John the Baptist appeared suddenly at the river bank and began to preach the gospel of repentance. It was a simple yet challenging message, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”(Matthew 3:2)
His opponents that confronted him always were the Pharisee and Sadducees who were the scholars of the time seeking to show their human power and challenge the Gospel but John was steady and consistent.
On this particular occasion, John turned to them and said, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”
(Matthew 3:7-10). It is very clear that if they do not repent, they will be cut down.
Repentance is simply a change of mind.
We change our mind about sin, Jesus, and salvation. Before we repent, we see nothing wrong with sin and no need for Jesus or salvation. But after the Holy Spirit convicts us, we have a change of mind.
This changing of mind leads to a turning away from sin and toward God ultimately resulting in a change in behavior or as stated in scripture that we begin “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance.”
True biblical repentance will always lead to a change of behavior and this change results into practical and visible change of lifestyle. We begin to act out our faith in public, we become the light and salt
among other believers (Matthew 5:13-16).
People begin to notice the difference in our character, our attitudes towards serving God changes, our giving changes because we no longer just give to church or to pastors who have asked for money but to God in whom we have a personal relationship.
A case in point is Zacchaeus whom we
looked at last Sunday.
He said, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give
half of my possessions to the poor, and if
I have cheated anybody out of anything, I
will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke
19:8) Jesus responded, “Today salvation
has come to this house… For I have come to
seek and save the lost.” Zacchaeus’ repentance wasn’t just a simple, “Oops, Jesus, I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” By giving
back what he had previously stolen, he produced fruit in keeping with repentance. He produced good fruit and his repentance was
Looking at the scripture in Matthew 3:7-12,
we are bound to ask the following questions;
•Do I bear fruit in keeping with repentance?
•In what areas of my life do I need to repent? How can I bear fruit as I repent?
• Does my life (words, actions, and thoughts) reflect a changed mindset?
When we produce good fruit in keeping with repentance the world can see the gospel at work in us. God works through us to share that good news with others. We truly appreciate the self-giving sacrificial death of our Lord Jesus Christ and begin a new journey. It is this gratitude that has led many to abandon their wealth and become missionaries; some have used their resources to build the church of Christ as kingdom builders. Today churches are financially struggling, getting money from wrong sources because their members do not understand that giving is a sign of gratitude for what Christ did on the cross. May God help all of us to bear fruit arising from repentant hearts.
May God bless you.
The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Rebecca