NOTICE TO STUDENT:
By this time, you have a good idea of what the Bible teaches about the God of Heaven, the God who all of us must know and come to know more about in order to have eternal life.
In the first booklet we discussed who God is, His attributes and how He differs from the idols which men make for themselves. We learned that He has communicated and continues to do so through the medium of His Word. Notice what Jesus said in this regard to those people of His day, some 2,000 years ago: "But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not READ that which was SPOKEN unto you by God," (Matthew 22:31). When we read, God is speaking to us.
Then, the divisions and denominations in the religious world were discussed. We have learned that this division is not according to God's will, but men who fail to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" (2 Timothy 2:15) are responsible for all such division. Merely because men may call something or some religious group "Christian," does not make it so! More about this topic will be forthcoming.
Finally, we looked at the fact that God loves us and has proved that love in Christ. His desire is for all to come to a belief in these matters, and by that belief, know that we have eternal life in His Son, Jesus.
We commend you now, dear reader, to this second booklet of six lessons. Herein you shall learn what God has said with regard to how He wants us to respond to all that He has provided for us. Together then, these two booklets will discuss in detail what the apostle Paul said briefly to the Christians in the city of Ephesus, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8). The first booklet looked at God and what He provides for us—grace. This series of lessons shall look at our answer to that grace—faith. God bless you as you study His word!
God does care for us has been shown in previous lessons. This fact is well stated by our Lord Jesus when He said, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). Again, the apostle John speaks of this same fact in one of his short "general epistles," "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1). Yet again he says, "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another" (1 John 4:9-11).
GOD CALLS FOR CHANGE
It is very clear, is it not, that God loved us enough to send His Son to die for our sins? Note what John said was the response to the love of God—our loving Him in return. We do not nor did not love Him first, but He first loved us. Thus, we see one of the first "changes" that must take place within the heart and mind of man: to love God because of what He has provided. Such "changes" are called REPENTANCE. This lesson deals with repentance.
MEANING OF REPENTANCE
Though there are several definitions for this term REPENTANCE, yet we may briefly state that "REPENTANCE is a change of mind (heart) which brings about a change of action." This subject of REPENTANCE is so important to man and his well-being before God, that the Lord caused inspired men to use this word (and related words) one hundred and twelve times in the Bible! It basically points to two things: "a sorrow or grieving for one's sins and a continued turning away from those sins." Both must be present if one is to REPENT as God expects. If one is sorry for his sins, but will not turn from them, he has not repented and will be lost, separated from God eternally. If one merely ceases some action without being grieved for it (which likely he will not do if it does not grieve him), he has not really repented, and likewise shall be lost forever.
ILLUSTRATION OF REPENTANCE
The Bible gives us two excellent examples of what repentance is and what it is not. The examples happen to be two of Jesus' apostles. They are Judas and Peter. Both of these men had betrayed or denied Jesus. Judas took money in order to deliver Jesus to those who would arrest, try and condemn Him to death on the cross: "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him" (Matthew 26:14-16). Peter, for fear of his own life, denied even knowing Jesus: "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man" (Matthew 26:69-74).
Obviously, both of these men had turned against Jesus to one degree or another. Both of them felt badly about doing so. Notice: "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, REPENTED HIMSELF, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood" (Matthew 27:3-4). So also Peter had remorse and sorrow for his denial of Jesus. "And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and WEPT BITTERLY" (Matthew 26:75).
We can see that both of these men experienced the first part of REPENTANCE, that of grief and sorrow for actions done. The question now is, what did this grief and sorrow cause them to do to change their ACTIONS with regard to their sin? "And he [Judas] cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself" (Matthew 27:5). Rather than change his actions and serve God through Christ, Judas simply took a coward's route and killed himself. This is NOT God's will for us when we sin! This will only seal our condemnation before God, because at death one cannot change but will have to face God's judgment [see Hebrews 9:27]. What of Peter? He went on to become one of the most outspoken apostles for our Lord and took his stand with the other apostles on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter two) when the kingdom of God, which is the church of Christ, began! He was granted a very great honor: "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles BY MY MOUTH should hear the word of the gospel, and believe" (Acts 15:7).
THE SUMMARY OF REPENTANCE
The apostle Paul, in writing to the church in Corinth, taught a valuable lesson with regard to what repentance really is and does. He had been addressing a certain member there who had sinned, and the church administered discipline and punishment so that this member would himself repent and stop his sin. This he did (2 Corinthians 2). But Paul's instruction also seemed to cause some sorrow because he had to scold them. This he addresses in chapter seven of Second Corinthians: "For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:8-10).
Can you find the "two parts" to REPENTANCE that we have been studying? The first is "ye SORROWED to repentance: for YE WERE MADE SORRY after a godly manner." Then, the second part: "FOR GODLY SORROW WORKETH REPENTANCE TO SALVATION." Friend, when we repent, it will take place when we are grieved and sorry for our sin against God, which will cause us to make the necessary changes so that we will not continue to sin in such manner against God again.
THE COMMAND/DEMAND OF REPENTANCE
God would have men to repent, then, is quite evident. But let us allow the apostle Paul to make it quite clear. He is found preaching to the people of the city of Athens in Acts chapter 17. Please take careful note of what he says with regard to REPENTANCE. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:30-31).
At the beginning of this lesson, we talked about God's love and our love toward Him that is due. That is one of the first changes to take place, built upon our faith and trust in God and Christ. What then does this love toward God cause us to do? Take heed to these words of Jesus, "If ye love me, keep my commandments" (John 14:15). If you love God and Jesus, you must obey them. They command you to REPENT. Have you done so, or are you willing to do so now? Be sorry for your sin (rebellious life which is contrary to what the Bible teaches), and change your ways to serve Him (live according to what the Bible tells you). You shall be blessed! God bless you as you consider these things.
Questions for Lesson Seven
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