Two of the most important verses in the Bible are found in the book of Acts.
Acts tells the story of how Jesus’ Disciples set up and managed the first churches after Jesus Himself had gone back to heaven after being raised from the grave.
These two critically important verses are:
† Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3: 19 ESV)
† This Jesus is the stone that was r°ejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4: 11 – 12 ESV)
Although there are many elements that we need to understand about the Christian faith, the ideas that we can only be saved (saved from our sins, saved from an eternity in Hell) through Jesus AND that we can only receive the gift of Jesus’ salvation by turning back to God through repentance, are probably the two ideas that we all need to start exploring first and understand and believe in most deeply.
We think about a café as a place where we go to hang out with friends and have discussions about topics in which we are all interested.
This study allows you to discuss the very important issue of how your life relates to God
This is done by covering the EIGHT R’s
But first, let’s discuss a little more the idea of repenting. Café 180 uses the symbol of a 1800 U-turn because that is how we should think about the subject.
Repentance is such a strong change in your mind about how you should live your life that it turns your actions around 180 degrees, from living only for yourself (or other people) first to making decisions and living for God first.
God wants to forgive us of our sins but He can only do that if we will admit they were wrong in the first place and make some effort to turn away from our sinful thoughts and actions for good
† The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (II Peter 3: 9 ESV)
† If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (I John 1: 9 – 10 ESV)
o The word “confess” in the verse above literally means that for God to cleanse us from our unrighteousness we must admit that God’s directions and instructions were
correct, that in the case that we are confessing, we acknowledge we did not follow His directions and instructions AND that we know we should have followed them and wish we did follow them.
o In other words, you can’t just admit you hit your friend but say you don’t care that you did (even though you know God didn’t like it), you need to confess that you know it was wrong to hit your friend and you wish you hadn’t chosen to do it because God says it is wrong.
When we look at the preaching messages of Jesus and those who came right before and right after Him, we see the absolute importance that is placed on repentance.
Discussion Topics / Questions
1. In your own words, give a definition of repentance.
2. Describe in your own words the difference in admitting you did something and confessing it to God.
3. Can you explain how repentance and confession work together?
4. Do you think you can repent of some things but not of others? Why or why not?
Before Jesus’ Ministry Began
•In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3: 1 – 2 ESV)
What Jesus Said Himself
•“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1: 15 ESV)
•”No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13: 5 ESV)
Peter Preaching After Jesus’ Resurection
•And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2: 38 ESV)
Paul Summarizes His Preaching
•”but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance.” (Acts 26: 20 ESV)
In this lesson, we will discuss the Eight R’s. Of course, one of the R’s is for repentance.
The Eight R’s
1. Real: You have to believe that God is real
† I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart. Jeremiah 24. 7
2. Right: You have to agree that God is right and that His ways are best
a. The Bible teaches that a lot of people who know there is a God are still not going to end up in good standing with Him (in Heaven) because they are not willing to admit that He should be in control.
b. Do you think the world would be a better place if God just took charge of everything (no more murder, divorces, emotional pain, stealing, etc.)? Why / why not?
c. Remember, the devil knows for a fact that God is real but doesn’t want Him to be in charge. Is your belief in God different than the devils? How?
† You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder.
James 2. 19
3. Repent: Decide in your mind you want to try and live the way God wants you to live
a. To repent means to change your mind and be determined that if everything would really be best if God was in charge, then it should start with Him being in charge of your decision and your actions.
b. To repent is to turn your mind and your life around 180 degrees and head in a different direction than if you were a non-Christian
† Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. Acts 3. 19
4. Rescue & Resurrection: You have to believe in your heart Jesus died for your sins (and that only He can pay for your sins) and rose from the grave
a. We cannot pay for our own sins. God is perfect and, therefore, requires total perfection from us. Doing something good won’t pay for a sin that was bad.
i. But Jesus, being both perfect and being God in the flesh, can and did pay for our sins once and for all by dying on the cross.
ii. Rising from the grave, showed us that He can defeat death for us too.
† For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6. 23
† For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God I Peter 3. 18a
† And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. I Corinthians 6. 14
† And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4: 11 – 12
5. Repeat: You need to repeat out loud what is called the good confession
a. Jesus says that if we confess Him before men, then He will confess us before God the Father. That is why we all need to repeat something such as:
i. “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God and I accept Him as my personal Lord and my personal Savior”
† So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven Matthew 10: 32
† Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16: 16
† because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10. 9
6. Rinse: You need to be rinsed off in the waters of baptism
a. Right before He left the earth, Jesus instructs us that we are to make new disciples for Him by first baptizing them and then teaching them to obey what He has commanded us.
b. In the first Christian Sermon after Jesus had been raised from the dead and gone back to heaven, Peter (one of Jesus’ original 12 Disciples), told the people if they believed Jesus was God and died for their sins, they needed to repent and then be baptized.
c. If one of the last things Jesus said on earth and the closing point of the first sermon preached after Jesus had left the earth (by Peter) was about being baptized, that must be a very important command for us to obey after we have repented.
† Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Matthew 28: 19
† And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2: 38
† And now why do you wait. Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. Acts 22. 16
7. Restart: You get a restart when you begin to follow Jesus
a. If you have truly repented, then you want to make that 180 degree turn and restart your life, trying to live more like God asks you to live.
b. But some people struggle to get over the guilt of the things they have done in the past or to get over what other people have said or done to them in the past. When you accept Christ and become a Christian, though, you get a clean restart according to the Bible.
† Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. II Corinthians 5. 17
8. Replace: Again, if you have truly repented, you will want to try very hard to replace your old sins with a different lifestyle
a. This does not happen instantly. Replacing an old lifestyle with a Christian one takes commitment and effort. It is not just a one-time ordeal.
b. It is compared to a constant walk through life not just taking one step at one moment.
† God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. I John 1. 5b – 7
If necessary, refresh the meaning of Eight R’s or refer back to them when completing the following inventory / checklist. If this study is being done by a class or in a group, then come back together and discuss each individual’s answer as a group, especially those to questions 9 and 10.
Personal Inventory / Checklist / Questions
1. I believe that God is REAL
2. I believe God and His ways are RIGHT
3. I have REPENTED and tried to turn to God
□ I Think / Sometimes
4. I believe that only Jesus can RESCUE me and He was resurrected from the grave
5. I have repeated the good confession (in my heart and with my mouth)
6. My full body has been RINSED in baptism
7. Do you feel you got a RESTART and could let go of the past when you became a Christian
8. Do you still work to REPLACE bad thoughts, habits and actions with a Christian walk
9. What step are you currently on? Are you interested in going to the next step? What will it take to get you to the next step? What can others do to help you?
10. If you have repented and been baptized, is there some part of your life that you now realize you need a restart with? What is it? If you have repented, been baptized and restarted a new life, what thought, habit or action do you need to be working on next? What can others do to help?
God says that we cannot pay for our own sins that only Jesus can pay the price for us. And He tells us that we accept the work Jesus did on the cross for us by repenting, by changing our mind 180 degrees and turning our life around and moving in a different direction.
Think about it like this:
If I am not willing to let God be in charge of my life (by repenting and turning my life over to Him), then I cannot be reconciled with God.
But even if I do a complete a perfect 180 at some point in my life and desire more than all others to live in a way that pleases God, doing everything I can according to His instructions, I still have sins I have committed which I simply cannot pay for short of an eternity spent in Hell.
But if I repent in my mind AND believe in my heart through faith that Jesus paid every part of my sin debt for me, then I can be reconciled to God and spend eternity with Him in heaven.
The death of Jesus on the cross to pay for my sins is a free gift offered me by God (by His grace God offers that gift to me) and I accept that free, undeserved gift of God’s grace through faith in the gift itself and through repentance (followed by baptism).
God must live in perfect holiness and must execute perfect judgment
I have sinned and my unrighteousness separates me from God’s holiness
God wants to be reconciled with me but I must first try to turn away from my sin
Even if I repent and make every effort to turn back to God, judgment must still be executed aginst my existing sins
Jesus, though, paid the debt for my sin, suffering God’s perfect judgment on the cross for me
So if I repent AND accept (through faith) what Jesus did for me on the cross , I am saved by God’s grace!
As we close out the café 180 lessons, let’s look to see how the Bible says changing our mind through true repentance will impact the actions in our lives. First listen to the advice of John the Baptist.
† Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.” (Luke 3: 8 – 14 ESV)
What John the Baptist was saying here was that if we have truly repented, it will change the way we want to act as well. He said people in that day should not say they have Abraham as their father. Today he would tell us that just because our parents are Christians or just because we go to church all the time does not mean that we won’t be cut down and thrown into the fire if our repentance doesn’t somehow change our life for the better.
His examples of “bearing fruit” involved helping out people in real need and not being mean or unfair to people even if we could get away with it.
When he summarized his years of preaching, the Apostle Paul tells us he also instructed people that if their minds and hearts had truly turned 180 degrees, their lives would show it through the deeds they performed.
† Therefore, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. (Acts 26: 19 – 20 ESV)
Finally, consider these words from Jesus’ half-brother, James.
† What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead. (James 2: 14 – 17, 26 ESV)
We may have a strong faith that what Jesus did on the cross can take care of our sins but if our life doesn’t somehow reflect a 1800 turn, does it matter what we believe about God?
Discussion Topics / Questions
1. Explain in your own words how grace, faith, repentance and our actions all fit together.
2. Given your answer from question 1, explain whether or not we can do things to “earn” our own righteousness back before God.
3. Have you ever thought about something and decided so strongly in your mind to pursue it that it changed the decisions you made and the way you behave? Give some examples.
(For example, have you ever thought about wanting to play an instrument or a sport and then decided that you would start practicing it and then rearranged your schedule so you had time to practice and then actually learned how to play the instrument or made the sport’s team and played in games?)
4. In today’s world, what are some specific (bad) things someone (your age or stage in life) could stop doing as a way to show they have repented?
5. In today’s world, what are some specific (good) things someone