We live in a superficial age, and nowhere i superficiality more evident than in the religious realm. Generally people do not want their conscience disturbed, so the message of repentance is seldom preached. Militant conservatives and destructive liberals alike are guilty of the abandonment of any truth distasteful to the ears of the self-satisfied, or that which is difficult to enforce.
It is contended that our forefathers placed too much emphasis on poignance of grief as a necessary element in true repentance, in so far as they permitted any idea of merit to attach to the experience. Yet surely they were right in insisting on a deep and genuine upturning of the soul. In our age we have swung to the other direction. We seldom hear the old prophetic cry, “Break up your fallow ground, sow not among thorns”
(Jeremiah 4:3). This generation, with all its religion, has lost the sense sin and pays preachers to “Prophesy smooth things.” Repentance is robbed of its true significance. The plow of conviction is never driven deep into the human soil. So-called “revivals’ and “evangelistic efforts” produce shallow results because of the shallow repentance preached. Deep mourning for sin, hot scalding tears of repentance, souls writhing in agony because of their burden are not common as they used to be. Saved and unsaved alike are not over-awed by the august holiness of God, and the filthiness of their own evil nature. the sob of anguish, “Woe is me, for I am undone,” is seldom heard in a religious service today. Instead, young people and others walk down our aisles to make a decision for Christ with a giggle on their faces. Statistically-minded, the church counts numbers. God give her numbers that count! We go out for quantity. God seeks quality.
Wherever true repentance is preached and insisted upon, however, solid results accrue. Those saved under such preaching usually make robust Christians. While, of course, faith ini Christ is the great characteristic in gospel preaching, repentance toward God must also be strongly pressed. All who proclaim the truth must pray and labor for the Spirit’s convicting work in the conscience. If sin is slurred over and repentance belittled, there cannot be depth or stability. The more thoroughly conscience is disturbed and stung on account of sin, the more solid and enduring the results when the Gospel is preached. It must be shown that repentance is indispensable to salvation (Luke 13:3). The prodigal must return in sorrow if he is to be reinstated - the rebel must submit before clemency can be exercised and favor bestowed - the sinner must repent before relations with an offended God can be restored. This is why...the call to repentance rings out in resonant tones from the pages of Scripture. ...
There are those who cry repentance down, calling it a legal doctrine, but the Bible is full of this basic doctrine. Christ preached it! At His farewell, when He was about to ascend to heaven, He commanded that repentance should be preached in His name (Luke 24:47). Repentance may be a bitter, drastic pill for our sin-sick generation to take, but it is necessary if the needed spiritual healing is to be experienced. May God raise up fearless witnesses who will preach repentance until men repent and turn to the Savior!
Herbert Lockyer, All the Doctrines of the Bible, pp.169, 170