Monday, December 09, 2019 - Repent? Does anyone Do that Anymore Today?
Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections from His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz, Today’s verse is from Matthew 3:1-2, where the Bible says,
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
In the Augsburg Confession, Article XII it says this, “Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.” Pretty straight forward wouldn’t you agree? Repentance causes one to take one’s sins seriously, to know how injurious they are to our souls, to our lives, and to the lives of others. Repentance also causes us to fall at the feet of Jesus asking for the forgiveness for our sins that only He can grant and then trusts that His forgiveness does indeed remove those sins as “far as the east is from the west.” Good works, a desire to strive to do what is right, it follows from such contrition and faith.
But there is a problem today with this simple, straightforward, powerful truth. No one thinks that they sin anymore. One reason that many people don’t take comfort in God’s forgiveness is that they actually don’t think they need it. They take comfort in their sin instead as if God is unconcerned at worst or tolerant at best with whatever one desires to do. In a Newsweek article way back in 1995, the author noted that “Ninety percent of Americans say that they believe in God. Yet the urgent sense of personal sin has all but disappeared in the current upbeat style of American religion.” It’s much worse today. Today, the number of believers is reported to be falling and the disregard for any notion of our actions being sinful is on the rise. Just look at what we consume for entertainment today as proof of our callousness to any notion of sin.
Here’s the point. John the Baptist’s message is just as relevant today as it was then. He came into a world that had a sin problem then just like today. The world then, like today, had its hedonists, its moralists, its rationalists, its secularists, and its pragmatists alike, and the powerful, heart-transforming message then as today is “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand in Jesus Christ!” There’s plenty of evidence out there that sin is still a real big problem. The broken marriages, the rise of STD’s, the profanity and callousness of people, the disrespect for authority, the lack of civility, the nihilistic violence, the selfishness and disregard for others, it’s headline news virtually everywhere. The message is still the same, “You, me, all of us, Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand in the person and work of the Savior, Jesus Christ.” Whenever I think about John the Baptist, I think about the fact that he was an oddity to most of the people of his day. So, it shouldn’t surprise us that his message seems odd today too. But, if you want to receive Jesus, you must take John seriously too. Does anyone “repent” today? Yes, today, like then, the message is still getting through. Let it start with you and me.
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, John the Baptizer was the forerunner to your work. Let his message sink in to my heart and mind today so that I might find my repentance refreshment in You alone, by grace through faith. AMEN.
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