To say "sorry" is one thing, but real repentance is another. And believe it or not, we need to give God more than a proper apology. Matthew 3 presents John the Baptiser, Jesus coming with God’s reign and rule, and reveals what it means to truly repent. This is a fast passed, upbeat, warm and deeply probing sermon from Daniel Montgomery (Sojourn Community Church, Kentucky).
• Involves acknowledging that Jesus is God’s king. We turn from our kingdoms and queendoms because God’s kingdom is coming, including God’s judgment. If we think of Jesus merely as our teacher we’re living in unbelief. We must walk with him as Lord because he is King, he is God.
• Always involves baptism. We acknowledge our need to ‘come clean’ with sin in a completely open, public and unashamed way. By turning to Jesus in baptism we are saying “to death with sin!”
• Is as much required of sincerely religious peoples as any. Whether we rely on our past Christian zeal, our spiritual upbringing or our visible service in ministry, an axe and a fire of judgment await anyone deceived by their religiosity.
• Brings real change; Jesus always brings real fruit. It’s not enough for us to only seek to leave our sins behind. If we are merely sorrowful for our sins we haven’t known the freedom of him who not only died for sins but lived and was raised for our life: he lived as our substitute and was baptised to fulfil our righteousness; he now lives again for us. We are credited with Christ’s riches, and we are imputed with his righteousness.
• Always leads to joy with God. Repentance is a response to his invitation to enter the joy of the triune God. We come to live in relationship with the living God, who is marked by joy.
• Is a gift that comes from God. We can’t generate it. Jesus alone gives the ability to turn from sins to him. Others can talk about it, point to it, but only Jesus can bring true change.
• Is not just a once off and then if you screw it up you’ve lost your chances. It’s a way of life: we can do it over and over. We have the daily gift of coming back under the reign and rule of Jesus the King.
So surrender to Jesus, stop trusting in yourself and if you haven’t been baptised, God commands you to go public with your faith. So do it and don’t delay.