“…..if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land……” 2 Chronicles Chapter 7 Verse 14 ( NET Bible Translation)
THE EIGHT STEPS OF REPENTANCE
It is a common error of Christians, Ministers, and Theologians, to somehow minimize the dire necessity and recognition of a “process” within the concept and act of individual as well as corporate repentance, into a mere “ change of mind”, or perhaps a simple “ acknowledgement of the past”, or even an “ about face” from one’s previous actions and/ or thoughts. This neglect of a recognition that there is much more to repentance than the above mentioned, for a better word, mere “ tokens” of the repentance process, has advertently or inadvertently allowed complete and extreme laxity to enter the hallowed confines of the Christian Congregation of the Faithful, and has placed the souls of both believer and unbeliever in peril by an unqualified acceptance of partial repentance, or even no repentance at all.. The Holy, Infallible Scriptures, however, are not to be blamed for this confusion, as many would allege, since they are quite clear and explicit in conveying to one and all the true rudiments of repentance.. Whether found in the Old Testament or the New Testament, the doctrine of repentance must be understood as a series of several steps that commence with unfeigned recognition of God’s Fatherhood as Creator, and end with full healing of spirit and soul, with entrance into the “ Promised Land” of Holiness and Righteousness.. The key to this progression is found in the Book of Second Chronicles, Chapter 7 Verse 14. It is best classed in the following manner:
a) A RECOGNITION that God is one’s Father and Creator, to whom one is answerable as a created being;
b) A Complete Contrition and HUMILITY before God with recognition of one’s sins and need;
c) A Pleading for Mercy through PRAYER to God the Father;
d) A Sincere desire to PLEASE GOD by Fearing Him and seeking His Will;
e) A Pledge of REPUDIATION of one’s PAST SINS and PRESENT SINFUL PRACTICES;
f) A BELIEVING and full Reliance on God’s Promised RESPONSE; His “ HEAVENLY GIFT”; the Vicarious Sacrifice of His Only-Begotten Son; Jesus Christ, on behalf of the repentant sinner/ individual;
g) A BELIEVING ACCEPTANCE of Christ’s ATONING SACRIFICE on the Cross of Calvary and His shed Blood for the Remission of one’s sins, and a CONFIDENCE that God is able to FORGIVE and accomplish what the individual is unable to himself;
h) A thorough confidence in the HEALING of the individual’s Spirit AND Soul, and of his entry into the now-cleansed spiritual “ Promised Land” of God’s Holiness and Righteousness…
In the ancient Christian Church, all of the above steps were carefully considered and taught to the prospective seeker and convert. Though the steps may not always have been systematically edumbrated as above, the overall and general method and process was always adhered to in order to ensure that true and abiding Faith would be given all opportunity to be sown in “ good ground”, and to encourage the Fear of God, without which it is “ impossible to please God”, and which Scripture speaks of as being the “ beginning of true Wisdom”..
Clement of Rome, writing in the first century A.D., had the following to say on the theme of Repentance:
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened
to him were saved. Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God. The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;” adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent, O house of Israel, of your iniquity. Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, I and though they be redder than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people.” And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.” Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].
CLEMENT OF ROME First Epistle to the Corinthians Chapters 7 & 8…
And King Solomon of old has the following warnings, exhortations to repentance and lamentations for the foolish who refused to repent:
20 Wisdom calls out in the street, she shouts loudly in the plazas;
21 at the head of the noisy streets she calls in the entrances of the gates in the city she utters her words:
22 “How long will you simpletons love naiveté? How long will mockers delight in
mockery and fools hate knowledge?
23 If only you will respond to my rebuke, then I will pour out my thoughts to you and I will make my words known to you.
24 However, because I called but you refused to listen, because I stretched out my hand but no one paid attention, (Isa 65:12; Isa 66:4; Jer 13:10;)
25 because you neglected all my advice, and did not comply with my rebuke,
26 so I myself will laugh when disaster strikes you I will mock when what you dread comes,
27 when what you dread comes like a whirlwind, and disaster strikes you like a
devastating storm, when distressing trouble comes on you. (Job 27:9; Job 35:12; Isa 1:15; Jer 11:11; Jer 14:12; Ezek 8:18; Mic 3:4;)
28 Then they will call to me, but I will not answer, they will diligently seek me, but they will not find me.
29 Because1 they hated moral knowledge, and did not choose to fear the LORD,
30 they did not comply with my advice, they spurned all my rebuke.
31 Therefore they will eat from the fruit of their way, and they will be stuffed full of their own counsel.
32 For the waywardness of the simpletons will kill them, and the careless ease of fools will destroy them.
33 But the one who listens to me will live in security, and will be at ease from the dread of harm.
PROVERBS OF SOLOMON Chapter 1 Verses 20 – 33… ( NET Bible Translation)
Since then all things are seen and heard [by God], let us fear Him, and forsake those wicked works which proceed from evil desires; so that, through His mercy, we may be protected from the judgments to come. For whither can any of us flee from His mighty hand? Or what world will receive any of those who run away from Him? For the Scripture saith in a certain place, “Whither shall I go, and where shall I be hid
from Thy presence? If I ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I go away even to the uttermost parts of the earth, there is Thy right hand; if I make my bed in the abyss, there is Thy Spirit.” Whither, then, shall any one go, or where shall he escape from Him who comprehends all things?
CLEMENT OF ROME First Epistle to the Corinthians Chapter 28…
Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. “For God,” saith [the Scripture], “resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.” Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words. For [the Scripture] saith, “He that speaketh much, shall also hear much in answer. And does he that is ready in speech deem himself righteous? Blessed is he that is born of woman, who liveth but a short time: be not given to much speaking.” Let our praise be in God, and not of ourselves; for God hateth those that commend themselves. Let testimony to our good deeds be borne by others, as it was in the case of our righteous forefathers. Boldness, and arrogance, and audacity belong to those that are accursed of God; but moderation, humility, and meekness to such as are blessed by Him.
CLEMENT OF ROME First Epistle to the
Corinthians Chapter 30…
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Matthew Chapter 3: 2 ( NET Bible Translation)