According to the Gospels in the Bible (records of the words and deeds of Jesus Christ during His lifetime), no matter whether itˇ¦s John the Baptist, Christ the Son of God, or His disciples, the gospel of the Heavenly Kingdom that they preached all incorporated the interactive relationship between God and man. Christ said, ˇ§The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!ˇ¨ (Mark 1:15). The salvation prepared by God for sinners is the saving grace. The reason man can escape the bondage of sin and death is because of Christˇ¦s sacrifice on the cross and Godˇ¦s great power of resurrection. Man has no contribution whatsoever. Yet, when describing how man should respond to the Lordˇ¦s grace of salvation, the Bible clearly emphasizes that sinners must repent and accept the Christ established by God as the Saviour. ˇ§Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lordˇ¨ (Acts 3:19). ˇ§They (the disciples) went out and preached that people should repent.ˇ¨ (Mark 6:12). The Gospel of Luke notes Christ saying, ˇ§and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.ˇ¨ (Luke 24:47).
Today when we are preaching the Gospel, we must not overlook exhorting people to repent before God and accept His saving grace. If we only preach Godˇ¦s love and the fulfillment of the grace of salvation, but do not remind people to respond to God with the proper attitude, we have not delivered a complete Gospel message. Strictly speaking, we have altered the Gospel.
So then, what is repentance? According to the Bible, repentance has the following meanings: repentance is man recognizing and acknowledging that he has spiritually acquired a terminal disease, and requires the help of the physician of the soul - Jesus Christ. Christ said, ˇ§It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.ˇ¨ (Luke 5:31-32). All his life man is entangled and controlled by sin, finally dying in sin and iniquity and is separated from God. Repentance is the sinner first admitting that he has a disease and accepting the diagnosis and treatment of Jesus Christ.
Simply put, the term repentance means the alteration of will and the changing of thought. Repentance signifies the enlightenment of a sinner by the Holy Spirit to acknowledge that he has sinned and left the one and only God, and be moved to resolutely turn back to the Heavenly father. His actions perform a 180 degree reversal, and his behaviour and deeds in life make a U-turn so that he does not sin again. He no longer indulges in the lusts of the flesh, follows the traditions of this age, and submits to the devil, Satan. The truly repentant has major changes in his views of life, values and the future. This great transformation is what the Bible calls rebirth. Of course, these changes are accomplished through continuously learning from the Bible and the work of the Holy Spirit.
True repentance is like one willing to remove old and dirty clothing and put on clean and white clothing, discarding the old and being renewed in heart and mind. It is like the prodigal son coming home, taking off his soiled and dirty clothes and donning fancy garments, and regaining his status as the son. Repentance is a revolution of heart and mind, ˇ§to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.ˇ¨ (Ephesians 4:23-24).
Christ taught us to differentiate between true and false Christians through the fruits that they produce, just like distinguishing the goodness and badness of trees. ˇ§By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?ˇ¨ ˇ§Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.ˇ¨ (Matthew 7:16, 20-21). Therefore, true Christians are repentant people. They delight in having the word of God planted in their hearts, to let it take root and produce good fruit that is in keeping with a repentant heart (Luke 3:8).
By: Daniel To