Repentance is identified in the Bible in Matthew 21:28-31a:
“But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’
“They said to Him, ‘The first.’”
The truth of commitment is the action that follows, as in this case. The changed mind resulted in doing the will of God.
Throughout the Bible the sins of man are exposed and judgment is promised to those who practice such things. Repent. Stop doing those things. It is convicting; it makes for good evangelistic preaching for that very reason. People can identify with their exposed actions and even go to the altar in church and make repeated commitments to change their ways.
And many times it does not work. The problem is this: We have done those sinful things because of who we are, as nonbelievers. Why do we do those things? Because of who we are—we are born of Adam, sons of Adam, not sons of God. Ephesians 2:1 says we “were dead in trespasses and sins.” We can’t do any better because we do not know any better.
We must be born of God!
The only effective repentance for the sin of Adam which captivates every mortal human being is…just as Jesus said to Nicodemus…, “You must be born again!”
That is the repentance that changes everything.
Grasping that truth is the key to eternal life as well as living the Christian life as redeemed mortals. Holding a church membership position and having a baptism certificate will not enable anyone to quit, or repent, from doing the sinful thing he does. The issue’s bottom-line problem is that it is not what you do but who you are. Are you a child of God, or are you still a slave to the sin of Adam that will take our mortal bodies to the grave, from dust back to dust, and the spirit and soul to eternal punishment, or, if a believer, to be with Jesus in heaven.
The result of that new birth is told in 2 Corinthians 5:17:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
The pathway to that transformation is told in John 1:12-13 and Titus 3:5:
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”
In the passage in John, a truth is found that is important to know. Jesus is God’s only begotten Son, the only Son He ever personally fathered. Jesus did not have a brother named Lucifer, which the Mormons would have us believe. We are given the authority to be sons and daughters of God by adoption through our belief in Jesus Christ. Note in the verse that it says “As many as received Him, (even) to those who believe in his name.” In this case, receiving is believing. More clearly it is shown in Revelation 3:20, which speaks to “anyone” in every place and in every era of time:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come into him and live with him and he with Me.”
In John 1:13, above, we are told that the one who receives and believes in Christ is born of God, not by family inheritance, nor by his own doing, nor by the actions of another person, but by God.
That is being born again. And Titus 3:5, above, tells us what happens to our mortal being, the changes that take place. In John 3:6, Jesus says, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Then, Paul writes this:
“But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him…Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:17 and 19).
Paul declares in Colossians 1:27 that it is a mystery, the mystery that is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
All mankind died spiritually the moment Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and began dying physically also. He lived, physically, 930 years but had been given the key to eternal life when God took the skins of animals and made coverings for Adam and Eve. Later He gave Moses the answer to that in Leviticus 17:11, that “the life of the flesh is in the blood and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your sin, for it is the blood that makes atonement.”
It was a shadow of better things to come, in that the blood of bulls and goats could not take away sins, as Hebrews 10 tells us. It would take the untainted blood of Christ to remove those sins. When a person comes to Christ for forgiveness and receives Him, Psalm 103:12 tells us “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
No wonder, then, that “you must be born again.”
It follows, too, that eternal life must come from someone who has it. If mankind is in the pit of total spiritual oblivion, no one there is able to get him out. Look at the connection of these two passages of Scripture:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:25-27).
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:11-13).
The repentance, then, that changes everything, is when one turns from his own way, invites Christ into his life and is given that eternal life as promised. That person then is born again. He moves from the family of Adam’s race and enters the family of God, the lineage of Jesus Christ. The invitation is clear:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
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