What Is Repentance toward God and Faith in Jesus?

TODAY’S READING: ACTS 20-21

“How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Acts 20:20-21

Paul is going to Jerusalem. He doesn’t know exactly what is going to happen to him there, but Paul does know that the Holy Spirit has testified to him repeatedly that imprisonment and affliction awaits him. Yet, this is not a deterrent to Paul.

Nearing the end of his journey to Jerusalem, the ship Paul is on stops in Miletus. He calls for the elders of the church in Ephesus. Ephesus is where Paul had spent several years teaching and preaching. Ephesus seemed to be the base of Paul’s ministry. We could imagine that the elders of the church in Ephesus were some of Paul’s closest and most trusted advisors.

When Paul calls these elders to him, he recounts for them how he had lived with them from the first day he set foot in Asia. And, he tells them that this will be the last time they see him face to face. At the close of Paul’s speech we are told that the elders were sorrowful that they would not see him again.

It’s amazing how Paul’s life mirrored Jesus’ life.

In Luke, we read several times that Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, knowing that the cross, his ultimate suffering, was before him.

In John, we read of Jesus’ last night with his disciples. Jesus tells the disciples he still has much to say to them, but it cannot be explained, nor would they understand it, that night. But, Jesus tells them it will be for their good.

So, as the end of Paul’s life was drawing near, he spoke of the same things that Jesus spoke of as the end of his life was drawing near.

What were the things Jesus spoke of?

What Is the One Thing Jesus Spoke Plainly?

“And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.’” (Mark 10:32-34)

Jesus spoke plainly that, as the Christ, he had to suffer and to rise from the dead.

After his resurrection, what did Jesus tell the disciples all the scriptures were about?

“And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)

Before his death, Jesus spoke one thing plainly to the disciples. After his resurrection, he spoke the same thing plainly to his disciples, showing them in all the scriptures where the plain thing was.

It was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead.

Why was it necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead?

“Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke with you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'” (Luke 24:44-47)

Why did Jesus speak plainly about the necessity of his suffering and rising from the dead?

Because it is this one word that allows repentance and forgiveness of sins to be proclaimed to all nations.

Why Were the Bereans Examining the Scriptures Daily?

“And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.’” (Acts 17:2-3)

The Bereans were looking for that one word that Jesus, and now Paul, spoke – it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead.

What Was Paul Occupied With?

Paul’s entire life, his every action and his every word, was occupied by the very same word that Jesus spoke plainly. Paul was compelled to do what he did and say what he said because it was necessary that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead so that repentance and the forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to all nations.

So, in Acts 20, near the end of Paul’s life, he tells us how he spoke this one word – that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead – so that repentance and the forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to all nations.

Paul said, “If only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20:24)

He said, “For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27)

Paul said, “And now I commend to God and the word of his grace.” (Acts 20:32)

Which are all different ways of saying, “How I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public from house to house, and testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Acts 20:20-21)

The clear, concise, and overwhelming message of Jesus and Paul, the whole counsel of God, the gospel of God’s grace, is that it was necessary that the Christ suffer and rise from the dead so that repentance and the forgiveness of sins could be proclaimed to all nations.

This is everything that Jesus wants us to know in the scriptures.

This is everything that the Holy Spirit speaks to us today.

Jesus said the reason for this one word was repentance and the forgiveness of sins.

Paul said the reason was repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance is not changing our mind.

Repentance is changing our mind in a very specific way – toward God.

What does it mean to repent, change your mind, toward God?

Think about, meditate on, the first part of the one word that Jesus spoke plainly.

It was necessary that the Christ had to suffer.

It’s worth repeating.

It was necessary that the Christ had to suffer.

Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. He is God.

It was necessary that God suffer.

Why was that necessary?

Because since the foundation of the world, from Adam on, mankind believe that God caused suffering.

Just look at all the suffering the Bible claims came from the hands of God.

According to the Bible,

  • God drowned all flesh in a global flood
  • God sent plagues of utter destruction on a nation and then drowned its leader and army in the sea
  • God caused fire to come out of the tabernacle and burn men alive
  • God opened the earth so that it swallowed thousands of people, including women and children, alive
  • God practiced genocide, commanding his people to devote seven nations to complete and total destruction
  • God caused infants to be torn to pieces
  • God  caused women to be raped
  • God punished Israel by sending other nations to defeat them in war and bring them into captivity
  • and on, and on, and on.

In other words, mankind believe that God was responsible for everything. Yes, God was responsible for the good that happened to mankind. But, he also caused the evil that happened to mankind too.

That Christ had to suffer so that mankind would know that God did not do these things.

The Christ suffered and died the most shameful death known to man on the cross to show that

  • God suffers instead of causing suffering
  • God is rejected instead of the one rejecting people from his presence
  • God is mocked and ridiculed instead of the one mocking and ridiculing
  • God is pierced through instead of the one doing the piercing
  • God is the one who’s body is torn instead of the one tearing bodies apart
  • God is killed, murdered, and executed instead of the one killing, murdering, executing, and taking life of mankind whenever he feels like it
  • God lays down his life and does not fight or war instead of fighting, warring and committing genocide

We repent, change our minds, so that we move toward God, so that we see God for who he really is.

That is why Jesus the Christ had to suffer. There was no other way to show us how wrong our view of God was and still is.

God is good and only good.

“God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

“God is love…There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:16, 18)

“If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater…And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.” (1 John 5:9, 11)

But, the one word that Jesus, and Paul, spoke plainly does not end with Christ’s suffering.

It was necessary that the Christ rise from the dead.

It’s worth repeating.

It was necessary that the Christ rise from the dead.

Why was that necessary?

Jesus, the Christ who had to suffer and die, could not, would not, be defeated.

“God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.” (Acts 2:24)

In other words, the grave could not hold Jesus down.

“I am…the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore.” (Revelation 1:17, 18)

Jesus had to rise from the dead “because of his [God’s] own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” (2 Timothy 1:9-10)

It was necessary that Jesus rise from the dead so “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)

It was necessary that Jesus rise from the dead to defeat death, which we have feared and been enslaved to from the beginning, so that, through the grace of God, he could bring us life and immortality. God gave us this in Christ – the one who needed to suffer and rise from the dead – before the ages began.

The most dramatic and significant way God could express his life defeating death was for Jesus, the Christ, who had to suffer, in the midst of his most extreme suffering on the cross, when all the wrong thoughts of God throughout the history of man converged on a single person at a single point in time, to say,

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

Had Jesus remained in the grave, not rising from the dead, would God had forgiven us?

Jesus had to rise from the dead to confirm that God truly does forgive our sins, all our wrong thoughts about him.

Knowing that we are forgiven by God for the wrong we have done to him is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Repentance toward God and faith in Jesus, the forgiveness of sins is not about adultery, strife, stealing, lying, coveting, mean words, etc.

Mankind knows those are wrong. The Jews knew those were always wrong from the law of Moses. And, Paul writes in Romans that even Gentiles have a law unto themselves and know these things are wrong. Therefore, no one needs to change their mind that these things are wrong. We’ve always known that.

But, we didn’t know what God was like.

In fact, no one had ever seen God.

Until Jesus.

Jesus was God in the flesh.

Jesus was God dwelling among us.

If we see Jesus, then we see God.

So, when we see that it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and rise from the dead, then we see God

God suffers and forgives.

This is the good news.

This is the gospel.

This is God’s grace.

This is the one word that Jesus spoke plainly.

Jesus spoke it, and Paul testified about it to Jews and Greeks, to proclaim repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the forgiveness of sins.

2 Replies to “What Is Repentance toward God and Faith in Jesus?”

  1. I still don’t understand the following “That Christ had to suffer so that mankind would know that God did not do these things.” The Bible says he, God did these terrible things. Does the resurrection negate these events, set a new course? God commanded these events so it appears to be a contradiction.
    Your insight would be appreciated.
    Thank you.

    1. Blaine, thanks for reading the blog.

      The point is that God did not actually do all those evil things the Old Testament said he did. The writers of the Bible were giving you their own perception of who God was. But, they were were wrong. None of them had seen God face to face. Yes, Moses wrote that he did. But, John 1:18 says that “no one has ever seen God” except Jesus. Only Jesus truly knows what God is like. So, whenever there is a contradiction (and there are lots of them!) between what Jesus says and shows God is like and the Old Testament we have to go with Jesus.

      Jesus is the image of the invisible of God. (Colossians 1:15)

      Jesus is “the exact imprint of his [God’s] nature.” (Hebrews 1:3)

      God is like Jesus.

      God is not what men wrote about him in the Old Testament if the things written are not like Jesus.

      We never see Jesus cause suffering in the gospels. Therefore, neither does God.

      We never see Jesus committing genocide in the gospels. Therefore neither does God.

      We never Jesus inflicting someone with disease and illness in the gospels. Therefore, neither does God.

      We never Jesus killing anyone in the gospels. Therefore, neither does God.

      This is the whole point of Jesus coming. To show us what God is like. God is like Jesus because Jesus only did what he saw the Father doing and only said what he heard the Father saying.

      We have to admit the writers of the Old Testament were, at times, even many times, wrong about who God is.

      Otherwise, why do we even need Jesus?

      If the Old Testament writers knew God perfectly, had everything write about God in their thinking, then what could Jesus reveal? What insight and revelation would Jesus have been able to give about God?

      Therefore, Jesus had to suffer to show us who God truly is.

      God suffers.

      God does not cause suffering.

      And so on as the post says.

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