The Gospel of Matthew: Repent!

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17 (ESV)

Perhaps you have had discussions with people over the subject of repentance. I have. The dialogue usually centers on whether or not it is necessary for salvation that an individual repents of their sin. What does it mean to repent and did Jesus find it necessary for sinners to repent?

Repentance is literally a change of mind; not about individual plans, intentions, but rather a change in one’s attitude and belief about God. Such repentance accompanies saving faith in Christ (Acts 20:21). The change in one’s attitude and belief system (worldview) evidences itself in a change of behavior. Repentance from sin, and faith alone, in Christ alone, by grace alone results in conversion.

“It is inconsistent and unintelligible to suppose that anyone could believe in Christ yet not repent. Repentance is such an important aspect of conversion that it is often stressed rather than saving faith, as when Christ said that there is joy in heaven among the angels over one sinner who repents (Lk 15:7). The apostles described the conversion of the Gentiles to Christ as God granting them “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Evangelical repentance and faith in Christ are in fact inseparable, though a convert may be aware of one aspect more than another,” explains the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

Today’s text reveals that repentance was a central message in Jesus’ preaching. He said ““Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent (μετανοέω; metanoeo) is a present, active imperative verb. It means to obediently and continually change one’s way of living because one has faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

“Such penitence is not an isolated act but a disposition of the mind, providing a spur for behavior that accords with God’s declared will. Recognition of daily sins and shortcomings provides the occasion for renewed acts of penitence and for fresh exercises of faith in Christ. One of the deepest and most noteworthy expressions of such penitence is David’s account of his adultery with Bathsheba (Ps 51). Whole churches are, on occasion, called to repent (Rev. 2:5),” states the Tyndale Bible Dictionary.

Jesus stated that the sinner must repent because the kingdom of heaven was near. The kingdom of heaven is not only God’s rule and reign in the hearts of disciples, but also His eternal reign of heaven and earth.

“Repentance is not the cause of new birth or regeneration, it is the result or fruit of regeneration. Though repentance begins with regeneration, it is an attitude and action that must be repeated throughout the Christian life. As we continue to sin, we are called upon to repent as we are convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit,” explains Dr. R. C. Sproul.

“When repentance is offered to God in a spirit of true contrition, He promises to forgive us and to restore us to fellowship with Him,” concludes Dr. Sproul.

May we continue to offer a spirit of repentance unto our Lord. Have a blessed day in Christ.

Soli deo Gloria!

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