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Repentance Defined

My purpose for writing today brothers and sisters, is to define repentance. I think there is much misunderstanding about this word. Many use this word, but their understanding of the word is limited, and in a lot of instances, incorrect. Someone might say, "We are only saved by the grace of God through faith. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) Someone else might say, “You must repent and believe to be saved. Paul said in Acts 17:30, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent”. So which is it, are we saved by the grace of God through faith, or are we saved by repenting and believing? The answer is,repentance comes from God, and you cannot have faith unless you have repentance; the problem is definition. Many take the word repent and its counterpart repentance to mean something different than what they actually mean, in fact they are applying the definition of a similar but different word all together to their understanding of Repentance. 

Today I would like to talk about three Greek words, (source: Strong's).
1) Metanoeo (μετανοέω) - change your mind, think differently, reconsider
2) Metanoia (μετάνοια) - having had a change of mind, different thinking, a reversal
3) Metamorphoo (μεταμορφόω) - a metamorphosis, a transformation, a transfiguration, to be changed.
 
Metanoeo (μετανοέω) is the Greek word from which we translate the English word Repent and Metanoia (μετάνοια) is the Greek word from which we translate the English word Repentance. Metanoeo (μετανοέω) is the Greek word in the earlier mentioned verse of Acts 17:30 that is translated into English, repent. Metanoeo (μετανοέω) quite literally means; change your mind, think differently, reconsider, and it's counter part repentance means that you have had a change of mind, you have reconsidered, and are thinking differently than you previously did. 

So when you say to someone "repent", you are saying to them in context to the subject matter that you are speaking about; "You are wrong in your current thinking on this subject, this is the right way to think, you need to change your mind." When you speak of yourself or someone else saying, "I have repentance or he has repentance", what you are saying is, "I have had a change of mind on a particular subject or He has had a change of mind on a particular subject. 

Let's take for example the words of Jesus in Mark 1:15 - “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” I personally use these very words when I am calling on people to believe in the gospel during an open-air gospel presentation. 

The Jewish people had been waiting for the promised Messiah to deliver them; but the Messiah that they were expecting was a political leader like King David who would drive the Romans out of the land. The Jewish people also believed that because they were descendants of Abraham and were under the covenant law of Moses that they were God's people. Mark says that after John the Baptist "had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

When John was killed the gospel of Matthew in verse 14:13 said, "Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities". This is the sight were The Lord feed the five thousand with five barley loaves and two fish. This same occurrence is recorded for us in the Gospel according to John in chapter 6. Then after He feed the five thousand, He walked on water across the lake, and came to Capernaum., a city in Galilee, He began teaching the people, and crushing their idea of the Messiah and salvation. Pointing to Himself, and Himself alone as being the total provision sent from God, and that all who believe in Him; His deity and His sacrifice would be saved, a total consumption of Him as one would eat a meal, that your faith in Him would be all consuming. One of the most important statements in scripture, in my opinion is, John 6:54 - "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day."

So when Mark recorded that "Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “ The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15) He was saying, change your mind from your wrong way of thinking, that the Messiah would be a political leader and that you would be saved because you are descendants of Abraham. Change your mind to believe the truth, that I Am the Messiah sent from God and that everyone who has faith in Me alone has eternal life. Read John 6:26-71, awesome stuff.

One of my brothers in Christ, Seth Capps, whom I go out with on occasion to preach the gospel in open-air with says something that I just love, because it tells me that he has a grasp on repentance. He too will call on people to repent and believe in the gospel. Then he explains repentance, he tells them; "Repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change in action." 

This leads into the third Greek word that I wanted to talk about today. Metamorphoo (μεταμορφόω) - a metamorphosis, a transformation, a transfiguration, to be changed. It is the definition of this word that I believe some are applying to the words repent and repentance. While to repent means change your mind and repentance means having had a change of mind, Metamorphoo (μεταμορφόω) or metamorphosis means a total change in who you are, the way you think, the way you talk, and the way you act. It is a total transformation.

Throughout the entire Bible, and it is really driven home in the New Testament, we can do nothing to be made right with God. Salvation is solely an act of God, not of man and man neither adds to or takes away from this. Salvation from the wrath of God for our sin is when God takes a man dead in his sins and breaths life into his dead corpse; "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1). He does this through a combination of the external preaching of the word of God either spoken or written, and the drawing of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said to the Pharisee Nicodemus, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again. ’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:5-8).

One of the best descriptions for God taking a man dead in his sins; breathing life into him and making him a new creature comes through the prophet Ezekiel. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances." (Ezekiel 36:26-27). "He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” Again He said to me, “ Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. ’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life. I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord. " (Ezekiel 37:3-6)

The gospel is that we have all sinned against God our creator, and deserve nothing less than the full eternal wrath of God for our sins; turning from sin cannot repair this, and to continue in sin willfully is to stomp on the blood of Christ as being unworthy. "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ ( by grace you have been saved)" (Ephesians 2:4-5). Jesus the only begotten Son of God came from God in human flesh, God was in Him reconciling the world to Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). He lived a righteous life, a life that none of us have lived nor can live, He was fully human as we are, and yet without sin. He died in our place for our sins, forsaken of by the Father, He was buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). According to the scriptures, "which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:2-4). And Jesus after His resurrection, explaining these things to His disciples said, “ Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46-47). "And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “ All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). And we do this by preaching the gospel; "And He said to them, “ Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mark 16:15-16). Telling all men everywhere that there is forgiveness of sins for everyone who repents (changes his mind) and believes in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

In order for a blind man to see he must have new eyes. In order for a dead man to get up and walk he must receive life. In order for a sinner to repent and believe in the gospel, something miraculous must happen first; he must be born again, born of the Spirit of God. It is not important to understand repentance to be saved by God, you just need but repent and believe; "Being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith" (Romans 3:24-25). But I do believe you need to have an understanding of these things if you are going to, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation" Calling others to repent and believe in the gospel.


Mike Peek a slave of Jesus Christ