Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s Bible verses are Matthew 3:1-2    

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”


In the Lutheran Confessions, Article XII of the Augsburg Confession says this: “Now, repentance consists properly of these two parts: One is contrition, that is, terrors smiting the conscience through the knowledge of sin; the other is faith, which is born of the Gospel, or of absolution, and believes that for Christ's sake, sins are forgiven, comforts the conscience, and delivers it from terrors. Then good works are bound to follow, which are the fruits of repentance.” That’s pretty straightforward, wouldn’t you agree? Repentance causes one to take one’s sins seriously, and to realize how injurious they are to our souls, our lives, and the lives of others. Repentance also causes us to fall at the feet of Jesus asking for the forgiveness of our sins, forgiveness that only He can grant, and then trusts that His forgiveness does indeed remove those sins as “far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12). Good works stemming from a God-given desire to do what is right then follow from contrition and faith.

But there is a problem today with this simple, straightforward, and powerful truth. No one thinks that they sin anymore! One reason that many people don’t take comfort in God’s forgiveness is that they don’t think they actually need it. Instead and all too often, they even take comfort in their sin, as if God is unconcerned at worst, or tolerant at best, with whatever anyone desires to do. In a Newsweek article way back in 1995, the author noted, “Ninety percent of Americans say that they believe in God. Yet the urgent sense of personal sin has all but disappeared in the current upbeat style of American religion.”[1] It’s much worse today. The number of believers is reported to be falling and the disregard for any notion of our actions being sinful is on the rise. Just look at what we consume for entertainment today as proof of our callousness to any notion of sin.

Here’s the point: John the Baptist’s message is just as relevant today as it was then. He came into a world that had a sin problem, just as it still does. The world then, like today, had its hedonists, its moralists, its rationalists, its secularists, and its pragmatists. Yet the powerful, heart-transforming message remains, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near” in and through Jesus Christ! There’s plenty of evidence out there that sin is still a real big problem. For example, broken marriages, STD’s, profanity and callousness, disrespect for authority, lack of civility, nihilistic violence, and other evidence of selfishness and a complete disregard for others are headline news virtually everywhere and every day. The message to you, me, and all people is still the same, “Repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near” in the person and work of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Whenever I think about John the Baptist, I think about the fact that he was an oddity to most of the people of his day. So it shouldn’t surprise us that his message seems odd today too. But if you want to receive Jesus, you must take John’s call seriously. Does anyone repent anymore? Yes, today, like then, the message is still getting through. Let it start with you and me.

PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, John the Baptizer was the forerunner to Your saving work. Let his message sink into my heart and mind today so that I might find my repentance and refreshment in You alone, by grace through faith. AMEN.


[1] https://www.newsweek.com/what-ever-happened-sin-185180

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