Repentance and the Lordship of
Yah'shua the Messiah
Sabbath School: Saturday 19 April 2003
by Christopher C. Warren
""Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways," says Yahweh-Elohim. "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies," says Yahweh-Elohim. "Therefore turn and live!"" (Ezek.18:30-32, NKJV).
In a general sense, to repent is to change your mind. Thus were I to drive down to town and then, half way there, decide to turn around and drive home, that would constitute repentance. In the scriptural sense, however, it is much more than that. When our Heavenly Father calls us to repent, He calls us to undergo a radical transformation of thought, attitude, outlook, and direction. Specifically, repentance is a turning away from sin and to Yahweh and His service. When Peter said:
"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of Yahweh, and that He may send Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), who was preached to you before" (Acts 3:19-20, NKJV)
"repent, turn to Eloah (God), and do works befitting repentance" (Acts 26:20, NKJV),
we understand that there is a fourfold process to repentance:
(1) Turning away from sin;
(2) Turning towards Yahweh;
(3) Having our sins blotted out; and
(4) Taking the necessary actions that indicate true repentance has taken place.
Repentance, then, is not simply a change of mind, heart, and attitude with regard to the sinful life, but it is actually to embrace Yahweh, call upon the blood of Yah'shua (Jesus) for a remission of sins, and to lead a life that clearly demonstrates that repentance has taken place. Thus a sinner accustomed to blaspheming the Name of Yahweh will demonstrate a change in life not simply by ceasing to blaspheme but by actually praising His Name. A thief will not only stop stealing but also seek to bless others with his possessions. And an adulterer will not only cease a life of sexual sin but actively protect married people from adulterers and campaign against sexual immorality.
When a person repents, he turns to look Eloah (God) squarely in the eyes. A guilty person will very often turn his eyes away from another he has wronged because of shame or guilt, but a person with a clear conscience will be able to look into another's eyes without play-acting or any kind of pretence.
One of the signs that Yah'shua (Jesus) was the Messiah (Christ) was the fact that He would "turn many of the children of Israel to Yahweh their Elohim" (Lk.1:16). Also, we learn from Scripture, that when true healing takes place it is always accompanied by repentance. When the apostle Peter visited the towns of Lydda and Sharon and healed a man who had been bed ridden and paralysed for eight years, the effect of this was to cause the entire population of these places to "turn to Yahweh" (Ac.9:35), which meant that they abandoned their old lives in favour of obeying the commandments of Yahweh whilst trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus) for their salvation. Wherever these apostles went "the hand of Yahweh was with them, and a great number believed and turned to Yahweh" (Acts 11:21, NKJV). True repentance leads souls back to Yahweh and to living lives which are pleasing in His sight.
When our lives are occupied with doing useless things that take us away from El Elyon, the Most High God, to the point where we are no longer thinking about Him, praying to Him, studying His Word, or living in the manner which He has declared acceptable in His sight, we have become heathen. Though we may not fall down and worship statues or idols as the majority did anciently, we have found our substitutes in the form of entertainment, materialism, and every manner of self-indulgence. The gods of the 21st century may not be the same as those 2,000 years ago in the days of the apostles but our idolatrous spirit is no different. Thus Paul's declaration to these people is as applicable today as it was then:
"Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men with the same nature as you, and preach to you that you should turn from these useless things to the living Eloah (God)" (Acts 14:15, NKJV).
Because Paul and Barnabas had done a spectacular miracle by healing a cripple in the Name of Yah'shua (Jesus), the people of Lystra began worshipping them. They did what all pagans do which is to worship men! Today it is no different: people worship their heroes whether they be politicians, pop stars, sex idols, or whatever. Anything which commands our worship, admiration or adoration which belongs to the Creator alone is idolatry and a grievous sin, because it is elevating sinners to be like God.
Even religious people can be idolaters. Paul was one. After Yah'shua (Jesus) appeared to him on the Damascus Road, this is what he was told:
"I will deliver you from the people of Judea (the Talmudists), as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to Eloah (God), that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me'" (Acts 26:17-18, NKJV).
Repentance, we learn here, also gives us a clear vision. We get out spiritual sight back again! Repentance, when it is true, also delivers us from the power of Satan, leads - through faith in Christ - to forgiveness of our sins and ... please notice this ... "an inheritance amongst those who are sanctified in faith in Me [Christ]".
Now what could this 'inheritance' be that those who truly repent receive? It is many things. Firstly, we become inheritors with "the Heir", who is Yah'shua (Jesus) (Mk.7:7). Whatever He has, we partake of. Every true, repentant believer receives his or her portion with Him. As the Heir of Yahweh, Yah'shua (Jesus) enters into a possession given to Him because of His family relationship with the Father, Yahweh. And, as it has been written in Scripture, He is their heir of everything (Heb.1:2). Everything! As believers we share in His divine Sonship by adoption and also therefore the divine heirship (Rom.8:17), following in the footsteps of faithful Abraham as heirs of promise (Rom.4:13-14), and like Isaac we are his children also, and heirs according to the promises made to Abraham (Gal.3:29). The inheritance of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob becomes ours too, an inheritance given by Yahweh's grace, incidentally, because of their status in His sight, and not because we have earned it. We inherit it only because we are 'family'.
As you will soon begin to appreciate, this inheritance is enormous. It's like being a beneficiary in the will of a millionaire only infinitely greater. You will be astonished just what true repentance, faith, and obedience actually secures for us. And when I say that someone placing $1 million dollars in your hands, with no strings attached, is a pittance in comparison, I am not exaggerating. As believers we inherit the KINGDOM OF GOD which is symbolised by the Nation of Israel. Yes, we become Israelites, and those Hebrews who reject the Messiah loose their claims to that land also. But the land of Israel is, again, only symbolic of something far, far greater. We inherit salvation (Heb.1:14), a blessing (1 Pet.3:9), glory (Rom.8:17-18), and incorruption (1 Cor.15:50), which are promises which those who lived under the Old Covenant never received in their day but which was promised to them in the future (Heb.11:39-40). When we talk about the "new testament" this is what we mean: not a book of scripture (that is not its correct name, incidentally) but an inheritance, such as would be stated in a last will and testament. Just as nobody can inherit money or property from a living man but must wait until that man's death, we, too, were unable to obtain our inheritance until after Yah'shua (Jesus) died (Heb.9:15-17).
"And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25, NKJV).
Later on we read:
"Now a certain ruler asked Him, saying, "Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"" (Luke 18:18-19, NKJV).
Now do you remember what the Saviour replied to these two questions? To the ruler He said that three things were required:
""Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, Eloah (God). You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery,' 'Do not murder,' 'Do not steal,' 'Do not bear false witness,' 'Honour your father and your mother.' " And he said, "All these I have kept from my youth." So when Yah'shua (Jesus) heard these things, He said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me"" (Luke 18:19-22, NKJV).
What were those three things? Firstly, to obey the commandments - all of them! Not just the ones we like - every single one of them. Secondly, he was told that he had let go of anything that was coming between him and Yahweh, and in this man's case it was wealth, because he loved it too much. And thirdly, he was told to follow Yah'shua (Jesus).
Do you think we are commanded to do anything less? Of course not. Now who can tell me what Yah'shua (Jesus) answered to the question made by the lawyer when he asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life? This is what He said:
""What is written in the Torah (law)? What is your reading of it?" So he answered and said, " 'You shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,' and 'your neighbour as yourself.' " And He said to him, "You have answered rightly; do this and you will live." But he, wanting to justify himself, said to Yah'shua (Jesus), "And who is my neighbour?"" (Luke 10:26-29, NKJV).
And then He went on to tell the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this case Yah'shua (Jesus) summarises the 10 Commandments into the Two Great Commandments, doesn't He? One answer was given to a lawyer and the other to a ruler. Both answers were the same but said rather differently. To inherit eternal life we shall be seen, as a fruit of genuine repentance and as evidence of true faith in Yah'shua (Jesus), to be obeying the commandments.
Now this inheritance that the truly repentant receive is partly received here in this world and partly in the next. Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life" (Matt.19:29, NKJV).
Much sacrifice is required of us as inheritors of eternal life. We are often asked to give up many things for the sake of love. These, we are promised, we will receive back again in the next life, many, many times over. If you have lost spouses, children, parents, homes, belongings, or whatever, you will receive all these back a hundredfold. Now that is a pretty generous inheritance. As believers we receive, in addition to our own blood parents and siblings, many other spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters, don't we? Our family really grows in Christ and the kind of blood loyalty and kinship we feel with our natural family expands to include thousands of others. Great is our reward indeed for repentance down here. Because I know Yah'shua (Jesus) as my Lord and Saviour, I have the security of knowing that I belong to a great family. I know that I am no longer alone or only in a small company.
Finally, we are told something about the marriage estate by the apostle Peter:
"Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honour to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered" (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV).
Husbands and wives uniquely experience an inheritance of their own, something which is not just given individually but which is shared as one or echad: married believers become heirs together of the grace - the undeserved loving kindness - of life.
There are therefore already - here and now - priceless blessings and inheritances to be received upon turning away from sin and turning towards Yahweh, trusting in Yah'shua (Jesus), and obeying the mitzvot or commandments. The great consummation - the icing on the top of the cake, as it were - takes place when Yah'shua (Jesus) returns to earth. That inheritance is reserved in heaven (1 Pet.1:4), and is attained only when we have overcome the carnal nature through applied faith through obedience (Rev.21:7).
Just as a 'Last Will and Testament' is the guarantee of the inheritance promised within it, we are told that here and now we have a similar guarantee. This is how Paul words it:
"The Ruach (Spirit) Herself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of Eloah (God), and if children, then heirs -- heirs of Eloah (God) and joint heirs with Messiah (Christ), if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together" (Rom.8:16-17, NKJV).
Yah'shua's (Jesus') Last Will and Testament to us is the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit), and by Her presence within us, we are assured of our inheritance. Paul said:
"In Him [Yah'shua/Jesus] you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph.1:12-14, NKJV).
The Ruach (Spirit) was sent to the Messianic Community (Church) at Shavuot (Pentecost) after Yah'shua (Jesus) entered into His inheritance at His ascension. And for Yahweh Himself, our Father in Heaven - we, the redeemed - are His inheritance - it is us which He looks forward to (Eph.1:18).
I have deliberately stressed the blessings of Inheritance today because this is often skirted over when repentance is discussed. I wish for you to see the joyous side of it. There is, however, a negative side to repentance which we cannot afford to neglect otherwise we will misunderstand it and run the risk of losing our inheritance. True repentance, brethren and sisters, always leads to GRIEF and HATRED FOR SIN. Anything else is incomplete. Repentance is not just a mental affirmation of what is good and holy but simultaneously involves our whole spiritual nature in abject disgust for what is impure and evil. It must do for repentance to be complete, otherwise we will just return to our sins again and again. Now it is possible to swing too much in the negative direction and get bogged down in morbidity. Paul said:
"For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death" (2 Cor.7:10, NKJV).
So, you see, there are two kinds of sorrow here - there is wordily sorrow which leads to death, the end of Judas being a good example of that (Mt.27:3-5) and that of Esau (Heb.12:17). But there is also godly sorrow that leads to repentance and salvation (2 Cor.7:9-10), and it is an indispensable ingredient in true repentance. You will find plenty examples of this in the Bible which you can read for yourselves - Job, King David, and Peter being three of them (e.g. Job 42:5-6; Ps.51:1-17; Lk.22:62). So I repeat, there is no true repentance without godly sorrow. Nothing is more relevant to our situation in relation to Yahweh than our sin, and the salvation to which repentance is directed is salvation from sin.
The very first words that Yah'shua (Jesus) uttered when He began His ministry were: "Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mt.4:17). And one of His final declarations before He ascended into Heaven was the commission He gave to His disciples "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations" (Luke 24:47, NKJV), echoing His words from early on in His ministry when, commenting on the death of those who had died in an accident when the tower of Siloam collapsed, He said: "unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5, NKJV).
Now should we be surprised, then, that on the day when Yahweh poured the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) upon the believers assembled in Jerusalem, and they began to speak supernaturally in foreign languages and dialects, that Peter preached this powerful message when he said:
""Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that Eloah (God) has made this Yah'shua (Jesus), whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah (Christ)." Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptised in the name of Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Yahweh our Elohim will call"" (Acts 2:36-39, NKJV).
Now, brethren and sisters, when we sin, we - yes, us - we crucify Him all over again. When we are sinning - when we are spurning Him - rejecting His call - we are there with the sinners nailing Him to the Cross. The command of Yahweh is that all men and women everywhere should repent of their wickedness and be baptised into Christ's death and resurrection, and so become partakers and inheritors of eternal life. Repentance is a condition of salvation - you cannot skirt around it. Someone who claims to accept Christ but who refuses to repent of dead works is mocking all that He did for him (Lk.24:47; Ac.2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 11:18; 2 Cor.7:10). Yes, we are saved through faith, and faith alone is the instrument of justification- But justification is not the whole of salvation, and faith is not the only condition. Faith dissociated from repentance would not be the faith that is unto salvation. The specific character of faith is trust, commitment to Christ, but it always exists in a context. Repentance is integral to that context, as is subsequent obedience to Torah. It is therefore vain to ask, Which is prior: faith or repentance? They are always concurrently in exercise and are mutually conditioning. Faith is directed to Christ for salvation from sin unto holiness and life. But this involves hatred of sin and turning from it, whilst at the same time apprehending the mercy of Yahweh in Yah'shua (Jesus).
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