Foundations of the Faith – Part Three

The word repent or repentance is used about sixty times in the New Testament. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia. It originally meant an afterthought — a second thought that revealed the error of the first thought. Metanoia refers to a change of mind and feeling or a change of principle and practice to reverse the past. It is a change of inner values that results in a change of action.

A.T. Robertson paraphrases Peter’s words as follows: “Change your mind and your life; turn right about and do it now. You crucified this Jesus. Now crown Him in your hearts as Lord and Christ.”

Charles Finney defined repentance as “changing your mind from what you have believed on any given subject to what God has revealed on that subject.” Instead of going by their own ideas and interpretations, believers are to think God’s thoughts on every subject. Faulty thinking leads to wrong behaviour.

Repent is the first word of the Gospel. John the Baptist’s message began with a command to repent.

Matthew 3:1-2 “In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”

Repent was the first word in the message of Jesus.

Matthew 4:17 “From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

New Testament apostles preached repentance.

Acts 3:19 “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…”

Acts 8:22 “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Acts 17:30 “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent…”

The New Testament concludes with a call to repent.

Revelation 2:5 “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

Revelation 2:16, 21-22 “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth … I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works …”

Revelation 3:3 “ Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

Revelation 3:19 “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Old Testament prophets preached repentance.

Jeremiah 25:5 “Turn now (repent), every one of you, from his evil way and evil deeds, and dwell upon the land that the LORD has given to you and your fathers from of old and forever.”

Ezekiel 14:6”Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”

Ezekiel 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord GOD. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.”

Repentance affects the past and the future.

It brings grief or sorrow for improper conduct and the faulty thinking behind it. 

2 Corinthians 7:9 “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.”

Repentance involves an actual turning away from bad conduct.

Acts 8:22 “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you.”

Repentance involves a turning to a new way of thinking 

Mark 1:15 “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Repentance leads to forgiveness. Forgiveness covers sins of the past, and a changed mind and heart lead to a healthy future. A vital, healthy life requires acknowledgement of sin and wrongdoing. In today’s world and current culture, people are told to do everything except repent. They are told to explain situations away, blame someone else, accentuate the positive, our attribute failures to heredity and environment. The fact remains that the only way to deal with sin and its consequences is through true repentance.