Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Go & Tell: the Campaign

After being commissioned and commanded by Jesus, the Apostles embarked on their campaign. Mark 6:12-13 tells us: “And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed [them].”

Why did they herald the Gospel? Because that is what Jesus did; Christ never commands us to do that which He has not already exemplified. At the very beginning of His ministry Christ proclaimed: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15). That is what He trained them to do, and what he commissioned and equipped them to do. In Matthew’s record of this commissioning Jesus is quoted as saying: “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Why did John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and then the Apostles preach repentance? The reason is simple, repentance is necessary for salvation. Repentance is the only useful response to the Gospel message. “What about faith?” Repentance and faith are opposite sides of the same coin, and they are required if ne will be saved.

What does it mean to repent? The Greek word translated “repent” is “metanoeo” and it means “to change one’s mind.” This change, however, is not just a fickle flicker of the mind. Biblical repentance involves a turning with contrition from sin to God. Repentance always results in changed behavior; not a perfected behavior but a directed behavior, directed towards the Savior. While repentance is an inward response, its outward result will be a changed and changing life. The person who repents and believes will still sin, but he will no longer love his sin because he is a new creature; the old has passed away and the new has come. Repentance is a spiritual about-face where the one who has repented leaves off following sin and turns to following Christ.

We read, “And they went out, and preached that men should repent” (v. 12). Of course that’s what they did, and it’s obvious that we should be doing the exact same thing. To call people to repentance is the business of the church no matter what culture, what era, and no matter the social ranking of the called or the caller. God’s people are commissioned to call all men every where to repent. That is because all men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
All [men] need to be brought to a sense of their sins, to a sorrow for them, to a willingness to give them up, and to hunger and thirst after pardon. All…need to be born again and to flee to Christ. - (JC Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark)
There are no impenitent people in Heaven.

While repentance unto life is a one-time event, those who are saved must live a life of repentance. As the beloved disciple wrote:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9)
Reading and reflecting on Mark 6:7-13 requires you to consider the following:
How do you respond to the message Christ has sent you in His word?
Are you willing to repent?
Do you call others to repentance?
Are you traveling light, dependent on Christ for all things, urgently and sober-mindedly heralding His message?

How do you answer?

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