Repentance – The Starting Point

Jesus said, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel!” John the Baptist shouted, “Repent!” Peter, on the Day of Pentecost announced, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Later he said, “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

Repentance — The Starting PointTo repent means to be deeply sorry for having sinned. It means coming to a sincere, honest, deeply felt remorse over having broken God’s laws—all of them. It means being totally bereft of any feelings of self-pity or broken-hearted remorse over what we have done and what we have been; what we are!

Assuredly, along with being deeply sorry to the point of real emotion expressed toward God for our past sins, repentance means fervent resolve that, with God’s help, we will quit sinning!

Real repentance takes knowledge and deep understanding mixed with sincere emotions. It is not an embarrassing, selfish feeling of self-pity and sorrow that one has been caught or suffers loss that so often is characterized by the ‘sorrow of the world.’ Instead, it is a full, genuine, completely honest understanding of how wrong, sinful, and worthless our life has been and how far we have strayed from God’s perfect will for our personal lives.

The only way a person can really repent is to understand these major points:

  1. Understand what sin is; that it is the breaking of God’s Ten Commandments in any of the broadest possible applications as Jesus Christ defined by His life’s example and by His teachings, notably the Sermon on the Mount.
  2. Understand that we have been sinners; that we were living arrogantly, pridefully, willfully contrary to those laws and the teachings of Christ.
  3. Understand that our own personal rejection of God and His Son Jesus Christ, the way of life They have willed for us, was what took Christ’s life. We need to know He died for us personally.
  4. To see ourselves for the first time as God sees us: selfish, prideful, innately rebellious toward God, and resisting the suggestion that we may have been wrong. We must come to be disgusted with the self, to say with Job, “I abhor myself,” and with Paul, “O wretched man that I am” and mean it!
  5. We must sincerely cry out for God’s forgiveness that He will remove the burden of guilt we have been carrying.
  6. We must be baptized (Acts 2:38; Romans 6) as a symbol of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and as a symbol of the death and burial of the “old man,” the person we were in the past.
  7. We must receive the “laying on of hands” by the direct representatives of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38, Acts 8:17, Acts 19:6) for the receiving of the Holy Spirit; and then know and have the faith to believe we have been forgiven and that God will now empower us to live a life of daily overcoming. We must understand we are no longer our own person, but belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 7:23).

Repentance — The Starting PointMillions of sincerely contrite people have come forward to the emotional cries of an evangelist who did not understand these seven vital points.

They were sincere. They may have changed their lives in some important ways. Those changes could have been for the good. But, if their sorrow was only the “sorrow of the world;” if their understanding failed to include the entire biblical truth about repentance; and, if they were not willing to be baptized and receive God’s Holy Spirit exactly as your Bible requires, then they did not really repent!

Peter said,

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

To be converted is to be changed. Paul wrote,

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed (completely changed, converted) by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).

When one repents, is baptized, and receives the Holy Spirit of God, a profound change comes over their whole character and personality.

A truly repentant person is through arguing with God. A repentant person realizes the great price Jesus paid to purchase them with His own suffering and blood. They are so overwhelmed by God’s great mercy, that they approach the Bible with trembling and awe. To such a person, it is unthinkable that one would attempt to compromise God’s laws; unimaginable to rationalize away the requirement to obey God, and to humbly follow Christ’s example, as a believer of His Word. May God show you your deep personal need for repentance.

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