It seems that "REPENTANCE" is not a major theme in today's churches. It is not a topic for today's seminars. It is not the subject matter of today's books. We find that troubling in light of the very clear pattern found in the Scriptures and in light of the admonition of the Lord Himself.
Consider these words of Jesus to His disciples following the resurrection:
"Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things." (Luke 24:44-48 - emphasis added)
That the disciples took this command seriously, and obeyed it faithfully, can be seen in the following examples:
In Acts chapter 2 we read the account of the miracle that occurred at Pentecost, just 50 days after the Passover when Jesus was crucified. “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:36-39 - emphasis added).
Note that the Gospel was proclaimed, conviction followed. Repentance followed conviction. Salvation followed repentance.
In Acts chapter 3 we see the same pattern: "But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. (Acts 3:18-21 - emphasis added).
We find the Apostle Paul following the same pattern of preaching and teaching repentance - listen to his own testimony as recorded in Acts 20:
"From Miletus he [Paul] sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."(Acts 20:17-21 - emphasis added).
MOTIVATION FOR REPENTANCE -
Significantly, all four Gospel accounts record the important events and teachings of John the Baptist-
In Matthew 3 we read: "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying: “ The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘ Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” (Matthew 3:1-3 - emphasis added).
In Mark's record we read "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: “ Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘ Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.’” John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins." (Mark 1:1-5 - emphasis added).
In Luke's account, in chapter 3 verse 3 we read "And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins", and in verse 8 "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance".
John preached - "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand!" We believe the message was this - God's judgment is at hand, therefore repent! The motivation to repent came from the conviction of sin, and that sin brings judgment, and that God's judgment was imminent.
The prophet Jonah was sent to Nineveh to preach (proclaim) to the Assyrians that if they did not repent, God's judgment was imminent. Read Jonah for yourself - it is short, but powerful! Nineveh DID repent, and God spared them the judgment that they were about to receive - which if they had NOT repented, they would most assuredly have received!
In Hebrews we read this sobering truth - "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28 - emphasis added)
* * * Please read this very important verse very carefully -
"Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 - emphasis added)
First, the COMMAND of GOD is for ALL men, everywhere, to REPENT!
Second, God deals with the motivation issue by declaring that the motivation for repenting is "BECAUSE" God has appointed a day on which He will judge the world!
Third, many people spend much time trying to prove or disprove the resurrection of Jesus. The truth is that it is an absolutely true historical fact, certified by many witnesses. In this verse, the resurrection of Jesus is "assumed" (because it is fact!), and that very fact is being used to provide total proof (assurance, confidence, - you can count on it!) that the judgment IS coming! Please do not miss this point!
In 2 Peter chapter 3 we read:
"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us,not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells." (2 Peter 3:9-13 - emphasis added).
Note that God's desire is that ALL men come to repentance!
And, immediately after that statement, Peter speaks of the judgment.
And after mentioning judgment, he speaks of holy living - like John the Baptist's "fruits of repentance".
Do you not see the continuity throughout the Scriptures?
Repentance is an essential Biblical truth!
Hear this account recorded in Luke 15:
"Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to Him to hear Him. And the Pharisees and scribes complained, saying, “This Man receives sinners and eats with them.” So He spoke this parable to them, saying: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:1-7 - emphasis added).
Perhaps you have read all of this and concluded that these verses are for the lost people, but I'm a saved person. May we remind you that ALL sin needs to be repented of - even sins of believers!
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (1 John 1 :8-10 - emphasis added).
In Revelation chapters 2 and 3 we read letters to the CHURCHES! and in chapter 3 verse 19 we read: "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent." and verse 22 warns “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
There are many Old Testament examples we could cite as well, but here is just one - taken from Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the temple:
“When they sin against You (for there is no one who does not sin), and You become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy, and they take them captive to the land of the enemy, far or near; yet when they come to themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of those who took them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and done wrong, we have committed wickedness’ [i.e. confession]; and when they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land which You gave to their fathers, the city which You have chosen and the temple which I have built for Your name: then hear in heaven Your dwelling place their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause, and forgive Your people who have sinned against You, and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You;..." (1 Kings 8:46-50 - emphasis added).
Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!
God ... now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness....
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord....
For additional reading, we recommend: Whatever Happened to Repentance by Harry Ironside.
For our previous presentation on this topic of repentance, please see below:
A key issue regarding "repentance" is whether or not it has any place in a person's salvation. We at BibleTruthForToday believe that repentance is an essential part of a person's salvation. Some people may argue that associating repentance with salvation is adding "works" so that a person in some way is doing something by which they earn or merit salvation. We believe that this view comes from a misunderstanding of Scriptures. The fact that repentance is generally absent from the preaching of the Gospel leads us to fear that "another gospel" (and not the true Gospel) may actually be being preached by many. For all those who practice infant baptism, there is obviously no place for repentance in conjunction with a person's conversion. Many of those who do NOT practice infant baptism nevertheless proclaim a "gospel" message whereby people "accept Jesus" (whatever that means) and there is little or no mention, let alone understanding, of sin - the very reason for which a Savior is needed - and because there is little or no mention or understanding of sin, there is no mention or understanding of repentance and therefore no turning from sin (see "Easy-Believism").
Is repentance just for unbelievers? Certainly not.
Becoming a Christian does NOT mean that you will never sin again in this life (see "entire sanctification").
We will, and do, sin. But repentance, even for sinning believers, allows us to experience God's forgiveness. Consider how in Deuteronomy 4, God prophesies through Moses that Israel WILL sin after entering the promised land! But immediately after revealing this heart-breaking prophecy, God promises: "But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deut. 4:29)
Other Links regarding repentance:
Some Scriptures related to repentance:
Matthew 9:13 "For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
Luke 15:7 "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance."
Acts 3:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord."
Acts 17:30 "Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent," It may be well to keep in mind that both John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance.
Mark 1:4 "John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins."
Mark 1:15 "and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.'”
Mark 6:12 "So they went out and preached that people should repent."
Luke 11:32 "The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here."
Luke 15:10 "Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”