As the third post in the series called Five Myths Keeping Us Legendary, the idea of the Repentance Myth will be our focus. Because of the lengthy content of this article, I will be splitting this up into two separate posts. One will be released on Monday, the follow up on Tuesday. Read the first two Myth posts to understand the flow of these posts.
Change Your Mind
Some have likened repentance to changing one’s mind. I remember hearing a story about some man driving on a highway wanting to go to a certain destination, However, the destination he desired was in the complete opposite direction he was headed.
Repentance was then communicated as something we should do to just change directions and head the other way. That would get me to my desired location.
To Repent – μετανοέω
What do these two words mean? Definitions taken from http://www.concordances.org. Links provided above.
μετά means with (“after with”), implying “change afterward” (i.e. what results after the activity). As an active “with,” μετά looks towards the after-effect (change, result) which is only defined by the context.
νοέω means to apply mental effort needed to reach “bottom-line” conclusions. νοέω underlines the moral culpability we all have before God – for every decision (value-judgement) we make. This follows from each of us being created in the divine image – hence, possessing the inherent capacity by the Lord to exercise moral reasoning.
This goes pretty deep! Yet, there are some glorious revelations here that I would love to share with you. These may be rather controversial to our perspective of repentance. But let me remind you, we are looking past Legends and Myths. We are looking to the Source!
Usage in Scripture
All of these references are the NASB translation. Check them out as we move throughout the journey.
Before Jesus was on His ministry, John the Baptist was using the word repent. He was prepping folks for Jesus and the beginning of His ministry.
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 3:2)
As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Matthew 3:11)
And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. (Luke 3:3)
So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” (Luke 3:7-8)
Jesus’ Voice on Repentance
Once John the Baptist was off the scene, Jesus began His ministry. As you hear Him speak about repentance, it is interesting to hear His perspective.
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)
What intrigues me most about this passage is that Jesus said that He was calling sinners to repentance. When someone calls me to a particular mindset, I feel challenged. I feel inspired. I feel stretched.
Jesus did not come to call the righteous, but sinners. And did you see what He was doing there. He and His disciples were eating and drinking with tax collectors and sinners. At least that was the perception of the ‘righteous’ folks.
Perhaps Jesus was doing what He said He had come to do. Perhaps He was calling these folks to repentance through some food and drinks. This looks like a conversation to me. Let’s fast forward to the end of Luke.
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are 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 would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” (Luke 24:44-47)
Then HE opened their minds. HE tweaked their brains. Then they understood the Scriptures. All nations would have the voice of repentance come to them.
These are the last thoughts for the first part of The Repentance Myth. Here is the link to The Repentance Myth (part 2) for the follow up article. I hope it encourages you where you are with your faith.