The Baptism of Repentance

Matthew 3:7-12 says, “7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: 9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: 12Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

In the text, we read of four baptism’s in scripture. Two were done in John’s ministry, and the other two in Christ’s ministry. They illustrate the process of growth in the life of a believer, and each of them need to be intricately done and accomplished. The first is the baptism of water, which we have already discussed. The second is the baptism of repentance, which is dying to sin and consecrated one’s body and flesh before God in order to obtain an uncommon anointing and relationship with God. The fact is that the baptism of water symbolizes the baptism of repentance, an inward cleansing. Although a shower or bath cleanses the outside, a baptism reflects a cleansing on the inside in which we are purified before God. But just as we mentioned earlier, the baptism of water does not save anybody. It comes after the baptism of repentance. Otherwise, you are just a sinner being dipped in water and coming right back up. So many want to get the water first and skip repentance, but it does not work that way. It makes no difference to be baptized in water until you been baptized unto repentance! To follow up, baptizing signifies that someone has died to one thing in order to become somebody totally different, and the baptism of repentance shows that one has died to their own carnal flesh in order to be pleasing unto God. So many correlate repentance with apologizing when they are totally different. To apologize means that you are sorry being caught in the act of doing wrong. To repent means that you make a 180-degree turn around from the life you were once living in order to be exactly who God has called you to be. Repentance is more than the words you say. It is the actions you take! What good does it do to honor God with your lips when your heart is far from Him? You life is the best sacrifice of worship that you can ever offer to God because your actions will speak for itself (Matthew 15:8). John the Baptist preached for the people to “bring forth fruits meet for repentance” (Matthew 3:8; Luke 3:8). The word “meet” here means “worthy, due, reward”. In other words, our repentance will bear a worthy reward that is demonstrated in the fruits of the Spirit that we bear, which are the character traits of God! Your repentance will always be revealed through your actions!

It is called the “baptism of repentance” because it is dying to our flesh in order to take upon ourselves the identity of Jesus Christ. As 2 Peter 3:22 declares, the baptism of repentance is putting away the filth of the flesh and positions us to have the answer of good conscience towards God. We died to the flesh and are more equipped to hear, listen, and be sensitive to the spirit of God so that we can avoid sin and abide in His righteousness! We are dipped in sin, but we are coming up a new creation spiritually in the sight of God. Galatians 2:20 says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” My flesh must be crucified so that the life of Christ can come in me. Before there is a resurrection, there must first be a death, which means that we must die to who we are in order to undergo a spiritual transformation and walk in the newness of life. Luke 13:5 says, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” If we refuse to repent and die to self, something else will kill us. We are destined to die, but I would much rather die at this altar that to go to hell. Have you ever wandered if you would ever be willing to suffer martyrdom for Christ? This is the attitude you must have. You die at this altar, and you cannot kill a dead man! We are already dead and now have the life of Christ, and there is nothing that can take that away from you but you. Do not be baptized in water until you first have been baptized in repentance.

John the Baptist’s message was “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3), meaning that he instructed concerning the need to ask God for forgiveness and operating in His grace and mercy. “Remission” means to be released from bondage and imprisonment. John the Baptist was teaching that through a baptism of repentance one could be released from the imprisonment and bondage of sin and walk in kingdom principles, giving them a new and fresh start like only God can give. The kingdom was near because Jesus was getting ready to come on the scene. We must repent if we want God to move and speak in our lives like never before. If we need Jesus was returning before the night was over, what would repent of? The fact of the matter is that God’s presence has shown up in this place, and yet we are not moved to repent of sins that we have committed. His very presence should convict us of anything that could separate us from an encounter with His glory. Christ also spoke this very same message, picking up where John left off. Even after he was thrown in prison, Christ was urging the people to repent and believe the gospel, because He wanted people to be saved and His disciples to walk in kingdom authority over the works of darkness and sin (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15). If we want to function in the kingdom of God, we must repent in order to be like Christ, which is what being a Christian is truly all about. In fact, Jesus centralized His focus on calling sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Repentance does not mean that we are so afraid of God that He may strike us dead at our next shortcoming. It indicates that because of His grace, I choose to repent and seek to reflect God’s image and character to the world. Romans 2:4 teaches that it is the goodness of God that leads one to repentance. It should not be based upon fearing the consequences of bad decisions or even fearing God, but rather upon His goodness and mercy that endures forever! Paul preached that God commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Repentance is not an option for a believer, but it is an obligation and requirement that we must be committed to if we truly want to be saved. Peter said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Through repentance, our sins are blotted out and our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. We will experience times of refreshing in God’s presence. We must be converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Too many are converting to denominations rather than Jesus Christ. We must be refuse to be indoctrinated by tradition and choose to be educated in the truths of God’s Word so that we can be made free in Jesus Christ!

It is God’s desire for us to repent. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” Although not everyone goes to heaven and is saved, it is God’s will for everyone to repent of their sins, but it is up to us to make the choice to do so. God’s patience is what allows us to have the time to repent. So many have confused God’s patience with tolerance. God is not tolerant of evil or sin, but He is patience with us in order to give us time to repent of our sins. We will in due time reap what we sow, whether it be good or bad. It is up to us take advantage of the patience of God and choose to follow Jesus Christ. His message to the church of Thyatira was that He given them space to repent, but if they refused, they would face the judgment of God (Revelation 2:21-22). He also told the church of Pergamos to repent or He would fight them with the Sword of His mouth, meaning speaking powerful words against them, and He told the church of Sardis to repent because He would come upon them as a thief unexpectedly, and they needed to be ready (Revelation 2:16; 3:3)! He told the church of Ephesus to repent and return to their first love, and He told the church of Laodicea that Christ demonstrates His love through disciplining, rebuking, and making people aware of their need to repent (Revelation 2:5; 3:19). It is time for the church to repent and return to its first works, meaning its relationship with God. When someone is baptized in repentance, they will truly be blessed by God in a mighty and profound way.