After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
– Mark 1:14-15
“In Mark’s Gospel, after Jesus endured the wilderness temptations, he commenced his ministry by announcing two leading commands: ‘Repent and believe the good news!’ (Mark 1:15). This is the sum and substance of Jesus Christ’s whole teaching – the Alpha and Omega of his entire ministry. And, coming from the lips of such a One, at such a time, with such peculiar power, we are to give heed to his twofold command. To ‘repent’ is more than a mere change of mind. There must be sorrow for sin and hatred of it in true repentance, for the repentance Jesus proclaimed was in keeping with ‘the good news.’ Thus we have the second half of his command: ‘Believe the good news.’ The repentance we ought to proclaim is one connected with faith. Repentance and faith must be proclaimed together, for the repentance Jesus commanded is the result of faith. It is the repentance that ejects sin as an evil tenant and the faith that admits Christ to be the sole Master of one’s heart. This was Jesus’s message, and it should be that of his followers.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon, The Spurgeon Study Bible, Introduction to Mark, under heading of ‘Spurgeon on Mark’
This was my nightly Bible study, starting the book of Mark, a few days ago. Then I read the following a day or two later:
“I have little fear that any nation or combination of nations could bring down the United States and Canada by military action from without. But this I do fear – we sin and sin and do nothing about it. There is so little sense of the need for repentance – so little burden for the will of God to be wrought in our national life. I fear that the voice of blood will become so eloquent that God Almighty will have no choice but to speak the word that will bring us down.
“I do pray often: ‘Oh, God, send a revival of repentance and the fear of God that will sweep through the continent that we may be spared and that we may honor Thee!’”
– A. W. Tozer, Echoes from Eden
We need to each, individually, repent. Each time I turn a corner and think that I am getting more like Jesus (something that others might see in us, but we cannot see properly), I am bombarded with temptations. I may fend off Satan’s lies one or two times, but then I stumble. By stumbling, I find it hard to get back into my writing. What is boiling inside my head as I try to write is a combination of the residual evil thoughts or simple shame for having stumbled. I have said it before. Becoming a Christian may be easy to some, more difficult for others, but living the Christian life is hard work. The closer you get to the goal, the more Satan will try to make you stumble again. We probably stumble most when we try to resist on our own power, not relying upon the power of God. Each time we rely on our power, we dishonor God by not trusting in Him.
In Mark 1:26, the Gospel says that a person possessed by an evil spirit went into convulsions before the spirit departed. Spurgeon wrote in a sermon about this verse: “If Satan must come out of a person, he will do that person as much mischief as he can before he departs.” Whether possessed by an evil spirit or simply living a life like Jesus, Satan does not give up easily.
What impresses me about these two learned preachers is that Spurgeon died in 1892, Tozer in 1963. Yet, their message is truer today than when they wrote their quoted messages.
Stepping outside politics, but talking about it at the same time, everyone seems to be saying “I am right. You are wrong. Now, shut up and let me take over.” First, do not let them take over. Germany let that blowhard Hitler take over. That did not work out well. But see what ‘spiritually’ drips from the statement. “I am right.” The speaker refuses to repent, because he or she does not recognize their own sin. “You are wrong.” The speaker wants to cram the listener’s sin down his or her throat, a clear sign that forgiveness does not exist on this continent anymore. We want to be forgiven (if we ever admit we need forgiveness), but to Heck with the other guy. “Now, shut up and let me take over.” Then the final compound statement is the direction of where we are headed. As more and more people become unproductive, relying upon the government for subsistence, the voting will continue to move more toward socialized programs, programs printed on borrowed money. Since the nation is not being productive, we will need the socialized programs to put food on the table. The government will remove more freedom (shutting us up) and become more totalitarian (taking over). They’ll take over for our own good, since we’ve proven to screw it up, often.
I feel a need to quote two other people who died in 1963, on the same day, a few months after the passing of A. W. Tozer.
“I am rather sick of the modern assumption that, for all events, ‘WE,’ the people, are never responsible: it is always our rulers, or ancestors, or parents, or education, or anybody but precious ‘US.’ WE are apparently perfect and blameless. Don’t you believe it.”
– C. S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady
NOTE: Repentance starts when you run out of other people to blame for your own mistakes.
“And so, my fellow Americans: Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
– John F. Kennedy, Inauguration Address
What can we individually do for our country? We can repent and start living our lives closer and closer to the life of Jesus. Surrender our will to God.
This may sound like the crazy guy on the street corner, wearing the sign, but…
Repent! The end is near!
The end of what?
The end of the world? That is up to God.
The end of our freedom? The end of our present form of government? The end of our right to worship God in the way that we choose?
All of these are up to us. Repent. Turn toward Jesus. And lead by example, before it is too late.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.