Repentance is the English word we have used for the two Greek words Meta-noia. In the New Testament "metanoia" means to mentally turn against sinning in your personal life and to turn to God - wanting to go His way instead. You don't need to use the English word repentance, you do need to see your sin as filth that is destroying you and others and to choose to turn to God for His salvation by believing in Him alone. That salvation of course was made possible by the substitutionary death, burial and resurrection of His Son. The unsaved religious person is repenting of their sins often in the power of their own flesh, but they are not trusting in the work of Christ alone. We receive salvation from the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior by faith as taught in Romans 3 and John 3 and not according to the "doctrines of men". Most of us religious folk have superficially repented of our sins many if not hundreds of times before we were saved, but salvation came to us when we personally accepted the Lord Jesus as Savior - only by His grace through our faith and all who have truly believed and trusted in Jesus sacrifice on the cross alone, which is the Gospel, are saved, regardless of what church they go to.. "Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone " *. Biblical repentance ( the repentance that leads to Salvation ) " metanoia " is always present when souls truly place their trust in the work on the Cross of Christ ( turning to the Savior ) away from denial of sin or working to outweigh the bad or penance to self pay for ones sins or even a life of blatant sinning. It is in fact, changing our thinking about our sin and our relationship to sin is thereby also changed. We must see sin as it really is - destruction and death. It is a mental realization / admission that you have been going in the wrong direction. To stop sinning however is an impossibility until we have the power of God living within. The exact meaning of the Greek word "metanoia" can be used as a hinge verb either way - for good or for bad. One can repent of helping others or doing something good. Metanoia means " to change your mind about something" . Repentance has come to mean penance in it's misunderstanding among the religious lost who think that their efforts please God unto salvation. We need to translate "metanoia" without giving it extra meaning not found in the word itself. We are all sinners and need to be saved from the penalty, power and in the future presence of all sin (in Heaven) because all sin leads to permanent death. Turning to Christ for Salvation from our sin ( Biblical salvation repentance ) and casting your trust in His work on the Cross for your salvation from your sins is saving faith, according to Romans 3 and John 3 in the Bible, which are two main chapters on Salvation. " We turn to Him for rescue from sins penalty ( Justification - imputed righteousness ), power ( Sanctification - experiential righteousness ) and ultimatly in Heaven from its very presence. Without Christ we cannot do anything good anyway. First we need to be saved, and then a life of successful repentance or renewing takes place. You don't have to clean up your life before you come to Christ for salvation. You come, " Just as I am" You will fail anyway until His power is yours. BUT YOU MUST COME TO BE SAVED FROM THE PENALTY, POWER AND EVEN THE PRESENCE OF SIN. Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to your Cross I cling " goes the great old Hymn ( Rock of Ages ) which expresses well how we come to Christ for His great gift of salvation. Tune
" Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to your Cross I cling;
Naked, come to you for dress;
Helpless, look to you for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly;
Wash me, Savior, or I die.
* Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill Thy law's demands; Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow, All for sin could not atone, thou must save and Thou alone. "
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood,
From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure;
Save from wrath and make me pure.
Old Testament Believers knew the words of the Lord, " Return to Me and I will return to You." This was the call to repentance to leave sin behind and to follow our righteous Lord. For believers, " Metanoia " or true Biblical repentance and re-appropriation of a Spirit-Filled life which burns mental and inter-active bridges with sins is always needed to continue; As Christians can occasionally falter. In order to walk in fellowship again by grace through faith; You must not only put off the old, but also put on the new. It is never enough to simply repent or confess sins before or after salvation and many folks understand repentance to be more like penance anyway ( It is at times translated that way in the Douay Rheims Translation WHERE BOTH WORDS ARE USED INTERCHANGEABLY ) - so it is important to carefully use that word and to stick to Scripture. The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary also equates repentance with penance by stating that it is a synonym. For believers, God is faithful and justified to cleanse us if we only confess, but to walk in victory we must put on His righteousness by grace through faith believing - Col. 2: 6; Otherwise we will continue to flounder in sin again and again. It is better to define the Greek word " metanoia " in simple descriptive English as the New Living Bible does. The English word repentance carries a lot of misunderstanding and needs to be seen as religious jargon for many, which can be translated better. We need to call all men to turn to God for deliverance from evil and sin - more specifically their own sins ( true repentance ); In presenting the Good News of God's free gift of pardon, peace and power, we do just that. Bill Bright's " Four Spiritual Laws " booklet presents the right balance for most people, with a definition of Biblical repentance right in the booklet. At www.hereslife.com you can get a bilingual version of the Four Spiritual Laws in fifty different languages, including Polish.
It has been reported by some that Eastern Europeans call converts, repenters. However in Slavic, the term " Nawrócenie " is more accurate in it's description " Changed your direction ". "Going in a different direction" or even " under new management" is what Slavs call repenters in one word. An unsaved person can only turn and long for rescue, without Christ we can do nothing.
John 15:5 makes it very clear that we need the Lord Jesus Christ first as Savior before we can do anything so as to clean up our sin invested lives. Some people only give mental intellectual accent to the Gospel and have not truly believed and are not born again. Some come to Christ without conviction of sin, they are not saved. You must really believe to be saved and this was the only question asked new believers before they were baptized in the Acts of the Apostles and that salvation was always from Hell and sin. Belief has gotten a black eye from none other than a few misguided theologians. True faith ( belief ) is powerful if coupled with the truth. If you place all your money on a losing horse, all your faith will come to nothing. In James, chapter two we read of demons who believe, but not in the truth alone. They also put their trust in someone else and not the Lord alone. Hence, their belief resulted in evil. The same can be said for Adam and Eve. So it can also happen to us, that our faith coupled with error or shared trust would result in nothing but dead faith. If you stick to the Bible, you can't go wrong, we are saved by placing our trust in Christ alone because, this was His claim to be the only one who could save. The Apostles understood this well. Peter said, " There is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved ". Jesus said there is no other way to Heaven. It's not enough to just believe about Him, we must trust or believe in Him alone - Jesus is God. So, true saving faith can be described as a committment or even surrendering to Him. It is decribed as the "faith of obedience" in Romans. It is an act of your will to trust Him for your salvation from sin - your sin. The good news is that eternal and abundant life are a free gift. If you can't trust Him alone, you haven't yet been redeemed. The proof of our salvation among men is the love of Christ shed abroad in our hearts for all men and revealed in our words and deeds ( speech and actions ). Love is the highest form of good. Jesus said so! This is the message of James. It is possible to go to church and even call yourself a Christian and not possess new life in Christ - the new birth, i.e. Eternal Life. Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Sola Deo Gloria, Sola Scriptura and Sola Christo.
The Gospel of John which deals with Salvation more than any of the Gospels never uses the word repentance even once. It must be said that the Word of God is consistant and that repentance is present when you really believe unto salvation. John 3: 16 is unchangeable. " For God so loved the world, That He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, will not perish, but will have everlasting life. " That message of faith is repeated all through Scripture. However, Jesus explains in John 3 that those who do not really want their sin dealt with will not come to the light. Salvation implies being rescued from sins penalty ( past ), power ( present ) and ultimatly in Heaven its presence ( future ). Living the Christian life is as impossible as walking across a lake on the water in the summer time. It simply cannot be done apart from the " double cure ". Billy Graham in one of his last Crusades in Texas, called men and women to repentance, but also stated that this repentance could only be a mere desire on their part. The true change can only take place after we have come to the cross in faith with our guilt and shame for cleansing and release, power and grace. We come to Him with empty and stained hands, like the thief on the cross, we have nothing to offer, but our trust which according to Scripture is not a good work. Romans 9:32 " ... they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone ... " Faith is a step of obiedience and a beginning work of God's grace in our lives. That step of obiedience can be as simple as a public confession ( Romans 10:9&10 ) and a turning away from a former lifestyle into a new one. Faith is not a leap into the darkness as some would say. It is a leap into the light from out of the darkness. Read Hebrews 11 where James's two examples of true faith are acts of obiedience. The obiedience of faith is the openning and closing theme of Romans. Romans 1:5 and 16:26.
Joe Losiak - November 2003
By Hyman Appleman
What then is repentance? The word to repent in the Hebrew means to pant, to sigh, to groan, to lament, to grieve. The word "repent" in the New Testament means to change one's mind.
Repentance is a change of your mind about your sins. You no longer enjoy them, gloat over them, seek them, engage in them, involve others' in them. You see them in their bleak, black folly. You detest them, despise them, abhor them, hate yourself for ever engaging in them.
Repentance is a change of mind about yourself. You realize the abysmal depths of your unregenerated soul. You recognize the undone condition of your heart. You remember the dread accountability you owe to God. You see yourself mirrored in the holiness of the Lord Jesus Christ and almost abhor yourself.
Repentance is a change of mind about your Saviour. He becomes the source and substance, the sum and sufficiency of all your ambitions, your hopes, your aspirations. He becomes the crown of your life, the goal of all your strivings, the aim of all your efforts.
Repentance is a change of mind about your substance, about your service. It all belongs to God. You call nothing your own. You are a steward, an agent, using the blessings, the mercies, the talents, the wealth God may have given you, all for this greater glory.
Repentance touches the intellect. It is a matter of mind. It touches the emotions, the feelings. There is no part of you that remains unchanged. It moves the will, alters the disposition of your ways. The cry Of God is - "turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die!"