The following is an excerpt from a recent sermon I preached on Acts 2:37-41. The prose has been slightly edited for ease of reading, but I’ve tried to retain the sermonic, spoken feel as much as possible.
More often than not when I find people who know of Christ and are not interested in Christ, it’s simply because they do not want to change. They are not interested in someone telling them who to be or how to think or how to live, even if that someone is God.
Repentance is the stumbling block for so many. It is one thing to say, “believe in Jesus.” And in fact, many churches, I think, produce many false Christians and false conversions because all they say to people is “believe in Jesus.” They never say “repent.” And the two must always go together.
What you have so often from the pulpit or in Christian books or on radio is a message that says, “Come to Jesus and he’ll give you a better marriage.” “Come to Jesus, he’ll give you purpose in your life.” “Come to Jesus, he’ll help you with your unruly children.” Or in some contexts, “Come to Jesus and you’ll get rich. You’ll have success.” In the best cases, you’ll hear, “Come to Jesus, he’ll forgive your sins.” That’s true–wonderfully true. But we have not given the whole gospel call unless we are adjoining to that message and that invitation and that call to Christ, also a call to die and to repent.
It is very easy to get people excited about Christianity: “Here’s what Jesus will do! Here’s what he’ll do! Here’s what he’ll do!” And he will do many amazing things for us. But we need to turn to him. And that means repentance— a change of mind and a turn of direction. We must renounce ourselves and bid farewell to the world.
In repentance there is confession of sin, there is contrition for sin, and there is consecration to a new way of life.
The importance of repentance cannot be overestimated for true biblical religion. There is no gospel, there is no heaven, and there is no Christianity without the call to repent.
You can listen to the entire sermon and watch the whole thing here.