Luke 24:45–48 (NLT) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. 46 And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. 47 It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ 48 You are witnesses of all these things.”
Jesus said that His disciples are to proclaim the message, “There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent!” There are two crucial concepts in this message. First is the concept is that of forgiveness. The second is repentance.
Forgiveness is God’s pardon of your sins. The sin that Jesus is directly referring to in the above Scripture is the sin of not believing in Him as He said, “The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me” (John 16:9). This is the only sin that will eternally separate you from God. It is, I believe, the “unpardonable sin.” Our rebellion against God’s rightful rule over our lives, and our refusal to repent will forever separate us from the Lord.
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4–5). God’s forgiveness is found only in the finished work of Jesus Christ and is accessed only by repenting of our disbelief and trusting in Him.
The second issue is repentance. Forgiveness is God’s responsibility. Repentance is ours. Jesus said, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near” (Matthew 4:17).
Repentance is largely a foreign concept in our world today. When someone is caught in an offense, only two parts of repentance are usually seen. Sometimes a person will admit their error, and occasionally they will apologize.
But the Bible does not teach us to “apologize.” The root word of apology is connected to apologetics, which carries the idea of giving a defense. This is not what the Bible teaches us to do in repentance.
Imagine you wanted to drive from Indianapolis to Chicago. You got on Interstate 65 going south. You kept seeing signs telling you how close you were getting to Louisville. Someone riding with you said, “You’re going the wrong way.” Imagine you said, “O yes, you are right. I apologize for going south.” And you kept on driving south. This is often how the world does “repentance.”
In 1995 I met Dr. Henry Brandt. Dr. Brandt is a marriage and family counselor who wrote one of my favorite books, When You’re Tired of Treating Symptoms, and You’re Ready for a Cure, Give Me a Call. He joked that it was the longest title in the bookstore. In his book he gives five steps for Biblical repentance:
- I am wrong—you must admit to God that you have sinned.
- I am sorry—there must be genuine brokenness over your sin.
- Forgive me—you must humble yourself and ask forgiveness.
- Change me—you must be willing to turn the other way.
- Empower me—you must rely on God to change your life.
Only when we forsake our unbelief and turn to God in brokenness and humility can we experience the forgiveness that He will give.
So What? Have you repented? If so thank Him for His forgiveness. Who do you know who needs God’s forgiveness of their unbelief in Jesus? Your job is to tell them.
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