In repentance there is always hope. Jonah preached a message of judgment against the city of Nineveh: “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be destroyed.” The people of the city heard and were afraid. They said, “Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” (Jon. 3:9). In a message of judgment is the hope of salvation. When John the Baptist preached “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand“, the future promise hinged on whether people changed their lives. It was to the person who was preaching “bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance” that Jesus came to for Baptism. And afterward Jesus preached the need for repentance. He was really hot when he cleared the temple because the spiritual leaders permitted the house of God to become a place of merchandise. They were sinful and His confrontation demanded repentance.
It is not possible to get into the right place, into the grace of God and the hope of eternal life, without a choice. We must choose to turn to Him for it is we who turned away from Him. We must also have a reason to turn knowing that we have trespassed against God and that our sins have separated us from Him. Only by knowing the truth can we hope to be back in His grace.
Some people want to preach the love of God. God is love, but that’s not the whole story. Some people want to preach faith and love. These are essential, but what is faith and love? Some people have an irrational dislike of preaching against sin and the need for repentance. It’s foolish since it is not possible to get to the place of real love and faith in God without knowing our need.
Paul said, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul wasn’t ashamed of the Gospel and he wasn’t silenced from preaching against sin. He said, “the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23; 6:23). Wisdom says that the gift cannot be acquired without repentance. If you want the hope of eternal life, you must repent (Lk.13:3).