By David Eldridge
In staying with this study of “what saith the scriptures” I would like to address the subject of repentance. The scriptures say much on this subject. In this article it is my goal to present some main points on this subject and clear up some misunderstanding about repentance.
What Is Repentance?
Before a person is able to repent, it stands to reason, that he must first know what repentance is. Repentance has been defined as a change in mind or heart brought about by godly sorrow, and therefore resulting in a change of life. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words says repentance “signifies to change one’s mind or purpose, always, in the New Testament, involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always except in Luke 17:3,4, of repentance from sin.”
These definitions are exemplified in Matthew 21:28-30. Here we see the parable of the two sons who were told to go and work in the vineyard. The first son said that he would not, but then, seeing the error of his ways, repented and went to work. This son showed a change of mind, and acting on this change of mind changed his life.
What Does Repentance Involve?
Repentance first involves a person acknowledging his sins. If someone refuses to admit that he is sick (Mk. 2:7), then he obviously will not see the need to repent.
Once a person acknowledges his sin, then this will then produce godly sorrow if the person’s attitude is right. In 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 we see this idea taught. In v. 10 Paul writes, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance.” We can see that this godly sorrow will work or bring forth repentance.
Once a person has repented then he turns from the sin. If there is no change in the mind that then produces a change in life the person has not truly repented. True repentance always involves a change in the mind followed by a change in the person’s life.
Who Is Required to Repent?
“And at the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). Paul, in his sermon at Athens told the Athenians that not just all men, but, “all men everywhere,” were commanded to repent. Repentance is required of every-one.
Why were all men told to repent? The answer is found in Romans 3:23, because “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” All have sinned, so all must repent.
The alien sinner must repent. In Acts 2:37 we see these men (erring sinners) cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” In v. 38 Peter told them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” We also see in Acts 3:19, Peter preaching the same thing with almost the same words. Peter tells them to repent and be converted so that their sins could be blotted out. We learn in these passages that for the sinner, repentance is a necessary step for salvation and remission of sins.
The Christian guilty of sin must also repent. In Acts 8 we see this illustrated by Simon the Sorcerer. In v. 1.3 we find that Simon was baptized and became a child of God. Later on, Simon tried to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 18-19). Then Simon, a Christian, was told to repent of this sin (v. 22). From this we can see that a Christian, upon committing a sin, must repent of it, and that this true repentance provides what is necessary for forgiveness.
What a Lack of Repentance Brings
As we saw earlier in this article, without repentance it is impossible to receive salvation. So for one who is not a child of God, no repentance equals an eternal torture and punishment in Hell.
For a child of God repentance is also essential. True repentance brings forgiveness of sins, and without forgiveness of our sins, we will receive death, a spiritual death in hell, as wages for those sins (Rom. 6:23). For “all men everywhere” repentance is required.
In conclusion, we have learned that repentance is required for everyone, and that this repentance will bring forth a change in both our minds and our lives. And that repentance must be taught and used in every Christian’s life.
*David Eldridge is 16 years old.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 8, p. 15
April 21, 1994