The call to repentance is important and must not be neglected. It is entirely accurate to say that it is the first word of the gospel. I shall attempt to explain what repentance means, dive deep into the scriptures, and look at some characters who used the word “repent” at the beginning of their ministries.
Is repentance something we must do before we can come to God? Yes and no. Repentance does not describe something we must do before we come to God; it describes what coming to God is like. If you are in Otsenkorang in the Agona Swedru Area, and I tell you to come to Nsonan, I don’t need to say, “Leave Otsenkorang and come to Nsonan.” To come to Nsonan is to leave Otsenkorang, and if I haven’t left Otsenkorang, I certainly haven’t come to Nsonan. We can’t come to the kingdom of Heaven unless we leave our sin and the self-life. So, repentance is leaving your old self (the world) for a new life in Jesus Christ.
- The first word of John the Baptist’s gospel, whose work was to pave the way for the Messiah, was “REPENT.”
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!'” – Matthew 3:1-2, NKJV.
In the above scripture, John wanted people to know that the kingdom of heaven was near – as close as their hand. It wasn’t as distant or dreamy as they had imagined. This is why John was so urgent in his call to repentance. If the kingdom of Heaven is at hand, then we must get ready now. Beloved, everything around us shows that the kingdom is near. Are you ready to repent?
- “Repent” was also the first word of Jesus’ gospel.
“From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.'” – Matthew 4:17, NKJV.
“Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'” – Mark 1:14-15, NKJV.
So, from these two scriptures, we see how Jesus’s ministry began. Jesus, being God, knew how repentance was key in the lives of the Gentiles and the Jews. The sad news is that the Jews thought that they didn’t need any repentance rather than the Gentiles. That is why John the Baptist called the Pharisees and Sadducees “Brood of vipers.” These two groups represented the leadership of Judaism.
According to these two groups, John’s baptism in water was meant for only Gentiles and not them. Because they wanted to show the world how ready they were for the Messiah, though they had not truly repented.
John reminded them that real repentance will show itself in life. It must be a matter of living repentance, not just talking repentance. We must live a life worthy of the calling that we have received from our Lord Jesus. Most Christians do not live up to the standard of the kingdom. We must live the gospel and share it with others.
- “Repent” was the first word of exhortation in the first Christian sermon.
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” – Acts 2:38, NKJV.
The church was formed out of the call to repentance. After the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the early fathers stood with boldness and preached on repentance. Without the help of the Holy Spirit, we cannot speak or preach on repentance. One of the works of the Holy Spirit is to cause the believer to witness the lost souls.
PREPARATIONS TO MAKE BEFORE SPEAKING ON REPENTANCE TO OTHERS
- Personal Repentance: It’s important to engage in introspection and reflection before discussing repentance with others. Repentance is a spiritual and personal practice, not just a theoretical idea. Make sure you have truly confessed your transgressions and faults, as this sincerity will give your message weight.
- Knowledge and Understanding: Gain a thorough grasp of how your religious tradition views repentance. Examine the pertinent biblical passages, lessons, and theological stances regarding repentance. Having this knowledge will enable you to provide your message with a strong foundation.
- Prayer and Spiritual Reflection: Spend some time in prayer and spiritual reflection as a means of preparing yourself spiritually. Seek advice from mentors, clergy, or religious authorities to make sure you are spiritually ready to discuss repentance.
- Kindness and Understanding: For each person, repentance is a delicate and private matter. Be sensitive and understanding when discussing the subject. Recognize that sorrow, guilt, or feelings of unworthiness can be difficult for some people. Offer hope, support, and a way to atone in your message.
- Do Not Judge: When talking about repentance, do not adopt a critical or priggish tone. Remind people that everyone experiences regret and that everyone is prone to making mistakes and sinning.
- Individual Journey of Repentance: Remember that each person has a different journey of repentance. Therefore, encourage them to come to their own conclusions about their faith and methods for asking for forgiveness.
In conclusion, we must endeavor to share the gospel wherever we find ourselves. We must recall that offering words of repentance is a holy obligation that can profoundly influence people’s spiritual development. With humility, compassion, and a genuine desire to assist others in returning to their faith and their relationship with God, approach this responsibility. We must live a life of integrity and remain holy for the Lord.
Written by P/Ovr. Solomon Boadi (Otsenkorang District, Agona Swedru Area)