Repentance is far more than just an arbitrary “step” in the plan of salvation. It is, in many ways, the key that unlocks the door of conversion. In Acts 17:30 we learn that “all men everywhere must repent.” This command, in the gospel age, began to be preached in Jerusalem on Pentecost (Luke 24:47; Acts 2:38). Even though we shall perish unless we do repent (Luke 13:3) and even though proper obedience enjoins upon us due penitence (Acts 3:19), still so many people do not understand the scriptural definition of repentance. What is repentance? How is repentance brought about? What is the result of true repentance? What about “death-bed repentance”? We shall strive to answer scripturally these important questions immediately. Matthew 21:28-30 gives us the best clear-cut example and definition of repentance in the Bible.
“A certain man had two sons: and he came to the first and said, Son go work today in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.”
A Change of Decision What is penitence according to the Bible? Think of a man who has decided to serve Satan and Sin. He then learns of the love of God, the terrible nature of sin, the hopeless condition he is in and the joys of serving the Lord. He changes his mind (decision) in regard to sin. He thus repents. No wonder we believe repentance is the real obstacle in the scheme of redemption. Show me a man who will truly repent and I’ll show you a man who will not quibble over baptism. Repentance is brought about by the love of God, the wrath of God, and godly sorrow for sin. In Romans 2:4 we learn that “the goodness of God leadeth us to repentance.” In Romans 11:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:11 we learn that the wrath of God should cause us to obey Him in this as well as other commands. In Luke 15 the prodigal repented when “he came to himself.” He realized just how sinful he was and how wonderful his father was.
“Godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation not to be repented of,” 2 Corinthians 7:10.