I was asked in recent times about the subject of Repentance and wanted to take this opportunity to clarify my position. As a Pastor, I try to follow the Bible as best and as a honestly as I can. Scripture is the only source of Authority that is followed.
The word Repentance has two basic meanings in Scripture:
- To Turn, or change one’s mind
- To be sorrowful
To Turn from something, is deduced from the Bible as a self contained dictionary. For example,
Act 26:18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Acts 20:30… the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
To be Sorrowful, is from Webster’s 1828 dictionary. It is also found right throughout the Bible and is appropriately the first mention of the word Repentance when the Lord says about man,
(Gen 6:6) And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
So how do I know which meaning is meant? The CONTEXT is key in defining it at all times. example is Gen 6:6, The LORD repented that he had made man… It GRIEVED him at his heart.. i.e. the meaning of God being sorry
Sometimes both meanings are meant and the CONTEXT will let you know each time
As a Bible Believer,
(Isa 28:9) Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.
(Isa 28:10) For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:
Let me show you some Scriptures where the word repentance is used in OLD Testament
Exodus 32:14… The LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do… i.e. God turned from it
(Judges 2:18) And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them. i.e. a context of being sorry for…
(1 Sam 15:11) It repented me that I have set up Saul… i.e. The LORD was sorrowful
(Jer 8:6) I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle. i.e Context here seems to have both meanings implied; Being sorrowful over man’s wickedness and no desire to turn away from it
Let me show you some Scriptures where the word repentance is used NEW Testament
(Mat 3:2) And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. The context is found in verse 1… “in those days” Israel had gone into apostasy, just look at the corruption in the Temple itself. John the Baptist was coming to PREACH Repentance to turn them away from there wickedness… i.e to turn away from SIN… see (Matt 3:6)
(Mat 12:41) The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. i,e. both meanings seem to fit in this context, dealing with their sin
(Acts 5:31) Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Context of Israel TURNING from their sin and turning unto God
(2 Cor 7:10) For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death… Sorrowful condition that leads man to Salvation
(Rev 16:9) And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. i.e. they turn not back from there wickedness
These are just some verses picked at random from the OLD and the NEW Testament.
When you look at the HARMONY of Scripture, you will find that it is consistent right throughout
- The Old Testament: From Genesis to Malachi, see some References above
- The New Testament:
- John the Baptist (Matt 3:3; Mark 1:4; Luke 3:3; John 1)
- JESUS (Matt 4:17; Luke 13:3; Mark 1:15; Matt 9:13)
- The Disciples ( Acts :8:22; Acts 26:20; Acts 11:18)
- Pauline Epistles (1 Thes 1:9; 2 Cor 7:10; 2 Pet 3:9; Acts 20:21; Rom 2:4)
- John in Revelation (Rev 9:20; 16:9; 16:11 etc…)
- JESUS in Revelation (Rev 2:21; Rev 3:3; Rev 3:19)
- Pauline Epistles are important because Paul was the Apostle to the gentiles (Rom :11:13) We as gentiles, need to pay close attention to Paul, especially, in area of Repentance
Again, CONTEXT will define what the exact meaning is in each case
There is a world of difference between man’s Repentance and God’s Repentance.
God never repents from sin; he cannot, because HE IS SINLESS
Man, on the other hand is told to TURN from his sin, or, in the New Testament, he is called to TURN away from IDOLS (Generally Speaking)
- Salvation occurs the moment a person sees himself as God sees him. In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah becomes undone because he sees himself when measured up to the INFINITE holiness of God. When we, as mere mortals, see the absolute HOLINESS of God we, like Isaiah will become undone. The Holy Spirit shows our lost condition by shining the LIGHT of his WORD in our depraved hearts.
That is what the Bible means by man’s repentance. It is NOT A WORK!!! It is the GRACE of God that reaches down to a LOST sinner. When we see ourselves as we really are, we can only REPENT and turn to him.
- We do NOT Repent of all of our sins, that would be impossible. But, in that moment in time, when the LORD shows us our LOST CONDITION, we agree with God that such is the case
- (Amos 3:3) The Sinner and God have to be on the level, as two can only walk together unless they are agreed. (Isa 1:18)
- To PREACH that there is no Repentance in Salvation is WRONG Biblical, and compromises the Righteousness of God
- If God is the INFINITE JUDGE, how in the world can he pardon the sinner, without the sinner feeling sorry for what he has done
As a Pastor, I try to tell people the TRUTH, according to His WORD
(Gal 4:16) Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?