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Repentance is both a word and concept that run throughout the Bible, traversing the old and the new testaments. And for the purpose of this post, I’d limit my treatise to the new testament.
Repentance is a concept that is fundamental to the doctrine of salvation. The incarnate Jesus taught his listeners to repent in preparation for the kingdom of God that was at hand.
The early apostles taught people to repent and believe the gospel.
While preaching salvation, the Jews were taught to repent. Acts 2:38, 3:19. But this is not just a Jewish thing as the Gentiles were also taught to repent.
For instance, when Paul was in Athens, a region of the Gentiles that worshipped all manner of gods/idols, he made it clear that God wanted all men everywhere to come to repentance. Here it goes: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent”,
Acts 17:30 NKJV.
So, what is repentance?
In its simplest form, it means for someone to change their mind. It means to have a change of heart, attitude, and behavior away from something and towards another thing. With particular reference to salvation, repentance means for all men to change their various beliefs (and religions) and have faith towards God through Christ Jesus as the saviour. This is why both the Jews and the non-Jews alike require repentance.
In fact, the purpose of the message of salvation is to bring about repentance (change of heart). Any salvation message or experience that does not produce a change of heart and direction is a falsity. It is all gas! The reason why someone who used to worship a local diety in the past now serves Jesus after hearing the gospel is that he has repented after receiving God’s gift of salvation. Hence, repentance is an inevitable salvation experience.
That said, while salvation is a one-time experience, repentance is not just a one-off experience to a believer in Christ Jesus. Repentance is what a child of God will keep experiencing if he’s actually growing in the Faith. If you are not repenting then there is no sign that you are growing.
The word repentance in Greek is “Metanoia”, which means to change with particular reference to what you are changing too. The word “meta” literally means “after”. As you gain more light and understanding, you don’t quite remain the same. You change! You metamorphose! “We all with open face beholding the glory of God as in a mirror are transformed to the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of God. 2 Cor. 3;18. This is change!
Peter needed to repent after his trance where God taught him not to call anything He has made clean, unclean. That encounter melted his prejudice towards the Gentiles and that was why he was able to go preach at the house of Cornelius.
When Paul wrote in one of his epistles: “let him that stole steal no more but let him work with his hands….”, he was preaching repentance to the saints.
It is a given, you have not been saved by your good works but you are saved unto good works. “We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works” Ephesians 2:10. Those good works are the fruits of your growth. Without them, there is no sign that you are growing.
Any message suggesting that believers don’t have to repent is quite unwholesome. As a matter of fact, repentance is the reason why many of us started preaching like we do today because in the past we had believed and taught people all manner of nonsense in the name of the Gospel.
Lack of progressive repentance (change) is the reason why some believers live and behave like the unregenerate today, even though they are in Christ Jesus.
Paul called the Corinthian church “babes in Christ” because they were full of jealousy, strife, and divisions. Yet, this is a church that was blessed with all manner of spiritual gifts. I need you to understand that the gifts of the Spirit are what they are – GIFTS, but the fruits of the Spirit are not gifts but results of a lot of repenting and changing over time as Gods children yield themselves to His dealings.
Friend, your need For repentance from time to time is because you are a work-in-progress. In God’s family, you are completely accepted through Christ’s finished work, much like your own child is unconditionally accepted in your family. However, like your child is a work-in-progress, so also are you.
in Paul’s letter to the Philippians church, he wrote:
“..Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14 NKJV
When Paul wrote to the church at Galatia: “My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you,”
Galatians 4:19 NKJV, it was because he had a strong desire for them to grow up and he would keep laboring at it until people could see them and see Christ.
God desires His children to outgrow baby-hood so He could commit Kingdom responsibilities to them. Many among us are blessed already with gifts that may not manifest beyond the rudimentary stage until we grow up. God knows if He takes you into deep revelations and other spiritual experiences, your head will suddenly become ballooned and get bigger than your shoulders could carry. This is when you will prefix Senior Apostle and Archbishop to your name. Nobody will be able to address you as “brother” anymore without getting that look… Everyone must call you “daddy”.
Dear grace lover and Preacher, you have started on a good footing by embracing the gift of righteousness that God made available through Christ Jesus. However, you have a responsibility to grow and when you do, it will show in your character and how you deal with others.
In essence, while the gospel is not the same as character modification, it will produce one in you, if you truly receive it.
Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things”.
I Corinthians 13:11 NKJV
Friends, It is time to grow up and put away childish things.
It is a new day!