2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Yesterday I was under the impression that we were done talking about faith. I presumed God was done with that topic for now; Faith in action seemed like a good place to put a period and go on to something else.
But as He often reminds us, his ways are not necessarily our ways, nor are our thoughts going to stand the scrutiny of His knowledge and wisdom.
So, this morning he reminded me that yes faith without works is worthless, that another essential element to faith is ‘repentance’. It is after all precisely what God is waiting for from us (spelled out in the last part of the passage above).
not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance
Hence, I’m going to explore how repentance and faith are tightly bound and how it is essential that we continually seek to repent from the things that would encumber our journey following the footsteps of our Lord.
Let’s look at what repentance really is. The dictionary definition reads something like this…
1. the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse:
"each person who turns to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved"
The first thing that is striking is that although this is a secular dictionary this definition was pulled from, its referencing God in its example.
But obviously, the repentance in scripture is nothing more than a interpretation of the text from the language it was written in. If we want to get a broader understanding we perhaps should be looking at the original words.
Metanoia is the Word found in the New Testament which Strong’s defines as:
μετάνοια metanoia; from 3340; (subjectively) compunction (for guilt, including reformation); by implication, reversal (of (another's) decision): — repentance.
AV (24) - repentance 24;
a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done
This carries a nuance not found in the secular definition which goes beyond simply altering behavior. Here it would suggest that true repentance is more than just an altering of course. What this word means makes the ‘turning around’, changing course, altering behavior a product of changing one’s mind!
This ties it to faith so tightly that it become inseparable. If your mind is changed and that results in your actions changing (direction) then it is obvious that you have ‘faith’ in that which has changed your mind.
To carry this out to its conclusion when God changes your mind about him and you give yourself over to His will, you will repent as this calls for a change of direction.
So, we have established that ‘repentance’ is an element of faith. It literally is such that it becomes impossible to put a wedge between Faith, Repentance, and Action.
Next step would be to see what The Word says about Repentance.
Forgiveness tied to repentance
Luke 17:3 (NKJV)
Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
Your brother (or sister in the Lord) sins against you. Jesus says we first are to make them aware of it (rebuke) in no uncertain terms. I looked up the term rebuke and it implies that you make something known with force and clarity. But if, and when they ‘repent’ it is for us to forgive.
This is interesting because Jesus says we are to forgive as God forgives us elsewhere.
Matthew 6:12 (NLT)
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
It is easy to associate the way God forgives us from this reference in Luke. He wants to see ‘repentance’ as a precursor to offering forgiveness. ie. He expects a ‘change of mind’ that results in a ‘change of course’ that demonstrates a faithful commitment.
Still clearly ‘saved by faith’ but there is a change of mind linked to that which results in a change of course.
Acts 3:19 (NKJV)
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,
Luke 24:45-47 (HCSB Free)
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, “This is what is written: The Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, and repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
We are to proclaim the Gospel. Most of us realize that this is a responsibility of every believer. However, many of us would like to approach the Gospel from a softer side. It’s true that God is loving and He wishes a relationship with us, but it’s too frequently that we choose to avoid this topic of repentance as being part of the bargain.
If there is no change in a person’s life then we cheapen the Gospel to be nothing more than a stairway to heaven. The results of which are perhaps temporarily gratifying until the emotion wears off at which time there is little left. Faith in Jesus, is going to require repentance. It is just that simple. Go back a few paragraphs and you’ll see where we saw that. If therefore it is required, we need to be including it in the message we give to others.
Repentance bearing fruit
Matthew 3:8 (NKJV)
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance
Just as with Faith there is an expectation that repentance will also bear fruit. This here was made clear by John the Baptistin this comment made to the pharisees and sadducees were coming to observe him performing baptisms.
Can you think of how these fruits might be manifested and be different than those ‘fruits of the Spirit’? Humbleness, humility, a contrite heart, etc. I’m sure if you spend some time considering what takes place when you admit to being wrong and are so convinced of it as to change your behavior, you would find many examples of the fruits of repentance.
Repentance Leads to ‘No Regrets’
2 Corinthians 7:10 (AMP)
For godly sorrow that is in accord with the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but worldly sorrow the hopeless sorrow of those who do not believe produces death.
Surely, you’ve found yourself at the end of a dispute and come to realize that you flat out was wrong. The other party had it exactly right. Maybe even though they were correct and you had to change your position, you found a sour taste in your mouth over what the position you’d taken.
If the change of heart is God driven there is no cause for regret once you are on the other side of forgiveness. In fact, it is likely and more appropriate, that you’re filled with joy of your salvation and the gift provided by the Lord. Correction hurts for a while but redemption soothes that sting and brings the satisfaction of being in communities with our redeemer.
Failure to repent damages us
Romans 2:5 (NLT)
But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
While the unrepentant heart becomes a storage container for future sorrows; especially in the case of those who know where they should be, but insist on rejecting that for their own desires, comes a terrible gnawing cavity n the soul that remains there until the day of judgment when it further consumes and stokes the fires.
There is no salvation without repentance, because there is no Faith without repentance. You simply can’t separate the two.
The human inclination is to avoid unpleasant topics such as hell, punishment, and repentance, but the fact remains that without the latter you’ll suffer the former. You simply can’t separate Faith from Repentance.
If we are to come to the feet of Jesus we must have a change of mind and direction.
I find the following passage so fitting for my own story as I ran away from God for years and years. Till He changed my mind, my heart, and my direction; and put me on the path of his choosing for my life.
Jeremiah 31:19 (NLT)
I turned away from God, but then I was sorry. I kicked myself for my stupidity! I was thoroughly ashamed of all I did in my younger days
‘Repentance = Faith’ inseparably join to lead us to the joy of Salvation.
Psalms 51:10-12 (NIV)
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.