By Liu Shuo
Wang Wei and three other co-workers, Xiaoliu, Ma Tao, and Hu Zhi, sat together studying the Bible.
Then Wang Wei said to them with a smile, “My fellow co-workers, the Lord Jesus said, ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17). ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent you, and believe the gospel’ (Mark 1:15). The Lord told us in order to enter God’s kingdom, we must confess and repent to Him. Therefore, we must clearly know what true repentance is. It is very important for us.”
Hearing this, Hu Zhi said dismissively, “I believe it is repentance that we come before God with sincerity, pray and admit our sins in bitter tears. As long as we do these things frequently, we will be forgiven of our sins. When the Lord returns, we will be brought into the heavenly kingdom.”
Xiao Liu frowned and retorted, “Over these years, we pray every day to God to admit our sins and the things we do that offend Him. However, in fact, we continue to commit the same sins when encountering things. Does it count as true repentance that we live in the repeated cycle of sinning and acknowledging our sins?”
Ma Tao hesitated for a moment and said, “Regarding this question, I once discussed it with several sisters and brothers at co-worker meetings in other place. I think although we often pray to the Lord and confess our sins in bitter tears, it just represents our wish to truly confess and repent to the Lord but not true repentance. Whether we truly repent or not depends on how we practice next. For example, a thief was caught when he was stealing. Although he admitted his guilt and promised that he would never steal again, it didn’t represent he had true repentance. We still need to see his following actual behaviors — whether he will do it again. In the same way, if we always confess in words, but don’t practice the Lord’s words and follow His way, still living in the vicious circle of committing and confessing sins, this isn’t true repentance. We haven’t met the Lord’s requirements of repenting.”
Wang Wei listened to Ma Tao carefully. After hearing what he said, Wang Wei thought for a while and said, “Hearing Brother Ma’s fellowship, I can’t help thinking in the Age of Law, David killed Uriah by carrying out schemes and took his wife Bathsheba by force, committing an act of adultery. Then Jehovah God sent the prophet Nathan to convey His words to David, and let him know his crime and the punishment which would befall him — from then on, the sword never departed from his house. David knew he had violated the commandments issued by Jehovah God and offended His disposition. Realizing this, he kept his remorse to himself and prayed to God, repenting and confessing with all sincerity. In his later years, he became very sensitive to the cold. So, the people of Israel brought a young girl to his bed to join him under the covers and keep him warm. But he would not move close to her. David not only truly admitted his crime but had actual behaviors. Such a testimony has to be convincing for people.”
Ma Tao inclined his head and said, “That’s right. The witness of the people of Nineveh truly repenting before God was also recorded in the Scripture. When the King of Nineveh heard the words conveyed by prophet Jonah: ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown,’ he believed and obeyed God. Then he laid aside his royal status, took off his robe, covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes to confess and repent to God with his people. Just like the Bible records, ‘For word came to the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God: yes, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?’” (Jonah 3:6–9).
Just then, Wang Wei said excitedly, “Concerning the repentance of people of Nineveh, some time ago, I happened to read a passage of words about that in a book. Allow me to read it.”
Others all said, “Okay!”
Wang Wei took out a notebook from his bag, opened it and read, “After listening to God’s declaration, the king of Nineveh and his subjects performed a series of acts. What is the nature of their behavior and actions? In other words, what is the essence of the entirety of their conduct? Why did they do what they did? In God’s eyes they had sincerely repented, not only because they had earnestly entreated God and confessed their sins before Him, but also because they had abandoned their wicked conduct. They acted this way because after hearing God’s words, they were incredibly frightened and believed that He would do as He said. By fasting, wearing sackcloth and sitting in ashes, they wished to express their willingness to reform their ways and refrain from wickedness, to pray for Jehovah God to restrain His anger, to entreat Jehovah God to withdraw His decision as well as the catastrophe about to befall them. Through examining all of their behavior we can see that they already understood that their previous wicked acts were detestable to Jehovah God and that they understood the reason why He would soon destroy them. For these reasons, they all wished to utterly repent, to turn away from their evil ways and abandon the violence in their hands. In other words, once they became aware of Jehovah God’s declaration, each and every one of them felt fear in their hearts; they no longer continued their wicked conduct nor continued to commit those acts hated by Jehovah God. Additionally, they entreated Jehovah God to forgive their past sins and to not treat them according to their past actions. They were willing to never again engage in wickedness and to act according to Jehovah God’s instructions, if only they would never again infuriate Jehovah God. Their repentance was sincere and thorough. It came from the depths of their hearts and was not feigned, nor was it temporary” (“God Himself, the Unique II”).
Wang Wei fellowshiped, “We can see from this passage of word the main manifestation of the true repentance is that man can admit their sins and evil deeds, and regret and hate themselves truly, thus confessing and repenting to God sincerely. Additionally, they can abandon the evil acts in their hands and act according to God’s word so as not to commit the same sin to resist God, rather than acting one way to others’ faces and another behind their backs. In the past, although we came before God to confess and repent, our repentance just stopped at words, and we did not despise ourselves from our hearts. So many times we just went through the formalities so as to ask for the Lord’s forgiveness; when encountering things, we would commit sins and disobey God again. This is simply not the true repentance. God inspects people’s hearts. Only when we truly repent can we gain God’s mercy and kind treatment.”
Xiao Liu said cordially, “The passage of words you read are very practical. They tell us what true repentance is, which can benefit us a lot. The people of Nineveh could truly repent before God, abandon the evil acts in their hands, and never commit crime or resist Him. By comparison, we pay lips service to the repentance, but our hearts have not stirred. God is holy and righteous. How could He allow us to cope with Him and brush Him off? ”
Ma Tao nodded his head and said, “Thanks for God’s leading. The more fellowship on this question we have, the clearer we are on it. In our previous prayers, we just confided the things we did that weren’t in line with the Lord’s will every day, but we showed no signs of true repentance, and even thought we would be saved by grace. If we keep confessing and committing our sins like this, can we be raptured into the kingdom of heaven when the Lord returns? The Lord Jesus said, ‘Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). And it is said in the Bible, ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). God is holy and righteous: Whoever sins is not allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven. Only those who cast off their sinful nature and absolutely obey God and are faithful to Him can have the qualification to enter the kingdom of heaven. God won’t take the people who have sinful nature and belong to Satan into His kingdom.”
Wang Wei continued his words, “Some time ago I had a fellowship with a brother. When we spoke of the conditions for entering the kingdom of Heaven, according to the prophecies of the Lord Jesus, ‘He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48) and ‘And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment’ (John 16:8), he said that though we have accepted the Lord Jesus’ salvation and our sins have been forgiven, our sinful nature still lies deep within us. To enter into the kingdom of God, we must accept the judgment work done by the returned Lord Jesus in the last days to know our sinful nature, so that we can truly hate ourselves. And then we can forsake our flesh to practice God’s words, obeying and worshiping God. Only by doing so, can our corrupted disposition be resolved and we be purified and saved by God. I think his fellowship makes a lot of sense, so I want to invite him to commune with us, do you agree?”
Ma Tao and Xiaoliu said in unison, “That’s great!”
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