God’s Word teaches:
That Repentance is a complete turning away from all sins and its deceitful pleasures and that it is required from every sinner before he can truly and effectively believe in Jesus with saving faith – Proverbs 28:13; Isaiah 55:7; Ezekiel 18:21-23; Mark 1:15; Luke 24:46,47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 20:20,21; 2 Corinthians 7:10; Hebrews 6:1-3.
Repentance is a conscious turning away from evil, disobedience, sin or idolatry. It is also turning from Satan unto the living God (Jonah 3:8-10; Proverbs 28:13; Matthew 12:41). Repentance evokes a change of one’s mind and purpose in life and changes all past actions. It elicits a form of godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10), which makes an erstwhile sinner regard sin with utter revulsion. Godly sorrow makes the sinner or backslider to turn away from sin. It also causes an abhorrence or hatred for sin.
The need for repentance is the heartache of a deeply compassionate God (2 Peter 3:9). Repentance is the genesis of the process of restoration for backsliders and sinners. It differs from tearful remorse, which is merely an expression of sorrow over an embarrassing outcome of sin (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Corinthians 7:10). It is a universal command by God to all people (Ezekiel 14:6; 18:30; Acts 17:30)
Repentance is the central theme of the gospel. The doctrine and teaching of repentance is fundamental to the propagation of the gospel. It is a foundation stone in the cardinal doctrines of the New Testament Church. Its vital place in scripture, particularly in the New Testament, is underscored by the regularity of its usage. Repentance, repent or repenting occurs over sixty times in the New Testament alone. It was the keynote of Christ’s preaching as well as the sum and substance of the evangelistic apostolic message. He repeatedly emphasized that His mission was to provide repentance for the sinner (Matthew 9:13; Mark 2:17; Luke 5:32; Acts 3:18,19,26; 11:18). Also, John the Baptist, the forerunner of the Lord anchored his fiery messages in the wilderness on repentance (Luke 3:3-8). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus preached repentance (Matthew 4:17). His valedictory message to His disciples shortly before He was taken to heaven was hinged upon repentance (Luke 24:45-47). This was principally because repentance is cardinal to the sinner’s reconciliation with God. From His eminent position in glory, the Lord yet admonished the backslidden church to repent (Revelation 2:4,5; 3:3).
Peter and the other Apostles took a cue from the Lord and made the doctrine of repentance the fundamental theme of their gospel homilies (Acts 2:38; 17:30). Paul the Apostle sent to preach to the Gentiles did not differ with either the Lord or the other Apostles on the necessity of repentance for the sinner or backslider to gain the mercy of God. Repentance must therefore be preached to all men in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:47). Sinners and backsliders must be made to know that no one is excluded from the challenge of the gospel to repent, for it is only through repentance that the manifold blessings, arising from the remission of sins, could be appropriated.
Repentance, however, does not exist in isolation of faith. Saving faith is taken as implying the change of mind, which is repentance (Hebrews 11:9; Zechariah 8:14; Acts 20:21). Both are a response to grace, creating a completely different orientation for the penitent sinner. Works do not elicit repentance (2 Timothy 1:9; Romans 3:27,28; 4:1-8; 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). Paradoxically, repentance must necessarily produce works otherwise it is unreal (James 2:14-26; Ephesians 2:9,10; Titus 2:5-8). True repentance manifests in a proper attitude towards sin (2 Corinthians 7:10,11; Psalm 38:18; 51:17; 2 Samuel 12:13). The repentant heart henceforth treats sin with disdain. No sinner or backslider can be said to have genuinely repented if he still condones sin. This is because essentially sin is exceedingly abominable. Consequently, the need for repentance by the sinner must be the pivot around which the redemption message must be woven.
Repentance opens the way and makes us to receive the grace of God. It provides pardon and remission of sins (Isaiah 55:7; Proverbs 28:13; Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19). Through it sinners receive justification and acceptance (John 1:12,13; Galatians 3:8; 2:16; Romans 8:1; 5:12). Above all, there is joy in heaven, joy to God, Christ, and heavenly hosts when a sinner repents (Luke 15:7,10-24). Repentance is a profitable doctrine that makes inward change of life a reality while activating a life of faith.
The practical side of repentance is restitution, which is the act of correcting all past wrongs and having a conscience void of offence towards God and man. God expects the repentant sinner or backslider to correct every wrong committed against others. Restitution is incontrovertibly an integral part of true repentance (Genesis 20:1-18; Numbers 5:6-8; 2 Kings 8:1-6; Ezekiel 33:14-16; Matthew 5:23,24; Acts 24:16). Through repentance, self-centredness gives way to God- or Christ-centeredness. The
forgiveness of sin is available only to those who repent, for they alone are worthy of God’s mercy.