“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39). If you ask people what “repent” means, far too many reply, “to ask for forgiveness.” They think saying, “I am sorry,” “Come into my heart, Jesus,” or reciting a prayer is all they need to do. God will save them because they have uttered His or His Son’s name, and they continue in their deplorable, licentious lifestyles without any accountability.
So they continue living in sin, cohabitating, drinking, doing drugs, cursing, cussing, and using crude language – “no matter because I believe I am saved and so God is required to give me the ticket to everlasting life.” That is not Christianity, brothers and sisters; that is a delusion given by the devil to those who are doomed already because they refuse to accept responsibility for the needed change. That may sound harsh, but not knowing what the word means and then doing the wrong thing, as a result, is dangerous, so one cannot be too harsh in impressing the importance of understanding repentance for what it is.
There are two basic meanings of repentance in the Bible. One is derived from the Greek word, “metamelomai,” which means “to regret,” and the other from the word “metanoeo,” which means “change of heart.” When asked what it means, most individuals in the church will say, “To turn from,” and while not technically the exact meaning, it is not wrong either. When we understand that having a change of heart and regretting our actions should lead to a turning from sinful ways, we see that the common understanding of the word is not incorrect either. God does not want us to spend an eternity in hell. Instead, He deeply desires for us to be with Him in a place of such beauty that man cannot adequately describe it.
So great is that desire that He would give His fallen creation a way of returning to Him. 2 Pet. 3:9, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” In fact, God’s love is so great that He was willing to sacrifice His perfect Son to secure the promise of heaven for His most prized creation. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17).
While a student of the Bible will understand that repentance is not the only necessary step, they will appreciate its importance for their salvation. It should be noted here that not only does God desire for us to repent, but His desire for us to be with Him is so great that He actually demands it of us. He does not force us to, but God makes it clear in the Bible that it is essential to obtain the promises of the glory of heaven. “The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent because He has fixed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom He has appointed; and of this, He has given assurance to all by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).
Although the day of Judgment has been set, we have Jesus as our Savior and the Bible as our guide to lead us to a better forever. Therefore, we are no longer ignorant and must do what is necessary to escape judgment that leads to damnation. And for the record, repentance is not only for the unbeliever who has a change of heart but also for the believer in Christ who has sinned or fallen away from the Word. We all need it to be righteous before God and for Him to deliver on His promise of an eternity in heaven for us. All I can say is, “Use it (repentance), or lose it (heaven).”