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Christ’s initial message beginning in the regions of Galilee following His triumph over temptation in the wilderness was “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15 CSB).
Since that time however, the good news isn’t actually good news for some. Instead, it’s become a burden. For them, “repent and believe” is something to achieve with great effort and human will. Salvation for them somehow seems out of reach, especially when failing to live up to their own standard of perfection. They have separated faith and repentance.
Others say faith has nothing to do with repentance or the ‘Lordship’ of Jesus (as if that were possible). They chafe at a message that puts undue emphasis on the “call to repentance” because after all, salvation is free. They too, separate faith and repentance.
Which response best mirrors the truth of the gospel? Neither of them, because faith and repentance are two parts of one whole surrender to Jesus. The Bible presents repentance and faith as a gift God grants to those whose hearts, He’s prepared to receive Him, (cf. Acts 11:18 CSB, John 1:12 CSB.) God initiates the process and draws us to Himself with cords of love. Jesus promised “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” John 6:37 CSB. So, the question is have we come to Him? If so, Christ’s kingdom is within us and at work since He died on the cross and rose again on our behalf. Instead of a being a burden, Jesus is our hope and strength. He sustains us—His new creation— through His Spirit at work within us.
“Dear Jesus, may we as believers prove what true faith and repentance are really all about — making You Lord.”
Minnesota, USA - firstname.lastname@example.org
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