In these articles, we’ve been going through an old list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. Recently, we’ve been looking at the mediation Christ makes for his church. We saw that part of Christ’s mediation is sanctification, which is an act of God’s grace by the Holy Spirit to make Christians holy, which includes granting repentance and strength. This week I want to start unpacking what repentance is by looking at one of the reasons for repentance.
Firstly, the Bible teaches us that a sinner repents because they see and sense the danger of sin. One of the places the Bible demonstrates this clearly, is in the parable that Jesus told of the prodigal son. We read:
‘11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men. 20 So he got up and went to his father’ (Luke 15:11-20).
The son sees the consequences of his sin and this brings him to admit his atrocious sin against his father and against God. And, if you read the rest of the parable in your Bible, you see that the father forgives his penitent son.
And the same happens to Christians today. As the Christian sees the danger that sin brings, he is brought to his senses and turns back to his Heavenly Father.
But what are some of the dangers that the repentant Christian sees? The destruction of sinners in hell. The apostle John writes: ‘9 A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives its mark on their forehead or on their hand, 10 they, too, will drink the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. They will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment will rise for ever and ever. There will be no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or for anyone who receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11).
So what is repentance? It is a turning to God by someone who sees the dangers of their sin and begs for forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Have you seen the danger and repented of your sin?