GOD IS CALLING YOU TO REPENTANCE
Repent ye, and believe the gospel. – Mark 1:15
Repentance in its usual sense means regretting past actions and wishing that they could be undone. In the biblical sense however, repentance means not only regretting past acts of sin, but also recognizing the fact that sin is offensive to God (Isaiah 59:1-2). True repentance therefore is hating all sin and turning the heart away from it, as well as turning to the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, for deliverance and forgiveness of sins (Matthew 11:28-30).
While repentance is, strictly speaking, the act of the sinner, it is also in another sense the gift of God, for no sinner can repent and turn to God without the aid of His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). God greatly desires the repentance of every person (Ezekiel 18:23; 33:11). His Spirit, together with His Word, enlightens the understanding of the sinner’s mind and seals divine truth upon his (or her) conscience in such a way that he not only sees, but also feels his spiritual danger (John 16:7-8; Acts 2:37; 24:24-25).
The motives to repent are found in the Word of God (John 5:28-29; Acts 17:29-31; Revelation 20:11-15). The opportunity to repent is given to sinners through the mercy and longsuffering of God (2 Pet. 3:9). Hope is given to repentant sinners through the many gracious promises found in the Bible (John 3:16-17; 5:24; 6:40; 8:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-6).
Without the assistance of the Holy Spirit, no one is able to trust in Jesus as Savior, so as to realize the fulfillment of His promises in the work of salvation in the soul. The Spirit invites the sinner to look to Jesus for salvation, and feeling his own helplessness and his utter inability to save himself, he trusts in Christ as his Savior. This is the exercise of true faith and it follows repentance. The moment a sinner believes in Christ with all his (or her) heart, he is justified by faith and has peace with God (Romans 5:1). Thus the realization of all the promises in the Bible rests on faith (Hebrews 11:1, 6). It is by faith that victory over sin is obtained and power is given to resist the temptations of the devil (1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 6:11-18; James 1:12; 1 Peter 1:3-7; 5:8-9; 1 John 5:4). Faith places a full trust in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ to cleanse the soul from all sin (1 John 1:7). The true Christian lives by faith from day to day (Hebrews 10:38), and it is by faith that he will triumph in his dying hour (2 Timothy 4:6-8).
Condensed and revised from an old book.