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I remember reading a tragic story years back about an incident between a recent immigrant and an armed man. In a horrible case of mistaken identity and misinterpreted intent, the armed man drew a gun on a fellow from Nigeria and said, “Freeze!” This word was not in the newly arrived man’s vocabulary and he walked forward and was shot. Meaning is everything. There is no communication without shared definitions. Part of a preachers job, the main part, is to explain the Word of God in a way that reaches the heart of the listener. King James Only preachers spend a lot of time explaining the language to the listener. All of us want to make sure the words of the prophets are understood, and the Word s of the Savior made clear.
We are preaching/teaching through Mark at Dayspring. This past Sunday one of the verses read and expounded upon was this: Mark 1:15
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”
You have heard this preached as have I, no doubt many times. How many different meanings have you heard for the word repent? Or how many different ways has this very important passage been “unpacked” for you? I remember it preached as ,”an about face, turning away”, J. Vernon McGee says something like that. I have heard it as an emotional experience of sorrow for crimes against God, C.H. Spurgeon leaned on that. Now these are my two favorite preachers, and when they diverge I honestly find it a bit disconcerting. I wish they would all get along, but you know we are Protestant. I do not always agree with these guys, not that I am fit to polish their pulpits, but I trust Scripture alone. Sola Scriptura.
So what do you do when the brain-trust is not in agreement? Your home work.
I am not schooled in Language. When I attempted to learn Hebrew in college the wonderful and kind Rabbi Katz, said, “Maybe God has given you other gifts, but language? I don’t think.” Now I had a couple years of Latin , many years of German, and a failed attempt at Russian. These languages, at the level of proficiency I have, are of little use to a bible scholar. I must use a Lexicon and concordance to get an understanding. Let me share my study.
The word repent used here comes from the Greek word “Metanoeo”. It occurs 36 times in the New Testament. Ten (10) times in revelation, and each time it means the same. To change one’s mind. Searching around I see that some scholars add an emotional element, but if I just took the common factor that all agree on it would be, “to change the mind”.
In the Old Testament the word we translate as repent is ” nacham”. It has an emotional element of sorrow, or comfort. It shows as comfort 57 times and repent 41. Obviously there is an element of emotion here, it is almost all emotion.
So what did Jesus want us to do? My degree is in Psychology. I think it gives me a different slant, in a way. I think He wanted us to change our minds. Not change a decision we make like the expression is used today, “I thought I wanted pizza, but I got a burger.” No, I think literally He wanted us to CHANGE OUR MIND . Change it. Change the wiring. Many of the things that we once found to be positive reinforcements now hold no appeal. Things that were once negative, like reading the bible or hearing a sermon now are pleasing. Distance from God that once held no concern, is now considered horrible. Is that not what Paul said, the things I once held so dear are now dung to me? What a change in his mind! Paul studied law after law and teacher after teacher, and ended up preaching the law nailed to the cross and following the Teacher that he once persecuted.
What good is it just to feel sorry for sin? There are those who feel bad each time after a sin but sin none the less for the pleasure it brings. That was me. But when your brain is rewired, when you are deprogrammed from the lies of the Devil, sin loses its grip, it no longer reinforces itself. Metamorphosis is changing form, metanoeo is a metamorphosis of the thought process itself. Understanding the word repent is core to the message of Christ, more important than knowing the word “freeze” when a weapon is aimed. I want to follow the command of the Savior.
The amazing Good News, is that we do not need to do this ourselves! Luke 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be enbued with power from on high.”
We are blessed with power from God to make this change. That is the Good News, the Gospel, there is a way for us to spend eternity with God. This repentance is a process. Since sanctification is a life long work, repentance will be part of our lives until we depart, or He comes back.
What definition do you wish to embrace? Of course the Christian feels sorrow for causing the Savior to suffer and die, of course we wish we had done better, differently. But is it ours to weep, or to work? Do we sit in a pile of ashes and scrape at the scabs of our sin? No! We pick up the Cross with a changed mind and follow the path of Yeshua the Messiah! The old patterns of thought, self above all, short term reward, disbelief and rebellion do Him no good.
Almighty Father, Ruler of all, thank You for the change You bring into our lives by the Quickening of our souls. Holy Spirit mold the very thoughts of our mind to become acceptable to You. Shape us and mold us. We want to look like Jesus in Your Eyes. It is in His name we pray to You, Amen.
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