What About Repentance Anyway?

by: Wayne Schatzle

     I f you would ask 10 different people: what does the word, “repentance” mean? You may get 10 different answers. Nowadays the term “repentance” is relegated to comic strips, with the little bearded guy holding a sign saying, “Repent, the end is near”. Although repentance is indeed an important element in the salvation process, modern churches have distilled the salvation message to simply: “Jesus, I give you my heart” and presto chango I am in the Kingdom. This is a popular formula for salvation because it is easy and doesn’t interfere with our lifestyles and will garner more converts.

     The key to salvation is a repentant heart. Notice Mark 1: 15, “the Kingdom of God is at hand REPENT, and believe the gospel”. {6:12} “So they went out and preached that people should REPENT”. {Acts 2:38} “and Peter said, REPENT and be baptized for the remission of sin…” {3:19} REPENT and be converted that your sins may be blotted out”. {17:30} “God now commands all men to REPENT”.  Ok, so we need to repent for salvation- but just what does that old term mean anyway?

     The word repent is actually from two Greek words which means, “metamorphose” or in popular terms “to morph”. It is a very intense word that denotes a transformation; reversal, or to think differently. Dictionaries will show the meaning as deep sorrow, contrite, penitent. True Believers are called new creatures in Christ for a good reason as their whole lives will change, as Peter said, others will think you are strange that you no longer run with them. {1 Peter 4}. Also we are to prove our genuine repentance to God by doing “WORKS befitting of repentance {Acts 27:20}”. How can one stay in his sinful ways and be counted as “saved” when we read that the Goodness of God leads one to repentance? {Romans 2:4}. The change should be so dramatic as a caterpillar to a butterfly, so it is with a person truly seeking the Face of God.

     There is a deceptively false conversion described in the bible that has been around since the beginning. This heresy will omit biblical repentance. Witness the record in Acts 8 of Simon of Samaria, who was a believer and was baptized but still had his old nature- Peter told him to repent of his unrighteousness.  Notice in your bible the many warnings of false prophets; apostles; teachers; brethren and even false CHRISTS! {Mt 24:11 & 24; 2 Cor 11: 13 & 26; Gal 2:4; 2 Pet 2:1; and especially the letter of Jude}. The message to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation was that they were to overcome and repent in order to reap the rewards offered them. In the parable of the wedding feast {Matt 22} many, both good and bad, were invited to the feast. When one man was discovered in attendance without wedding garments he was bound and cast out.  Commentaries agree that the lesson to be learned is that one offered salvation must change their ways to be included in the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Paul described the life after repentance as putting on a  “new man” which was created according to God in righteousness and true holiness and the old man is buried {in the watery grave of Baptism} with all the sinful nature inherited from the ways of the world. For Godly sorrow produces repentance to salvation. {Eph 4; Col 3; 2 Cor7: 9}.

     The single greatest event in a person’s life is to repent. It is the first step to life eternal. As our Savior said, ”unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.

Written by Wayne Schatzle, director, Freedom Biblical Information Center
P.O. Box 1806, West Chester OH 45071)