Read the word.
Teach the word.
Preach the word.
- 1 Timothy 4:13
Repentance isn’t something you must do before you can come to God. Repentance is what coming to God looks like. Repenting of sin is turning from sin and turning to God. Turning to God means you are turning from sin.
Think of it this way—if I say I’m driving today to Duluth, I may not also say that I’m leaving St. Cloud and driving to Duluth. But the only way I can drive to Duluth is to leave St. Cloud. Similarly, the only way I can turn to the Lord is to turn away from sin. This is repentance. This is what leaving sin and coming to God looks like.
Does that mean that we will never sin again or that we won’t struggle with it? No. But it does mean that we never again desire to give our loyalty, time, attention, or devotion to sin. We now want to give God all of our loyalty, time, attention, and devotion.
He will not leave us helpless in our battle with sin—quite the contrary. He has sent His Holy Spirit to help us by baptizing and burning away sin. The pain of holding on to sin is so much more than the pain of God’s help to release us from that sin. God’s holy fire burns away the sin in our hearts so that the awful impurities rise to the surface to be removed. Then God can see His reflection in a heart purely and wholly His.
In Matthew 3, we read about one man in the wilderness with one singular purpose—to prepare the way of The Lord.
His name was John, and at first glance, he might seem like an odd man. After all, he wore camel’s hair and ate honey and locust. But he had an important message to fulfill his purpose.
What was his message to prepare us for The King of The Kingdom that was at hand? What was the message that would prepare us to receive Jesus?
“Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
This past Sunday, we considered John the Baptist—the man God called to prepare the way for The Messiah in our study of Matthew 3:1-12.
What does it mean to repent? Is it to feel sorry for your sin? Or to change your mind about sin? You could do both—and still not truly repent of your sin.
If you only feel sorry for your sin (or just sorry that you got caught in sin), and even acknowledge that it is sin, you cannot just declare repentance and then continue in that sin.
True repentance is not merely a simple statement, a feeling sorry, or an acknowlement of wrong. It includes those things, but it is also turning away from your sin—the complete ceasing of that sin, renouncing of that sin, and having a humble hatred that sin.
Repentance is not something that only happens at the moment of conversion. As Jesus gently and persistently reveals more and more of what He wants to remove from our lives, we respond humbly in genuine repentance. When we do, He replaces that sin with new and wonderful life-giving holy habits. This hopefully happens again and again as we follow Jesus and become more aware of sin in our lives.
After speaking to His people through the prophet Malachi, God was silent for 400 years. The last thing He told them was that He would send a man who would help them prepare for the coming Messiah by turning their hearts to the things of the Lord.
That man was John the Baptist—the last of the Old Covenant prophets, even though his life and ministry is recorded in the New Testament. John had a word from the Lord, the first word spoken by God to His people in 400 years.
What was that first word after centuries of silence? Repent! But what does repent mean? And why is repentance important to the Lord? We considered these questions as we studied the first two verses of Matthew 3.
The town of Nazareth is where Jesus grew up. It was an unimportant country town with a reputation for nothing good. ‘Netzer’ is the Hebrew word that Nazareth comes from. It is a term of contempt, meaning ‘a sprout in the middle of death’. Netzer-eth. Jesus was called a Netzer-ene, dismissed as just another insignificant life surrounded by nothingness—an insignificant life surrounded by death. And yet, Jesus would be, was, and always will be, the giver of life. Jesus rules, reigns, and saves to the uttermost by the power of an indestructible life.
We see this concept in Isaiah 6, when God asks, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah says, “Here am I! Send me!” Then God describes what Isaiah’s ministry will look like: “You are going to go to people who have eyes but refuse to see ears but refuse to hear hearts that refuse to repent that they might turn to Me and be healed.” At this point, Isaiah asks an honest question: “How long?” God tells him the length of his ministry—until there is so much death and destruction due to sin it will be like an oak tree that has been cut down and is now a decaying stump. But, God tells Isaiah, in the middle of that stump, surrounded by death, will be My holy seed, My sprout—My Netzer, My Son.
This describes the time surrounding the life of Jesus—death and destruction. Israel was no longer sovereign. Cut down, they were ruled and reigned by Rome as a consequence for their sin. They were just a stump, reeling from the rot caused by Herod.
And yet this little life persisted. This little life surrounded by death was The Author of Life, who would one day lay down his life for the worst of sinners. Whether you are a vile and violent sinner like Herod or a religious sinner like Saul, who would be Paul, Jesus came to save you. All you need do is look to Him and be healed!
Herod saw Jesus as a threat—not just to his throne and authority, but also to his sovereignty. More concerned with his own life than the value of human life, Herod attempted to eliminate the threat by murdering all the baby boys under two years old in Bethlehem and the surrounding area.
Herod did not believe in the sanctity of human life. But as followers of Jesus, we do. We believe that all men, all women, all children—all humans—were made in the image of God and therefore have value. The value does not come from our positions, or possessions, or any reason other than the fact that we are made in the image of God. More than that, every human life is sanctified, set apart for a good purpose to bring glory to God.
Unfortunately, sin entered in to humanity and hindered us from fulfilling our God-given purpose. And so, Jesus was sent on a rescue mission to redeem all sinful humanity so that all who turn to Him and receive forgiveness from Him could return to their God-given purpose of glorifying Him with their human life.
In order to do this, Jesus—the only innocent life—would need to lay down His life for us. There is no stain too deep that Jesus cannot completely cleanse. There is no sin so severe that Jesus cannot fully forgive. This is the good news of the gospel—that no matter what you have done, you can be fully forgiven! The substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was fully sufficient to accomplish this.
This great salvation is available to you right now! Simply confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. The Bible says that if you do this, you will be saved (Romans 10:9). Repent (turn away from) you sin and ask God for forgiveness. Believe that Jesus died for your sin and that God raised Him to life. Trust Him as your Savior and follow Him as the Lord of your life.
We’re told that when Herod heard that there was a baby who was born King of the Jews, “…he was troubled and all Jerusalem with him.“ (Matthew 2:3) All of Jerusalem would have been troubled because they were aware of what Herod was capable of when he felt that his authority was threatened.
But it didn’t have to be this way. Herod didn’t have to be threatened by the King of kings and Lord of lords. As wicked as Herod was, he could be fully forgiven and completely cleansed of sin if he would have turned from his sin and believed on Jesus. But if Herod rejected Jesus or simply stalled on making his decision, then his decision was made—he will have to stand before God and answer for his sin and pay the penalty for eternity.
Watch our study of Matthew 2:12-18 as we consider the tragic consequences of rejecting Jesus and the hope we have when we turn to Him.
On the first Sunday of every year, we review the history, vision, purpose, and practice of Refuge so that we can confidently answer these questions:
What are we doing? Why are we doing it? What does it look like?
Year after year, this study hasn’t really changed—but we sure have! As we behold the glory of God in the face of Christ, the Spirit of God transforms us from the inside out. That’s a promise God makes and fulfills through His Word.
And so we turn again to His Word to find the answers to those important questions—what are we doing? Why are we doing it? And what does it look like?
Watch our study from Sunday as we reviewed God’s vision for God’s church.
“And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
It was entirely appropriate and culturally expected that when you entered the presence of royalty, you brought gifts equal to their authority and majesty.
And although no gift could ever equal the authority and majesty of God Almighty, the gifts the Magi presented accurately represented the ministry of Jesus. Gold speaks of His royalty. Frankincense speaks of His divinity. And myrrh speaks to His death.
This was the ministry of Jesus: As the royal heavenly authority, He came as humanity to die for humanity in order to save humanity from their sin.
Jesus was born not only King of the Jews, but King of everybody and everything. He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is Immanuel—God with us. He is Jesus—God our salvation.
The Inductive Bible Study system is a very thorough, methodical study of the Scriptures and can be used to teach anyone how to study God’s Word more effectively. This method teaches accurate observation of biblical passages, clarifies scriptures, and helps God's Word come alive. With a good translation of the Scriptures, you can be taught how to carefully observe, interpret, and apply God’s Word.
This is a two-day event—Friday, January 26 (6-8:30pm) and Saturday, January 27 (9am-3pm) with guest presenter Pastor Dan Finfrock. Learn more about Pastor Dan and his ministry at www.icmbible.com.
Cost is $35 and includes course materials and lunch on Saturday (on-site). Registration deadline is January 14th.
“Inductive Bible Study is the way Calvary Chapel pastors study and teach the Word. This Inductive Bible Study course will be a great help to those who want to learn this method of study.”
—Pastor Chuck Smith
A new year. A new venture of faith. A new episode every Sunday evening. Worship through God's Word with us, as we pause and consider each and every chapter in The Book of Psalms. Please pray for this new project. I am incredibly excited to be released by the Lord to do this!
More to come…
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a caravan of wise men followed a star to worship Him who had been born King of the Jews. But first, they met the tyrant-made-king of the Jews—Herod, a wicked and insecure despot who did not welcome any challenge to his Roman-appointed rule.
Despite the testimony of many, the miraculous prophecy, and a solid Bible study, Herod did not receive Jesus as King, but rejected Him and ultimately hunted Jesus down. As this drama unfolded, the wise men brought gifts of adoration and worship to Jesus, revealing His status as King of kings.
Watch our study of Matthew 2:1-11 as we consider Herod’s response to Christ’s rightful claim to the throne and reflect on our reception or rejection of Christ as King.
From Pastor Dom...
When I first gave my life to Jesus, there were friends in my life who helped me to grow in my understanding of God, through His word, and for those friends