Evangelii = The Gospel in Latin
PART THREE OF SIX
What Jesus said about the Gospel (Part Two) – Repent and Believe in the Gospel
Robert Robinson was an 18th century English clergyman. He was a gifted poet and hymn writer, as well as a skilled pastor and preacher. After many years in the pastorate, however, his faith began to drift. He left the ministry and ended up in France caught up in sin. One night he shared a carriage with a woman from Paris who was a new convert to Christianity. She was interested in Robinson’s opinion of some poetry she was reading: Come thou Fount of every blessing, Tune my heart to sing thy grace, Streams of mercy never failing, Call for hymns of loudest praise. The woman noticed Robinson was crying when she looked up from reading the poem. “What do I think of it?” he asked in a broken voice. “I wrote it. But now I’ve drifted away from him and can’t find my way back.” “But don’t you see,” the woman said gently, “The way back is written right here in the third line of your poem: Streams of mercy never ceasing. Those streams are flowing even here in Paris tonight.” That night Robinson recommitted his life to Christ (Reported in R Kilpatrick, “Assurance and Sin” in RC Sproul (editor), Doubt and Assurance (Baker, 1993)).
Robinson had forgotten the words of Christ, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” This is not a one time event. It is every day, or cotidie in Latin. As my good friend and favorite preacher Jerry Vineyard says, “We should speak the gospel to ourselves each day.”
Throughout the Bible, we find out a few things about the gospel:
- Galatians 2:5 says it is the good news of truth.
- Colossians 1:23 says the gospel is good news of hope.
- Ephesians 6:15 tells us it is good news of peace.
- Ephesians 3:6 says the gospel is good news of God’s promise, saying, “The mystery that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
- 2 Timothy 1:10 says it is good news of immortality.
- Ephesians 1:13 says the gospel is good news of salvation, the gospel is the power to live life victoriously and to conquer sin.
But first there is that word, repent, that must be dealt with. The Greek word used for repent literally means “a change of mind.” We can easily confuse two things: sorrow for the consequences of sin and sorrow for sin. The question is: if you escape the consequences of your sin will you return to it? We have to be careful, for in this case, it is the consequences of sin that are hated, not the sin itself. Real repentance means changing our mind to hate sin itself, not just its consequences.
Repentance is an action word. It is not about feelings. Jesus wants us to change our mind, not merely feel sorry for our sin. It’s about changing direction, doing a complete 180. We must leave the sin life and dwell in the Kingdom of God.
True biblical repentance includes four elements: 1. An awareness of one’s guilt, sinfulness, and helplessness, 2. It takes hold of God’s mercy through Jesus Christ, (believing Jesus died on the cross for us and rose again), 3. It is a change of attitude about sin, and 4. It results in seeking obedience to God’s command in the pursuit of living a holy life (Is He the Lord of your life?).
Jesus said Repent and Believe. Belief is about taking God at His word, trusting Him, and living a relationship that depends on Him.
There are many people who believe Jesus (they know who He is), they do not believe in Him though (they have not placed their hope in faith in Him and His claims or are apathetic in their faith). The Bible tells us, “Even the demons believe” (James 2:19). In the same way, we must believe in the gospel, not just say it is true intellectually.
His streams of mercy never cease, no matter where we are or what we have done. We must repent and believe in the gospel. We must return to the gospel, over and over again, never ceasing.
Just for today, speak the good news of the gospel to yourself. And therefore, call for hymns of loudest praise.
Tune in tomorrow for Part Four….