Many of us have accepted the opportunity to repent of our sins and worship Jesus Christ as our savior. But how many of us have clued in on the opportunities that evil has afforded us to repent since our salvation? Though it may have been so for a few, most of us have not had to “repent or die”. Repentance is not just from sin, it can also be from faith. For many people in the times around and after Christ, lack of repentance before the Roman courts meant death, and not a pretty one, at that. I am not here picking up the “once-saved-always-saved argument”. I want to help us see the victory we have in front of us clearly, and know that Christ is with us in super hard times, and Holy Spirit will stand with us, if we will stand.
I’m pretty sure most people know about Peter’s denial of Christ as He was being tried in the “hangman’s court” of the Chief Priests and Sanhedrin that night. It can be said that Peter “repented” of following Jesus out of fear, in order to save himself, just as Jesus had predicted.
The word Jesus used for Peter denying his faith was: NT:533 aparneomai (ap-ar-neh’-om-ahee); meaning – to deny utterly, i.e. disown, abstain NKJV. Notice you don’t have to get crazy and stand on a box and yell that you hate something. You can just stand idly by and do nothing at a key moment.
Peter did both. He cowered, hoping not to be noticed, and then openly said he didn’t know Jesus when asked…3 times in a row. However, right after his denial, he “went out and wept bitterly.” (Luke 22:62) I get the sense Peter had seen the look Jesus gave him, and instantly regretted the weakness he had also denied he had. But what to do from there? In Jesus’ usual way, the chance to repent of Peter’s cowardly denial was given, face-to-face, after the resurrection. (John 21) Peter repented to Jesus, taking a much more humble view of himself before the Lord than he had done previously, and, much later, succeeded where he had previously failed. His success was that he would not repent of his faith, even to the point of embracing the death that Jesus had warned him about.
“Saint Peter resided in Rome and suffered a martyr’s death there in the year 67 A.D., at the time of the Christian persecutions during the reign of the emperor Nero. The exact place of his martyrdom is unknown. Historians believe Saint Peter was crucified upside down in Nero’s amphitheater…(catholicbridge.com)”
At the point of death, evil gave the opportunity for Peter to repent of his faith. Heaven countered with a prediction that he would not, and gave Peter the strength to do so. Before Peter died, he wrote his last letter to the church beginning with an admonition to them to be diligent in their faith, so they may not fall. He walked the road to death knowingly, refusing to turn away from God. This is a great lesson for us all.
2 Pe 1:1-15 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth. Yes, I think it is right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you, knowing that shortly I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. NKJV
Perpetua is the first woman of faith known to have kept a diary up until her death for her faith early in the 3rd century AD. She was a learned noble woman from Carthage, in a Roman province of Africa, and came to faith early in her 20s, in a time and place where Christians were for the arena, and death. She was married, and had a very small child, still breast feeding. For her faith, she was convicted of civil disobedience, and sentenced to death.
When arrested for her faith, she was given multiple chances in jail to repent and worship Rome’s ruler. She could just do so one time, and they would let her go free.
She was given this opportunity at arrest, regularly during a lengthy jail stay, at trial, and after walking the street to the arena, right before being sent out for torture and death. Her father visited her in jail and begged her, his favorite child, to repent of her faith. She gave her young son back to her family before her death, and, with several others, went to be mocked by many thousands of loud, angry people at the arena, then tortured, and killed.
She was the last of her group to die. Previous tortures had not taken her out, so she was sent out again to be killed by the sword. Her young, inexperienced assailant missed her throat and cut her collar bone instead. She reached up, steadied his sword at her throat, and gave her life for her faith. She did not repent. She walked strong to the end.
Her writings show that God sustained her, showing her and the others that they were indeed conquerors, and would be with God in heaven. Her trials are well documented, you should check them out.
Jesus Christ was given the chance to repent – to refuse to die for us. Rulership without that death was offered to Jesus in the wilderness right after baptism – it was offered 3 times. (Matt 4) In His prayers in the garden, Jesus asked for the cup (of suffering) to be taken from Him, but also said “Thy Will be done” and then went with the soldiers peacefully. (Matt 26:42) Jesus could have stayed silent when the Sanhedrin asked if He was the Messiah. Jesus could have performed for Herod, and won his favor. There are so many ways during his 3 years of open ministry that Jesus could have capitulated, faded into the background, and saved Himself instead of us.
Heb 12:1-4 …let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. NKJV
Always remember, as you walk through your life, that opportunities for repentance of your faith will come. It is universal – it happens to everyone, from both angles. Remember, too, that you are a victor. Watch carefully so you see them, worship carefully so you don’t fall for them, prepare yourself to refute them, and wait patiently for the loving arms of Jesus Christ to call you home!
Tuesday, October 12, 2021