Can true repentance exist without faith? By no means. But although they cannot be separated, they ought to be distinguished. -John Calvin, Institutes, p. 311.
As I refer to the Book of Micah, the people of Israel and Judah were in trouble with the Lord. The purpose of the book of Micah was to proclaim warning and judgment to both the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms. Micah described the impending judgment that would eventually exile the nation. But all is not lost!
In Micah 6:6-8, the prophet Micah raises and answers a question, “What does the Lord require of you?” The answer was this: to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. Today, I would like to rephrase and answer the question, “What does Jesus require of you?” From here on, I will be letting the words of Jesus Himself answer the question.
Starting with Jesus’ words in (Luke 24:46-47) one can be correct in saying that Jesus requires you to repent of sin. The command to repent of sin was proclaimed by Jesus during His ministry (Matthew 4:17; Luke 13:3, 5); and was preached by His apostles as they fulfilled His commission (Acts 3:19; 17:30-31). It’s pretty clear that Jesus requires people to repent; or change one’s way of life as the result of a complete change of thought and attitude. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10; 2 Corinthians 7:11. Have you expressed godly sorrow for your sin, with a fervent desire to change?
If we look at Mark’s account of the Great Commission in Mark 16:15-16, one can say that Jesus requires you to believe and be baptized. The command to believe is foundational to the gospel message (John 3:16; 8:24; 20:30-31); likewise the command to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16). What does it mean to believe and be baptized? It means to place your faith in Jesus, that He died for your sins (John 1:29). And, to place your faith in God, that in baptism He will raise you together with Christ, having forgiven you of your sins (Colossians 2:11-13; Romans 6:3-7). Have you placed your trust in Jesus, dying with Him to sin in baptism and rising with Him from baptism to a new life?
From Matthew’s account of the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, we learn that Jesus clearly requires people to become His disciples (Matthew 11:28-30; Matthew 28:19)! It requires abiding in Jesus’ words, loving one another, bearing fruit (John 8:31; 13:35; 15:8). It also requires denying self, forsaking all (Luke 14:26, 33). Have you made the commitment to follow and learn from Jesus as His disciple?
Turning now to the words of Jesus to the seven churches in Asia (Revelations 2:10), we learn that Jesus requires you to be faithful until death. Why? The command to be faithful until death is necessary for a couple of good reasons. First, because Jesus knew some would fall away (Luke 8:13-14); and because one can develop a heart of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-14). Jesus clearly requires people to remain faithful as His disciples! To remain faithful means to retain our "first love" (Revelations 2:4), reject all false doctrines (Revelations 2:14-15); and to maintain our zeal for the Lord (Revelations 3:15-16). I ask you, “Have you maintained that initial love and zeal you had when you became a Christian?”
Finally, again from the words of Jesus to the seven churches of Asia, we learn that Jesus requires you to repent if necessary. We all should have the need to repent as Christians. Jesus repeated this time and time again (Revelations 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19). Paul expressed this in his writing to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:20-21). Jesus clearly requires His disciples to repent when necessary! If your faith and service ever wavered, have you repented with fervent zeal? For the Christian it includes prayer, confessing one’s sin (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
So what have we learned today? We learned this: that we have come full circle (repent-repent). Jesus wants every lost soul to repent and obey the gospel in faith and baptism. Additionally, Jesus wants every wayward disciple to repent and be zealous in their service to Him. Now ask yourself this, have you done what Jesus requires of you?
Dear Lord, I pray that you will not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions. Please think of me according to Your mercy and for Your goodness' sake, O LORD. Lord I turn from all of those sins that I committed and I ask for Your help in washing the memory and thoughts of that sin completely from my mind. Please restore me to faithful obedience to Your Word, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit anew, so that I may keep Your commands all the days of my life." (Based on Psalm 25:7)
God bless you,