God’s kindness intended to lead to repentance

The topic of repentance might not be as popular as some others, but it can’t be about the nice stuff all the time.

The topic of repentance might not be as popular as some others, but it can’t be about the nice stuff all the time.

What is repentance? Some think of it as an emotional thing, while others would say it’s more of an action than a feeling.

The dictionary definition is, “The action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.”

That definition implies that both emotion and action are involved, and biblical teaching would heartily endorse that view, as well.

A good example of repentance is found in the life of King David. David had his ups and downs, to be sure. In great faith, he defeated giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17), yet he later committed adultery with Bathsheba and became complicit in her husband’s murder.

Psalm 51, containing such phrases as, “Have mercy upon me, God … blot out my transgressions” and “create in me a clean heart, O God” records his contrite and repentant spirit for his sins. We know that David’s attitude and actions of repentance were efficacious, because in Acts 13:22, David is referred to as a man after God’s own heart.

Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament strongly emphasize the importance of repentance for sin and indicates that it is a prerequisite to salvation. In Luke 13:3, He says, “I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish” and then He repeats it verbatim two verses later in Luke 13:5. And 2 Corinthians 7:10 corroborates that in saying, “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation …”

Repentance is a difficult notion today, because the modern-day concept of sin is weak and that results in more emphasis on faith than repentance. However, as repentance and sin are related, so are faith and repentance.

John Calvin wrote, “Can true repentance exist without faith? By no means … they cannot be separated …”

Repentance produces a new perspective and way of looking at things, resulting in a new direction and a changed life. It includes the intellectual and emotional, but ultimately affects the practical. Job described repentance graphically when he said, “I have heard of You (God) by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You (God). Therefore, I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:5, 6)

An encounter with God Himself is requisite. It is God’s intent to both lead us to, and grant us repentance. Romans 2:4 explains that, “God’s kindness is intended to lead to repentance” and 2 Timothy 2:25 adds, “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.”

“God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.” — Augustine

Pastor Ross Helgeton is the senior pastor of Erskine Evangelical Free Church

— Faith & Reflection