The Bible Teaches That:
• We will “Repent or perish,”
• Repentance Is a Change of Mind that Results in a Change of State,
• That God Wants All to Repent and Be Saved, and
• Repentance Is a Part of God’s Plan to Redeem Us
What the Bible Teaches About
Most honest people who are searching the Bible for God’s revealed truth, agree that repentance is important because it plays a significant role in determining whether people spend eternity in heaven or in hell. Therefore, anyone who is sincerely interested in spending eternity in heaven should investigate what the Bible says about repentance.
Because the Bible speaks often about repentance (63 times), there are several significant points to investigate.
REPENT OR PERISH
First, unless we repent, we will perish (be destroyed; go to hell). In Luke 13:1- 5 we read where Jesus was teaching those of His day that, “except you repent, ye shall… perish” (Luke 13:3 & 5).
The word “repent” comes from the Greek word METANOEO (META after, implying change + NOEO to perceive, from NOUS the mind or seat of moral reflection) literally means to perceive afterwards, according to W. E. Vine’s An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, pages 951-52.
Another word that is frequently translated “repent” is METAMELOMAI (META same as above + MELO to care for) signifies regret, Vine p. 952. As Vine notes, this word is better translated “regret,” not “repent” (this is what Judas did in Matt. 27:3).
When we rightly apply what Jesus taught, we can reach no other conclusion than that unless we are willing to leave the world of sin behind and enter into a state of holiness and Godly living (the “be born again” of John 3:3), then it is evident that we are not willing to repent and, therefore, have no promise of forgiveness.
In Matt. 21:28-31, Jesus told the parable of a father who had two sons. He told them, “Go work today in my vineyard” (v. 28). One of them said, “I will not,” but later “repented” (v. 29) and went. The second son said “I’ll go” but never did. Which of the two “repented”? The first, of course–he changed his mind and was obviously sorry for refusing to do as his father asked him.
It is no different with us today. We must repent of our unwillingness to serve our heavenly Father and then proceed to do the things He wants us to do. “And why call ye Me, Lord, Lard, and do not time things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
A CHANGE OF MIND + A CHANGE OF STATE
We find several Bible examples where God promised to destroy certain people. But, when they repented, God changed His mind and showed them mercy.
In the case of Ninevah (see the entire book of Jonah for the whole story), we see where God directed Jonah to go to the city of Ninevah and cry out against it. Though Jonah himself was rebellious, he was brought to repentance and went and cried against the wicked city. When he did, they all repented, putting on sackcloth and ashes (Jonah 3:5). And God changed His mind (Jonah 3:10). deciding not to destroy the city.
Then there’s the story of the prodigal son (in Luke 15:11-32), whose loving father was willing to receive this wayward son when the son repents and comes back to the father. No doubt Jesus told this parable to show God’s love for us when we repent and return to Him.
The change of mind in the case of the Ninevites, as well as the repentance of the prodigal son, resulted in a change of state or relationship with God.
GOD WANTS NONE LOST
Next, the Bible clearly teaches that God hopes all will repent and come to Him. “The Lord is… longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
It is God’s sincere desire for all people every where be saved. Though men sinned after God created the world, He didn’t destroy people. But He did show them mercy and gave men the promise of redemption (Gen. 3:15).
From the Garden of Eden throughout the Old Testament, we see where God shows His mercy to a wayward people, and one promise after another that a Savior would one day come.
Then, when the fullness of time was come, He sent His Son Jesus to die on Calvary’s cruel cross as a sacrifice for the sins of mankind that we through Jesus might “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
Even today the promise is to us: that if we believe in Jesus and obey His will, we shall have remission of sins and can then go onward and upward to the home of the soul in heaven.
REPENTANCE IS IN GOD’S PLAN OF SALVATION
Finally, in the gospel of Luke, we read that it was necessary for Christ to “suffèr and to rise from the dead the third day. And that repentance and remission of sins be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47-48).
When Christ’s church was established on Pentecost Day (as recorded in Acts 2), we read where the inspired apostle Peter replied to those who asked what they had to do: “Repent and he baptized every one of you…for the remission of sins” (v. 38).
In the next chapter we find Peter, after healing the lame man, preaching to “Repent…and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).
And, in the middle of his sermon on Mars Hill, Paul says, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
These scriptures demonstrate that the apostles preached “repentance” just as Jesus said they would.
REPENTANCE IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO SALVATION
Back in Acts 2, on the clay when His church was established, when the people wanted to know what they “must do” (Acts 2:37), Peter told every one of them to “Repent and be baptized” (v. 38).
On that day, those in the audience understood clearly about repentance, for we are told that “As many as gladly received his word were baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about 3,000 souls” (Acts 2:4 1).
Today, if we will do as He says, we too can “repent and be baptized for the remission of Jesus” (Acts 2:38). And, in doing so, like the first Christians, “And the Lord added to the church such as were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
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