All armies in the natural world have induction procedures - special things you are required to do in order to join the forces.
Are you ready to become part of God's army?
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
God also has a special plan for induction through which you become part of His spiritual army.
His plan centers on two important concepts, repentance and conversion, which result in justification.
In the natural world, when a soldier joins an army, he must deny any previous allegiance he has had to another army or country. When you join the army of God, you must repent of your allegiance to sin and the Kingdom of Satan. This is done by repentance.
Repentance is "an inward decision or change of mind resulting in the outward action of turning from sin to God and righteousness."
Acts 20:21 calls it "repentance toward God." By the act of repenting you turn away from your sin and leave the Kingdom of Satan.
Repentance is a personal decision to change your allegiance from the Kingdom of Satan to the Kingdom of God. This change of mind and turning from sin cannot be done in yourself. It is the power of God which actually brings the change in the mind, heart, and life of a sinner:
Then God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
Repentance is a gift of God:
Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance... (Acts 5:31)
Although emotions may be involved in repentance, true repentance is a decision, not just an emotion. Sorrow for sin and the shedding of tears is not enough in itself. This must be accompanied by an inward decision that results in an outward change.
The Importance Of Repentance:
Repentance is important because:
God Commands It:
...but [God] now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
It Is Necessary To Avoid Spiritual Death: ...but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)
It Is Necessary For Eternal Life:
Through repentance the penalty of death is removed and eternal life is granted:When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God,saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
It Is Necessary For Forgiveness:
God cannot forgive your sins unless you repent:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
It Is God's Desire For All:
God does not want anyone to experience the spiritual death of eternal separation from God in Hell: The Lord...is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
It Is The Reason Jesus Came Into The World:
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
It Is Necessary To Enter God's Kingdom:
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)
When you become part of the Kingdom of God, you are enlisting in God's army.
When you ask for forgiveness of sins you experience "conversion." Conversion means "to turn." When it is used in connection with Biblical repentance, it means to "turn from the wrong way to the right way." You leave the Kingdom of Satan and join the Kingdom of God.
And many of the children of Israel shall He turn to the Lord their God. (Luke 1:16)
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw Him, and turned to the Lord. (Acts 9:35)
And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. (Acts 11:21)
Conversion is turning from the darkness of sin to the light of God's righteousness:
...to turn them from darkness to light. (Acts 26:18)
It is turning from the power of Satan to God:
...to turn them...from the power of Satan unto God. (Acts 26:18)
It is turning from worldly things to spiritual things:
...Ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God. (Acts 14:15)
It is turning from false gods to the true and living God:
...Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. (I Thessalonians 1:9)
The Importance Of Conversion:
Conversion must accompany repentance. You must turn from the wrong to the right because...
It Is Necessary To Enter The Kingdom Of God:
Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
It Saves From Spiritual Death:
He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:20)
It Is Necessary For The Blotting Out Of Sin:
Your sin is written in the records of God until you repent and are converted, then your sins are blotted out: Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out... (Acts 3:19)
The Prodigal Son
Repentance and conversion are best illustrated by a story Jesus told about the prodigal son. Read the story in Luke 15:11-24. This young man left his father and home, went to a distant land, and through sin wasted all he owned. Eventually this young man realized his condition. He was hungry, lonely, in rags, and tending pigs for a job. Then he made an important decision. He said, "I will arise and go to my father." This inward decision resulted in a change in his outward actions. He went home to his father to seek forgiveness.
Repentance – The Change Of Mind:
Read Luke 15:17-19. The young man realized his sinful condition. He made a decision to go to his father and repent of his sin. This is an example of repentance, an inward decision which results in outward action.
Conversion – Acting On The Decision:
Luke 15:20 records how the young man arose and left the old life and went to his father to start a new life. This is conversion.
Man is like the prodigal son. In his sinful condition he turned his back on God his Father and Heaven his home. Each step he takes is a step away from God and one step nearer the spiritual death of eternal separation from God. There is a major decision he must make. He must "come to himself" and recognize his spiritual condition. He must make a decision which will result in a change of spiritual direction.
Justification And Salvation
There are two other terms used in the Bible which relate to repentance. These terms are "justification" and "salvation."
God is the judge of all mankind. When you are living in sin you are condemned before Him:
...but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:18-19)
When you repent from sin and make the decision to turn from your sinful ways, this establishes a right relationship with God. This right relationship or right standing before God is called "justification":
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servantsye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18)
When you are justified by repentance and conversion, you are "saved" from a life of sin as well as from the penalties of sin. This is what it means to be "saved" and what the Bible is speaking of when the term "salvation" is used.
Spiritual Warfare And The Biblical World View
The subject of spiritual warfare must be studied within the context of God's total purpose for the redemption of sinful mankind. Study the parables of the sower and the tares among wheat in Matthew 13. Both parables concern the growth of the Kingdom of God which occurs through the planting of God's Word. Both parables picture the warfare between the two kingdoms with the battle centering on the redemptive purposes of God.
Learning spiritual warfare prepares you to enter the arena of this world and fight for the souls of people.
This is why authority over Satan was given to the disciples before they were sent out to share the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). Satan and his hosts of demons will war against you as you seek to win men to Christ and bring them under the rule of God.
Employing Scriptural strategies of spiritual warfare helps you challenge the principalities and powers who rule over individual human lives, societies, and areas of the world.
Induction Into God's Army
Repentance and conversion result in justification and salvation. This is God's plan for induction into His army.
Have you repented and been converted? If not, you need to stop right now in this study and do the following:
• Repent of your sins.
• Ask Jesus to forgive you.
• Accept Him as your Lord and Savior.
• Turn from your sinful ways (be converted).
As a believer, when you sin, you must also repent. Study the following Biblical examples:
The believers at a city called Corinth had to repent:
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance... (II Corinthians 7:9)
For I fear, lest, when I come...that I shall bewail many which have sinned already and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. (II Corinthians 12:20-21)
The believers at Ephesus were told to repent:
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent and do the first works. (Revelation 2:5)
God told the Christians in Pergamos:
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)
Christians in Sardis:
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. (Revelation 3:3)
Christians In Laodicea:
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; Be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
How About You?
Is there unconfessed sin in your life? Wherever there is sin, there must be repentance:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)
Because repentance is necessary for salvation, God made a special plan to enable the message of repentance to reach everyone. The call to repentance began in the New Testament with the ministry of John the Baptist:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way the Lord, make His path straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:3-4)
Repentance was the first message Jesus preached:
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:14-15)
Repentance was preached by believers in the early Church:
And they went out and preached that men should repent. (Mark 6:12)
...Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Today, believers still have the responsibility to spread the message of repentance throughout the world. Jesus gave final instructions to His followers that...
...repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)
When you preach the message of repentance, you are actually calling others to enlist in God's army. Will you make a commitment to start drafting others into this great spiritual army?
If you are responsible to share the message of repentance and call others to enlist in God's army then you must know how men are persuaded to repent. Men repent because of:
The Goodness Of God:
The blessings of God in the life of an ungodly person are not to be mistaken as God's approval of his life style. The goodness of God is one way the Lord appeals to men to turn to Him:
Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and long suffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
The preaching of the Word of God causes men to repent. The preaching of Jonah resulted in the whole city of Ninevah repenting The men of Ninevah shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas. (Matthew 12:41)
As the Word of God is preached, people hear and respond to the call of Christ which leads to repentance: I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Matthew 9:13)
God, The Father:
Jesus said no one could come to Him except the Father draw him. God draws men to repentance:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him... (John 6:44)
Rebuke causes men to repent. Rebuke is correction given from the Word of God:
...If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)
As you learned, repentance may be accompanied by emotion. Natural emotion alone is not true repentance, but Godly emotion leads to true repentance:
Godly sorrow [for sin] worketh repentance to salvation. (II Corinthians 7:10)