‘If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?’ John 8:46
Suggested Further Reading: Mark 1:1–15
The claims of Jesus of Nazareth are briefly stated by Peter, ‘Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.’ He demands repentance; that is, a change of mind—the changing of your mind with reference to sin, caring no more for its pleasures, despising it and turning away from it: a change of mind with regard to holiness; seeking your happiness in it: a change of mind with regard to Christ himself, so that you shall no longer look upon him as without form or comeliness, but as a most precious Saviour, such as you need. Sinner, Christ demands of you that you should take your ornaments of self-righteousness from yourself, and wrap yourself in the sackcloth of humiliation, and cast the ashes of penitence upon your head, and cry, ‘Unclean! unclean! unclean!’ Moreover, he requires faith of you. ‘Repent ye and believe the gospel.’ ‘This is the commandment that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom God hath sent.’ The Jews said, ‘What shall we do that we may do the work of God?’ Christ said, ‘This is the work of God, that ye believe on Jesus Christ whom he hath sent.’ He demands that faith which will accept him to be the sole cleanser from sin, and so to be sole possessor, as he is sole redeemer, of the heart. Friend, you believe that no less a person than the Son of God thus bids you look upon him and be saved; you believe that the Son of God was nailed to the cross, and that out of love to you he demands that you forsake the sin which will destroy you, and believe in his blood which will cleanse you. Does Jesus thus speak? Are these demands the hard inventions of a tyrannical priesthood, or the mild and tender claims of love?
For meditation: The Lord Jesus Christ commanded such repentance and faith in him at the start of his ministry (Mark 1:15); his apostles continued to combine the same two gospel commands (Acts 20:21). They have never been withdrawn. Have you obeyed them? If not, ‘What doth the Lord require of thee?’ (Micah 6:8)
Sermon no. 492
1 February (1863)