Grandes lignes: Detailed explanation with illustrations from life and from the Scriptures, about what it means to repent; how to pray expressing repentance and trust in the Lord for salvation.
|Numéro de texte:||MM05|
|Thème:||Hell; Second Birth; Holy Spirit; Repentance; Heaven; Forgiveness; Faith, trust, believe in Jesus; Sin, disobedience; Debt / payment for sin; Christian values; Humility|
|Genre:||Bible Stories & Teac|
Ce texte est la directive de base pour la traduction et l'enregistrement dans des langues étrangères. Il devrait être adapté selon différentes cultures pour garder sa pertinence. Certains termes peuvent être ajoutés ou retirés pour parfaire le résultat.
Dear friend, how are you? I would like to talk to you for a while about a very important topic. Let us give an illustration: Let's say that a man decided to visit a friend in another town. So he goes to the bus station, buys his ticket and gets into the bus. When the bus is about to leave, he decides not to make this journey. He gets up from his seat and steps out of the bus. The driver of the bus says to him, "Sir, I am about to start. Where are you going?" The man replies, "I am not going with you. I am going back to my home." And to the surprise of his family, he enters the house, and greets them only an hour after he had bade them farewell. What did this man do? He had a change of mind, which resulted in a change of direction.
In other words, he repented; he "turned about."
It is possible for a person who is going in the right direction to turn about and go in the wrong direction. But when we use the word "repentance," we usually mean the opposite.
Now, how do we know which way we are going? Who can tell us whether we are going in the right or wrong direction? In the Holy Bible, we read, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." (1) That means that the whole human race has been going in the wrong direction and has been travelling on the road which leads to destruction and eternal death.
In the Holy Bible, we also read, "I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord God, "therefore, repent and believe." (2) It is because God does not wish the death of any man, woman or child on this earth that long ago He first sent His prophets to warn them of their danger and to plead with them to repent and come back to God. Finally, He sent Jesus Christ Who was the expression of God's love to us.
In the Holy Bible, we read, "For God so loved the world (that's the human race, - you and I!) that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (3) When Jesus Christ was on earth, He often spoke in parables to the people. Parables are stories which help us understand a certain truth. One day Jesus told the following parable which gives a picture of the love and compassion of God, and be welcomed as sons and daughters. This is the parable which Jesus told.
There was a father who had two sons. The older son worked in his father's fields, but the younger son did not want to obey and serve his father. So he asked his father for his share of the inheritance, he took the money, and went as far away from his father as he could. In this distant country he wasted his money, and became penniless. So hungry was he that he was forced to become a keeper of pigs, and was even ready to eat the food the pigs ate. Then in his misery he began to think of his home where the servants all had plenty to eat. He no doubt also remembered his father's love for him.
Up to this time he thought he had done a good thing in leaving his home and seeking freedom for himself. But suddenly he "came to himself." His eyes were opened, and he saw how foolish and sinful he had been in treating his kind father as he had done. His mind completely changed, and instead of wanting to disobey his father and go away from him, he wished to become his obedient servant. Instead of staying far away from his home, he decided to return. So one day he arose and left the pigs and the dirty life he had been leading, and started off toward his father's house. In other words, he repented.
He was still a long way from home when his father saw him, and with great joy ran to meet him, and hugged and kissed his son. The son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven (that is, God) and against you, and am not worthy to be your son!" But the father accepted him and forgave him, and made a feast in his honour. He said to all, "This is my son, who was dead, and is alive again, who was lost, and is found!" In this parable the father is a picture of God, the heavenly Father. And the son represents us, the human race, who have sinned against God.
If we have not repented yet, whatever our sins may be, we all are like the young man in the parable. We all have gone away from God. But God is waiting for us to repent and return to Him. No matter how great our sins may be, He is ready to forgive us, if we confess our sins and turn away from them, and come to Him in true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
It is possible that a person may realise that he is doing something harmful to himself or to others, and may decide to stop this evil practice. For example, a thief after being in prison for a time may now live an honest life and keep out of jail. Or a drunkard may realise that alcohol is destroying his health. So he says, "I have repented, I have quit drinking liquor." Both men have done well to stop bad habits, but this is not the kind of repentance I am describing. They might quit stealing and getting drunk, and still be far away from God. They will not have truly repented 'till they turn about and ask God to forgive them, and come back to Him. They must ask pardon, not only for some evil acts, but for a life of disobedience to Him.
In true repentance the sinner hates the evil life he has been living, and turns from it. Once a servant was caught in a theft. He came to his employer, fell on his knees, and with tears streaming down his cheeks cried out, "I repent, I repent!" The man was very sorry that his act had been discovered, for he feared he would lose his job. But did he hate and reject his dishonest conduct? If his theft had not been discovered, would he have come and said, "I am a thief, I repent"? When someone is truly sorry for his sins, he will confess them to God and repent, whether or not people discover them.
When the people came to Prophet John the Baptist to repent, he told them they must "bear fruit" that proves that they have repented. (4) He meant that their characters and their manner of life must change as a result of repentance. If anyone says he has repented, but does not become a changed person, it is probable that he has not really repented and turned to God.
Anyone who truly repents toward God will begin to hate his sins so much that he will reject them, as one would cast out a poisonous snake from his bedroom. The liar will become a truthful man. The proud person will become humble. The man who hates his neighbour will begin to love him and be kind to him. And the person who would not obey God and always did what he wanted to do will submit to God.
Whenever someone truly repents toward God and is forgiven by God, he becomes a new person. He is born again. This new birth is not physical but spiritual. Physical birth is from one's parents, but the new birth is spiritual and is operated by the Spirit of God.The Spirit of God is one with God, as Jesus Christ is one with God. Speaking about the new birth, Jesus said: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (5)
Sometimes when someone repents to God for sins he did commit, he may have to ask the person against whom he has sinned to forgive him. He may even have to make restitution to that person. We read in the Holy Bible (6) that Jesus Christ once went to the home of a man named Zaccheus. This man was a tax collector who had often taken money wrongfully from people, and so had become very rich. But his wealth had not made him happy, and he was eager to see Jesus and to hear Him talk about God. As a result of the coming of Jesus to his house, Zacchaeus repented and turned from his sins to God. He said to Jesus and to all who were present, "I have decided to give one-half of my property to the poor, and I will give to anyone from whom I took money wrongfully four times as much as I took from him." (7) In this way Zaccheus demonstrated that he had truly repented, and that he hated his past sins, and had begun a new life of love and honesty.
Now you may ask, "If we have sinned greatly against God, how can we be sure that God will accept our repentance and will pardon us? Perhaps our sin has been so great that God will never forgive us!" In the Holy Bible, we read: "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." (8) "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (9) "Christ Jesus gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed." (10) "The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (11) "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (12) "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (13)
Have you ever considered seriously your final destiny? Heaven or Hell? On which way are you? Jesus mentions two ways only. Many choose the broad one to destruction; the others choose the narrow to Heaven. This way is not a religion but Jesus Christ Himself. He said; I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by Me. (14) Jesus is the only One Who is able to save you from the bondage and condemnation of sin. Consider, then, that as a member of the human race, you are a sinner.
Be realistic as you face your condition. Pain takes you to the doctor. Even so, when you understand that you are a sinner, you would go to Jesus, because as He himself said: "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."(18) God provided for your salvation. God loves you and is not willing that you perish. But God is just and cannot overlook your sin. Although you deserve the punishment of Hell, He is offering salvation as a free gift. In order for Him to be able to do this, God had to send His Only Begotten Son into the world. He carried your debt on the cross and paid completely for your sins. The Bible says that Jesus "by one sacrifice, has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." (15) There's no need to add any merits of our own by ceremonies and works because the Holy Spirit testifies, "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." (16) This would be the beginning of a love relation with God as your Father, and your only desire would be only to live a life that pleases Him.
Maybe you are asking: "What must I do to be saved? You have heard about Jesus, but it would be of no use if you remain passive. Your first step should be REPENTANCE towards God, that is to turn away from sinfulness with the desire to obey God. Then you need to TRUST Jesus with your salvation. "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (17)
Now that you have this knowledge in your mind, turn your heart towards God and ask Him to save you. The words that you use are not so important, because He looks at the sincerity and humility of your heart. You may want to pray like this: "Oh God, I know I have offended You and broken Your holy law. But in your Son Jesus I understand Your love for me. I ask You to pardon me and to wash me from every blemish. From now on, be my Lord and Saviour. Help me to live a life that pleases you. Thank you, Father."
Bible references: (1)- Romans 3:23 (2)- Ezekiel 18:32b (3)- John 3:16 (4) - Matthew 3:8 (5)- John 3:6, 8 (6)- Luke 19:1-10 (7)- Luke 19:8 (8)- I Timothy 1:19 (9)- Romans 5:8 (10)-Titus 2:14 (11)-I John 1:7 (12)- I John 1:9 (13)-Romans 8:1 (14)-John 14:6 (15)-Hebrews 10: 14 (16)-Hebrews 10:17 (17)-John 3:36 18- Mark 2:17
Message given by Rev. Edwin Carmana, on the recording Maltese II, part A.