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Three Ways to Bring About Repentance

"Whatever happened to repentance?" Frederica Mathewes-Green asked in Christianity Today (2/4/02). "We live in a time when it's hard to talk about Christian faith at all, much less about awkward topics like repentance … Try telling a person who's been discipled by modern advertising that he's a sinner."

No one has ever liked being called a sinner, she said, but the great revivals in history began when people were convicted of their sin. Mathewes-Green is right—we need a way to help today's listeners to confess and turn from their sins.

Martin Luther, John Wesley, and Dwight L. Moody in their respective centuries found ways to communicate the doctrines of sin and repentance to reluctant people. They transformed churches, universities, and nations with their message.

Their approaches can help us.

Luther's sin detector

Martin Luther knew the power of simplicity. He used simple tracts, art, drawings, and even cartoons.

Luther also put together a teaching device that he called a small catechism. Once ...

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