"In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene— during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.
Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low.
The crooked roads shall become straight,
the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.’” Luke 3:1-6
Last Sunday I began a new sermon series entitled "Terms of Endearment". These messages will reveal the amazing things that happen to one who trusts Jesus for salvation. This theology of salvation will help you understand the things that endear you to God and that should endear Him to you!
The first term we are examining is "repentance" which we began to explore last week. You might wonder how repentance can be an endearing term. When you hear the word it may conjure images of bearded people in robes and sandals standing on a busy street holding a sign that reads "REPENT!" Or, perhaps you think of a street preacher shouting Bible verses at bypassers while urging them to turn from sin and turn to God.
Actually, while you may not appreciate their methods they ARE right! And, they are following in the ways of John the Baptist, whose words we read in these Bible verses. Repentance is an endearing term from God's perspective because it prepares the way for a personal relationship with Him.
Today, I want to show you the purpose of repentance and the power of it.
The purpose of repentance is for the forgiveness of sins. In John the Baptist's ministry, baptism was the sign of repentance. People came to hear this iconoclastic preacher's message and were convicted by the power of his words and the truth he proclaimed. Some would fall under conviction for sins and came to him to be baptized. Coming forward for baptism was evidence of a desire to turn from sin and turn to faith in God. The alternative to repentance is to perish, according to both John the Baptist AND later, Jesus.
Repentance is expressed by three different words in the Greek language of the New Testament. One word means, "thinking afterward". Repentance begins when conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit causes you to begin to rethink the way you are living and to consider the Truth you are hearing. Another word has the idea of "being sorrowful" over you sins. And the third word carries the implication a change of heart that leads to changes in behavior.
Repentance carries the idea of making a "u-turn". You are born with your back toward God because of your sinful nature and you decide to repent, or stop walking away from God and begin walking toward Him.
Having understood the purpose of repentance, consider the power of repentance - "Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth."
What John the Baptist is announcing here is that repentance has the power to turn life upside down! It is a radical change in the way you think, the way you believe and the way you act. Repent "prepares the way of the Lord" by removing the sin which separates you from His holiness. It is the power of God's Spirit becoming active you your heart, mind and spirit that brings the transforming power!
Repentance changes everything! Have you repented? Have you done a "u-turn" back toward God?