Jesus came to settle the sin question. Sin was the great barrier that separated man from God. In His wisdom God devised a plan, and the first step in that plan was for sinful man to repent. His plan has never changed. It was perfected and has never failed when properly followed. But the stubborn, rebellious heart of fallen humanity does not like to repent. It is a cross to his very nature and will only be followed by him in his greatest extremity. When the Law says, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die,” Ezekiel 18:4 and has driven him as a schoolmaster to Christ (Galatians 3:24) then he may find a redemption through the precious Blood. For He has made peace for us through the Blood of His Cross (Colossians 1:20). Hallelujah for such a Saviour!
No deep, far-reaching effectual revival ever came about without the preaching of repentance – a Godly sorrow for sin. This was brought out by the pointing out of all the sins of the age. Amen. God’s first call to man is to repentance. He is a God of order and requires of us to put first things first, and the sooner we as His teachers, preachers and witnesses, get in Divine order and in perfect harmony with His will the sooner He will be enabled to pour out His Spirit. Our part is to give out the Word and His to bless the Word (Isaiah 55:11).
Speaking of the ministry of John the Baptist, the Scriptures tell us (Matthew 3:1,2) that he came preaching and his first words were “Repent ye.” He pointed out to those Pharisees and Sadducees their viper-like sins, and required of them to bring forth fruits of repentance before He would receive them. He asked of them to make wrongs right and restore things taken, when possible (Ezekiel 33:15; Luke 19:8).
We might have expected this kind of preaching under the Law in the dispensation of the Father, but the nature of sin never changes. Therefore it always takes repentance to get the Blood applied (I John 1:9). So we find under the grace in the dispensation of the Son, Jesus who is called Christ. It was said of Him that “Never man spake like this man”; also, “as one having authority.” In the three years of His matchless ministry His first words were as John’s “Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” Matthew 4:17.
Divine love only will enable one to preach repentance aright and say as Paul, “I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God” Acts 20:26,27.
Just before His departure, Jesus told His disciples to go and preach repentance and remission of sins to all nations (Luke 24:47). They obeyed His command and we find Peter at Pentecost, in the blazing light of the Holy Ghost dispensation, telling the great multitude to repent, after having pointed out to them the fact that their murderous hearts had caused them to crucify the innocent Son of God. The blessing of God followed and multitudes were led to repentance. We find too that repentance was not for the Jews only. In Hoseah 4:6, God says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.
God wanted to bring salvation to the Gentiles. He appeared in a vision to Cornelius and told him to send for Simon Peter and he would tell him what he ought to do (Acts 10:6). God also prepared Peter’s heart to tell the Gentiles of this wonderful salvation. A little band of hungry souls were gathered at Cornelius’ house and Peter met them and told them that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34) and that if they would meet the conditions of repentance towards God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, He would grant unto them remission of sins. It was welcome news to them and they believed, and immediately they received the promise of the Father and the Holy Ghost witnessed through them by speaking in tongues the wonderful works of God as at Pentecost (Acts 10:46). To make the evidence good and strong for the Jew’s sake, God had sent six other Jews with Peter, making seven - a perfect number of witnesses (Acts 10:23&45) but had to admit the fact to their brethren, that God had granted repentance to the Gentiles (Acts 11:18).
We find Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, confirming the fact, and when preaching to the Athenians at Mars Hill, he went to the greatest extreme when he said to them - “but now (God) commandeth all men every where to repent,” thus covering the whole ground and taking in all mankind. The remedy is as great as the disease. Repentance is not only an assent of the mind to the sinfulness of sin, but a renouncing of it in the heart, a letting go of it. The young lady’s parents found that her lover was a bad man, not a suitable companion for her. They warned her and she assented to it and told him to be gone. He hesitated. She told him again and insisted that he go. He replied, “I will, but you will have to let go of my hand first” - and this is just the trouble often times. People assent with their minds but fail to let go in their hearts. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” Proverbs 28:13.