God is always looking for His prodigals. He is waiting for them to come to their senses. With no thought of further punishment (their sin has punished them ruthlessly), He stands with open arms to receive and restore the truly repentant. The riches of the Father await the repentant. He is waiting for them to enjoy all that He had prepared beforehand.
No man will ever have a relationship with God without repentance. It was the first word of Jesus’ first teaching.
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17)
Peter’s sermon at the beginning of the first church proclaimed repentance.
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized 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)
It was the theme of Paul’s life and ministry.
I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable … solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:20-21)
A genuine follower of Christ enters a relationship with Christ through repentance and continues repenting in various ways for the rest of their life. To be a true Christian is to be a lifelong repenter.
So what is repentance, and why is it so essential? The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 illustrates repentance beautifully.
Repentance is a Change of Mind
“He came to his senses.” (Vs. 17)
The prodigal son was a proud, rebellious young man. He saw little need for his father and thought he could handle life alone.
Taking his share of the family inheritance prematurely, he squandered it all in “loose living.” At the end of his rope, he finds himself desperate, alone, and empty. And then, the Bible records five words that describe the nature of true repentance.
All of us are full of ourselves. We are self-absorbed and proud. Our greatest need is for the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin and bring us to the end of ourselves. To awaken us to the foolishness of our independence.
Have you come to the end of yourself? Or do you still think you can handle life by yourself?
Repentant People See God Differently
“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! (Vs. 17)
The prodigal had seen his father as nothing more than a momentarily essential provider. He wanted to run away from home as soon as he could. We do the same. In our pride, we ignore God’s role and vainly pull away. When the prodigal came to repentance, his first thought was of his father. From that point on, he thought differently about his dad.
Do you understand your Father is the only One who has what you so desperately need? Do you see who He is now and the foolishness of running from Him?
Repentant People See Themselves Differently
“I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.’” (Vs. 18)
A proud man constantly blames others for his problems and failures. He never admits his sin and acknowledges his need. But when he comes to the end of himself, he realizes he is the culprit. His arrogance has taken him to the pit.