“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
This is the simple message of the Gospel.
Repent from your sins and be refreshed from the Lord – it’s just that easy.
It’s not hateful, bigoted or intolerant in any way. In fact, it’s the most gracious and loving message anyone can hear.
And it’s the same message from God since the fall of man, long before Peter even spoke these words in the first century. The prophet Ezekiel spoke the same thing directly from the heart of God centuries before:
“‘Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,’ declares the Lord God, ‘rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?’” (Ezekiel 18:23).
So, the central message of the Gospel has always been that all people should turn from their sin and enjoy the eternal and abundant life God freely gives us through repentance.
This is, and has been, our anchor of hope from generation to generation.
Unfortunately, this message is being distorted and diluted by some spiritual leaders today who seek to make the Gospel more politically correct. As they refuse to address what sin truly is when asked publicly about it, many people drift away from the truth by their silence, anchorless against sin’s powerful current that leads to death.
Why would people turn from sin when certain life choices they make are no longer considered sinful, or at least when spiritual leaders don’t clearly address these life choices head on? Like when Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, appeared on “The View” and was asked if abortion is sinful.
Unfortunately, he never gave a straight answer. Instead, he nuanced his words and did not address the fact that dismembering an unborn child is indeed a sinful act. (He later clarified his stance on Twitter, but by then the opportunity had been missed.)
The hosts set the ball on the tee for him to share the hope that Jesus wipes away sin and gives us times of refreshing from His presence – but it only comes on the heels of turning away from sin (including abortion) through repentance.
But we’ve been there before. If you’ve read our book, “Whatever the Cost,” you remember that when we had a reality television show with HGTV, we were afraid to address some of the hot-button issues at first – because we had so much to lose. But, by God’s grace, we were strengthened by the Holy Spirit and others in our lives to stand firm for the unborn (and for marriage).
As for pastor Carl Lentz, he’s got a lot to lose as well. We’ve heard him boldly address pornography and fornication without hesitation, but when asked about abortion, he caved. We almost did the same thing when our platform was threatened.
So here are some scriptures that encouraged us in our journey. We hope they encourage Carl too, and you as well:
Ezekiel scolded spiritual leaders of his time, saying they were “encouraging the wicked not to turn from his wicked way and preserve his life” (Ezekiel 13:22).
The prophet Jeremiah also spoke for God about the role of spiritual leaders, saying, “But if they had stood in My council, then they would have announced My words to My people, and would have turned them back from their evil way and from the evil of their deeds” (Jeremiah 23:22).
The prophet later lamented, saying these same leaders “have not exposed your iniquity so as to restore you from captivity” (Lamentations 2:14).
Restoration is the key here. It’s the goal of repentance. This is why Satan, who is so crafty, seeks to make certain sins untouchable. He doesn’t want restoration!
The Apostle James made this clear, declaring, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
Today, it’s vital we return to the simple truth of the Gospel, that we encourage everyone (beginning with ourselves) to turn from sin – all sin – not just the ones that are politically correct. Because times of refreshing will come from the presence of the Lord – if we repent. But we won’t repent if we don’t know what sin is.