Let's Go Back to the Bible

The Missing Link in Some Conversions Today

A form of the word “repent” is found over 60 times in the Bible.  We may think about it strictly as a New Testament term, but 10 of the 60+ uses are in the Old Testament.  So, “repentance” is certainly a Biblical concept from beginning to end.

Generally speaking, we know what it means to “repent.”  The basic meaning of the term is to “change one’s mind.”  It is, essentially, a change of mind that leads to a change of life.  Most have probably heard sermons on the subject and certainly have heard the step of “repentance” included in God’s plan of salvation.  But, is it possible that we have neglected to emphasize this God-given responsibility as much as God would have us to emphasize it?

Repenting is a command of God.  John the Baptist’s preaching could be summarized with the command that he issued to “Repent” (Matt. 3:2).  Jesus came and preached the same sermon to “Repent” (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15).  It is a “command” that “all men everywhere” must obey (Acts 17:30).  Even Christians who have sinned are commanded to “Repent” (Acts 8:22; Rev. 2:5, 16; 3:3, 19). This is not something optional that we can ignore.

Repenting carries with it great rewards when obeyed.  Repentance can lead one into “the kingdom of God” (Mark 1:15), lead to “remission of sins” (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 2 Cor. 7:10), lead to “joy in heaven” (Luke 15:7) and can lead to eternal “life” (Acts 11:18). 

Repenting carries with it severe consequences when neglected.  Choosing to not repent leads one to be “rebuked” by the Lord (Matt. 11:20), to be “removed” by the Lord from His sight (Rev. 2:5, 16), and to “perish” (Luke 13:3; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Repenting from sins should be motivated by the presence and consequences of sins in our lives (Acts 8:21-22), “godly sorrow” for those sins (2 Cor. 7:9-10) and by the “goodness” and “longsuffering” of God toward us (Rom. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Here is a concern.  Is it possible that we are sometimes so eager to convert someone to Christ by getting them baptized for the “remission” of their sins that we do not spend enough time emphasizing the meaning, obligation and urgency of repentance from those sins?  Is it possible that some people are not actually “converted to Christ” because we skipped this all-important step?  Is it possible that more new converts would remain faithful if they truly understood the nature of sin and the personal responsibility to repent of those sins?  Is it possible that more Christians would continue to repent of sins throughout their Christian life if they had learned that lesson before becoming a Christian?  Is repentance a “missing link”?