The Jews believed that repentance caused the Messiah to draw nigh. John the Baptist, a Jew, was sent as the forerunner to the Messiah, Jesus. What was John’s message? Repentance! Jesus’ message paralleled John’s. He taught: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar 1:15).
In Acts 20:21, Paul is quoted as saying he was, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” Where he mentions “faith” and “repentance,” is he saying they are two different things? Or is Paul saying they are somehow unified?
The biblical witness attests that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. To see how repentance and faith are intertwined, study the following passages: Mat 3:2, 4:17; Mar 1:15, 6:12; Luk 13:3; Act 2:38, 3:19, 17:30; Rev 2:5, 3:19.
These definitions are helpful as well:
Repentance in the ethico-religious sense is turning away from sin and back to God. (Interpreters Dictionary of the Bible, Edition 1962, Vol. IV, pg. 33)
Repentance is a religious term that denotes a redirection of a person’s mind, will and actions as indicated in the Greek word metanoia-a change of mind. (Webster’s Third New International Dictionary)
Repentance is both sorrow for sin and the act of turning away from it. (Encyclopedia Americana, Edition 1983, Vol. 21, pg. 495)
The turning from sin is emphatically a matter of conduct, but it is also a matter of the heart. (Dictionary of the Bible, by James Hastings, Vol. IV, pg. 225)
They knew for them to draw near to Him, they must first turn (repent) toward Him and then—by faith—move forward into His presence.
Rabbi Eli’ezer is credited with saying, “Repent one day before you die.” Being confused by this statement, one of his students asked, “Does anyone know on what day he will die?” Eli’ezer responded, “Then he should certainly repent today lest he die tomorrow. Thus one will be in constant repentance” (See Avot 2:11). Eli’ezar’s words are not referring to repenting over and over again about the same sins. He is talking about men and women focusing daily on their mortality through open communication with God. Such interaction can turn a believer away from their sin and toward a walk toward Christlikeness. Without doubt, such repentance was occurring over 2,000 years ago on the Day of Pentecost. The Jews there were looking for Jesus’ promised arrival. They knew for them to draw near to Him, they must first turn (repent) toward Him and then—by faith—move forward into His presence.
Repentance is more than a person telling God they’re sorry for sinning. Instead it’s a mindset whose goal is to remove sins and temptations that cause a person to stray from the straight and narrow. This then frees a person to walk away from sin and toward the salvation and spiritual maturity that’s only found in Jesus Christ. Consequently, sometimes a person needs to repent more than once to turn their lives toward Jesus’ direction. That doesn’t mean any repentance they did before was unacceptable to God; but that they still had issues blocking them from completely moving from their sin and toward God. For a man or woman to walk the straight path and go through the narrow gate, they must live a life of repentance, for repentance helps correct variances that happen along a believer’s journey to Christlikeness.
Copyright © 2008 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.