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Repent

  

“Repentance is the recognition, regret, and renunciation of sin in one’s life. It involves a change in one’s thinking, feeling, and purpose toward sin in view of his relationship with God through Christ. All men need to repent from sin and to accept forgiveness God has provided through His grace and His Son’s sacrifice. Repentance is one of the basic requirements for salvation (Hatch, 1960).”

My question is, “Who leads a man to repentance?” The change in attitude in a person’s heart that leads to repentance is granted by God. …

” ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18b, NASB).’”

Granted is the Greek word didomai which is translated give or grant hundreds of times. The word grant has the connotation of bestowing or to give permission. God is the one who bestows the repentance that leads to eternal life. It is God who moves in a person’s heart to cause the recognition of sin and the abhorrence of it.

It is exciting to see that this granting of repentance was reported about when Peter was explaining to the Jews about how the Gentiles came to speak in tongues in Joppa. Peter taught Cornelius’ family about Jesus as the Christ and then stated,

“Of Him all the prophets bear witness that thorough His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43).”

[At that point] “holy spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message (Acts 10:44, NASB).”

Peter, in Acts 11:17, explains to the Jews at Jerusalem,

“Therefore if God gave to them the same gift ( i.e. holy spirit and the ability to truly repent) as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that could stand in God’s way?”

The assembly then recognized then that the Gentiles were given the ability to repentance, just as the Jews were. Paul added to this:

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance (Romans 2:4, NASB)?”

The way of being that Peter and Paul had when bringing people to repentance was to preach about Jesus as the Anointed One. In hearing about Christ and God’s love for sending to us such a savior, one then receives from God the ability to repent. Something spiritual has to happen for a person to recognize sin against God and actually care about it. The section of scripture in I Corinthians 2 addresses specifically how Paul’s manner was when he preached to the Corinthians.

“… proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (I Cor. 2: 1b-2).”

Then Paul goes on to state that

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him: and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (I Cor. 2:12-14, NASB).”

 For a person to repent, the order has to be hearing about Christ’s life, death and resurrection, 

” ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (Acts 2:36-37, NASB)

Then the person is granted repentance as a spiritual gift that God bestows due to grace and mercy, and finally a person receives the gift of holy spirit to convict him of his sin and to live as Christ taught and teaches. God has set up the way to witness and bring one to repentance:

  1. teach about Christ with love,
  2. allow Christ as the mediator between God and man,
  3. and God grants the ability to repent and be saved.

The person receives that spiritual gift and then is able to see sin for what it is – separation from God. Who leads man to repent? God through Christ. One plants and waters, but God gives the increase.

12 Responses to “Repent”

  1. on 06 Feb 2007 at 9:27 amVictor

    I agree with Hatch that repentance is required for salvation. Man is at enmity with God and needs reconciliation that comes by that repentance in light of the gospel. At the same time, I think his quote is weak in the area of “action.” Repentance is a change in thinking, feeling and purpose, but it must manifest itself in the change of one’s behavior. Many people, myself included for a long time, think that repentance is felling bad or saying sorry, and although that is apart of this whole process – that would be better classified as sorrow, while repentance is a 180º directional change of behavior.

    I think that God knows that we are simpleminded creatures…we always need to be doing something…so He graciously gives us the direction of what our lives should now look like once we have repented (the fruit/deeds of repentance).

    Instead of lying – tell the truth
    Instead of stealing – work and give
    Instead of unwholesome talk – words that are profitable and edifying
    Etc.

    God is def. involved in the repentance process, but I believe much is in my hands. I am the one who needs to change my behavior and actions, who I’m hanging out with, what I spend my time looking at, etc.

    I think the spirit given to those who have faith and repent indeed is the guide and helper to continue on that path.

    If the question is “WHO leads men to repentance” – my answer would be God, through the kindness shown through the gospel in light of the day of judgement coming. The changes that are actually made however, is up to me.

    Perhaps this idea of “granting” repentance means giving the chance to repent.

    Acts 11:18 (NLT) – “When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”

    This would fall in line with Peter’s original thoughts in the Cornelius record:

    Acts 10:34-35 – “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.”

    Glad you posted this article…you’ve given me something to think about.
    -VG

  2. on 06 Feb 2007 at 9:50 amSean

    I think the key to the repentence of Cornelius’ household was the words spoken by Peter AND the softening of the heart by God (as Cornelius and his household allowed it).

    Acts 10:40-43
    40 This man God raised (on) the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”

    Jesus sounded similar to this, calling on people to repent in light of the coming kingdom of God (day of Judgment, day of the LORD, last day, wrath of God, etc.).

    Mark 1:14-15
    14 After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the gospel of God: 15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

    Lastly, Paul the great missionary preached in Athens that men should repent, specifically because of the coming judgment.

    Acts 17:30-31
    30 God has overlooked the times of ignorance, but now he demands that all people everywhere repent 31 because he has established a day on which he will ‘judge the world with justice’ through a man he has appointed, and he has provided confirmation for all by raising him from the dead.”

    So in conclusion there are three participants
    (1) the preacher speaking about the coming day of judgment & forgiveness available through Christ’s sacrifice
    (2) God working through the holy spirit to convict
    (3) the listener who will either repent or become angry.

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  3. on 06 Feb 2007 at 9:58 amJohnO

    I would have to agree – the action of repentance is as much our human responsibility as it is God’s to help us. And he has spoken over and over that he will help us. Through the preaching of the Gospel repentance is available (in this Gospel faith and repentance accomplish something, conversion).

    I think Victor’s point of action is very telling also. I think when we read Romans about the “old man” and the “new man” – I think we have to understand that a person cannot be both at the same time. So when we talk about “old man nature” I think we are mischaracterizing what Paul is saying. Rather the tension is between our desire to live right before God, and the temptation of sin. Not between two identities that we can be at the same time, as some have termed “a carnal Christian”. If we live like the old man – we are the old man, not the new, and we have nothing the new man has including salvation.

  4. on 06 Feb 2007 at 11:53 amMary Ann

    I am very excited about the views posted. I have a further question. When a person, through the evilness of the world, has had a lot of trauma in his or her life and this seems to be “normal” to that person, how does one who has little or not idea about “love”, “trust”, “sorrow”, “self-discipline”, begin to repent? Where does one begin to assist this person in receiving the gospel message to repent?

  5. on 06 Feb 2007 at 12:41 pmKaren

    Mary Ann, that’s a great question. I think that love has to come first. People who have been grievously hurt in the past often don’t come to a place of repentance until they feel safe enough and loved enough to do so. Their hearts have to prepared, not just their heads.

  6. on 06 Feb 2007 at 9:42 pmJohnO

    Mary Ann,

    I definitely think that is where God intervenes. He does the things that we cannot do. Or empowers us to do the impossible.

  7. on 07 Feb 2007 at 6:58 amMary Ann

    There was a discussion last evening about salvation being a continuum of time, past – present and future. If this is so, (which was well demonstrated by Scripture and Sean has notes as well as look at Hatch’s book), then repentance, which is a part of salvation, may also be: 1) past in that Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascention made it possible for our sins to be forgiven at conversion as well as 2) present (I John 1:9), 3) and future as we are to be able to stand before Christ at the second coming and judged as righteous. What has become clearer to me through thinking about repentance this way has helped with the repentance at conversion which seems to say, “I chose to change who I live for now, Christ, not myself and its will.” And then the daily challenge of living that repentance and needing God’s grace and mercy to continue to grow and mature as a Christian due to lack of discipline, correct understanding of my behaviors that do not line up with the Word of God, and just plain rebellion. The GPS is set on the Kingdom, the driver just takes her own left turns now and then. The GPS says, “Wrong turn” and then I can choose to once again make my will His will and get back on track. Learning obedience takes time and obedience goes hand in hand with present repentance. In the future when Christ returns, the fullness of repentance will be manifested. A lifetime of repentance will assist in salvation. What do you think??

  8. on 07 Feb 2007 at 8:02 amVictor

    I think there is one main intital repentance that should set someone on their new course. One is not supposed to turn around again after that.

    However, while walking on the pathway to the Kingdom, we do fall. We must get up again and continue walking. Or perhaps even we turn off the path. In on instance we must get up again and continue walking, in the other we must turn back.

    The idea is centered around change. Our initial change is one of Lordship and then behavior. The rest of the changes are in light of the first change.

    The initial repentance is the big one that should set us on the right course towards the Kingdom. This is initiated in the person’s life by the gospel with God’s help. After that, the community of faith becomes and important unit. In times of trouble and fault, I confess my sins to my brothers and sisters and seek God’s forgiveness (especially since the once and for all clearing that occured at my conversion will not be happening again). Thus each step away or fall becomes a bigger deal and more and more something I want to turn away from.

    -VG

  9. on 07 Feb 2007 at 8:10 amSean

    I think the focus needs to be on God and the goal he has set before us. If we really love God then we will not want to hurt him by disobeying/rebelling against what he says is right. We are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness running towards it and striving for holiness because that pleases God. If we focus on the waves we shall surely sink.

  10. on 07 Feb 2007 at 8:34 amVictor

    Amen.

  11. on 07 Feb 2007 at 5:26 pmSue Ellen

    On the issue of repentence, there have been many views brought forth that are correct but one of the main things, I believe, is to try to get the focus off of ourselves and keep the focus on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. When we focus on Christ, we are not zeroing in on our inadequacies and areas that we feel helpless to overcome but we realize that we can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives us the strength and the grace to be more than conquerers when we make Him Lord of our lives.

  12. on 11 Mar 2007 at 12:11 amPat

    MaryAnn Maybe I am off base completly but the parable of the forgiving father may shed some understanding Repentance is a joint affair once the need is recognized God rushes forward and supernaturally helps us and grants this repentance Of course we have the option to go back he is faithful .

  

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