daily biblical sermons

Repentance and faith are the two essential responses to the new age of messianic fulfillment that Jesus has inaugurated
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Monday, First Week of the Year, January 13, 2020
1 Samuel 1:1-8, Psalm 115, Mark 1:14-20

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted




“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).



Jesus now begins his public ministry, and Mark records his messianic work in Galilee, summing up his preaching as saying, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Jesus was preaching “the gospel of God,” (Mark 1:14 RSV) or “the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14 KJV), as some manuscripts say. He was preaching good news to the degree that it was possible at that point in his ministry, before his saving death and glorious resurrection had taken place. He could not preach openly and clearly the gospel in its fully developed form as we know it from the apostles’ preaching on the day of Pentecost and subsequently as well as in the letters of St. Paul, St. John, St. Peter, and the Epistle to the Hebrews.



If Jesus were to proclaim the fully developed gospel, as we now know it, at this early point in his ministry, no one would have understood or believed it, and he probably would have been arrested and executed for blasphemy before his time, and so would not have been able to spend these years of preaching, teaching, exorcising evil spirits, and working miraculous cures, thereby explaining and proving the divine origin of his teaching and saving work in the world.



Nonetheless the gospel of the kingdom was being preached, because Jesus was there and in Jesus the kingdom of God was at hand. With his coming, the time had been fulfilled, and the decisive moment was now present. The longed for kingdom of God had arrived, and the necessary response to it is to repent and believe in what he is preaching.

The response is double: repent and believe in Jesus and in what he is saying. We need both of these.



Repentance alone without faith is the Pelagian and heresy, that is, the heresy that we can do it ourselves. We just have to stop doing bad things and start doing good things, and that’s it. We’re saved. That is the heresy of Pelagianism.



And just to have faith alone without repentance, without stopping sinning, without an intent to amend our life is Gnosticism, another heresy, which says that I can believe in Christ, but I can still continue living a life of objective mortal sin, such as constant fornication, adultery, or homosexual relations. According to this heresy, my soul is saved because I believe, so I have no need to repent. This Gnostic heresy is very prevalent today, for there are many today within the Church, even within the Roman Catholic Church, who are proclaiming this, and some of them are very high Church leaders.



They are telling us that all we need to do is have faith, but we don’t always need to repent, and many people in difficult circumstances don’t need to repent because God is a relativist, they think, and has no fixed moral principles or teachings that always apply to everyone, but that everyone has their own custom-made moral law revealed to them personally and individually in their conscience by God – so they falsely think – and so they need to get into a process of discernment accompanied by a pastor, who believes in this heretical view, who will help them discover and discern in their conscience what God’s moral law is for them, and it may well be that his personalized moral law for you is to break his biblically revealed moral law – so they falsely say.



These present-day relativists and Gnostics (who are also called Modernists) falsely tell us that since God is so merciful, he doesn’t expect everyone to obey his biblically revealed moral law (the Ten Commandments and the moral teachings of Jesus), because it would be too hard for them to do so, and so in his mercy he reveals an easier, lower law just for them that they have to discern in a process of accompaniment. Once they do this, then they can continue to live their sinful life and even continue to live in a constant state of objective mortal sin like adultery, fornication, or homosexual relations, and by doing so they are doing God’s will, because they are obeying the custom-made law that they think they have discerned in their conscience through accompaniment as God’s will for them.



So if they are doing God’s will, according to this false teaching, they are growing in grace, virtue, and holiness by living a life of constant objective mortal sin. This is the mercy heresy that is agonizing the Catholic Church today, a heresy inflicted on the faithful by unfaithful Church leaders who are proclaiming this new false moral teaching. The response to this of a faithful Christian and Catholic should be to resist, oppose, and – if one is able – try to refute this false teaching so that people will not be deceived by it and led to live mortally sinful lives and end up spending eternity in hell after their death.



We need both repentance and faith. One without the other is not enough. We need both. Repentance means that we have the firm purpose of amending our life, which means to stop sinning gravely. Faith or belief means that merely stopping sinning and intending to amend our life is not sufficient. We cannot save ourselves. We cannot justify ourselves. Only God can justify us, because we are all sinners and our merits do not qualify us to become righteous people.



Therefore Christ was sent to us in order to take our place as our substitute and suffer our just punishment for our sins for us on the cross so that all who put their faith in him will have the divine Judge (God the Father) declare us ungodly sinners righteous, because our death sentence for our sins has already been served for us by our substitute Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross. And since what God declares happens, because his word is creative and creates what it says, when he declares us righteous, we become righteous indeed, but not with our own earned righteousness from our good deeds, but rather with his own righteousness, which he reckons to us by our faith, just as he reckoned Abraham’s faith to him as righteousness. “For what does the scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’” (Romans 4:3).



So we see that we do not work to earn our righteousness. We do not become righteous by good works, as St. Paul never tires telling us (Romans 3:20, 28; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8-9), but rather we become righteous by faith, which is reckoned to us as righteousness, as St. Paul says, “And to one who does not work, but trusts [literally, believes pisteuonti] him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned [to him] as righteousness” (Romans 4:5). Since Abraham had great faith, “that is why his faith was ‘reckoned to him as righteousness.’ But the words, ‘it was reckoned to him,’ were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him that raised from the dead Jesus our Lord” (Romans 4:22-24).



So when we genuinely repent, which means turn away from our former sins, stop committing them, and intend to amend our life in the future – when we do this, we have genuinely repented.



Then the next step is to believe (with a trusting belief) in the gospel, which is the good news that God sent his Son as our substitute to make full and just reparation for our sins for us by suffering our death penalty for our sins for us on the cross so that all that believe in him and put their trusting faith in him might be declared by God the Father, the divine Judge, righteous, acquitted, free to go, and their case dismissed, for our penalty for our sins has already been suffered for us by our substitute on the cross. As soon as we believe this, once we have genuinely repented, our sins are gone, absolved, and we are acquitted, and released as righteous people, made righteous by God himself, through our trusting faith in him, because of the merits of his Son on the cross dying as our substitute instead of us dying eternally for our sins.



“Repentance and faith are the foundation stones of Christ’s ministry. Repentance and faith must always be the main subjects of every faithful minister’s instruction” (JC Ryle, 1816-1900).



“Both these [repentance and faith] must go together; we must not think either that reforming our lives will save us without trusting in the righteousness and grace of Christ, or that trusting in Christ will save us without the reformation of our hearts and lives. Christ hath joined these two together, and let no man think to put them asunder” (Matthew Henry, 1662-1714).

» 2019-2020 Year A English
» 2018-2019 Year C English
» 2017-2018 Year B English
» 2016-2017 Year A English
» 2015-2016 Year C English
» 2014-2015 Year B English
» 2013-2014 Year A English
» 2012-2013 Year C English
» 2011-2012 Year B English
» 2010-2011 Year A English
» 2009-2010 Year C English
» 2008 - 2009 Year B English
To receive my current daily Biblical sermons by email
Subscribe to DailyBiblicalSermons Free:
Enter Your Email Below and Click Subscribe

See my books!

Desert Living

Desert Living

Desert Living

All books are available and searchable on Amazon and Kindle.

Daily Biblical Sermons
© Copyright 2007-2009 Rev. Steven Scherrer, www.DailyBiblicalSermons.com. All are welcome to use the materials on this site, either via spoken or written form. However, if used in written form or retransmitted via internet or email, please INCLUDE the above copyright indication. Thank you.