By Ron Bartanen
….“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations…..” (Luke 24:7)
Repentance! Not a very popular topic in the pulpit (or elsewhere) in today’s hedonistic culture. Instead of the preaching of repentance, a more acceptable message is that of tolerance. Without the preaching of repentance, the church fails in its mission of being “a city set on a hill” (Matthew 5:14). Our message in the world is to be one that includes the Holy-Spirit-inspired word that would “reprove the world of sin, righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8; cf. Acts 24:25). Paul warned of a time when such would not be popular, saying, “”they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they reap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The world may desire, or even demand, that we change our message to fit with current culture, but the King of the universe, Jesus Christ, insists that the world heed His message, namely, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
What is repentance? It has often been defined as “a change of mind and heart that results in a change of conduct.” Someone described it as a sign on the highway of life that says, “You’ve traveled too far down the wrong road. It’s time to turn around!”Noah’s message from the steps of the ark to a decadent culture was not “Something good is going to happen to you,” but the message of “righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5), in contrast to the rebellious spirit of the age. John the baptizer’s message in the wilderness went beyond a mere “Smile, God loves you” as he demanded repentance to for one to be in accord with the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 3:2). Jesus, too, was emphatic in declaring, “Except you repent, you shall also likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). From the first day of the church the demand to those who would believe the gospel was, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). For it to be any less than that in 21st Century America is unthinkable!