On Repentance; A Letter To My Congregation

By Pastor Joshua Hall

One can sum up the big picture of the Bible in 4 words: Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. Indeed, this is the grid through which the church has often viewed not only the story of scripture, but also the life of the believer. God made the universe and God made us. All mankind fell into sin when Adam sinned, including you and me. Christ came to redeem us from sin and death through His sacrifice on the cross. And our hope is in the future consummation of God’s kingdom on earth when Christ our bridegroom returns to make all things right.

We who believe in Jesus Christ have already acknowledged that God is our Creator. We have come to understand that we are sinners. And we have placed our hope in Jesus Christ, our redeemer. Yet we wait for the second coming of Christ when we will see Him face to face. We will be glorified, our sinful tendencies removed, and our bodies released from all the effects of sin such as suffering and death. We will be able to worship and serve the Lord our King unhindered by the snares of sin which so easily entangle us.

While we are waiting for the second coming of Christ our King, we live lives of constant repentance. We struggle against the flesh, the world and the devil. Christ our King has won the victory over these three enemies, but we still lose battles against them. Our Westminster Shorter Catechism (WSC) question 82 asks, “Is any man able perfectly to keep the commandments of God?” The answer is, “No mere man, since the fall, is able, in this life, perfectly to keep the commandments of God; but doth daily break them, in thought, word, and deed.” So when we break the commands of Christ our King, what are we to do? We are to repent.

What is repentance? WSC 87 answers the question this way, “Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience.” 

If we all sin daily in thought, word and deed, and if repentance is a turning away from sin to God with hatred of our sin and a commitment to new obedience, then the Christian life must be a life of daily repentance. 

What do I do if I know of no sin in my life? According to James 1:21-25, the Word of God is a mirror to show us our sins. We need to be in the Word daily that we may live the authentic Christian life, a life of repentance.

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