September 21, 2017

“Repent Ye Therefore”

By Charles G. Maples

Repentance-a commandment of God, an obligation of man, but at the same time a wonderful privilege
extended hy God, to man. What if, after committing sin, there were no chance for repentance ? Since sin cannot
enter heaven, all who ever sinned (and "all have sinned") would surely stand condemned before God in the
judgment, and be shut out of heaven. Therefore, whatever else we might say the subject, repentance is an
expression of the longsuffering mercy of God. The Jewish disciples were thankful that God had "granted"
repentance unto the Gentiles. (Acts 11:18.) So, when we come to think of repentance as a burdensome
obligation, we should remember that without it all are doomed! and that it therefore is one of the manifold
blessings of God.


But, what is repentance? As is most often true, instead of giving us a dictionary-like definition, inspiration
gives us a number of illustrations of such. One of these is found in Matthew 21:8 ff. Here Jesus, in showing
his disciples the meaning of this commandment, without obedience to which all would perish, says that a man
had two sons who were ordered to go work in his vineyard. One said he would, but did not. The other said he
would not, but later "repented and went." It is easily seen here that repentance is a complete change of mind.
This is seen also on the part of God concerning His creation of man, when we are told that "it repented Jehovah
that he had made man on the earth." (Gen. 6:6.) God had changed his mind about man, and had Noah not found
favor in His sight, He might have brought an end to the human race then.


Repentance can only be brought about by godly sorrow, which in turn must be produced by genuine faith.
One of the many erroneous ideas concerning repentance is the confusing of godly sorrows, or any other kind
of sorrow, with repentance. Sorrow, even godly sorrow, is not repentance, but if it be of a godly sort, will lead
to repentance. (2 Corinthians 7:10.) A person might simply conclude that it is wise, because of social reasons,
for business purposes, or even for fear of the "powers that be," to change his way of living. This is not a result
of "godly" sorrow, and therefore is not the results of Bible repentance. On the other hand, one might be
genuinely sorry, with sorrow of a godly sort, and yet be short of repentance. We see then that since godly
sorrow worketh repentance, it is not repentance itself. And, since godly sorrow worketh repentance, the changes
brought about in one's life because of some other motive, are not the results of repentance.


Repentance, as faith, can only be proven to be a reality by practical evidences. Just as James shows that
saving faith is only that which is shown by works, so John the baptizer demanded of those who came for his
baptism, in pretense, that they "bring forth fruits meet for (as evidence of-C.G.M.) repentance." (Matt. 3:8.)
Until there was practical evidence of such, he would not believe that they


Had repented, which they must do in order to be fit subjects for baptism. Genuine repentance will lead one, first
of all, to frankly admit having been wrong. One who will not admit guilt of sins has surely not come to
repentance. A penitent individual will also repudiate every former practice found to be out of harmony with
the will of God. The individual who continues to practice old sins, has obviously not repented, no matter how
much he might say so.


Repentance is UNTO LIFE (Acts 11:18). Man, short of repentance, is "dead in trespasses and sins," and
there can be no spiritual life short of true repentance. Peter told the Jews on Pentecost, "repent and be baptized
unto the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). To another similar group, he said, "repent ye therefore and turn again,
that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). This being so, one is still in his sins as long as he has not
genuinely repented, regardless of how many religious groups he might belong to, or how pious he might seem
to be.


Of course repentance is not the only command which must be obeyed in order to obtain the remission of
sins, but one whose faith and godly sorrow have led him to repent, will gladly confess the blessed name of
Christ, and be buried with Him in baptism, for the remission of his sins.


Let us not conclude that repentance is demanded of the alien sinner only (seemingly many "Christians" have
so concluded), for Jesus once and for all denounced that idea when he said to his own disciples, "I tell you nay:
but except YE repent, YE shall all likewise perish." (Lk. 13:3.) Indeed God does command "that all men
everywhere repent" (Acts 17:30), whether it be one out of, or in covenant relations with Him. Peter told Simon,
who had obeyed the gospel, as the others of Samaria had done, to "repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God,
if perhaps the thought of thine heart be forgiven thee." (Acts 8 :22.) In the letters to the seven churches of Asia,
the Lord, over and over calls upon them to repent. (Rev. 2-3.) As then, so today, there needs to be much
repenting done by many members of the Lord's church.


The impenitent heart is always abominable in the sight of the Lord, regardless of by whom it might be
possessed. While on the other hand, God has always respected the penitent and contrite heart. Christ suffered
on the cross that "repentance and remission of sins" might be preached in His name (Lk. 24:47). God desires
that all come to repentance, and continues his longsuffering for that very purpose (2 Pet. 3:9). Therefore, good
reader, in the words of the Lord to the church of the Laodiceans, "be zealous therefore, and repent."


Truth Magazine III:9, pp. 15-16
June 1959

Share