“Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins” (2)
Our gospel should stress,
not that people are
dying without Christ,
but that they are
living without Christ
The New Testament gospel stresses repentance for the forgiveness of sins. If, in contrast, we only stress the divine offer of forgiveness though faith in Christ, and the assurance of eternal blessing once we are forgiven, without stressing the need for repentance, we are missing the point of the gospel in the New Testament. (See our previous Note on this topic,. )
Why is that? Because then our concern is to prevent people from dying without Christ and being damned for eternity. The primary concern of the New Testament gospel, however, is not that people are dying without Christ, but that they are living without Christ.
Paul said that when the Lord sent him to the Gentiles, He commissioned him to…
…“open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the authority of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.”
— Acts 26:18
There is nothing here about helping people go to heaven; rather, what the Lord wants from the gospel is that some who are now under the authority of Satan would be rescued and brought back to God. This means they would have a divine transfer from Satan’s kingdom to the kingdom of God, as Paul tells us in those wonderful, related verses in Colossians. There he states that the Father…
…has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light; who delivered us from the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
— Colossians 1:12-13
In a similar way, as we pointed out in the previous note, that is how John the Baptist, and the Lord Himself soon after him, also began the gospel in the New Testament:
“Repent for the kingdom of the heavens…!”
— Matthew 3:2, 4:17
To be saved from God’s judgment is surely a great matter, and people do need to be warned that unless they repent, the will face that judgment. However, that aspect of the gospel only meets man’s need.
What God needs is to bring in His kingdom so He can put an end to this present evil age. For that, He must gain some who have been made, not just believers who have had their sins forgiven, but disciples who are followers of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20).
So, the Lord calls us and sends us forth to preach the gospel—not merely the gospel of forgiveness of sins, but the gospel of repentance for the kingdom of the heavens. In this gospel we call people to repent and turn from their previous manner of life under Satan’s authority of darkness, so that they can have their sins forgiven and live instead under the authority of the glorious, heavenly king, our Lord Jesus.
And that is the real New Testament gospel!
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— 7 June 2023 —