Hope in Repentance
I want to introduce our speaker to you this morning and as we do, I want to say, 10 and 11 year olds, you guys are dismissed from your class. As I get ready to introduce Tim, I want to say a thanks to James Wittworth and those of you that helped with the men’s retreat this past weekend. Appreciate all the effort that went into that to make our weekend just a great time together in fellowship and all the extra work that goes into that. And a part of our weekend was enjoying the, speaking of Tim Conway, who’s with us here from San Antonio, Texas. He’s a pastor of Grace Community Church, a husband, father of four. You can check out if you like his teachings, illbehonest.com. A lot of his snippets and sermons are posted there. And he also helps out a lot with, if you’re familiar with Paul Washer’s ministry, HeartCry, the missions ministry that takes place there. He’s involved with that ministry heavily and has a lot of travel ahead of him after today related to that ministry. So it’s a privilege for me to introduce him to you this morning. And so let’s give a round of applause for Tim Conway as he comes up and shares God’s Word with us. Thank you, Pastor Tim.
Okay. I want to deal with something that’s fundamental to the faith. I want to deal with repentance. Now, think with me, repentance. We have some folks that perhaps are writing, teaching, preaching that repentance is something that can come later after faith. But that is not what our Bibles teach. If you remember, John the Baptist, he came on the scene. His baptism was a baptism of repentance. He came and he came preaching, repent. John didn’t even say believe. He said, repent. And then you remember the second preacher in the new Testament was our Lord Himself when He came, if you look at Matthew 4, what you find is he said this, he came saying, repent. Yes. In Mark’s gospel, Mark 1, it is repent and believe the gospel. But repentance is always first. It’s not later. It’s not last. It’s not negotiable. It is an essential component of the gospel.
And then when Jesus sent out his disciples, two by two they went forth and they went forth this way: went out and proclaim that people should repent. Remember the day of Pentecost? Okay, Jesus has gone. He’s ascended back to heaven now and now the Spirit of God has come upon the church, and here’s Peter, day of Pentecost. He steps out. Do you know what he told the people? Did he tell them to believe? No. That doesn’t mean that that is incorrect to tell somebody, but his message was repent and be baptized. Every one of you. That was his message.
Do you remember how Luke’s gospel concludes? We get the great commission right at the end of Luke’s gospel. And what we’re told is this, we are told that this repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations. The apostle Paul comes along behind Peter. Peter in the beginning of that early church, he was the prominent apostle and then somewhere about Acts 9, things kind of switch and Paul begins to pick up the momentum. He preaches the same thing, repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is the message of scripture. You remember when Paul was there at Athens? He said, God commands all men everywhere to repent. Now, one of the most, I think one of the most startling, one of the strongest passages that we have comes at us from Luke 13. Perhaps you remember the account, you remember what happened? There were some people that Pilate slaughtered at the altar. A tower fell, probably in a crowded city street somewhere. A tower fell. It landed on 18 people. People came to the Lord Jesus and they wanted to tell them about these two events. They were front page news at that time, and you know the way Jesus was? Put that aside.
He dealt with the people who were bringing him the stories. He said, I’ll tell you this, unless you repent, you will likewise perish. Do you recognize what he was saying there? He was saying those 18 people, a tower randomly falls in a crowd and he said those 18 upon whom they perished, they didn’t go to glory. They perished. You just randomly take 18 people out of a crowd and you have a tower fall on them. There wasn’t a man of God among them. They perished. And he says this, you will likewise perish unless you repent.
This is critical. This is not just arbitrary in our gospel message. This is not a take it or leave it kind of doctrine. Here’s the thing. At the men’s retreat I was mentioning to somebody, but I suspect in many of our churches today, if I simply handed out a piece of paper, blank piece of paper to each one of you and I said, please write on there your definition of repentance. I suspect that few in this room would probably be able to give an accurate definition or if you did it may very well be wrong.
You see, repentance is a word that is often misconstrued. It is a word that is often confused with penance. It’s not a word that we commonly use. We don’t use the term repent or repentance at all in our culture except in the church. It is not commonly used in the workplace, in the colleges, in the news. You don’t hear the word. Unless you repent, you will perish. The one thing that I want to try to do today is help us all to have somewhat of a biblical understanding of the word.
Let’s just think about it. Repent. In the English, if you just take the English, I recognize in our Bibles we are dealing with the Greek word metanoia, but just take the English word, repent. “Re” that’s a prefix. What does “re” mean in front of any word? Again, again. Pent. Have you ever heard of a pensive person? Pensive is a thoughtful person. The English word means to think again. Does it sound similar to penance? Yes, it does and there’s a reason for that. It’s because repent and penance both come from the same Latin word and throughout history there has been Jerome and his Latin translation. There’s been all manner of confusion. And obviously the Catholics have gone certain direction with that word. We don’t want to confuse those words.
Repent means to think again. It’s got to do with thinking. The Greek term metanoia, “meta” is simply a prefix that means after. “Noia,” thought. It is rethink in English, it is after thought in Greek. It means literally to think again. To change your mind when you think again. It’s an afterthought, which means afterwards I come to rethink something that I had formally thought about. I rethink it and I changed my mind about that reality.
Now look, this is critical. Oftentimes in Christian circles, if you ask people what does repent mean? Well, they may confuse it with penance where we have to do something to appease God. But oftentimes even in good circles, it gets interpreted as meaning to turn from sin. Turning from sin is a fruit of repentance. It’s not repentance itself. Repeatedly in the book of Acts, you will find where it says repent and turn. The turning flows out of it. The turning is a movement of the life, but the life never changes and it never changes direction until there is a change up here.
We have to rethink. Now this is key. Listen, if Jesus was preaching to us, if John the Baptist preaching to his two by two the disciples. If it was Peter or if it was Paul in the book of Acts, and what must we do to be saved? If we’re told, repent and be baptized, every one of you. Well, what does repent mean? Well, if we say it means turn from sin, guess what we do with people? Guess where we put people’s eyes? We put people’s eyes on themselves. They’re trying to clean up their life. They clean up their life and they go to God and they say, look, I cleaned up my life. Now you have to save me, but that is entirely wrong. That is projecting this works salvation.
What we need to be very clear on, very clear on, repentance is not some pre salvation attempt to set one’s life in order. Well-meaning Christians can come along and say repentance means to turn from sin. And so you get people, you tell them repent and believe. And you’ll get them trying to clean their life up. And they clean their life up and they go to God and they say, here I am. And he doesn’t do anything and they wonder, I’m repenting, why isn’t God saving me?
I want to show you from scripture what repentance, real Biblical repentance looks like. And I just have a number of favorite areas in scripture. I’m going to get to as many in this first hour as I can and probably pick up and carry on with some of the other ones in the second hour. But I want you to see this.
This is a life and death reality. Because unless you repent, you will perish. So we want to be very clear and more than biblical definitions, or more than dictionary definitions rather, we need real biblical definition. We need to know from our Bible. So the first place I want you to go is found in Jeremiah 8. Now this is Old Testament, I recognize that. But in the Old Testament, I recognize originally was in Hebrew, some in Aramaic, but they did have an old Testament Greek edition called the Septuagint. In that Greek, we find the term, metanoia. Repent. We find it here in Jeremiah 8:6. What I just want to do is show you various places in scripture that are going to help us come to a biblical definition of what this word is. Absolutely essential that we are clear on this.
So Jeremiah 8:6, I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly. No man, now I’m using the ESV. It says relents. All other translations say, repent. That is our term metanoia. That is our term for repentance right there. If you’ve got an ESV, it says relent, but make no mistake about it. This is our term. And notice this, no man repents of his evil saying, what have I done? There it is. Do you see what we’re being told there? If a person repents, what do they say? What have I done?
You see the rethinking? You see how they’re thinking again? They did something and now after the fact they have an afterthought and they change their mind. You see how the mind’s been changed? In the beginning when they did the thing, they thought it was right. They thought it was okay. Now they’re looking back on it and they’re saying, what have I done?
This is key. See, this is the question. Have you ever been confronted by the gospel? Have you ever been confronted by Christ? Have you ever been confronted by the cross and by your sin to such a way where you look back and you say, what have I done? What was I doing? There is suddenly, you have to think. You see, this happens in the mind. Nobody says, what have I done, unless they’re thinking. They were thinking about what they did. They were going through life. You remember, you have to think, how was it?
You know what I was doing? I was living my life. I was living a wild life. I had this idea of being a nominal Catholic. I thought, okay, things are okay. I’m a good person, but I remember the day I looked at my life, I looked at the wickedness of it all. I looked at living a wicked life like that in the sight of a Holy God. I looked at that cross. I saw God pouring out his wrath on His Son. What’s that all about? What have I done? What is my sin really? I thought my sin was a little thing. You see, it’s, this is what it is. It’s rethinking. It’s rethinking.
Is my sin really so small? Is what Christ did on that cross really such an insignificant, trivial reality? Is God really so accepting of wicked people as I thought? Does he just wink at our sins? Is that really the case? You have to think again, you have to think about reality. The reality is God did not pour His wrath out upon His Son on that cross because we’re good people. And I thought I was a good person. I thought when I got there, well, certainly God will put the good and the bad on the balances and I’m going to come out on the okay side. Think again. Think again. Change your mind about what have you done.
The things we’ve done, we deserve the lowest hell. Man in the beginning only violated God’s commandment one time and he was kicked out of that garden. One sin. Moses sinned one time. He could not go into the land of Canaan. Sin, one sin. One sin. The wages of sin is death eternally. This is no small matter. We need to rethink this. This is the question I have for you. Have you been confronted by the gospel in such a way that it stopped you in your tracks and you say, what am I done? You see that’s a picture right there of true repentance. That’s what scripture tells us. Now I want to take you to another place. Go all the way to the other end of your Bible. Go to Revelation. We’re going to look at this church to Laodicea. We see something very helpful, very significant here as well.
A second biblical demonstration of repentance, the Laodiceans. Revelation 3:17. And notice again, this is so helpful to us. We, unless we repent, we will perish. We better be absolutely abundantly clear as to what this is. Because if we’re not clear, then how do we even know if we have repented genuinely?
Okay, here we go. Revelation 3:17. Notice this. These Laodiceans. For you say, this is Christ speaking to them. Christ is going to tell these Laodiceans what they say. This is how they think. I am rich. I’ve prospered and I need nothing. Not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. Go to verse 19. So be zealous. Look where it says it, so be zealous and repent. You see what he’s saying? Rethink, rethink things. Think again, thinking a new way.
You know what repentance is? Are you willing to admit the possibility that you have been wrong? Have you ever been confronted by the gospel in a way that you realized your whole thinking about life and Christ and salvation and who God is was wrong? That’s the issue. And you see, repentance. You see where their thinking needs to change? They fought. How did they think? What was going on up here? Oh, we’re good. We’re good. You see, that’s how man is by nature. We’re good. That’s how I was when I was lost. Everything’s okay. I mean, I’m good enough to face God on judgment day. It’s okay. Yeah, I suppose it’s good that Jesus died on that cross. I guess it’s pretty good. I mean, I don’t know how it helps me, but I’m a pretty good person.
You see, they thought they had their act together. They thought they had it all together and when Jesus comes along and he says, that’s not true. The reality about yourself, your wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. You are bankrupt. You need to repent. In other words, change your mind about who you are. You know what? When people start thinking penance or the fact that they have to turn, it’s like, okay, I’ve got to get my act together. That’s not repentance.
Repentance should always be associated with weakness, not with strength. You see the change of mind here? Is not that I’ve got my act together and I can clean my life up. Repentance is changing the mind to where you recognize, Lord, I can’t do anything. I’m naked. I don’t have any righteousness to wear of my own. I’m weak. I’m a slave of sin.
Repentance is manifest by brokenness, not togetherness. This is true biblical repentance. Again, I ask you this, have you been confronted by the gospel in such a way as you rethought and it changed your mind about who you are. Where you saw, I’m not good, I’m ugly. I’m wicked. I’m sinful. I’m blind. I naked.
You see, the mind changes from seeing oneself as independent and healthy and righteous, alive, wonderful in the sight of God. That’s what I thought. I’m wonderful. We’re all good with ourselves. We’re all very friendly to ourselves in our lost state. We like ourselves.
Repentance. You know what repentance always does? When we rethink? It brings us in line with reality. You see, before we were not. This is what the gospel confronts us with. It confronts us with reality. It confronts us with the fact that we are broken, we are destitute, we are bankrupt, we are hell deserving. That’s repentance. When the gospel confronts you with that reality and you recognize it and you see in Christ your only hope. Your only help.
Repentance brings us in line with the truth. And this is where so many people go wrong. So many. Repentance is not a work to do to earn heaven. It is not a pre salvation thing where you get your life in order and you clean everything up. It’s a change of mind where you say, what have I done? What have I been thinking? How could I have been so wrong? See, this is what Jesus is calling these people to do. Get in line with reality. This is the reality. It’s actually a change of mind about our total inability to save ourselves by anything that we do. True repentance goes hand in hand with brokenness. Have you been confronted by the gospel in such a way?
Now in this hour, I’m just going to take you to one more text. I want you to turn to Acts 3 with me. Acts 3. Here’s a third biblical demonstration of repentance. I want you to see this. In Acts 3, I just bring you down to the text that I want you to see. Look at verse 19 repent, therefore, and turn back that your sins may be blotted out. So there’s our word. You see it. Peter’s saying, change your minds. Rethink this. Consider the possibility that you may have been thinking all wrong about this.
Now let’s go back to verse one. Just remember the scenario here. This is after the day of Pentecost. Peter and John, go up to the temple to pray. You remember they go to the beautiful gate. There’s a man in invalid. What was it, 40 years something. He was asking for alms. They see him. Peter says silver and gold, nope, I don’t have any of that, but what I have, I’m going to give to you. And he takes this guy up in the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk and they go into the temple and this guy is leaping and praising God. And all the people run around.
That’s what’s happening here. They all run around and they’re all looking at this guy. And they’re amazed. And he’s praising God. The people see him. They recognize this is the guy that sat at the beautiful gate all that time. Here he is, he’s healed. And Peter and John, they say, hey, don’t look at us like we did this. We didn’t do this. But we’re going to tell you who did do this. This man was healed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now what I want you to see is right here in verse 13. He says, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate.
Now think with this, think about this. Here they are. Pilate says, I find no wrong him. What did they do? What were they thinking? I’ll tell you what they were thinking. We’re Jews. You remember what John the Baptist came on the scene? He said, don’t, don’t you dare say to yourselves, we are children of Abraham. God’s able from these rocks to raise them up. This is what these people thought were God’s people. We’re the descendants of Abraham. We’re good. We’re not a Gentile. We’re not Malekites. We’re not Romans. We’re not Gentiles. We’re not like the Greeks, the Assyrians, the Babylon. We’re not like that. We’re God’s people.
Jesus, I don’t … this fly by night, want to be prophet comes on the scene. He’s teaching. His teachings are against Moses. This guy’s a troublemaker. Worthy of nothing else but crucifying him. That’s what they were thinking. Their leaders were jealous. They stirred them up, crucify him, crucify him. And you see what Peter saying to them? He says, you traded who? Who? They delivered him over and denied him in the presence of Pilate. Who was he? He says, this was the servant of none other than the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. You killed the author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. This is what he’s saying.
And look at verse 17. I know that you acted in ignorance. You see what happened? They weren’t thinking. They were ignorant. They didn’t recognize this is the author of life. This is the righteous one, and they asked for a murderer to be granted to them in the place. Can you imagine this? Here’s their Messiah. They’d been waiting how long? The Messiah. He was spoken about. He was promised all the way back in Genesis 3. The longed for Messiah had come and they were ignorant. They didn’t see it.
They weren’t thinking right. They actually exchanged him for murderer. This is what he’s saying to them. Brethren, we’ve got to think. We’ve got to think. And he’s saying, your thinking needs to come in line with reality. Repent. Change your thinking. How were these Jews thinking? Peter says, you killed the author of life. You crucified God’s servant. Holy and righteous. You’ve been ignorant. You thought. See what they thought? They thought they did God’s service. They thought they did God’s service. Jesus said they will put you out of the synagogues. They will persecute you and they will kill you and they will think they’re doing God’s business. That’s what he told his disciples when he was getting ready to ascend.
That’s what these people are thinking. They thought they did God’s work. They thought they put to death some kind of false prophet or something. Some false teacher, some rebel rouser. That’s what they thought. And they weren’t thinking right. He says, you’ve been thinking everything is all right with you. You’ve been thinking that your children of Abraham. And he says, well think again, rethink this. Change your mind. It’s not okay. You see repentance. If we’re going to genuinely ever repent, we’ve got to come to the place where we have to consider have we’ve been wrong?
Look, I don’t doubt that there are some people in this room that have genuinely repented, but there’s likely some people in this room that have not. And you need to consider, you need to think again. Folks, I would just say this. You need to change your mind. You need to think. You know what the world says? The world says Christians don’t think. That if they would really think, if they would think about evolution and they would think about science and they would think about all this. But you know what the reality is? Christians are the very ones who do think. Christians must think. You’ll never become a Christian unless you think, unless you rethink. I mean, bring off the balance sheets. What is your life? Look at the things you’ve done. Are you really sure after the things you’ve done, you’re ready to meet God on judgment day? Are you so sure?
Have you ever been confronted by the gospel where you’ve rethought that reality where you thought you were okay but you saw I am destitute. You remember what Jesus said? Those who are well, you don’t have any need of a physician. It’s those who are sick. You see what happens to those who actually come to Christ? They rethink. I’m not okay. Lord, I need help, Lord, I’m wicked. Lord, I deserve hell.
This is the reality. We need to rethink, rethink. I mean Peter saying, look, you guys better rethink this. Here’s this man jumping around. A miracle has been done. You better rethink reality here. Because this one here, can’t you see? You must have been wrong somewhere. I mean, you put Christ to death. You see this man over here? A miracle has been done. It’s been done in the name of Jesus Christ. You better consider you’ve been wrong somewhere.
You weren’t thinking right. You were ignorant. Change your mind. People think Christians are mindless fools and that Christians are the ones who don’t think, but it is just the opposite. Saying to them, what were you thinking that you possibly could have exchanged God’s righteous Messiah for a murderer? What were you thinking? You need to rethink that. This is the beginning of repentance. Are you willing to admit that you’ve possibility that you’ve been wrong? Re think your own selves. See this man here jumping up and down in praising God? That ought to make you reconsider things.
The one who gave this man power to walk you killed. Are you really all right? Is everything really okay? Are you in sync with God’s plan? You see, that’s what we need to look at. We need to be, we need to be honest. We need to be forthright with this. Every one of us, because unless we repent, unless our minds have been changed in just the same way, unless we come to see this kind of reality that we’ve been thinking wrong, nobody will ever repent unless they begin to consider, wow, perhaps I have been thinking wrong. Is it really true that I don’t need the Christ of scripture? Sometimes we make a little Christ. We want to redefine Him. Is it really true that you don’t need the Christ of scripture? Is all well with you? Are you good? Are you good enough? Again, I’ll say bring out the balance sheets. Look at them. Is everything okay? What about your morality? Have you really been good enough?
Jesus would say, repent. If anybody’s thinking, no, I’m okay. I’m okay. No, we’re not okay. We are a broken race and we are a hell bound race. We are a perishing race. We are sons of wrath by nature and we follow the course of the world and we follow the prince of the power of the air and we are broken.
What about your past? Is it really going to work out okay in the end? Are you ready to go out of this world? Are you so confident? You’ve got your plan. I had mine. Your plan, your little system. Is it really adequate? You need to think this again. God sent His righteous one and He is powerful to save. But he said, I’m a physician and I have not come for those who are well. I have not come to aid you to get to heaven by your own efforts. I have come here for the broken and you need to rethink this. This is what Peter is saying to these people. Rethink. You were ignorant. You weren’t thinking. Oh how many people walk through life and they’ve never really thought. They’ve never really considered and allowed that to enter their minds that they could possibly be wrong.
There’s one hope, one hope. That your full trust, you see this always has to come before faith. Because nobody is ever going to look to Christ and believe on Him until they stop believing on themselves, in their religious system, in every other thing. They’ve got to realize and come to grips with, I’m in trouble. I need help. Why did God crush his Son? It’s because I’m bad. It’s because sin deserves the wrath of God. That’s it.
Think again, think about what all this means. Admit that you’ve been so wrong. This is repentance, a change of mind, and it always results in a turn. Listen, if you’re driving down the road, if you see somebody driving down the road and they do a U-turn, you know this. Something changed up here before their arms did this. It’s always the case. You have to realize, oh, your Google Maps lady all of a sudden says, go back the other way. And your mind says, yeah, I’ve been going in the wrong direction. I better turn around.
But you see you’ve got to think up here, I’ve been wrong. I’ve been going the wrong way. This is true repentance. We don’t want to be wrong about this. And again, the question is this. The question in the hours is, have you been confronted by the gospel? Have you been confronted by the cross of Christ in such a way that stopped you in your tracks? You thought again. You realized you were wrong and it turned you around. Because your whole thinking was turned around. That’s genuine repentance. Rethink, a change of mind, an afterthought.
It’s where you look up one day and you recognize, what have I done? What have I believed? How was I living? And you see Christ is your only hope and everything else is abandoned. If you haven’t repented, you are lost, lost, lost.
Father, I pray that there would be a clarity in the minds of these folks concerning this absolutely essential doctrine of repentance. I pray, Lord, light. May your light shine and blow away the darkness or any ignorance if it exists in anyone in this room. I pray in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Amen. Thank you Pastor Tim, can we give a round of applause for Pastor Tim?
We’re going to close with one song together. But I just want to reflect on, as he shared with us the idea of repentance and the significance of what that means for us as people. It’s not a place that leads us to despair, but as a place that brings us to the opportunity of hope in Christ. Because when you think about, Jesus coming for the broken. And Jesus’s heart was for the broken. And my mind kept thinking as he was sharing about the Apostle Paul. The most religious man during his time. And he said, he counted it all is loss, that for one purpose, that he might know Christ. And he repented of being the most religious person during Jesus’s day. In Paul’s day, people would look at the religious people and think they’re the ones that have it all together. And those were the ones that crucified Jesus.
You know, when you see Romans 7, Romans 8, I think Paul summarizes it in such a beautiful way. At the end of seven, he talks about the wretched man that he is, who will save him from this body has sin and death. And then chapter eight, very first verse, there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. Jesus came for the broken to set us free. His cross was for that, for us, for that sin that we couldn’t free ourselves from. That we could find hope and grace and newness of life in him and live for that glory forevermore.
And that’s what we’re about as a church. And so I just want to encourage you this morning, if you haven’t ever put your faith in Christ, hopefully this, the clarity of today just shows the significance. When we call Jesus savior, it’s just not this half-hearted idea of what that title means, but it’s an absolute rescuing of our soul. That we could find the freedom for which it was created for in Him.
If you by faith this morning want to take the time to bow your heart before the Lord and say, Lord, I am a sinner and I need you, and that changing of your mind as He alone becomes your rescuer. I encourage you to do that. If you have any questions about that as you leave today, I will be at the front door. You can speak with me or throughout this week, our information’s on the website. You can reach out to us and the email and the phone number will come here to the church or directly to my email box. But that is what we’re about, that newness in Christ together. We’re going to sing about that now.