Good News in Repentance
by Pr. Dave Mann
What is the good news when God calls us to repentance? Is a call to confess our sins bad news? Well, when it is done poorly, it is bad news. If we fear that punishment awaits us on the other side of repentance, we will likely continue to deny that we need to repent. But the truth is that our loving, heavenly Father is the one who has issued the call to repent and that he is already running across the field to embrace us (Luke 15:20). When we believe that God is good, we will sense the good news of forgiveness even before we form the first word of our confession of sins.
"In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,
but you would have none of it." (Isa. 30:15)
Even the agonies of life are signs of God’s goodness to us – "the bread of adversity and the water of affliction." Sometimes the Lord needs to get our attention through difficult circumstances. As C.S. Lewis writes in The Problem of Pain: “But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Our man-made self-help strategies will not work in the end. Isaiah uses the imagery of swift horses that the people of his day would like to imagine being effective to get themselves away from problems (30:16-17). We have our medications, our money, our pleasures, our portfolios, our “ten steps to wholeness” – none of which will succeed in giving us peace and hope if we use them to sidestep the call to repentance.
The Lord longs/yearns/deeply desires to show his mercy. God desires to forgive us more than we desire to be forgiven.
"Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!" (Isa. 30:18)
Nothing besides God himself is worthy of our confidence. All others are idols. Trust in God alone. He promises to be our guide step by step in the journey.
"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'" (30:21)
Heavenly Father, even your calls to repentance are full of grace and mercy. Thank you for announcing the gospel even in the midst of the reminder that we are sinners and need to confess. In Jesus’ name, Amen.