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The Fruit of Repentance

Posted by David Dixon on

We need a spirit of repentance in our churches.

I need it. You need it. We need it. We need it desperately.

This was my take away from today's reading in Luke 3. (You can read along with us with our Scripture Reading Guide.)

As we read, John begins his earthly ministry and he comes to "proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." He calls out the religious leaders for clinging on to their heritage and tradition as what will save them. He tells those that were being baptized to "bear fruits in keeping with repentance." When asked what this looks like, John explains to them what repentance looks like in action...share what we have...perform our duties with integrity and not for self gain...be content and serve those around us.

What kind of haunted me in this passage for our churches and country was that if we as Christians were repentant, wouldn't we see more of this kind of fruit? If we don't see this kind of fruit perhaps we are more like the religious leaders of Jesus day than we are willing to admit.

I don't believe it is coincidence that when Martin Luther (the Reformer) posted his 95 Thesis on the Wittenberg Chapel door (which kicked off a period of revival in Europe) that the first of the 95 was, "Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ willed the entire life of believers to be one of
repentance."

While this can sound grim, I believe it is because we miss understand repentance. Repentance is the turning of our hearts from unbelief in anything other than Jesus to belief in Jesus. That's why it isn't just about when we first come to faith, it is about all of our Christian lives. As Tim Keller writes, "Repentance is the way we make progress
in the Christian life."

The thing is that repentance doesn't come naturally to us. It comes when the Holy Spirit convicts us and we respond by surrendering our hearts and minds to him. It is more than feeling sorry for something we have done bad, but actively seeking to turn from unbelief to belief in Jesus that leads to action in our lives.

I know in my own life, one example, is when I get frustrated with my children. When I get frustrated it is easy to justify to say that they are in the wrong and I am in the right as the parent. Therefore I do not need to repent for anything. Yet in my heart of hearts I sense the Holy Spirit pointing out how my frustration really is born out of my selfishness more than righteousness. When this happens, I need to trust the Holy Spirit and allow him to change my heart from unbelief to belief and trust that God's way for handling these conversations is better than my own.

While this is a simple example, this is the kind of repentance we need in a big way in our hearts if we are to see a movement of the Lord that we desire. Today, what has the Holy Spirit been calling you to repent of? Where is the Holy Spirit leading you turn away from your unbelief? 

Together may we discover Jesus as all that we need for all of our lives so that we may bear fruit that comes from repentance.

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