There are many doctrines within the sphere of Christian doctrine, and they must all be preached. Failure to preach the doctrines would make us unfaithful to our people. For many in the church, their understanding of doctrine goes no further than Luke 3:16. While that is a marvelous Scripture and a truth most necessary, God did not give us one verse; He gave us 66 books. Thus, we must establish the necessity of all of Scripture; we must preach all of Scripture. We must instruct our people in all of Scripture. We must teach the doctrine of God, that He is compassionate and longsuffering, full of mercy and forgiveness, as well as holy and just. We must preach the doctrine of the church, lest our people not know the purpose and mission of it. We must preach the doctrines. We must preach all of the doctrines. We must preach them with the boldness and authority contained within them, for they are the very words of God.
There is one doctrine, though, that gets less attention than the others, and that is the doctrine of repentance. Repent is a word that has been relegated to the past. We hear it in the old preachers, and then remind ourselves this is the 21st century and our people would not tolerate such doctrines. With the divorce rate so high, how could we preach that people ought to repent of their adultery? In the society in which we live, how could we preach that people ought to repent of their fornication, their covetousness, their unfaithfulness to the church? That preacher will be looking for a job soon and replaced by a kindly preacher who will tell them they do not have sins that need repented of, but that they have problems that require compassion and understanding.
The fact is, however, that people are still sinners. All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). This is a fact that all people must address. Sin should not be made light of; it is rebellion against God, which has earned for everyone an eternal condemnation. God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalms 7:11). Every moment a person is outside of Christ he or she stands in danger of hellfire. God’s anger is changed by nothing but the blood of Christ, and a person outside of the blood is treasuring up wrath unto the day of judgment (Acts 2:5-10). They are by nature sinners and children of wrath (Galatians 2:1-3). Scripture tells us the wages of that sin is death (Romans 6:23). Knowing this, can we look at the people in our congregations, in our families, in our neighborhoods and have any other message to preach to them? Can we watch people speeding toward hell at an ever-quickening pace and shout to them any words except, “Stop and turn around”? This is the doctrine of repentance; it is the needed message at this hour.
It was the message the prophets preached to idolatrous Israel. It was the message John the Baptist preached. It is the message Christ preached (Mark 1:15). On the day of Pentecost, after Peter preached, the people were pricked in their hearts and asked what they should do. Peter told them to repent (Acts 2:38). Paul preached everywhere that men ought to repent, turn to God and do works befitting that repentance (Acts 26:20). It is the message of Christ to the churches in Revelations (Revelation 2:5, Revelation 2:16, Revelation 2:22 Revelation 3:3, Revelation 3:19). If it was the message of the prophets, the apostles and of Christ, ought it not also to be our message that people ought to turn from their sins and turn to Christ in love, faith and obedience? Can there be any more pertinent message to our sin-soaked society than this? If God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30), then ought we not to first ourselves practice it, then preach that our people ought to do the same?
If we are to be faithful to our Lord who called us and to the congregations who trust us, then we must sound the clarion call to sinners that everyone ought to repent, turn to God and do works befitting that repentance.