In gospel proclamation today, the critical New Testament element of repentance can be far too often ignored, minimalised or dismissed. Yet John the Baptist, Jesus himself, and those he commissioned to spread his gospel all spoke of the urgent need to repent.
Michael Ovey was convinced that a gospel without repentance quickly distorts our view of God, ourselves and one another by undermining grace and ultimately leading to idolatry. Only when we grasp the need for true repentance as consisting of a real change -- a transforming work of the Spirit of God -- can we fully understand the gospel Jesus preached.
With care and clarity, Ovey focuses first on the relevant biblical material in Luke-Acts, examining who repents and who does not, and the characteristics of both groups. He surveys the ‘feasts of repentance’ of Jesus with Levi, the Pharisees, and Zaccheus, and in the parable of the Lost Son. He then moves to more systematic-theological aspects of repentance, in relation to idolatry and to salvation; and finally to pastoral theology in the corporate life of the people of God today, with regard to self-righteousness, hypocrisy, humility, forgiveness and justice.
Disclaimer: Mike was my principal and a dearly loved friend, but I'd still love this book if that wasn't the case. Repentance is one of those concepts we're not too sure what to do with. Where does it fit in the Christian life? Should we call our audience to repentance in evangelism? Is it part of the gospel message? Am I saved without it? Where does it fit post-conversion? With characteristic style and clarity, Mike takes us on a sweeping journey. He begins in Luke-Acts and examines instances of repentance and unrepentance to demonstrate that there is a universal call to repentance for Jew and Gentile. From there, he rightly takes us into systematic theology: particularly how repentance stems from our hubris of idolatry and subsequent distortion of the Creator- Creature Distinction. Finally, he ends at very keenly applied pastoral theology: what does repentance look like in the corporate life of the church? There is much gold to be mined here, but you must be willing to dig deep and work hard. It is not an easy read at times, but is so worth it. For me, it was like being back in his lectures, getting cramp in my hand as my note taking yet again failed to keep up with his brain, or being sat across the lunch table as he would yet again make a pastorally perceptive comment whilst spearing a chip liberally with his fork. We lost a brilliant and kind man in Mike, so I am thankful that we can still glean from his wisdom in this volume, first delivered as lectures at Moore College, Sydney in 2008.
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