When John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament prophets, appeared on the scene, his message was fairly simple. It was much the same as those prophets of God who had gone before him. “Repent, for the kingdom of God is near!”
Jesus came to John to be baptized in water. The Father testified of His pleasure with His Son as He baptized Him in the Holy Spirit. After forty days of being tempted by the archenemy, Jesus appeared on the evangelism circuit along with John. What was His message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”
Jesus was crucified; He rose from the dead; and He ascended to the right hand of the Father. On Pentecost Sunday, ten days after His return to heavenly power, He poured out the Holy Spirit on His infant church. Peter was the first of the apostles to speak up. What was his message to the people of Jerusalem? “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.”
The apostle Paul, after being converted from a Christ hater to a Christ preacher, moved all over present-day Turkey and over into Greece, Macedonia, and probably even Albania. As he was explaining his message to the philosophers on the Areopagus, he shared with them what God’s message was for them. “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands everyone everywhere to repent.”
The writer of the letter to the Hebrews lists six things that he considers “elementary principles of Christ.” The first of these listed in Hebrews 6 is “repentance from dead works.”
As the apostle John is revealing the message of Jesus to the churches of Asia, he records seven separate words. These seven churches are typical of seven different kinds of churches that have existed through the ages. These seven churches also picture different churches that are in existence in the present day. What did Jesus have to say to these seven churches?
Church #1: “Repent and do the first works.”
Church # 2: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Church #3: “Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against (the Nicolaitans) with the sword of My mouth.”
Church #4: “I gave (Jezebel) time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.”
Church #5: “Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent.”
Church #6: “Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
Church #7: “As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
In the final analysis, repentance has been the consistent message from the time that sin first entered the world. It will be the message until the end of this present age. When the wrath of God is poured out on this world in the final days, Revelation tells us that “the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries (literally: drugs) or their sexual immorality or their thefts.”
Maybe you think repentance is just for godless people. Review the seven churches. Jesus’ call to five out of seven churches down through the ages and in the present time is “Repent!” Are we listening?