This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 13:3 ‘I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like m

This Week’s Focus Passage: Luke 13:3

‘I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner, perish.’


    Jesus began His preaching of the gospel, immediately after His encounter with Satan, as the latter on this occasion insinuated his many temptations toward the recently baptized Savior. His preaching began, according to each of the synoptic gospels, with calls to repentance. Each of the Synoptics make ready note of that blessed reality. In Matthew’s account, in 4:7, we read, From that time began Jesus to preach, and to say, Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Similarly, in Mark 1:14-15, we find, after His baptism by John Baptist, and then, the temptation, Now after John was delivered up, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of heaven is at hand; repent ye, and believe in the gospel. And still further, we find the compliance, in this, of Luke, although the style of this Gentile was somewhat different from Matthew’s and Mark’s, and Luke reported several miracles including at least His healing of a leper; it is not until He is at a feast with the publican, Levi (a.k.a.Matthew), that Jesus is challenged by some Pharisees and their scribes, when they asked Him, Why do ye  eat with publicans and sinners, and they swiftly received His answer, They that are in health have no need of a physician; but they that are sick. I am not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.   

The very first sermon after God the Holy Spirit came down at Pentecost, included Peter’s call to repentance from his hearers. In Acts 2:34-36, Peter informs his hearers, even citing Psalm 110, when he said, For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet. Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified. This extremely pointed asseveration, spoken clearly in their hearing, seems, also clearly, to have impacted, not simply their ears, but their hearts as well, for Luke goes on to advise us, in the words which follow; Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, What shall we do? It was this cry for direction that caused Peter to respond, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins. So, while Luke’s gospel grants the reader more information about the life and the activities of Jesus before He began preaching tours, it seems, we are yet advised of what may be one of His first sermons. And in this sermon, He is determined to call for sinners to repent; in fact employing those very words, when He says He came to call, not the righteous but sinners to repentance. We should be able, with all propriety, then, to assert that a call to repentance is part of the gospel.

Indeed, we may learn, in the fifth chapter of Acts, when the authorities had arrested and imprisoned Peter and the apostles, and began to interrogate them about their teaching [ye have filled Jerusalem with your teaching], and this is the place where Peter utters his famous response, “We must obey God rather than men.” Peter continued by insisting upon the truth, and telling them that, The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew, hanging him on tree. Him did God exalt with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. The teaching of Peter, at this time and place, informs us that repentance is, along with faith, a gift given by the Holy Spirit to believers at regeneration. One of the favorite arguments from those contending that man has the ability to believe and to receive salvation through the gospel, because, they say, God cannot command us to do something unless we have the ability to do it.  St. Augustine of Hippo is credited with having said in prayer unto God, “Lord command what you will, and grant what you command.” This is the essence of the contention between those holding to the truth of God’s sovereignty in all things; including the salvation of man. God commands man to believe the gospel. The apostle John has written at the close of the third chapter of his Gospel account, the following words involving a command. The final verse of that wonderful chapter [of course, the chapter divisions are not inspired], sets before the reader two options, when John has well written this truth: 

He that believeth on the Son hath eternal life; but he that obeyeth not the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him. 

    Elsewhere, in his narrative, the apostle John has written Jesus’ statement:

    No man can come to me, except the Father that sent me draw him: and I will raise him up in the last day. 

    These two statements are equally inspired of God. Yet, how is it that the one that fails to obey shall not see life, even though ‘No man can come to me’? The answer to that supposed conundrum are in the words following, when John has added the exception; ‘except the Father that sent me draw him.’ God has commanded all men to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and He can give that which He commands. 

    And He does give faith to the heart that God the Holy Spirit regenerates; and God the Holy Spirit regenerates the hearts of all those whom the Father has placed in the Son from before the foundation of the world. This is according to the New Covenant promise given through, both Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. We may happily read, in Jeremiah 31:33; But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And Ezekiel 36:26-27; A new heart also will I give you, and a new Spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep mine ordinances and do them.  Read; I will give what I command.

Jehovah promised His people, through the New Covenant, that He would give them both faith to believe, and repentance to confess and to leave off sin. Twice in our verses, Jesus said, Repent or Perish. He merited repentance for us that we perish not. 

David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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