“Repent” means “to change one’s mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins.” In other words, “I recognize myself as a sinner bound for hell, and accept God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.”
That decision has brought me 180 degrees in the opposite direction, and I now follow Jesus because I belong to Him.
Repentance has been swept under the rug by popular worldly opinion, and even most churches. “It is not necessary to repent,” they say, “just have faith and all will be well.” However, repentance and faith go hand in hand when it comes to saving faith. Without repentance, there is no real faith. It is merely a weak statement we verbalize with no heart for God behind it. Faith without repentance is egocentricity at its best.
Some state that “repentance” was for Israel but only “belief” is for the Church age. On the day of Pentecost one of Jesus’ Apostles states the following:
“Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38 (NASB)
Yes, the majority of the audience was Jewish, but what about the few who were not? Does that mean there was one method for the Jews and another for the Gentiles? Of course not. The message was clear. (1) Repent and believe. (2) For those who repent and believe, because of the forgiveness of your sins, now be identified with Jesus Christ by being baptized in His name. (3) The gift of the Holy Spirit is to all to repent of their sins and believe in Jesus alone.
True repentance is simply a part of true faith. One cannot have true faith in Jesus without seeing Him as God and Savior. Obviously what follows is seeing our self as “a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5), and repentance accompanies our belief because we know we have sinned against a Holy God.
Some will say “Paul just says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved. He says nothing about repentance.” That isn’t true. Please read what the Apostle Paul says in the following verses.
“Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent,” Acts 17:30 (NASB)
“but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” Acts 26:20 (NASB)
In Acts 17:30 “all people everywhere” includes all people everywhere. Therefore, all must repent.
In Acts 26:20 notice that Paul specifically includes the Gentiles. Therefore, all Jews and Gentiles “should repent and turn to God.” All must repent.
Paul follows up his statement in Acts 26:20 by saying, “performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” This leads us into considering “works.”
I would like to repeat a paragraph I stated earlier about works in relation to salvation:
“The Word of God, the Bible, is very clear that we are saved by grace and grace alone. We are saved by the works of Jesus Christ and not our own. We will never see Heaven, let alone be a part of the family of God, if we rely one iota upon our own efforts. If we claim 1% credit and give Jesus 99% we miss the boat. It’s 100% His works or none at all.”
Now let us read what God says,
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
But what about works that come from one who is saved; i.e. a Christian? The real question is, “Will true saving faith produce a life that reflects the works of Jesus in our life.” Can others see Jesus in us? Will works follow salvation?
Again, Paul says in Acts 26:20, “performing deeds appropriate to repentance,” and he now also states by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Many people today claim to be a Christian for many different reasons. They say they believe. They claim to have faith. They belong to a particular church or religious organization. They walked an aisle or said a prayer. They get a warm fuzzy feeling now and then. They like religious music. Their Mother was a prayer warrior and their Dad was a pastor. They pray now and then. They’re a good person. The list could go on page after page after page.
How many though have truly repented of their sins and turned to Jesus in true faith? How many have called upon Him to save their soul and have submitted their life to Him? How many trust Him with their very soul? Has their life been changed?
Jesus changes lives. No Christian is perfect, and no Christian is without personal battles in their life, but there should be a change from what we were to what we are now. Jesus changes lives. Yes, I know I repeated that. I repeated it because it is important that we get it registered in our mind that Jesus changes lives.
Many non-Christians think they should change their life and “get saved.” It won’t happen. It is impossible. We must “get saved” then Jesus will change our life.
If we have rested our faith in Jesus, we will start seeing His works taking place in us. It of course will start with our attitude. Our way of thinking will start changing then our actions will follow. Allow me to provide an example.
Prior to our being saved, we are like a dead body. We are lifeless. Upon being saved, the body comes to life. The arms and legs move. The eyes see. The ears hear. The mouth speaks. The mind thinks. The nose smells. The body and all its parts are in action in their respective positions.
Now think about this. Can any of these things happen without the body being alive? Do they happen first and then the body comes alive? No. The life that is provided to the body causes the body parts to react. Without life there is no reaction. With life there is a reaction.
When Jesus gives us eternal life we react to that life. Godly works are produced in our new state as a child of God. We start out as a baby in Christ and mature just as we do physically. The point is, if the eternal life provided to us by God’s grace is within us, we will react and mature just as we do physically. However, if we remain in our sins, living apart from God, are we really saved or just kidding our self?
I repeat, no Christian is perfect or without sin, but where do our interests lie? Are we interested in the things of God? Do we want to please Him? Are we grieved when we sin? Are we ashamed?
A true Christian will be miserable when out of fellowship with Jesus Christ. If we claim to be a Christian, and it doesn’t really bother us that our thoughts and actions are contrary to what God says in His written Word, the Bible, then we need to be deeply concerned about the welfare of our soul.
If Jesus lives within us His light will shine from us. It may be just a flicker sometimes, but there will be a light. Otherwise darkness can come only from Satan.
I personally believe that many of us are making real, legitimate faith in Jesus much too complicated. Believing in Jesus is recognizing ourselves as a lost sinner bound for hell; recognizing Jesus as God and the only way to God the Father; recognizing Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection; recognizing that we are given eternal life; recognizing that we are adopted into the family of God; recognizing that nothing will ever separate us from Him; recognizing it is all an irrevocable gift; and recognizing that Jesus changes lives.
Coming to Jesus, believing this in your heart is not gifts plus works. It is simply all these things and more included in one short phrase; “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31)