Repent or Perish

Cecil Willis
Marion, Indiana

Jesus said, "I tell you, Nay, but, except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3). It is therefore impossible for an impenitent person to go to heaven. But in order for me to comply with Jesus' command to repent, I must have some understanding of what repentance means.

In 2 Cor. 7:30 Paul says, "For Godly sorrow worketh repentance." Sorrow for one's sins is not repentance, but works or produces repentance. But this does not tell us what repentance is; it only tells us it is not godly sorrow. Repentance is defined in Mt. 21:28, 29. "A man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work today in the vineyard. And he answered and said, I will not; but afterward he repented himself and went." What did the man do? He simply changed his mind. And that is exactly what repentance is. You notice too that the son's change of mind produced a change of action. So repentance is simply a change of mind preceded and produced by godly sorrow and followed by a reformation of life.

No commandment is more difficult for man to obey than the one to repent. It requires that a man admit he is wrong, and this requires humility. But unless a person does change his mind about sin, it is useless to pretend to have been converted. The changed mind is what makes it possible for the unconverted (changed) person to be a new creature. One's heart has to be changed before his actions will be altered. Many are hesitant to become Christians simply because they are not sure that they want to live like they know the Bible teaches a Christian must. They have not genuinely repented. And until they can sincerely repent, they remain under condemnation by Christ. With Christ it is repent or perish; turn or burn!

October 14, 1971