Repentance must occur either before or during the act of believing.

Repentance that leads to salvation cannot occur until a person believes he has offended God.

To see more clearly the importance of repentance, let’s begin with the preaching of John the Baptist. Repentance was the keynote of his message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matt. 3:2). Jesus also preached the same message during His own ministry (Matt. 4:17).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter commanded those who now believed in Jesus as the Christ, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). You can see that both repenting and baptizing occur before forgiveness and both are necessary to obtain forgiveness of sins. Later, when Peter was preaching in the temple in Jerusalem, he also told the people to repent, and turn to God, so that their sins may be wiped out(Acts 3:19).

Peter was the first person to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. The Jews was not happy because the Gentiles were considered as unclean. It was unlawful for a Jew to go into their homes and eat with them. Peter explained to them how God had poured out the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles, showing that He intended for the Gentiles to receive His word, too. When the Jews heard what had actually happened they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Gentiles can have salvation on the basis of repentance just as Jews. Without repentance, there is no salvation for either Jew or Gentile.

When Paul was in the city of Athens. He saw that the city was devoted to idol worship. He noticed an altar dedicated “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD,” he used that opportunity to tell them about The God who created the world and everything in it. This God was not a god of gold or silver or stone or an image made by man’s design and skill, but a God in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). He is a God that demands that men be morally respectable and accountable: In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31).

Peter pointed out that just as the heavens and earth were created by the word of God long ago, so “By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7).

The reason for the delay in the returning of Christ, Peter said, is not that He will not return but that God is longsuffering, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Pet.3:9). Indeed, God graciously provides time for repentance, but His longsuffering will eventually be exhausted. He will destroy His creation and those who do not repent, they will perish.

It is important for us to repent because God commands it. If we respect the authority of God’s word, then it should convince us to repent. If we do not repent, we cannot have forgiveness of our sins. If we do not repent, we will face Christ on the Day of Judgment unprepared. If we do not repent, we will be judged and condemned to perish on the day God destroys all His material creation in a fiery fire.

Some people believe that if they are truly sorry and express regrets over their wrongs, they have repented. However, this kind of approach lacks godly sorrow – a deep sense of having offended God, and need a change of heart that leads to a reformation of life. Sorrow followed by the expression of regret is not the repentance that leads to life (Acts 11:18) or salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). Judas, after betraying Jesus, was remorse for what he had done. He even confessed his wrong to Jewish officials, “I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood”. However, instead of reforming his life by producing the fruits of repentance, he went out and hanged himself (Matt.27:3-6).

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