You know, 20,000 fans! A packed stadium! A great time to be had by all! Singing, celebrating, dancing, and having a great time! And yet, most of these people don’t go to church every week…but they PAID money to come to the concert; sit on the GROUND; and watch a group of old men on the stage HUNDREDS of feet away play the same songs they listened to in their CD player on the way to the concert! What gets these people so excited about, that the church, overall, can’t seem to connect with? Why don’t these people want to come to church? What is it these people love about this concert?”

 Here are my thoughts: 

They can be themselves 

They can dress any way they want to. 

They can act any way they want to, as long as it was legal. 

They can smoke, drink, and curse. 

They can meet new people of the opposite sex and leave with them. 

They can re-connect with old friends. 

They can sing at the top of their lungs and no one can hear them 

They can forget their terrible day at the office and with the kids. They can dance. 

They can sit back, chill, and allow some grooving tunes and the words to the songs minister to their soul, and no one is going to ask them to do anything! 

So… If we KNEW this is what UNCHURCHED people were looking for, would we be willing to offer it in the church? 

Does that make you uncomfortable? 

That’s my point. If the church is going to reach unchurched people, we are going to have to get a little bit more uncomfortable! 

We are going to have to CHANGE the way we think about church! 


By changing the way we think about Jesus! 

In fact, go back through the list: THESE people were the ones Jesus hung out with the MOST! He accepted them! He loved them! He partied with them (remember water into wine?!). 

Yes, He was different! But He didn’t expect non-believer to act and think like believers before He became their friends. 

Are you willing to do that? 

Is your church willing to do that? 

The Christmas Hypocrites

It is almost the start of December, the month we celebrate Christmas as North American believers. The world started to “celebrate” their way – consume more and accumulate more debt – well before Halloween even arrived. It seems to me the world’s Christmas observance has been starting earlier and earlier … as I think it use to at least wait until after Halloween was over.

It must be confusing for those who celebrate both. You have your halloween decorations up on the front lawn and yet the stores are already decorated for Christmas. So, the morning after Halloween is officially over everyone in my neighbourhood rushes out to take down the inflatable Halloween monsters to put up and inflate Santa Clause, Elfs, Minions, and assorted other non-religious front yard decorations. A few still display the baby in the manger, the Wise Men, and the shepherds with a few weak looking sheep. 

It is the time of year that I try not to do any shopping but the basics – food, coffee, and Coke Zero. I don’t want to deal with the crowds. People looking for bargains and spending money they can ill afford to spend are not pleasant people to be around. And, if I end up shopping in the Christmas rush I loose my sense of inner peace – the peace that passes all understanding that Jesus talks about. You know – Jesus, the Prince of Peace. Amazing how we lose peace celebrating the birth of the Price of Peace. But, I digress.

The other reason I don’t go shopping and visit all the stores is because so so many of those buying Christmas gifts are hypocrites. They don’t believe in Jesus, His ministry and message. At best they are religious and believe in some set of rules, rituals, and rigamarole. Many are agnostic or even atheists. So, what are they doing celebrating my season, my holiday when they have no real interest in the true meaning of the season?

When I do end up in a “Christmas rush” of shoppers it takes everything in me not to stand on my shopping cart and yell, “Why don’t you all just got off my holiday!” After all, why do you take the 25th of December and assorted other days around that day to celebrate something and Someone you don’t believe in? Why don’t you just go to work like any other normal day? Why are you taking advantage of something you don’t believe just to get a few days off? Do I hear the word hypocrites?

I don’t celebrate Halloween because I don’t believe in it. I don’t pray to the saints on their special days because I don’t believe in it. I don’t go to or watch football games because I don’t believe in paying people large sums of money to run around in tights and fight over a ball. I celebrate the Christmas Season because I believe in Jesus, God born as a man who died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, and rose again from the dead on the third day after His death proving that He is God and that what He taught was and is true. I celebrate His birth because I am one of His disciples and followers. I live according to what He preached and taught. I have made Him Lord of my life. 

So, I take the opportunity that the Christmas season offers to talk to people about Jesus. I see all the decorations in the neighbourhood and as I walk my dog I comment about the way people have decorated their yards. Comments like, “So, you are a believer?” And “I am so glad that you believe in Jesus!” This allows them to tell me what it is they believe and what they are really celebrating. I do the same when I am standing in a long, slow moving line at the checkout at Walmart … I simply turn to the next in line and say, “So, are you a believer in Jesus?” The looks on people’s faces and the resulting conversations would astonish you … and embarrass you. 

Hey, if you are going to edge in and benefit from my holiday season I think I have the right to bring up the “reason for the season” and see if and what people actually believe, if anything. I take every opportunity the Christmas season offers me to share what I believe and who I follow. 

After thought: A lot of these same people will tell you that they don’t go to church because the church is full of hypocrites. Umm…. So is Walmart during the Christmas season. 

Foundations of the Faith – Part Nine

Repentance, water baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit form the foundation for individual Christian lives as well as the foundation of the Church that Jesus is building.

Many Christians today think of salvation primarily in terms of heaven and hell. Their primary purpose for becoming a Christian is to escape hell. That is a good reason to be reconciled to God, but that is not the only reason Christ saves people. Peter’s “many other words” did not deal with heaven or hell. He dealt with overcoming the present evil generation. Stressing the beginning of the journey and not the journey itself gives Christians a wrong focus and emphasis. And, of course, the one mandate Jesus left the Church — to go into all eh world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).

As Peter spoke, Rome was rapidly declining. The Jews had lived under the oppressive rule of Rome for 100 years. Immorality and darkness surrounded them. Now God was telling them how to overcome that evil generation and avoid the judgment that was surely coming upon them. 

Believers today also need to overcome while living in the midst of an evil generation. They need to avoid being deceived by the present age. Tens of thousands of backsliders in the world today have not been able to live according to  Peter’s “many other words” and have fallen back into deception and sin.

Believers in the first church stood on a foundation of repentance. They validated their faith by obeying Christ’s command to be baptized in water. They received the gift of the Holy Spirit. They were baptized in the Holy Spirit and moved in supernatural gifts and power. As a result, they enjoyed salvation and eternal life — a now relationship with the Lord and their heavenly Father (John 17:3). They did not have an experiential or doctrinal separation between the elements of this foundation in their thinking. They accepted the foundation simply and completely. A properly laid foundation leads everyone to experience these things. 

The Church today has been weakened by the separation of these foundational elements. “Do I have to be baptized in order to go to heaven?” “Do I have to be filled with the Holy Spirit?” Do I need to be baptized in the Holy Spirit?” It can all be yours, the entire New Covenant package! Why settle for anything less?

Foundations of the Faith – Part Eight 

Another part of the foundation of the faith is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Both Jesus and John the Baptist had promised a new baptism in the Holy Spirit. To be baptized in the Spirit means the believer is fully immersed in the Spirit. 

Matthew 3:11 (CSB) “I baptize you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is more powerful than I. I am not worthy to remove his sandals. He himself will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (See also: Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33)

Acts 1:4-5, 8 “While he was with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for the Father’s promise. “Which,” he said, “you have heard me speak about; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit in a few days … But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Acts refers not only to people being baptized in the Spirit (Acts 1:5; 11:16) but also to the Holy Spirit coming upon them (Acts 1:8; 19:6), being filled with or full of the Spirit (Acts 2:4; 4:8, 31;6:3,5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52), the Holy Spirit being poured out on them (Acts 2:17, 18, 33; 10:45), receiving the Holy Spirit (2:38; 8:15, 17; 10:47; 19:2), the Holy Spirit falling upon them (Acts 10:44; 11:15), and the Holy Spirit being given to them (Acts 15:8).

Some people suggest the baptism in the Holy Spirit is simply another reference to water baptism. Others suggest it refers to the new birth. Baptism in water and baptism in the Spirit are not the same. The word baptism refers to initiation into the covenant. The question is: What is the role of the Holy Spirit in the initiation?

In his commentary, I. Howard Marshall stated:

Just as John’s baptism had mediated the divine gift of forgiveness symbolized in the act of washing, so too Christian (water) baptism was regarded as a sign of  forgiveness … But Christian baptism conveyed an additional blessing. John had said that he baptized (only) with water but the Messiah would baptize with the Holy Spirit, and this gift accompanied water baptism performed by the church in the Name of Jesus. The two gifts are closely linked, since it is the Spirit who accomplishes the inner cleansing of which baptism in the outward symbol (The Acts of the Apostles, Eerdmans, 1980, page 81)

In other words, although connected the baptism in the Holy Spirit is a definite second encounter with the Spirit and separate from water baptism. 

The Holy Spirit takes up residence within people who come to the Lord in true repentance and faith. They become sons of God (John 1:12). Not only does the Spirit come to abide in His people, He also comes to fill, saturate, control, given, and lead their lives. The Holy Spirit changes the convert, molding him into the character of Christ and drawing others to Christ.

The Bible says the Spirit baptizes and fills believers. In baptism, the Holy Spirit surrounds and saturates the believer. Being filled with the Holy Spirit implies that the believer actually contains the Holy Spirit., The Holy Spirit saturates the exterior life and floods the interior life. He gives believers waters to swim in as well as waters flowing out of their lives.

The first Christians were initially baptized in the Spirit and repeatedly filled. Whenever the same believers needed the Holy Spirit’s power and guidance, they expected a fresh filling.

Acts 4:31 (CSB) “When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.”

This was not considered a new or second baptism in the Spirit but simply a fresh filling and encounter with the Spirit. It empowered believers to overcome new obstacles. Being filled with the Spirit launches believers into the supernatural realm with manifestations of the Spirit. The first believers spoke in other tongues who they were filled with the Spirit. Some also prophesied. The supernatural had taken up residence within them. This was the pattern at Jerusalem in Acts 2:1-4; at Samaria in Acts, chapter 8; with Paul in Acts 9:17-18; with Cornelius in Acts 10:44-47 and 11:15-17; and at Ephesus in Acts 19:1-6.

Christians must have the power of the Holy Spirit. The baptism in the Holy Spirit gives believers inner power, but getting into the realm of the Spirit is not enough., Christians must continually walk under the Spirit;’s influence. People often draw attention to the initial act of receiving the Spirit without emphasizing the continuing effect on believers’ lives. By divorcing the initial experience from continual filling, people stop short.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter declared that the promise of the Father was fulfilled. But the fulfillment of the promise extended far beyond that day, he said. The promise was for those who are “far off,” referring to the Gentiles. Peter also said the promise was for “as many as the Lord our God invites.” Whoever the Lord calls receives the promised gift of the Holy Spirit – even today!

Peter continued to address the Pentecost crowd with “many other words.” He solemnly and earnestly exhorted and encouraged them with words of comfort and hope. He persuaded, begged, beseeched, entreated, and implored them. And what was his solemn warning and heart’s cry? “Be saved from this crooked generation” (Acts 2:40). Be delivered from this perverse age. Come out of this wicked way and come into a new way of wholeness and peace. A crooked generation is like a warped board that carpenters throw out because it is useless. It is twisted and perverse, turned away from the truth. It is a generation “which has gone astray,” according to the New American Bible.

Philippians 2:14-15 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world…”

Repenting and turning to the Lord for salvation, being baptized in water and receiving the Holy Spirit, saves Christians from a crooked generation and leads them into a whole new way of life — the normal, overcoming, Christian life. Life and light is theirs. Full salvation was the message of the New Testament Church. 

Acts 2:12 “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Acts 15:11 “ But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

Acts 16:30-31 “Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

Being baptized in the Holy Spirit then empowers them to fulfil the Great Commission as they go into their world and live their daily lives. With this baptism comes the nine gifts of the Spirit listed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. These gifts allow us to move in the supernatural and show that Jesus is truly alive – resurrected from the dead and seated at the father’s right hand. This is ‘normal’ for the true disciple of Jesus. 

What does this normal Christian life look like … Next time.

Foundations of the Faith – Part Six

Once the foundation of repentance has been laid the next step is for a person to be baptized by immersion in water. The reason: Baptism in water is the initial sign that a person has repented and believed in Jesus. The New Testament refers to it as the “baptism of repentance” (Luke 3:3). Baptism reveals an obedient attitude toward Christ and His Word “… baptism, not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God (1 Peter 3:21). A person who really has repented will not say, “I know Jesus has commanded me to be baptized, but I’m not ready to do it yet. I’ll get around to it some day. It’s really not that important.” When a person repents, he agrees with God, including what God has said about baptism.

The Williams New Testament translates Acts 2:38 as follows: “You must repent — and, as an expression of it, let every one of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ — that you may have your sins forgiven.”

While Peter commanded all of his listeners as a group to repent, he charged them as individuals to be baptized. “Let each one of you be baptized,” he said. Each one of them had to determine whether to enter into covenant relationship with Jesus Christ through baptism. Each one had to make his own decision.

Jesus set a pattern by insisting on His own baptism when He announced His New Covenant mission. 

Matthew 3:13-15 “Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he consented.”

Water baptism is the sign of the New Covenant. 

Baptism is to the New Covenant what circumcision was to the old covenant. It is the outward sign that someone has entered into a covenant relationship with the Lord.

Galatians 3:27 “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”

Romans 2:28-29 “For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.’

Peter declared converts must be baptized “in the Name of Jesus Christ.” Baptism in the Name of Jesus means “to the account of Jesus” or “with reference to Jesus.” To be baptized in Christ’s Name means by His authority, acknowledging His claims, subscribing to His doctrines or teachings, engaging in His service (ministry), and relying only on His merits, grace and power. At baptism, a believer enters an alliance with Jesus.

The pattern in Acts shows baptism consistently followed repentance. 

Acts 2:41 “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized.”

Acts 8:12 “But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”

Acts 8:36-38 MEV “As they went on their way, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to halt. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.”

Acts 9:17-18 “Then Ananias went his way and entered the house. Putting his hands on him, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the way as you came, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. And he rose up and was baptized.”

Acts 10:47-48 “‘Can anyone forbid water for baptizing these, who have received the Holy Spirit as we have?’ So he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord.”

Acts 16:15,32-33 “When she and her household were baptized, she entreated us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and remain there.” And she persuaded us … And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his household. In that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds. And immediately he and his entire household were baptized.”

Acts 22:16 “And now why do you wait? Rise, be baptized and wash away your sins, and call on the name of the Lord.”

Water baptism symbolizes the dying to sin and rising to righteousness. 

“Be baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of sins. (Acts 2:38). 

The word remission means strongly dismissed, delivered from captivity, forgiven, pardoned. Forgiveness comes as a result of being convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin and responding with godly sorrow and repentance (see 2 Corinthians 7:8-10). This repentance with godly sorrow and turning away from sin (dying to sin) is then symbolized by immersion in the act of baptism in water. 

Paul pointed out the significance of baptism in dealing with sin. The following passages best illustrate his understanding.

Romans 6:3-4 “Don’t you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death? When we were baptized, we died and were buried with Christ. We were baptized, so that we would live a new life, as Christ was raised to life by the glory of God the Father.”

Colossians 2:11-13 “Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death. You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God’s people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins.”

Foundations of the Faith – Part Five

So, why must people repent? Biblically there are eight reasons:

1> God commands people to repent. It is not an option. His command is immediate and universal … “God… commands all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

2> Christ came into the world to call all men to repentance, and everyone will be judged by his or her response to Christ’s call. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32).

3> Repentance guides people away from destruction. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). A man may be sincere. He may be morally good, but if he is not in full agreement with God’s truth, if he does not reply on Christ alone for salvation and righteousness, then he is a sinner, separated from God and headed for destruction.

4> Forgiveness hinges on repentance. “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). Notice repentance occurs first, then forgiveness can follow.

5> Repentance qualifies people to enter the Kingdom of God. “Repent, for the Kingdom of haven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The Kingdom of God is within reach, but the only way to enter is through repentance.

6> God desires all men repent. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God’s heart longs for all men everywhere to repent, turn to Him, and receive His life.

7> Repentance leads to life. “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). Repentance does not lead to bondage. Turning to Jesus produces true (real) life.

8> Repentance makes true faith possible. The words repentance and faith often appear together in the Bible. People repent so they can become connected with God. They repent so they can believe. Jesus Christ calls people to repentance because Hw wants them to place their faith in Him, to come to know Him and to receive His life. 

Acts 20:21 “… testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Mark 1:15 (see also Hebrews 6:1) “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Acts 5:31 ”God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”

Foundations of the Faith – Part Four

Repentance is not just an emotional response. 

It can be emotional but is not always so. It means people have heard God’s Word and discovered that their thinking has been contrary to His Word. When they decide to change their thinking to conform to God’s thinking, they have repented. When they find God’s revealed truth on any subject, they repent and change their minds to conform to God’s mind.

Luke 7:29 “When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John.”

John 3:33 “Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true.”

2 Thessalonians 1:5 “This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering…”

It is a radical change of mind, away from sin and self and toward God.

Repentance is not just the conviction of sin.

Godly sorrow precedes repentance.The Holy Spirit caused listeners in Jerusalem to be “cut to the heart.”

Acts 2:37 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

They were convicted of their sin but had not yet repented. People may be in a worship service, in the presence of the Lord, and their hearts are pricked (convicted). They realize their sinfulness before a holy God and may even find a way to express that feeling. But if they walk out without changing their thinking and the direction of their lives and continue to do whatever the Lord has convicted them of, they certainly did not repent. False repentance is a self-centered sorrow over the consequences of sin. Sorry that they got caught.

Repentance is not just reformation.

Repentance involves reformation because a truly repentant person will turn around and start over in demonstrable ways. However, if God is not involved in the reformation, and if reformation is not based on the work of the Cross, then it is not repentance and ultimately it will fail. The determination to do better, “turning over a new leaf,” and self-help programs do not constitute repentance. 

Repentance is not just being religious.

Many people think they must act religious if they repent, so they learn religious jargon, a religious pose, and a religious tone of voice. Anyone can go through the motions, attend a dynamic local church, learn praise choruses, raise his or her hands, shout “Hallelujah,” and still not repent. 

Repentance is not “only believes.”

Repentance is more than a new metal attitude. It is more than accepting the truth about Jesus and His Kingdom. True repentance always includes a transformation of the entire life of the individual. It leads to observable changes in their life. John the Baptist expected to see evidence of repentance. He said:

Luke 3:8,11, 13-14 “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham … And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise … And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Repentance focuses on the root of sin — the attitude behind the sin — and not on a specific sin. The repentant person must focus on the condition of his heart before a holy God. He must be more than sorry for the rotten fruit in his life — that he got drunk or committed fornication.

An unrepentant person is committed to going his own way and doing his own thing apart from God. Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Isaiah agrees: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, ever one, to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).

True repentance is based on the recognition that man has sinned against God and has broken fellowship with Him.

Peter preached to law keepers on the Day of Pentecost. They were trying to follow the Mosaic Law and keep the Judaism of their day. But the root of their sin was the fact that they had rejected Jesus Christ. They devoted their lives to studying the Old Testament, but they rejected the One who fulfilled the Old Testament. When Peter preached the Gospel of the Kingdom to them, they realized they had sinned and were separated from God. It is no wonder they said, “What shall we do?”

True repentance recognizes human responsibility to turn from sin.

The Gospel must turn men and women from the sin of unbelief. After agreeing with the Gospel and trusting Christ for salvation, new believers must begin lives of simple obedience to The Living Word, Jesus, and the written Word, the Bible. 

Foundations of the Faith – Part Three

The word repent or repentance is used about sixty times in the New Testament. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia. It originally meant an afterthought — a second thought that revealed the error of the first thought. Metanoia refers to a change of mind and feeling or a change of principle and practice to reverse the past. It is a change of inner values that results in a change of action.

A.T. Robertson paraphrases Peter’s words as follows: “Change your mind and your life; turn right about and do it now. You crucified this Jesus. Now crown Him in your hearts as Lord and Christ.”

Charles Finney defined repentance as “changing your mind from what you have believed on any given subject to what God has revealed on that subject.” Instead of going by their own ideas and interpretations, believers are to think God’s thoughts on every subject. Faulty thinking leads to wrong behaviour.

Repent is the first word of the Gospel. John the Baptist’s message began with a command to repent.

Matthew 3:1-2 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Repent was the first word in the message of Jesus.

Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

New Testament apostles preached repentance.

Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…”

Acts 8:22 “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Acts 17:30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”

The New Testament concludes with a call to repent.

Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:16, 21-22 “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth … I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works …”

Revelation 3:3 “ Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Old Testament prophets preached repentance.

Jeremiah 25:5 “Turn now (repent), every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever.”

Ezekiel 14:6”Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”

Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.”

Repentance affects the past and the future.

It brings grief or sorrow for improper conduct and the faulty thinking behind it. 

2 Corinthians 7:9 “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.”

Repentance involves an actual turning away from bad conduct.

Acts 8:22 “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Repentance involves a turning to a new way of thinking 

Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Repentance leads to forgiveness. Forgiveness covers sins of the past, and a changed mind and heart lead to a healthy future. A vital, healthy life requires acknowledgement of sin and wrongdoing. In today’s world and current culture, people are told to do everything except repent. They are told to explain situations away, blame someone else, accentuate the positive, our attribute failures to heredity and environment. The fact remains that the only way to deal with sin and its consequences is through true repentance. 

Foundations of the Faith – Part Two

For the Church to regain its life-giving qualities it must correct the foundational truths that it once believed and preached and go back to correct biblical teaching thus laying the proper foundation. This is happening in major ways around the world today as Jesus corrects the foundational teachings of His Church and bring it back into line with biblical truth. One key to a proper foundation is “repentance.”

The apostle Peter first announced the foundation’s blueprint on the Day of Pentecost, fifty days after Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Feast of Pentecost was also called the Feast of Weeks or the Feast of Harvest in the Old Testament (Exodus 23:16; 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-22; Numbers 28:26; Deuteronomy 16:10,16). It was one of three major religious events in Israel’s sacred calendar. And, the fact that this particular feast was focused on the harvest is important to note as the Church was born on this special feast day to “go into al the world and make disciples” bringing in a continual harvest of souls for Jesus. 

The feast celebrated the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai and the birth of natural Israel as a covenant nation. Now, on natural Israel’s anniversary, spiritual Israel, the Church, was born as the New Covenant nation. 

1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

The feast drew large crowds. Devout Jews from all over the world as well as proselytes* to Judaism attended it. Acts lists people from fifteen nations and regions. At 9:00 in the morning thousands of them heard strange sounds coming from a house. Amazed and perplexed, they stopped to inquire. While some mocked, Peter stood up — perhaps on an upper balcony — and preached his first sermon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Peter pointed to Christ’s supernatural life and ministry, which had been seen by people who lived in Jerusalem and the surrounding districts. He used Psalm 16:8-11 to support his claim that Jesus is the Messiah — Lard and Saviour. And that Jesus rose from the dead. Then he declared:

Acts 2:32-33 “This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.”

The resurrected, exalted Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, was now pouring out the Holy Spirit on all flesh as the Father had promised through the prophet Joel.

Joel 2:28-32 “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams,

and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants

in those days I will pour out my Spirit. And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls.”

The New Covenant age, the age of the Holy Spirit (also known as the Church age), had dawned upon the world. The Holy Spirit moved upon the hearts of the people listening to Peter and convicted them of their sins. The Bible tells us that they were cut to the heart because of what they had done. Prophecy had been fulfilled in Jesus, the Messiah, whom they had rejected and crucified, and now they were convicted (see John 16:8-10 for the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation).

Acts 2:37 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

A new day had come and a New Covenant offered salvation,. Peter gave everyone hearing the news about the earth-shaking offer a chance to respond to it. He called everyone within the sound of his voice to lay the New Covenant foundation in their lives. He called them to repent, get baptized in water by immersion, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 2:38 “And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

* proselytes … a person who has changed from one opinion, religious belief, sect, or the like, to another; a convert.

Foundations of the Faith – Part One

The Church today is in trouble. Once we understand that the church is not the institution or the building but the people of God, we soon realize how much trouble we really are in. In many places the Christian Church is simply a sub-culture of the dominant culture of the day. Jesus designed the Church to be a counter-culture. Today we see believers whose lives apparently did not change a great deal after they were born again. It is as if they simply kept on living the way they had always lived but with an added coating of Christianity. They added prayer, Bible reading, and going to church on Sunday but literally did not change anything about who they were or how they lived. Something needs to change. And, change is starting to happen in the Church world-wide.

I believe that the main issue is that we, the leaders, teachers, and preachers, have proclaimed the gospel of salvation instead of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14). The gospel of salvation presents the understanding of the gospel message as information for us to understand and accept. It is an intellectual understanding of the gospel. Then we pray with the person and they are told they are born again. In reality, they are not! The book of James in the Bible (James 2:19) states that the demons believe; they know who Jesus is and what He accomplished through His death and resurrection. But, they are not going to heaven. Head knowledge is not enough.

The Gospel of the Kingdom presents the same information and then pauses to allow the Holy Spirit to convict the person who has now heard the wonderful news of salvation through Jesus. The Holy Spirit comes to convict them (John 16:8-11) and they respond with godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Then you pray with them and they are truly born again because their heart has been changed. Paul states without any doubt that without repentance there is no salvation.

The foundation of the Church and the New Covenant life begins with repentance. Humble repentant believers then follow Christ’s example and the apostles’ clear teaching to be baptized by immersion in water. Finally, they receive power to live triumphant Christian lives receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit in the experience known as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

A house rests on the strength of its foundation. The one who builds a strong foundation will build a strong house. Today more than ever, Christians must build their lives carefully according to the pattern of God’s Word. Without strong foundations, they limit the size and scope of how largely they can build. If they do not build according to the pattern, their building will have cracks, crumble, and fall.

After preaching His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus illustrated the importance of building a solid foundation:

Matthew 7:24-27 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Acts, chapter 2, chronicles the birth of the first church in simplicity and power. The biblical account has preserved the design of the church’s foundation. The chapter also describes the foundation of individual Christian lives. It gives a clear pattern of coming to God, knowing Him as Lord and Saviour, knowing His ways, and walking in victory. It illustrates how converts to the faith become fruitful in their Christian walk and journey and thus help the Kingdom to expand by “going into all the world and making disciples.”

The first church’s solid foundation allowed it to fulfill the commission to extend the Kingdom of God. This pioneer group of believers carried the Gospel of the Kingdom to the farthest parts of the known world and the Roman Empire, including the capitol city of Rome.