IF MY PEOPLE …
Terry R. Baughman
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
Sin separates from God and drives a wedge in our relationship with Him. The original sin drove Adam and Eve from the Garden and denied them the blissful association they once enjoyed walking with God in the cool of the day. The cherubim and a flaming sword insured they were unable to return to the tree of life and forever be condemned to live in rebellion to God. God’s plan was not intended to be permanent separation from His created beings, but to provide a plan of redemption and restoration from the awful curse of sin and death.
Where sin caused separation and death, Jesus came to offer restoration of relationship and eternal life with Him. There was no surprise in the first rebellion. The One who knows the end from the beginning was present and fully aware of the rejection of His creation. More than that He also had a plan for redemption and the necessary provision for propitiation. Jesus Christ was the sinless sacrifice to atone for our sins. Through His death on the cross the blood of Christ provides power to overcome sin. This was in His plan before the Creation. “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:18–20).
The price was paid but it is always our decision whether or not we will accept the provision of His sacrifice. Repentance is recognition of our sinful nature, our debased behavior, and our numerous transgressions. Repentance is the initiation of a desire to forsake sin and to pursue God and His righteousness. To repent is to turn around, change directions, and purposefully commit our ways to God’s path.
The promise of Scripture is conditional, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways …” (2 Chronicles 7:14). To “turn from their wicked ways” is true repentance. We must recognize our propensity to sin and commit ourselves totally to His grace to save us. To approve God in any other way than to humbly repent is vanity. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Overcome by their sinful actions the crowd that gathered on the Day of Pentecost called out the question, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). Peter’s answer came without hesitation and was inspired of the Spirit, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
Jesus came to bring life; but eternal life begins with a turning toward God in repentance. Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Luke 5:32). We can gain His attention and His favor, and receive answers to our prayers, if we will repent!
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).