THE DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE
(Lesson 14 on Bible Doctrines)
"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
"There surely is not the emphasis laid upon repentance in modern preaching that there is in the Bible" (R. A. Torrey, What the Bible Teaches).
I. THE IMPORTANCE OF REPENTANCE
- Repentance was greatly emphasized by the Old Testament prophets (Ezek.14:6; Amos 4:6-12; Zech.1:3; Matt.12:41).
- John the Baptist preached repentance, as did our Lord (Matt.3:1,2; 4:17).
- Repentance is absolutely essential for salvation (Luke 13:1-5).
- When Jesus sent forth His twelve apostles, "they went out, and preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12).
- Repentance is part of the Great Commission – "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).
- God "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (II Peter 3:9; cf. Act 17:30).
- Foremost in the preaching of the apostles was the doctrine of repentance (Acts 2:38; 20:21; 26:18-20).
II. FALSE VIEWS OF REPENTANCE
- Repentance is not sorrow for sin though it includes sorrow for sin. There is an ungodly sorrow for sin (sorrow for getting caught) – "the sorrow of the world worketh death" (II Cor.7:10). Judas "repented" in this fashion and then hung himself (Matt.27:3-5).
- Repentance is not penance. The Romish church teaches that man can atone for his sin through "penance" but nowhere is this taught in the Bible. Unfortunately, they have substituted "do penance" for "repent" in some of their distorted translations of the Bible.
- Repentance is not mere moral reformation, though genuine repentance will lead to reformation and restitution (cf. Luke 19:8).
III. THE NATURE OF REPENTANCE
- As touching the intellect – repentance means to change one’s mind (cf. Matt.21:28-32). The prodigal son "came to himself" (Luke15:17), i.e., he repented of his folly and returned to his father. On the day of Pentecost, Peter exhorted his Jewish listeners to repent, i.e., to change their minds about who Jesus was (Acts 2:22-38).
- As touching the emotions – there is a relationship between sorrow and repentance (cf. II Cor.7:9,10). Sorrow and repentance are not the same thing, but when sorrow has done its work there will be repentance, resulting in salvation. True repentance is manifested in deep sorrow for sin and in self-humiliation and in self-abhorrence (cf. Ps.38:18; Luke 18:13,14).
- As touching the will – genuine repentance involves confession of sin, forsaking of sin, and turning to God (cf. Isa.55:7; I Thess. 1:9,10).
IV. HOW REPENTANCE IS PRODUCED
- "The servant of the Lord" teaches and preaches the Word of God in order that "God peradventure will give them repentance" (II Tim. 2:24,25). As the Word of God is taught, the Holy Spirit brings conviction of sin and the hearer changes his mind as the truth of God’s Word is presented.
- Repentance is a gift of God that must be sought (Acts 11:18; Heb.12:17).
- Repentance results when men believe God’s Word (Jonah 3:5).
- "The goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance" (Rom.2:4).
V. THE RESULTS OF REPENTANCE
- There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7,10).
- Repentance brings pardon and forgiveness of sin (Acts 3:19).
- The Holy Spirit is poured out upon those that repent (Acts 2:38).
- Genuine salvation will always be preceded by repentance. The contrite sinner who turns to God accepts God’s judgment upon sin, accepts the fact that he needs to get right with God, accepts the fact of his guilt, and accepts the fact that he is lost and on his way to hell without Christ.
- The true penitent turns from his own self-righteousness, turns from his own works, turns from his false religious beliefs, and turns to the Lord Jesus Christ, receiving Him as His Lord and Saviour.
- "And how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (I Thess.1:9b).
- "Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD" (Zech.1:3,4).
Pastor James Barker