One of the biggest cover-ups of the Christian Faith is the role repentance plays in the salvation experience. Many churches “leapfrog” repentance and promote salvation by Faith. They believe all one has to do is accept the finished work of Jesus (cross) and believe He rose from the dead (empty tomb) and they will be saved. For years I have tried to understand why many confessed Christians are inconsistent in their walk of Faith. How can they one day praise God and the next moment graze in the pastures of lukewarmness? How can their joy escape their facial expression so quickly? Why do emotions become the main evidence of their spiritual certainty?
According to the Scriptures, the beginning of the Gospel was ushered in by John the Baptizer. John was the messenger sent by God to preach the “baptism of repentance.” Baptism was the “drowning” of one’s ways so as to be open to God’s eternal provisions. John laid out a four-step road of preparation to enter the Kingdom of God that Isaiah had spoken about generations before. The first step in repentance is the “valleys” need to be filled. These are the low points of our lives that need to be eradicated. Secondly, the mountains and hills need to come down, pride, arrogance, and self-will must fall. The third step is the crooked ways should be made straight, the forsaking of dishonest behavior. The last step is making the rough ways straight, ridding one’s carnality and sinful behavior. John stated that when repentance is evidenced, the “Salvation of God,” Shall be seen. (Ref. Mark 1:1-4); Luke 3:3-6).
If the Church in its eagerness to bring people into the Kingdom of God neglects to preach repentance, the salvation experience will only be a “head” conversion instead of a heart conversion. Accepting Jesus as Savior and Lord takes a total commitment. To bring one’s “luggage” into the Christian ranks will have a negative influence on the local churches. Churches today have become a “service club” where every type of activity is offered to satisfy individual desires. Fellowship is important and a church offering an oasis of refreshing is needed, but let us not forget our true mission. I have heard it said that the Church is a hospital for the weak and wounded saints. I guess that is right if what they preach is a limited Gospel. I believe the Church is a gym and health club where people continue to grow spiritually, mentally, and physically (Spirit, Soul, and Body).
The preaching of sin and repentance has disappeared from the “stage” (pulpit). A feel-good approach has paved the way to “comfortable” Christianity. When we build on an unrepentant foundation, the church will become either a retirement home where the people become receivers instead of doers or an entertainment center that caters to the wants instead of the needs of the people.
With our country in turmoil, the Church must step forward as a strong army of truth. Its purpose is not to attack, but to attract people to our loving Savior and Lord. Salvation is free, but it begins with the work of repentance that ends with faith in Jesus and His Word. It is hard to give up the past, but that is what is required of those who seek eternal life.
Paul Hoffman has been in the active ministry for 50 years. Received a BA Degree from Detroit Institute of Technology and a Master of Divinity degree from MTS. Have Pastored for 45 years in three major Denominations. Chartered the Christian Renewal Fellowships which was composed of ten churches. Have been involved in Radio Ministry as well as a Newspaper columnist for over twenty years. Presently retired and living in Indiana.