I was listening to a TV preacher recently. Oh it was going great, I was really enjoying it until he sarcastically said, “People are saying you must preach repentance…” and he went on to make several other fundamental errors. I was thinking – my friend, it is not preachers who are saying you must preach repentance, it is Jesus!
“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” The Words of Jesus after the Cross, Luke 24:47
Then, the same preacher calls repentance preaching the ministry of condemnation. He claims that preaching repentance equates to preaching the law. Unfortunately, he is distorting the Word of God.
The Preaching of The Law
Paul declares that the preaching of the law is the ministry of death and condemnation:
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.” 2 Cor 3:7-11
The preaching of the law is the claim that there is a law(s) that if we keep, we will be made righteous. It says that righteousness can be attained by human effort. The preaching of the law leaves us condemned and guilty, because we have all broken the law. We are trapped in an infinite “trying” to be made right with God. You need only break a law once to be guilty. The law declares our need for a Saviour and our total depravity without Christ.
The New Covenant
The New Covenant says, we can now be made righteous by a free gift that is made available to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is the ministry of the Spirit. The law says – try to make yourself righteous; the New Covenant says – I, the Lord make you righteous because I love you. The law is based on human works, whereas the New Covenant is based on faith in Jesus’ finished work in His Death, Burial and Resurrection. Through faith we receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit and Christ in us now becomes our hope of glory.
We are now perfect because Christ in us; the Perfect One lives in us! Alleluia!
The Mixing of the Two Covenants
So there we have the preaching of the law and the preaching of the Spirit (New Covenant). Many so called “grace” preachers have an erroneous view about what is the Mixing of the Old and New Covenants.
Here is a proper definition for “Mixing” – “Preaching that someone can be made righteous with God based on what they do and also based on what Christ has done. It is combining our own works with Jesus’ work or combining our own righteousness with Jesus’ righteousness.” How well Isaiah declares to us that our righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64::6)
The Preaching of True Repentance Vs the Preaching of the Law
Back to this TV preacher, he mistakenly calls the preaching of repentance the preaching of the law. The preaching of the law states that you can be made righteous based on your own works. It tells you that perfection comes from trying verses believing.
Repentance essentially says, “Turn back to God.” “Repentance preaching” may reveal a person’s current state, it may reveal sin. Preaching repentance may even show a person that he is in danger of eternal judgement. It may even reveal to a person that He is condemned already but it never says, “Now do good works to be made right with God!” – that is mixing! Repentance says, “Come back to God!” or “Turn from sin back to God!” The preaching of repentance essentially invites humanity to turn to God to be made righteous. It never condemns a person, else what would be the purpose of asking them to repent.
Here are some examples of one of the world’s foremost preacher on Grace, Paul the Apostle:
“Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God–I say this to your shame.” 1 Corinthians 15:34 – Notice Paul tells to them to come back to the truth and to stop sinning.
“And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed.” 2 Corinthians 2:21 – Notice Paul calls them to repent of specific sins. He is not preaching the law. Paul is definitely not a “mixer”. Why is Paul bewailing? That’s a good question – I will answer more below.
“And since this is true, we shouldn’t think of God as an idol designed by craftsmen from gold or silver or stone. “God overlooked people’s ignorance about these things in earlier times, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent of their sins and turn to him. For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead.” Acts 27:29-31 – Here Paul is preaching to non-Jewish or Gentiles. Notice he reveals their sin of idolatry, he tells them to repent and turn to God. Finally, he speaks of judgement and Jesus.
The preaching of repentance reveals the state of man without Christ and invites humanity to believe the Gospel. Here is what Jesus said,
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18
Preaching repentance says without Christ we are condemned already and invites us to believe the Gospel and receive Jesus as Saviour.
No where does a true call to repentance says – turn from sin and do good works to be made right with God. If in fact repentance is properly preached, it says the only way we are going to be saved is by the Saviour.
Finally, Jesus speaks to 7 Churches in the Book of Revelation and He commands 5 of them to repent. He goes on further to warn of dangerous consequences of not repenting. He pleads with His Church and states that their names could be blotted out of the Book of Life! Now that’s serious. – Good preaching Jesus!
I think (I know) Jesus is the best preacher. Is Jesus condemning them? Is He making them sin conscious? Hey, if you are about to drink poison – do I walk around not trying to make you poison conscious. No I will say – dude, you will die, don’t drink that! God loves you and has an awesome life planned for you. Put down the poison please and take God’s hand of love. Seems simple.
Why is repentance so serious? Well it is simple, it is your freewill being exercised.
If you turn from God, you will have and experience what ever you turn to. If you turn to sin, sin will be your portion, if you turn to God, the Lord will be your portion. What do you want? That’s the question. Why not repent and turn to God. You will find Him gracious, loving, forgiving and He will give you the best gift – Himself. In this gift, you will find the power to love, to live right and everything that you need to live a godly life on this earth – which is the True Grace of God.
Image Credit: Shutterstock/Kiselev Andrey Valerevich