Derek Prince - What Did Jesus Preach About Repentance
Now I want to emphasize that repentance must go before faith. There is no true faith without repentance. This is emphasized all through the New Testament. In Matthew chapter 3 we read about the ministry of John the Baptist who was sent to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. And what was his message in one word? Repent. In other words, repentance was essential before the Messiah could come. Repentance prepared the way for the coming of Messiah. Until God’s people, Israel, had been through this experience of repentance they could not be ready to meet their Messiah. In Matthew 3 verses 1 through 3 it says: In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is He who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His path straight.
How did he prepare the way of the Lord? By calling God’s people back to repentance. And repentance is the only way we can prepare for the Lord to come into our hearts and lives. And then when John had finished his course Jesus Himself, in fulfillment of John’s prophetic word came to continue the ministry of the gospel. And it says in Mark 1:14-15: Now after John was put in prison Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel and saying: The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel. Repent and believe. You cannot truly believe unless you have first repented. The first word of command that ever came from the lips of Jesus was not believe but repent.
I remember being in a meeting in Southeast Asia, let me say where a certain preacher had preached a message on healing. He’d spoken very eloquently about God’s will and plan to heal, and quoted some of the promises about healing. But he had not said one word about repentance. Then he called the people forward, and most of them came from a background of idolatry, and they had no idea what they had to do to receive what God was offering. I know because I got involved in counseling them, Ruth and I together. And it was such a lesson to me. With all his good intentions and his sweet language he had totally confused those people because he’d given them the impression that they could come to God without repenting. He never used the word repent once in that message.
I don’t say this to criticize a preacher, I just say this because I learned a lesson. And I’m afraid there are many, many people in many, quote, gospel churches and gospel services who are confused, because all they’re being told is what God will do for you. But they are not being told what God requires from you. The first thing He requires is repent. Change your mind, turn around, make an 180-degree turn and face up to God. Say: God tell me what to do and I will do it. That’s repentance. Now if we look on to the end of Jesus’ ministry His message never changed. In Luke 24, after His resurrection, Jesus gave instructions to His disciples.
In Luke 24:46–47: Remember, this is after the resurrection, just before He left this world. Then He said to them, Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Messiah, the Christ, to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations beginning at Jerusalem. [Notice the message?] Repentance and then remission or forgiveness of sins. But no forgiveness without repentance, and that is the message that was to begin in Jerusalem and be preached to all nations. Repentance, then forgiveness through His name. And then when the church came into being in public view on the Day of Pentecost, the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and a multitude of Jews gathered and wanted to know what was going on. and Peter stood up and preached that famous message from the second chapter of Acts. And then at the end they were convicted and they said to Peter, What are we to do?
This is the first time the church as such had been asked by sinners: what must we do? [Let me read this.] Acts 2:37: Now when they heard this, that was Peter’s message, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? And I want to tell you that if you ever come to the place where you sincerely want to know what God wants you to do and you’re willing to do it, God will not leave you in any doubt as to what He wants. His difficulty is not telling you, His difficulty is bringing you to the place where you want to know and do it. And as soon as these people under real conviction of sin, said to the apostles: Men and brethren, what shall we do? Peter, as the spokesman of God and of the church gave them a clear, precise, practical answer: Then Peter said to them, Repent. What comes first? Repentance, that’s right. Let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
There’s a three-stage promise. Number one, repent. Number two, be baptized in water. And number three, receive the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe God’s program has ever changed. I believe that’s exactly what God wants sinners to do today. I believe that’s the message the church should be proclaiming: Repent, be baptized in water, receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And in places where that message is preached it happens exactly as it did on the Day of Pentecost. People repent, they’re baptized and they receive the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen this happen many times.
Many times, coming up out of the water at baptism they are filled with the Holy Spirit. Why should we water down the message? We have no authority to do that. The only authority we have is to proclaim the message of the New Testament: Repent, be baptized in water, receive the Holy Spirit. When we give the message, God gives the answer. It isn’t God who has changed, it isn’t the message that's changed, but in many cases it’s the church that has changed. And let me say something which may shock you, but I cannot find from the book of Acts onwards any person who claimed salvation from Jesus without being baptized in water. See if you can find one. Because Jesus said he who believes and is baptized shall be saved. What right have you or I to take out the words and is baptized? Salvation is believing and being baptized. And when you’ve done that you’re a candidate to receive the Holy Spirit. That’s the message of the church; it’s never changed, as far as God is concerned.