Vol.I No.XII Pg.3
December 1964

Did You "Repent In The Aisle"?

Robert F. Turner

Many years ago while teaching a Bible class I asked a young lady the meaning of "repent" Her immediate answer was, "Oh, that's what people do in the aisle." Then, seeing my puzzled expression, she continued: "You believe in the seat, repent in the aisle, confess at the front, and are baptized in the baptistry."

Very neat, very neat indeed! And I suspect that there are a surprising number of adults who get little beyond this childish conception of the "plan of salvation." We "repent in the aisle!" Abject sorrow for sin, that humbles--brings us trembling before our God-- shakes our complacency and puts steel in our determination to sin no more, is virtually unknown.

If tears are shed this is a rarity and may often be traced to nervous embarrassment or a prolonged emotional appeal on the part of the preacher. Some speaker s seem to fear any emotional appeal, while others seek to stimulate a synthetic down-pour by tactics of mass psychology. What has become of genuine, soul-searching conviction that changes a whole life? Well, the necessary ingredients are still with us, and but await recognition and proper use.

Sin is rampant, and if repentance is rare> is not for lack of reason. But sin must be made apparent to the sinner. Platitudes and generalities soothe the flesh-- they do not strike the heart. When men "come to themselves", are "pricked in their heart", then they may repent. (Lu.15:17 Acts 2:37-38) Paul feared lest a penitent man be. "swallowed up with overmuch sorrow." (2 Cor. 2:7) Does this fit our man "in the aisle"? "Ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner" -- a portion of 2 Cor. 7:8-11. Read these verses carefully, for they distinguish between "sorry I got caught" and the humbling, self-abasing experience of one who realizes his unworthiness in the presence of God. Such a feeling fills with care, and our very being revolts against our former manner of life --- the sin, of which we are now so ashamed.

"Unclean! Unclean !" we cry; and turn with joyous gratefulness to the Saviour's offer of forgiveness.

Paul taught "repentance toward God" as well as "faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21) All sin is against God (Lu. 15:18) i.e., the creature wrongs the Creator when sin is committed; and since God alone can forgive, it is fitting that the creature present a contrite spirit to the Throne. The old-time mourner's bench was based on Calvinistic errors too space-consuming to be discussed here; but I sometimes wonder if we may not have "run past Jerusalem" in our casual attitude toward repentance.

Jesus said, "Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Lu.13:3) Repent or perish-- it is an ultimatum of Almighty God, an awesome thing. But the sin-burdened soul who truly repents sees more: "Repent, and be baptized-- for the remission of sins". (Acts 2:38) Christ lifts the burden of those who obey Him, and mourning turns to thanksgiving.