Repentance or Death?

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

There is considerable significance in the choice of a word. For many years I have used a short hand for the gospel message of, repent and believe-

The time has come he said, the Kingdom of God is near, repent and believe the good news.

Mark 1:15

These two words are stacked with significance. To repent is to change allegiance from my self with all its desires to Christ. To believe is to entrust myself to Christ. I am willing to do all he asks of me.

Then I was studying the gospel message and discovered that, the word repent occurs only eight times in the New Testament letters. So, how do the New Testament writers handle this key concept? The dominant word seems to be die or death (about 100 times in New Testament letters), for example-

if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:13

While repent is a change of heart or direction in my choices in life, putting to death the misdeeds of the body brings to an end my life force of rebellion against Jesus and creates the space in my life for him to occupy by his Spirit. Suddenly it is no longer me controlling the direction of my life, but Jesus.

Best way to reach the world for Jesus?

What is the best way to reach our fallen world? Some advocate a clear understandable presentation of the Gospel, Others say people need to see miracles, signs and wonders. Paul did not go with either but preached Christ crucified.

 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles. (1 Corinthians 1:22-23NIV)

Christ crucified is a stumbling block to those wanting miraculous intervention for it shows Jesus in weakness, the very condition God is supposed to find abhorrent.

Christ crucified is foolishness to those who want to show the wisdom of the Gospel. Who would choose to follow Jesus along a road that leads to the Cross?

but to those whom God has called … Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God (1Corinthians 1:24NIV)

Both our presentation of the Gospel and the miracles God performs through us bring the focus to us. The original question, ‘What is the best way …?’ implicitly focuses attention on the messenger and the skills they choose instead of Jesus.

Paul lifts up Jesus, however that makes him look – whether foolishness or a stumbling block. This begs the question, Am I willing to entrust the Gospel of Jesus to Jesus himself? Am I willing to trust him for his wisdom and follow him wherever he might lead in presenting it?