Growth Groups week two:
The Gift of repentance

Reading Plan:
Day 1: Matthew 11-12
Day 2: Matthew 13-14
Day 3: Matthew 15-16
Day 4: Matthew 17-18
Day 5: Matthew 19-20

Memory Verse: 
Acts 20:21
Testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Focal Passage:
Matthew 3:1–12; 4:17
To some people, the word “Repent” sounds threatening or harsh. But repentance is really a sweet gift from God because it allows us to turn to God in humble confession of our sins (1 John 1:9). Because of the work that Christ did for us on the cross, He will not turn us away. Therefore, repentance is a true blessing from God, a gift from God. We should never take it for granted (Hebrews 4:16; 10:19). We shouldn’t look at repentance as a negative thing. And because it’s a precious gift from God, let us embrace it and practice it often in our lives.

The message of the gospel is a message of repentance. This was the message of John the Baptist, of Jesus, and of Peter and Paul. Jesus declared in Luke 13:3 …”unless you repent you will all likewise perish”. 

John the Baptist: Matthew 3:2
Jesus: Matthew 4:17; Luke 13:3
Peter: Acts 2:38; 3:19
Paul: Acts 20:21; 26:19-20

This is also the message that must be preached to all people/nations. 
This is the first part of the gospel. There is no true gospel without repentance. Luke 24:46-48

Repentance simply means, “to change your mind”, and therefore to change your direction. When someone repents, or turns from their sins, they also repent (turn) towards God. 
The focus of our repentance should not so much be on what we’re turning from, but Who we’re turning towards (Acts 20:21; “repent towards God” 26:20 “turn to God”). Naturally when I turn towards God, I turn away from my sin. Jesus says in Matthew 4:19 “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” True repentance in our lives will happen as we follow Jesus. As we follow Him He will show us a new and different way to live. This will look very different than our old life and the way of the world. Jesus brings about transformation to those who follow Him. 
Like Paul said, “if anyone is in Christ Jesus, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is what it means to be born again and have a new nature. In the next several weeks we will look at what the Bible says about what it means to be transformed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). 

  1. When you’ve thought of repentance, did you think of it as a negative action or a positive? Why do you think that is?
  2. Do you see repentance as a gift from God? Explain why or why not.
  3. Have you repented of your sins and been born again? When was that? Share your story.
  4. Do you see repentance as a daily practice in your life? Do you find yourself confessing your sins often and then turning from them immediately?
  5. Is there a difference between confession of sins and repentance from sin? Explain.
  6. If you have not repented of your sins, then today is the day for you to repent and be born again. Pray with someone from the group to receive Jesus as your Savior.

Additional notes: The difference between repentance and confession.
These are two completely different words in the Bible. 

The word confession means to say the same. And therefore comes to mean “agree.” What confession of sin is, is to “Say the same thing that God has said” that is, “to agree with God.” So to confess your sins is to agree with God that you have sinned and the actions that you were doing are wrong in His sight. But this will not change you, you have to go onto repentance to see transformation. Many times people confuse confessing sin with repenting from sin. These two go together but they are not the same.

The word repent on the other hand, as we have already seen, means to “change your mind” or “change your direction.” It means to turn toward God. This is an action based on a decision that we have made. It has nothing to do with speaking or confessing. It simply is a decision to turn and obey the Lord.

So we see that confession of sin is different than repentance. Confession of sin will come first, when we agree with God and confess we have done wrong and are going the wrong way. After we have confessed we still need to turn from that sin which is an action of obedience. Remember we are turning to God who is the only one that can empower us to overcome our sin. We cannot do this in our own power. We need the saving work of Christ to truly obey the Lord.