The purpose and process of “Repentance”

Baptism of Christ by Pietro Perugino, circa 1498

Image via Wikipedia

My earlier post talked about being born again and the process everyone has to go through. Today we will talk about repentance, another process in the born again experience.


The new birth cannot begin until repentance is sought by the person an event brought about by willing obedience to the call of the gospel. In response to Adam’s sin God has made provision through the gospel of Christ‘s birth, death and resurrection to resolve humanity;s problem of spiritual isolation from God and restore the lost communion and fellowship they once shared. This hope is made possible through two effects of the gospel, when presented to the lost by the work of the Holy Ghost. First, there is an awakening in the heart of the person upon hearing the gospel  that contrasts with an intellectual response. For example, on Paul’s mission trip through Thyatira, Luke recalls that a religious businesswoman, named Lydia, “heard us; whose heart the lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul” (Acts 16:14).

There may have been others present at the hearing, but the Holy Ghost was instrumental in awakening, or opening the heart of this particular woman in such a way that the gospel paul shared resonated as truth within her spirit. As a result, her entire family was saved and baptized. A second result of hearing the gospel is conviction, a certain sense of guilt and remorse over the sin condition awakened in one’s life by the spirit of God (John 16:8). This awareness heightens the consciousness of sin that is under God’s judgement, yet it enables a hope for deliverance from its power through redemption in Christ. These intrinsic properties of the gospel, pave the way for a personal response by the hearer.

Once conviction has brought to awareness the reality of personal sin and accountability, the message is either rejected or accepted. To reject the offer of salvation is to continue in spiritual isolation from God and risk the fate of  being eternally lost. On the other hand, to accept the hope of reconciliation with God demands repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19) a requirement of salvation that includes two particular aspects: (1) An emotional condition of feeling deep sorrow and regret for personal sin (2 Corinthians 7:19), and (2) a willing act of confessing  and turning from a life of sin to one that pleases God..

Although the meaning of repentance denotes a reconsideration and changing of ways, one Old Testament scripture clearly brings this aim toward salvation into better understanding: “He that covereth sins shall not prosper; but whoso confessed and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Clearly, this concern for finding the mercy of salvation begins with sincere remorse from the awakened knowledge of a sinful heart. Its remedy requires, first, a confessing for personal responsibility for this condition and, second, a changing of direction from a life of sin to one of godliness. these aspects of a truly repentant heart make possible the opportunity for the Holy Ghost to do his necessary part in the new birth process.

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