Repentance is Required
When God invites people to himself, and he invites everyone, he rightly expects a response.
What is the response God seeks? He expects people to repent. Consider a statement Paul made while preaching to a crowd in Athens Greece during a public address.
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 (Acts 17:30-31 ESV italics added).
There are two primary things to notice about this passage. First, as is repeated throughout the Bible, God expects people to repent. What are people to repent from? People are to repent from their sins—maybe better termed—repent for their sins. But what does it mean to repent? Very simply, repentance means to be moving in one direction and turn and move in the opposite direction. The usage of the term in the Bible clearly means we are to recognize our sins, express heart-felt sorrow for our sins, and turn from our sins.
And the benefit of repentance? The apostle John expresses the result of repentance in a well-known statement he wrote: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9 ESV italics added).
Furthermore, repentance and faith in Jesus Christ go hand-in-hand. Paul preached repentance and faith in Jesus Christ as a necessary requisite to come to God. Acts 20:21 provides an overall summation of Paul’s message which he preached: “[We are] Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21 ESV italics added).
And what is the result if we fail to repent? Jesus explained the matter in a dialogue he held with a large crowd of listeners as recorded in the gospel of Luke where Jesus says, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
The second primary point Paul makes in Acts 17:30-31 is the critical reason and need for each of us to repent.
And what is that reason? The reason is because everyone, each of us, will one day appear before God to give and account of our life. In other words, repentance is necessary “because he [God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man [Jesus Christ] whom he has appointed” (Acts 20:21 ESV). And because each of us are sinners and cannot atone for (pay our own debt) our sin, God requires that we acknowledge our sins, repent from our sin, and turn to God by believing in and trusting in the atoning work of Christ.
But does the Bible actually say that everyone will appear before God for an account? Yes, it is one of the primary themes of the New Testament. Consider the final scene of human history before eternity begins as recorded in Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV).
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
And because everyone will appear before God for accountability for personal sin, repentance of sins which leads to forgiveness of sins, is what God demands.
Why repent? Because God has set it as a requirement to be saved. Why repent? Because God does not want anyone to perish for their sins. Why repent? Because God calls all to repentence. Peter concludes the matter for us by writing, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9 ESV italics added).
With the need for repentance established, let’s move on to discuss how to obtain eternal life.To next section Homepage