One of the first words out of our Lord’s lips in the first chapter of Mark is “repent”. What does the word “repent” mean? Basically it means to have a change of one’s mind or purpose. Biblical repentance involves a change of mind about God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the world, sin, and myself. New Testament repentance is always a change for the better. Repentance and conviction of sin go hand-in-hand.
The Holy Spirit brings us to salvation by first convicting us of our need for Jesus Christ. This revelation of who Jesus is should never be construed as the by-product of our own understanding. No, as in Peter’s case, it’s a conviction birthed by the Spirit of God. Peter’s “change of mind” about Jesus was the first step of “repentance unto life.” There is no rebirth apart from this repentance.
Peter’s message on Pentecost was repentance “for the remission of sins”. Paul’s message unto salvation was repentance and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel of grace calls men to repentance with corresponding actions. To leave repentance out turns the gospel of grace into lasciviousness. Again, the gospel message is repentance and conversion.
However, repentance isn’t a “one-shot deal.” After conversion God’s Holy Spirit continues to convict the child of God of sin, doesn’t He? Five of the seven churches addressed in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation are told to repent. Paul’s concern for the church at Corinth was that they would not repent. Biblical repentance and worldly sorrow produce very different results. Christ’s sacrificial death, resurrection and ascension into heaven opened up this door of repentance. Repentance is not a work to brag about; the work of atonement was finished by Jesus Christ. Our only “work” is to believe in Him.
God’s goodness draws us to this place of repentance. Repentance itself is a gift from God that grants us the ability to acknowledge truth. Whenever a person hears the gospel proclaimed, is pricked in his heart, and turns to God, from a life of sin to a life of service for the true and living God, that is true repentance. A Christian is a new creature, although imperfect for sure.
Calvary provides a turning point to whoever believes, and this “road” alone leads to glory.