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.

What Is the One Thing Jesus Spoke Plainly?

TODAY’S READING: MARK 10-11

“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

This is the third and final time in Mark that Jesus tells the twelve disciples that he was going to be delivered to his death and rise three days later. Mark writes something very interesting the first time Jesus speaks about his death and resurrection.

Mark 8:31-32 says, “And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly.”

“And he said this plainly.”

The Greek word for plainly is parresia. It means boldness, confidence, plainly, frankness. According to the Theological Lexicon of the New Testament parresia means freedom of speech, candor, boldness, public speech, categorical affirmation. It was originally a political term, which was the sign of one’s political liberty. The very act of speaking with such freedom implied the truth of what was being said. But, speaking with such freedom exposed the speaker to significant danger.

So, when Jesus spoke of his death, he spoke boldly, confidently, plainly, frankly. He did not mince words. Jesus was clear. He was not trying to obfuscate what he was saying or making it hard to understand.

His suffering, death, and resurrection is the one thing that Jesus spoke about plainly.

Mark 4:2 says, “And he was teaching them many things in parables.”

Mark 4:33-34 says, “With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. He did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.”

Why would Jesus speak so plainly about his suffering, death, and resurrection with his disciples but only speak in parables to everyone else?

Mark 4:11 says, “And he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables.”

Jesus gave the secret, the mystery, of the kingdom of God to his disciples. He spoke to them plainly about it. The secret, the mystery, of the kingdom of God is that the Christ must suffer, die, and be resurrected three days.

Why did Jesus tell his disciples this one thing – his suffering, death, and resurrection – so plainly?

I believe because it is so antithetical, so opposite, to the way we naturally think.

Mark 8:29 says, “And he asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, ‘You are the Christ.'”

It was immediately after Peter’s confession, on behalf of all the disciples, that Jesus began to teach that he would, be killed, and rise three days later. But, even though Peter had just confessed Jesus as the Christ, this plain teaching of Jesus made no sense to him.

Mark 8:32 says, “And he [Jesus] said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.”

The one thing Jesus taught plainly, Peter said no way.

Jesus taught about his suffering, death, and resurrection a second time in Mark 9:30-32. Immediately after the second teaching, Jesus and the disciples journeyed to Capernaum. Along the way, the disciples argued, not about Jesus’ teaching that he would suffer, die, and rise even though they did not understand it, but about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. So, Jesus told them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

The third and final time Jesus teaches that he will suffer, die, and rise, James and John ask Jesus that he would grant them to sit on his right and left hand. Yet, again when Jesus teaches plainly the secret of the kingdom – that the Christ, the Messiah, the king would suffer, die and rise – the disciples are still trying to be great according to the way of the world. They want to rule.

The other disciples became indignant at James and John. They are still arguing about who is going to be the greatest. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus responded, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus had to speak the secret, the mystery of the kingdom, plainly to his disciples because it was completely the opposite of everything they thought and believed about the way the world worked, who the Christ was, and what he would do.

Not only did Jesus speak plainly that he would suffer, die, and rise, but he acted plainly. In John 16:25, Jesus said, “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly [parresia] about the Father.”

Jesus would tell them plainly about the Father in the hour. The hour is a reference to Jesus’ crucifixion. It was on the cross that Jesus’ actions would plainly reveal the Father just as he had spoken plainly to the disciples about his suffering, death, and resurrection.

Colossians 2:13-15 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to an open [parresia] shame, by triumphing over them in him.

The crucifixion of Jesus was God disarming the rulers and authorities, those that had all mankind bound in sin and death. The crucifixion was Jesus plainly showing us who God is.

Did you catch the significance of this plain speaking about the Father in Colossians 2:13-15?

“Having forgiven us all our trespasses.”

Jesus taught his suffering, death, and resurrection clearly because he wanted to boldly, confidently, frankly tell us that God forgives us.

Why did Jesus speak clearly to the disciples the secret of the kingdom yet in parables to those outside?

Mark 4:11-12 says, “and he said to them, ‘To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, so that ‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.'”

Here Jesus links his plain speaking as opposed to his teaching in parables with forgiveness.

When Jesus was on the cross, when his actions most plainly told us about the Father, what did Jesus say?

Luke 23:34 says, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”

The secret, the mystery, of the kingdom is so foreign to us that despite Jesus’ plain teaching and acting out his teaching on the cross, the disciples still did not understand.

Luke 24:25-27 says, “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.

So, Luke 24:44-48 says, “Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to 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 he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for [the correct word is and] the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

Why did Jesus speak plainly about his suffering, death, and resurrection?

So, that repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed.

How did you Jesus start his ministry?

Jesus first words in the gospel of Mark are, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Repentance is the first message of the kingdom.

How did Jesus end his ministry?

Luke 23:34 says, “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.'”

Forgiveness is the last word of Jesus’ ministry.

So, Jesus told the disciples to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to the whole world. This was the evidence that the disciples had been transformed. See yesterday’s post.

Proclaiming repentance and forgiveness of sins to the world is just what the disciples did. And, they did it plainly.

In the first sermon, Peter preached “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raise him up.” Peter preached that the Christ must suffer, die, and be resurrected. Peter did not preach, “Believe in Jesus, get saved, or you are going to burn in hell forever.”

The disciples never once preached hell. They preached the secret, the mystery, of the kingdom – Jesus Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected. They preached the gospel.

In acts 2:29, 32, Peter said, “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence [parresia] about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb us with us to this day…This Jesus God raised up, and of that we are all witnesses.”

When confidently, boldly, plainly taught the secret of the kingdom, the gospel, those who were gathered were cut to heart and asked what should they do?

“And Peter said to them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

The disciples knew the secret of the kingdom, the gospel – Jesus Christ suffered, died, and was resurrected. Therefore, they proclaimed repentance and the forgiveness of sins to all.

Acts 4:13 says, “Now when they saw the boldness [parresia] of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:29-31 says, “‘And now, Lord, look upon their hearts and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with boldness [parresia], while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’ And when they had prayed, the place in which there gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness [parresia].”

Acts 28:30-31 says, “He [Paul] lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness [parresia] and without hindrance.”

To speak the word with boldness is not

  • proclaiming the ten commandments
  • quoting the law and the prophets literally
  • telling people to obey rules and moral commands
  • preaching get saved or burn in hell forever.

To speak the word, the word of God, Jesus Christ with boldness is to proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords. And, as the Christ, the true king of the world, Jesus became the least of all, a servant, a slave. He willingly suffered and was crucified at your hands. But, God raised Jesus up. Jesus did this so that you could repent of your violence, your desire for vengeance, and receive God’s forgiveness for your sins and proclaim God’s forgiveness to the world.

This is what Jesus spoke plainly.