Jesus said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” (Mark 1:15 NRSV)
Jesus said, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 4:17)
To “repent” means to have a change of heart resulting in a change of mind; to look at things from a new point of view; to think about things differently; to change your current course in light of the new perspective.
The Bible states in 2 Corinthians 7:8-10 that without this repentance there is no salvation. So, many who are professing Christians and say that they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ because they have said a sinner’s prayer are most likely not born again. To be a true convert and a disciple of the Lord it takes a true move of God upon a heart and life. The person needs to hear the Good News after recognizing the bad news – that they are a sinner and they can never measure up to the standard that God sets – perfection. So, they are a sinner and are separated from God with no hope of ever pleasing God and coming to know Him. This knowledge that they have sin and are a sinner separated from God must be more than head knowledge – it must be felt deeply in their heart.
This feeling deep in the heart is the result of the Holy Spirit convicting them of sin, righteousness and judgment. This is His task according to John 16:8-10. If they respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit then they will come to see and understand that they have grieved a holy God and thus will have godly sorrow. This sorrow leads to repentance and repentance leads to salvation. Nothing less works and this is the only way to true conversation and salvation – thus a personal relationship with Jesus.
This past Sunday I again watched a pastor lead three people to the Lord – well, he said a sinner’s prayer with them, shook their hand, and gave them some literature. I watched carefully as it was my testimony that they had just heard. However, to my knowledge there was no real explanation of the Gospel – the bad news and the good news – just a promise made that they would be welcomed in Heaven. To my knowledge, based on observation, there was no godly sorrow or repentance. Therefore, in spite of the announcement, there was no one who received salvation that morning.
The Bible is very clear about what is needed for a person to experience salvation and receive the gift of eternal life. We can’t invent own way and do things our way hoping to make it into Heaven. It is His way or the highway…Options are not open and it is not debatable.