these chapters God sets out in graphic detail the advantage of following Him and the danger of following other gods. Read Deuteronomy 30:1-3. What is God looking for in us? (He wants us to obey Him “with all your heart and with all your soul.”)                                                        

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 30:9-10. What is the result of obedience to God? (He “will again take delight in prospering you.”)

  1.         Let’s step back again for a little discussion. God has Moses setting before us two different ways of living. God discusses the possibility that we will initially make the wrong decisions. What do you think repent means in this context? (Choosing the right path for our life.)

  1.         How important is logic and self-interest in the way God sets up our choices? (This is an obvious appeal to logic and self-interest. God says “Do you want to make stupid choices? Do you want to live a great life? Stop making dumb decisions and start choosing Me and you will live a great life.)

  1.         Practical Application

  1.         Read Romans 1:15-16. What is Paul saying that he is preaching? (The gospel.)

  1.         What is the reason to preach the gospel? (It provides a way for humans to be saved, to live eternally.)

  1.         Read Romans 1:18-20. What is the enemy of the gospel? (The unrighteous who suppress the truth about God.)

  1.         Read Romans 1:21-23. What is the result of suppressing the truth about God? (Humans become fools. They do not honor God, they honor birds and animals.)

  1.         Read Romans 1:24-27 and Romans 1:29-32. What follows from rejecting God as our Creator, and not honoring or giving thanks to Him? (All sorts of sins.)

  1.         Let’s once again step back and consider what repentance means. What does this discussion in Romans tell us about repentance? (Repentance is not a matter of tracking down individual sins and “repenting” of them. Rather, repentance is about turning to a belief in the great God of heaven and turning away from an attitude that rejects God and accepts some silly substitute.)

  1.         Is repentance completely disconnected from individual sins? (No, because Paul tells us that having the wrong truth, having the wrong attitude about God starts us on a slide into sin.)

  1.         Does Paul’s “slide” (or progression into sin) make sense?  Do you know people who are gossips or who covet who were not first homosexuals?  If so (and I’m sure the answer is “yes,”), how do you explain what Paul is writing? Or, do we just misunderstand this first chapter of Romans? (This gets to the heart of the rejection of the idea that repentance refers to an on-going effort to track down and repent of every sin as a condition of salvation. Paul is telling us that if we reject God, then a parade of horribles will naturally follow. Christians who are not homosexuals also engage in the listed sins. Paul says that he covets, see Romans 7:8.) The answer to sin is a global one – be sure you are on the track of believing in and trusting God. If you are off that track, then you need to repent.)

  1.         Read Matthew 6:12. This is part of the prayer taught by Jesus. What does this say about asking for forgiveness? (Repentance is a change in the direction of your thinking. However, we still should ask Jesus for forgiveness for sin.)

  1.         Friend, do you have the correct big picture understanding of God? If not, then repent and accept Jesus and your Creator God and your Savior. Why not, by the power of the Holy Spirit, do that right now?

  1.         Next week: Remember, Do Not Forget.