Today in America the godless person is an arrogant, prideful person who places enormous confidence in human potential and ability. This godless person may or may not be religious. He or she may declare himself or herself to be an atheist, an agnostic, or a Christian. How can a religious person or a professed Christian be godless? A godless person has not and will not repent. The person who belongs to God repents. Repentance is the initial step toward relationship with God taken by the person who believes in Jesus. It will always be a part of his or her life as a Christian.
While Jesus stressed repentance, it is seldom emphasized today. Teachings focusing on repentance receive so little emphasis that most Christians do not know what it is.
Why? Repentance is the language and action of surrender. Americans do not surrender. American Christians do not surrender. If sustaining unity, harmony, love, peace, and kindness in a congregation involves surrender, many Christians will justify division, confrontation, hate, animosity, internal war, and contempt. Repentance may be godly, but it is un-American.
When did you last see an elder declare to a congregation, "I was wrong, and I am sorry! I will change now! My change will be obvious!" Or a deacon? Or a preacher? Or a ministry leader? Or a Christian of influence? Or a Bible class teacher? Or a member?
Faith is important, but our common concept of faith is accepting facts. That faith requires no surrender. You express faith, add a few new religious responsibilities to your life, and basically live like you always lived.
Baptism is critical, but our common concept of baptism is little more than the physical act of immersion. That act is a matter of yielding to divine authority. You yield to authority, add a few new religious responsibilities to your life, and basically live like you always lived.
Repentance is a different matter. When a person declares faith in Christ and yields to immersion, repentance is assumed. Typically, American Christians do not like the concept of repentance. It makes us "feel uncomfortable." Why? Repentance involves surrender.
Good servants surrender. They surrender life to the control of their master. American Christians make poor servants. They want to serve without surrendering. They reject surrender, and they despise control. Control occurs against their will, not in cooperation with their will. The Christian who serves God from his or her heart is unique. This uniqueness expresses itself in many ways. However, each unique quality is rooted in the surrender of repentance.
Read Luke 13:1-5
In Jesus' day (and before), Jewish people assumed "bad things" happened to Jewish individuals as an act of divine punishment [see John 9:1,2]. Deuteronomy's teachings was the source of this conviction [see Deuteronomy 27 and 28].
Offering animal sacrifices to God was among the most important religious rites in Judaism. In contrast, offering human blood to God would horribly insult God. How could these Galilean Jews be killed while bringing God sacrifices? What was the religious significance of their blood being shed at the same time the priests were killing their sacrificial animals?
Note Jesus' response:
Read Acts 2:1-40
The following thoughts are shared to challenge you to look at this text and think. Baptism is not enough to save a person. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is not enough to save a person. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is not enough to save a person. Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins is not enough to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit [see Acts 5:32 and 1 Corinthians 6:19,20].
The person who believes that God made Jesus Lord and Christ must combine repentance and baptism. Peter did not say that baptism separated from repentance would give a person forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter said to the believing listeners that the combination of repentance and baptism resulted in the forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. The combination of repentance and baptism provided special benefits to those who believed that God made the resurrected Jesus both Lord and Christ.
Some questions for prayerful consideration: Have you repented? Of what? Do you repent? Of what? The generic prayer, "Lord forgive me of my sinful acts and omissions," is not a magical spiritual formula. Read 1 John 1:5-10. As we mature in our awareness of sin, we must repent.
Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 3, Lesson 2
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