A closer look at repentance

The call to repentance is prominent in the message of Jesus and the early Church

  • Jesus said, “The time has come, the kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the gospel!” (Mark 1:15).
  • Jesus’ mission was not “to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32).
  • • “After he had risen from the dead, Jesus said, “It is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).
  • Peter said, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” (Acts 3:19).
  • The apostle Paul said,   “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).
  • The apostle Paul declared to the philosophers of Athens that God, “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30)
  • “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

What does it mean to repent?

Look more closely at the Greek word behind our english word “repent.”
Repent – μετανοέω – metanoeo

Two parts – (meta and noeo)

1. Meta – change
2. Noeo- the mind and its thoughts, perceptions and disposition.

To repent means to change your mind or way of seeing things or perspective.

“Human life is fundamentally a life of the mind. The posture of the mind determines so much about the character of an individual’s life” (Robert C. Roberts, Spirituality and Human Emotion).

Insights from others

  • “To repent is to adopt God’s viewpoint in place of your own… In itself, far from being sorrowful, it is the most joyful thing in the world, because when you have done it you have adopted the viewpoint of truth itself and you are in fellowship with God.” (William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury)
  • C. S. Lewis explained repentance not as “something God demands of you before he will take you back; it is simply a description of what going back is like.”
  • “Repenting is what happens inside of us that leads to the fruits of new behavior. Repentance is not the new deeds, but the inward change that bears the fruit of new deeds.” (John Piper).
  • Repentance is not merely feeling bad about our sins. Repentance is sorrow for what we are in our deepest beings, that we are wrong in our deepest roots because our interior life is governed by Self and not by God.

Kindness and repentance

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:5)

Sorrow and repentance

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter” (II Corinthians 7:10-11).

Repent or perish

“Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way?I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.’” (Luke 13:1-5, cf. vv. 6-9).

Jesus warns them to change their perspective or risk perishing because their way of seeing things is based on a merit system rather than mercy and grace.

God grants repentance

“Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses (return to a sound mind, free from illusions and intoxicated thinking, become sober) and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (II Timothy 2:24-26).

Repentance is not a human work we contribute to salvation. It is the work of God who said,  “Let light shine out of darkness.” He made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6).

The life of repentance involves ongoing habits of… 

  1. Acknowledging the deceitfulness of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).
  2. Cultivating ongoing humility and self-suspicion (James 1:19-22; Philippians 2:3-5).
  3. Examining ourselves regularly for blind spots and evil (Psalm 139:23-24).
  4. Confessing and forsaking sin (I John 1:9-2:1)
  5. Renewing gratitude for God’s unfailing love and mercy (Lam. 3:22-23;Titus 3:2-5).

Steve Cornell

Link for audio messages on Repentance as the best way of life

About Wisdomforlife

Just another field worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Belief, Christian life, Christianity, Gospel, Repentance, Salvation and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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