The gospel is the glorious news of a Savior who has come down to earth to heal and rescue sinners from their plight. But the reality which Scripture makes clear is that there is no salvation apart from repentance, which leads to faith.
I grew up in a church-going family, for which I am grateful. But if memory serves me well, what I often heard from the pulpit was only a “half gospel.” Yes, I heard a lot about “believing in Jesus” but little about sin and repentance and the righteousness of God.
I don’t think I am alone in this.
I recently had the opportunity to speak to around 100 youth at a Christian school in our area. I began by asking the question, “what is repentance?” After waiting for some time, only one student mustered the courage to respond. I can’t remember exactly what he said, but it was clear from that little exercise that most of the students haven’t heard much about repentance.
Few would argue that teaching about the doctrine of repentance is lacking in our churches and Christian organizations. And if there is going to be revival and renewal in our churches today, it will be preceded by a clear and robust teaching on this core doctrine.
Here are 7 things you simply must know about repentance.
Jesus preached repentance.
“From that time Jesus began to preach saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17). The four gospels show us that Jesus preached on numerous topics, but first and foremost, Jesus preached a message of repentance.
The apostles also preached repentance. Jesus said in Luke 24:46-47, “Thus 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 in Jerusalem.” The apostles heeded these words, beginning with Peter on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:38).
If Jesus preached repentance, and the apostles preached repentance, then it goes without saying that the church for all time should preach repentance.
Repentance is a command.
While the apostle Paul was preaching in Athens, he said, “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
In other words, repentance is not optional. God will hold everyone accountable for their words and deeds (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Repentance involves “turning” or changing your mind.
In another instance where Paul was speaking to King Agrippa, he said, “they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).