What Ever Happened to Repentance?
Luther A. Bolenbarker
The most difficult command to obey is not that of baptism, nor those commands concerning our duties of giving and assembling. The command which seems to cause more folks to balk than does any other is that of "repentance.' "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish" (Lk. 13:3,5) was spoken to those Jews still under the first covenant. However, repentance was carried over into the New Covenant law of Christ. More souls will probably be lost because of the failure to heed this command than for any other. Consider some who fail to repent:
The Bible plainly teaches, "He that believes and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:15); and "Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:38). Why do so many refuse to be baptized for the remission of sins? I believe that the answer lies in their refusal to repent. A refusal to repent of their past and present practice of sin is a rejection of God's simple counsel. The problem is not that the gospel is difficult to understand, but that they do not desire to repent (i.e. change) and live the life God has commanded.
Why is it that so many people choose every path except repentance when confronted with their sins? Some get angry with the preacher; others blame someone else for their sin; still others simply ignore the word. Their problem is not in the manner in which the message is presented or in the actions of others. The root is their lack of desire to truly change their hearts and deeds. What ever happened to the reaction demonstrated by David in 2 Samuel 12:13? David said, "I have sinned against the Lord." Had he not been of this attitude he might have lashed out at Nathan for not finding the proper time or manner in which to talk with him. Or perhaps he could have been unhappy and accused Nathan of tricking him with the story of a ewe lamb. David, however, was sorry for what he had done and desired to repent of is sin. Some have tried to so wrest the meaning of repentance so far as to remove the element of a changed life. Can you imagine Jesus telling the account of the "two sons" and saying of one, "And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, I will not; yet afterward he repented and did not go?" The Bible never teaches that a man can repent of a sin and yet not change his life. Repentance, confession and prayer are necessary for the Christian to be forgiven of his sins (Acts 8:22).
Jesus declared that "repentance for forgiveness of sins should be declared in his name to all nations" (Lk. 24:47). Repentance is a necessary part of the life of each one of us. It is not merely a change of mind or a "good heart," but a sincere turning from sin in both mind and body changing one's mind about sin that results in a changed life.
If you are not a Christian, and you have faith in Jesus Christ, repentance for you will result in your being immersed for the remission of your sins. Christians who then sin must likewise repent, admit their sins (as publicly as their sins were) and then pray to God for his forgiveness and strength (Acts 2:37-38,41; 8:22; Rev. 2:10).
Have you truly repented? God knows!
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 7, p. 195