(What is repentance? Why do we need to repent? How do we repent? When do we repent?)
Repentance is a necessary path for all sinful men to receive salvation of the human soul. Repentance comes to a sinner’s thinking through realization of the person of Christ. Repentance is not just asking God for forgiveness as many people think. The Bible teaches that repentance is man’s renunciation of sin prompted by the Holy Spirit’s convicting work. Repentance involves man’s knowledge of sin and his attitude to turn away from sinful conduct. Repentance is the mental process that leads a sinful man to an acceptance of the redemptive work of Christ for salvation. Repentance is man's change of mind; and means to turn from sin and disobedience to God.
A penitent man turns to Christ when he acknowledges his own helplessness to break away from the bondage of sin. The sinner’s path of repentance is a conscious acknowledgement of the truth where he sees himself in light of Christ’s suffering on the cross. Through man’s acknowledgement of what Christ did at Calvary, God leads sinful men to repentance.
· 2 Tim 2:25-26…if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
Repentance is more than asking God for forgiveness. Repentance is a Spirit influenced change of mind that causes men to cry out to God. Repentance allows the hardness of fallen mans being to be swayed by the work of the Holy Spirit. Repentance moves the penitent toward being Christ conscious and sin conscious. After true repentance a believer in Christ experiences the power of Divine Grace that enables man to live a holy life.
The penitent’s attitude toward wrongdoing in the sight of God changes from finding satisfaction in sin… to abstaining from every appearance of evil.(1 Thess.5:22) When man truly repents and turns to Christ, holiness of heart is found in the Grace of God; thus condemnation that comes from sin is thoroughly comprehended. True repentance makes men ashamed of a wrongful past. True repentance is brokenness within the heart of man that reaches to Christ for help. Sorrow and shame both being products of contrition can lead man to repentance.
· Ps 34:18… The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.
· Isa 57:15-16… For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
· Ps 51:17…The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.
It’s the power of Calvary that breaks the hardness of the human soul. Godly sorrow produced by Calvary breaks the soul enough that fallen man can repent and quit doing wrong. Brokenness and contrition reduces man to nothing. The cross shows fallen man he has nothing to approach God with but helplessness and hopelessness. When man realizes he is nothing at the feet of a Savior on the cross…God can perform His saving work. This sorrowful yielding from the heart of man, allows the Spirit of God to perform the greatest of all miracles…Salvation of the human soul.
· 2 Cor 7:10… For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation
Repentance is offered to all men through hearing about Jesus. The truth of the Gospel message stirs the conscience of man enough that repentance can be made. When Christ is preached the Holy Ghost convicts the soul; and reveals to man his depraved state of being. In light of the cross, man sees himself as he really is.
Members of the body of Christ tell the world about the person of Christ...so that unsaved men can come to repentance through the knowledge of truth. The Church knows forgiveness of sins comes through Christ’s death at Calvary. This is the testimony of the child of God! Members of the Church testify to the power of Salvation that comes through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. Repentance and forgiveness of sins are both ministered to the hearer of the Gospel message through the power and presence of a living Christ.
· Luke 24:47…And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem
· Acts 13:38…Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:
Through the truth of the Gospel message the presence of the Holy Spirit condemns sinful man’s unholiness. The Church tells the sinner how to get away from this condemnation through Christ. The Holy Spirit reveals sin to the heart of man. The Church tells the sinner how trusting in the person of Christ can deliver man from his sinful condition. When the truth about Christ is ministered the Holy Spirit can sway man from rejection to an acceptance of the person of Christ. Through Gospel preaching…God’s goodness and love both can affect the soul of fallen man enough that it can lead man to repentance.
· Rom 2:4…Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?
Repentance is man’s turning away from sinful conduct. True repentance takes man away from sin to a place where he don’t want to commit sin anymore. The changed mind of the penitent will no longer try to conceal secret sins. Why? A penitent man stays conscious and obedient to the Holy Spirit’s presence. A penitent man recognizes the truth and power of Calvary. Repentance turns man away from sin and causes him to look to Christ for all of his needs to live a holy life. When true repentance occurs...man believes and receives salvation of the human soul through God’s Divine Grace. The penitent trusts what Christ did at Calvary for forgiveness of sins. The sins of the penitent are blotted out; and all the guilt from past sins is removed by the power of God's Grace.
After repentance when man trusts in Calvary… man knows Christ in his conscience through the Holy Spirit’s presence. A heart full of holiness and repentant works are produced in the life of this believer. Works meet for repentance prove the believer is truly forgiven of his sins; and converted to a life of holiness. True repentance keeps man refreshed in the presence of Christ…every day of his life.
· Acts 26:20… then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
· Acts 3:19… Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
"Humility comes to the penitent through “recognition” of the person of Christ"...Hubert T. Lindsey"
There are three Greek words used in the New Testament to denote repentance. (1.) The verb _metamelomai_ is used of a change of mind, such as to produce regret or even remorse on account of sin, but not necessarily a change of heart. This word is used with reference to the repentance of Judas (Matt. 27:3). (2.) Metanoeo, meaning to change one's mind and purpose, as the result of after knowledge. This verb, with (3.) the cognate noun _metanoia_, is used of true repentance, a change of mind and purpose and life, to which remission of sin is promised.
Evangelical repentance consists of (1) a true sense of one's own guilt and sinfulness; (2) an apprehension of God's mercy in Christ; (3) an actual hatred of sin (Ps.119:128; Job 42:5, 6; 2 Cor. 7:10) and turning from it to God; and (4) a persistent endeavor to walk with God in holiness.
The true penitent is conscious of guilt (Ps. 51:4, 9), of pollution (51:5, 7, 10), and of helplessness (51:11; 109:21, 22). Thus he apprehends himself to be just what God has always seen him to be and declares him to be. But repentance comprehends not only such a sense of sin, but also an apprehension of mercy, without which there can be no true repentance (Ps. 51:1; 130:4).
Eastons 1897 Bible Dictionary