In many gospel crusades, rallies and all sorts of evangelistic meetings we hear sinners urged to accept Jesus Christ as their Saviour but we rarely hear sinners told to repent. Yet, if you look at the preaching of Jesus Christ and His apostles, you will find that repentance was required before one could exercise faith in Jesus Christ. In God’s sight, repentance is a must and indeed it is commanded before one can receive God’s gracious salvation in Jesus Christ.
When the apostle Paul stood before Greek philosophers in Athens to correct their wrong views about the one true and living God, he declared to them that God, “now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Today God is commanding you to repent.
Now before we look at the teaching of the Bible concerning repentance, we need to have a definition of repentance. Repentance means changing one’s mind such that his views, values, goals and ways are changed and the whole life is lived differently.
Repentance is therefore a thorough change of man’s natural heart about the subject of sin and a conscious resolve to hate and turn away from all sin. This radical change is the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a sinner.
True Biblical repentance and saving faith are themselves the fruits of the new birth (regeneration). Do you see that you cannot have true repentance unless you are born again?
Now let us examine how repentance was central in the preaching of Jesus and His apostles.
1. John the Baptist, in preparation for the ministry of the Lord Jesus baptized and preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Mk.1:4). He challenged his hearers to repent and to lead changed lives as a sign of repentance
2. Jesus Christ began His public preaching ministry by telling His hearers to repent and believe the gospel because the kingdom of heaven had come (Matt.4:17; Mk.1:15).
3. When Jesus sent the twelve apostles for the first time to preach, they preached that their hearers should repent (Mk.6:12).
4. When Jesus was told that Pilate had killed some worshipers and mixed their blood with their sacrifices, His reply was categorically that, “unless you repent, you will likewise perish” (Lk.13:1-3).
5. Jesus taught that there was more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents then over ninety nine just persons who do not need to repent (Lk.15:7,10).
6. When Jesus called Matthew and went to eat food at his house, and the Scribes and the Pharisees wondered how Jesus could eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, His stern reply was that He, “did not come to call the righteous but sinners to
7. On the day of Pentecost when the people whose hearts God had pricked because of their sins asked what they were to do, Peter’s reply was, “repent and let everyone of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:37-38).
8. Talking to His frightened apostles after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus told them “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Lk.24:47).
9. It is God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ in particular who gives repentance and forgiveness of sins leading to eternal life (Acts 5:31,11:18)
My dear reader, from these examples it is quite clear that there can be no biblical salvation unless and until you truly repent of your sins and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior of repentant sinners. Is this your experience? If it is not, ask God to give you repentance.