30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now commanding men that everyone everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He determined, having furnished proof to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31 (LSB)
Today’s gospel, that is, the gospel that is prevalently adhered to by most of the visible Church, is one constructed around the goal of persuading people to make a ‘decision for Christ.’ The entire process is one of appealing to either one’s desire for a better life here and now or their fear of hell….
Invitations are designed to entice people to “come forward” by “priming the pump” as several people move towards the front when it begins. Then those folks who are persuaded are led to pray a prayer “accepting Jesus” into their lives or hearts. There is no mention of the Lordship of Christ. There is no mention of repentance. Is this the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ?
A close study of our Lord’s own sermons will quickly reveal that He did indeed command those who were called to enter the Kingdom to repent.
12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He departed into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazareth, He came and lived in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 in order that what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled, saying, 15 “THE LAND OF ZEBULUN AND THE LAND OF NAPHTALI, BY THE WAY OF THE SEA, BEYOND THE JORDAN, GALILEE OF THE GENTILES— 16 THE PEOPLE WHO WERE SITTING IN DARKNESS SAW A GREAT LIGHT, AND THOSE WHO WERE SITTING IN THE LAND AND SHADOW OF DEATH, UPON THEM A LIGHT DAWNED.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 4:12-17 (LSB)
32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32 (LSB)
3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you think that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse offenders than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3-5 (LSB)
Repentance was the message our Lord preached. This was the message that the Apostles preached. This was the message that the Reformers preached. This was the message that the Puritans preached. This was the message that George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and John Wesley preached. When did this change? When did the biblical doctrine of repentance come under attack and become diluted by Easy-Believism? In 1937, Dr. H.A. Ironside wrote, “The doctrine of repentance is the missing note in many otherwise and fundamentally sound circles today.”1 Dr. Ironside wrote that those doing the diluting decried “the necessity of repentance lest it seem to invalidate the freedom of grace.”