The gospel, as we understand it from the Scriptures, is both an invitation and a command. It is indeed a call to be obeyed.
In light of the call, several times in the Scripture people ask directly, "What must I do to be saved?" The question comes from a desire to be guaranteed life after death in heaven. At times it flows from a sincere attempt to learn the truth behind inheriting eternal life. And of the answers given we know that the things necessary for salvation from our perspective include repentance and faith. In fact, the first word of the gospel is "Repent."
Jesus began His ministry by preaching "Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." John the Baptist preached repentance. The apostles preached repentance. The gospel message is incomplete without the word repentance!
This is crucial, as there is no salvation without repentance.
Did you hear that? A person cannot be saved unless they first repent of their sin. Salvation, obeying the gospel, is a matter of change. It is putting off the old man and putting on the new man. Luther rightly began his 95 Thesis by proclaiming,
1. When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said "Repent", He called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.
2. The word cannot be properly understood as referring to the sacrament of penance, i.e. confession and satisfaction, as administered by the clergy.
3. Yet its meaning is not restricted to repentance in one's heart; for such repentance is null unless it produces outward signs in various mortifications of the flesh.
The whole Christian life from start to finish is a life of repentance. And yet this is an oft neglected word in preaching and witnessing. Some popular preachers today will admit readily that they shun the word and its negative connotations. In doing so they prove themselves enemies of the very gospel they claim to preach!
If we are to be saved, we must turn from our sin in repentance and to Christ in faith. Our message this morning will examine the need for repentance. Our text, taken from Mark 10:17-27, shows us Jesus' encounter with the "rich young ruler." As we move through the text we will learn that Jesus was asking this supposed seeker to repent. Instead he left saddened. He was not willing to admit that he was a sinner much less that he needed to repent!
What pride! What a stunning view of self. And what a tragedy. To love sin and self more than Christ.
Another lesson to be taken from this text is seen in the disciples response to what happened and to what Jesus said about it. They were astonished and came away asking if anyone could be saved at all! Jesus' reply is that with men, salvation is impossible. But for God, nothing is impossible.
Praise God that He has accomplished for us an impossible salvation!