Ministry #2 November 14 Repent
The ministry of John the Baptist is fascinating to examine. He was chosen by God to go before Jesus, minister about Christ, while always pointing people towards the coming Messiah and away from himself. Everything John the Baptist preached was to pave the way for the message that Christ Himself was going to proclaim when His earthly ministry began. First and foremost, John announced the need for the people to repent from their sins.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 3:2
“Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.” – Matthew 3:8
Here in Matthew 3, we see two clear examples of John the Baptist telling the crowd and the Pharisees that they need to repent. He understood that true salvation could not be had unless they were willing to repent from their sins. If someone cannot admit that they have a problem they need to be saved from, then they cannot be saved. Just one chapter later in the book of Matthew Jesus Himself would proclaim the same need for repentance to the world.
“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” – Matthew 4:17
Unfortunately, it seems like today many people forget repentance when they talk about giving their life to Christ. Some people think because they have gone to church for a couple of years or were baptized as a child, that it means they are going to Heaven when they die. Many people “give” their life to Christ, but never actually repent of the sins in their life. Repenting involves clearly turning away from your old sinful desires, and begin to walk in the direction of Christ. If someone gives their life to Christ and their actions, desires, and reactions all stay the same, I would guess that true repentance has not taken place. Naturally, when someone gives their life to Christ they do not become perfect; sanctification is a process that takes our entire Christian life. Every day I know I am going to fail, but every day I know I am going to desire to be more like Christ. That desire to be more like Christ is the true fruit of repentance. When someone turns away from their former life and starts their walk with Christ, there will be noticeable differences.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17
When someone is “in” Christ, they are brand new. That is the beauty of true repentance and giving your life over to Christ. Your old self passes away, and the new you begins to live. Without true repentance, this new creation cannot be born. John the Baptist boldly proclaimed true repentance, and we need to make sure we have honestly heard that proclamation and have properly responded.