Church Education Resource Ministries


The Doctrine of Repentance

Question: "What does the Bible teach about Repentance?"

Answer: The Bible has allot to say on the subject of repentance. Repentance is a common theme through both the Old and the New Testaments. In the Old Testament many sermons were preached with repentance being the central theme. Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Jonah all did it and their message was basically the same. In the New Testament the very first sermon recorded was from John the Baptist in Mt 3:2 and his message was to repent. Similarly the first sermon of Jesus recorded in Mk 1:15 was to repent. And when Jesus trained his disciples to go out He told them to preach repentance (Mk 6:12). Repentance was a common theme in the New Testament which tragically is neglected by most involved in modern evangelism.

The Definition of Repentance

The New Testament Greek word used for repentance is metaneo which means to change one's mind. Repentant people have shown a change of mind. Repentant people do not just claim to be repentant but are not, but illustrate that they are repentant by the way they live their lives. Repentant people have a change on the inside and it shows. Repentant people do not just claim to change, but they actually do change, for not to change is not an act of repentance.

Repentance a work of the Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is whom calls, convicts, regenerates, indwells, and seals. He calls man to salvation no matter how old, how young, rich or poor, free or slave to salvation. The elect will respond to the call, but the call to salvation is for all of mankind (Jn 3:16-17). He convicts man of three things according to the words of Jesus in Jn 16:8 and they are of sin, righteousness, and judgment. The regeneration work of the Holy Spirit according to Tit 3:5 is that the moment you place your trust in Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside of you (Rm 10:13). He indwells the believer at the point of salvation (1 Cor 3:16, Jn 14:17). This means that the believer has the spirit of God living in them, and a obedient believer will seek to obey Christ to be obedient to the Holy Spirit of God.  He seals as mentioned in Eph 1:13 "And you who were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit"(NIV). Your relationship with God is not performance based it is faith based. The Holy Spirit is God's stamp of ownership on your life. You cannot lose your salvation so do not buy into the lies of the devil and those that holy onto false doctrines that you can lose your salvation. When the Holy Spirit lives inside of you He not only seals you but also renews you. So the question is this. Have you repented and turned from your sin?

Have you truly repented?

In our day and age there are a multitude of Christians that claim to be repentant but are not. Numerous Christians have made a confession of faith, and hold to a works based salvation. Biblical change among the repentant does not have a foundation in a prayer or creed. Numerous Christians today claimed to have earned salvation by reciting the sinners prayer, yet live their lives like they do not know Christ. True Christians do not live like the world, and do not bank their salvation in a work or ritual. One is not a Christian because they go to church, read the Bible, pray, or preach sermons. Salvation is by faith alone and by grace (Eph 2:8-10). There is nothing that one can do to earn salvation. Biblical change among the repentant have changed their heart, will and mind. Romans 12:2 speaks of being transformed by the renewing of the mind. When the mind is renewed the repentant christian will strive to take every thought captive (2 Cor 10:5). This is not an easy task, but Paul gives instruction on what to think on in Phil 4:8. According to the word of God we are to think on whatever is pure, lovely, and virtuous tings. In order to accomplish this we need to watch, listen too, and focus on the things of the Lord. Repentant people have become new creatures (2 Cor 5:17) and seek to eradicate sin and the curse of the old man or nature (Eph 4:22-24). A good test to see if you have truly repentant is to examine yourself and see if you are in the faith (2 Cor 13:5).

True Components of Biblical Repentance

Repentance means to turn away from sin, to feel sorry for what you have done, and not to do it again.

Repentance consists of the following

A) A true sense of ones own guilt and sinfulness
B) An apprehension of God’s mercy in Christ
C) A hate for sin and turning to God
D) A life that pursues holiness

I wrote a article a few years back on hating evil and loving God. In the article I explain why true Christians must have a hate for evil and must have a hat for false doctrine. To me it makes no sense how a Christian can claim salvation, while at the same time claiming that there is nothing wrong with the cults, the false religions, and those that preach counterfeit gospels. True Christians will hate false teaching, will hate false teachers, ad hate all that teach another way to God (Gal 1). Also true Christians will desire God, seek to know Him, and seek to practice Godliness in the pursuit of true Holiness. Not everyone is the same, and some will be slower than others in their Christian walk, but eventually all true Christians will produce behavior that is consistent with those whom have truly repented.

There are numerous people these days that claim they are saved, they have repented and have “put off the old man” but have no or little fruit.

A) Gal 5:19-26 describes the fruit of the sinful nature & contrasts it with the fruit of the spirit.
B) 1 Cor 6:9-11- Mentions categories of sins and then says that we have been washed.

Some fruit/proofs of the true Christian

A) Love for God & Truth: Lk 10:27 & hate of evil (Psa 97:10
B) Repentance from sin: 1 Jn 1:8-10
C) Humility: James 4:10
D) Separation from the world 1 Cor 2:12 & a Pursuit of Holiness (2 Cor 5:17)
E) Hunger for God’s Word: 1 Pet 2:1-3
F) Desire & a resolve to worship and fellowship on the Lords day (Heb 10:24-25)
G. Desire to do Biblical evangelism (Mk 16:15)

Preaching Repentance in Biblical Evangelism

Matt 4:17- From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

Mark 1:14-15- After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said. “the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

Jesus preached repentance because his audience was familiar with the law. If they had not been familiar they needed the law to be shown to them. Repentance was a common theme in the public preaching of Jesus & John the Baptist. Jesus charged his disciples to preach repentance as well (Lk 24:47). Unfortunately all too often in modern evangelism is Biblical repentance not emphasized. Too many these days do not like passing out tracts, open air preaching, and confronting people about their sin with the goal to bring them to repentance. But when the life of Jesus is examined the text clearly reveals that he boldly preached repentance. Such people are unfortunately characterized as dogmatic and narrow minded in our day of tolerance. People need to change and repent of their sin and turn from their wicked ways.
A missing key in evangelism today is the law. By the law people are shown their sin. All too often do people today want to preach grace before repentance. The result is false converts who come to faith but do not repent of their sin, which according to the Bible is impossible. These people often fill up churches and its no wonder so few want to do evangelism! When Biblical repentance is preached in evangelism do not expect the world to love you! Oftentimes you will be persecuted for preaching the gospel, for the world hates the light (Jn 3:19). Those that preach a gospel message saying that God has a wonderful plan for their lives are not preaching the full gospel. The Biblical message preaches to people that they need to repent, for their sins have condemned them and they are guilty before God. Once they see that they are guilty and have repented, then they can see the light of the gospel, and believe upon Christ. A true converted Christian will have become a new creation (2 Cor 5:17) and will have  hunger for the word of God, for Holiness, & for evangelism.

Recommended Resources: 

I really Want to Change so Help me God
God has a Wonderful Plan for your Life

The Practice of Godliness
The Doctrine of Repentance (Audio message)

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