Just a quick thought. I am not much for writing or speaking these things, but from time to time I like to push myself a bit. I much prefer Doctrine.
It is common for modern ‘Christians’ to skip ‘repentance’ as a necessary move, instead relying on easy beliefism. Repentance, in God’s path to salvation, is the first move of the sinner towards God. The majority of the modern Protestants argue that requiring repentance, as part of salvation, is to actually add another requirement to ‘faith alone’. For them, it is adding a ‘work’ to salvation; however, it is one that the Apostles readily understood as a necessity.
I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.
(Act 20:21 NIV)
First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.
(Act 26:20 NIV)
What does the word mean?
The word for “I repent” in Hebrew, nacham, basically means to be sorry, to rue, or to be moved to pity over something. It is not a liturgical act. In Greek, the word is μετανοεω. This word carries a slightly different meaning. It can be literally translated “I change my mind.” Certainly, this is not the extent of its meaning, but it certainly is one aspect: that the MIND of the man must be the first to change in order that his heart and his actions may quickly, if not immediately.
What are these feelings?
The “sacrifices” God desires are a humble attitude- O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject.
(Psa 51:17 NET)
It is an attitude that is submissive to a holy God and finally aware of the the wall that separates humanity from it’s God. It is a heart that has bowed to God and is worn out against Sin. Finally, it is a heart that is ready for reformation, for change. It is not a mere ‘feeling sorry for what you did’ but a genuine and deep feeling of needing Christ. It is rightly to change your mind about your life and your god in order to believe in God.
It is impossible for a man to be freed from the habit of sin before he hates it, just as it is impossible to receive forgiveness before confessing his trespasses… –Ignatius
In John’s Gospel, we are told,
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
(Joh 3:3-6 NKJV)
In this, we see a need for a change in order to see, and upon seeing, enter into the Kingdom of God. Without being born again, we cannot see the kingdom. (This in no way prevents us from being called to God.)
Peter’s first commandment in Jerusalem was to repent (Acts 2.38), and it is this repentance that has to come first. This is the gospel message that was first preached by John as the one crying in the wilderness and then by Christ.
What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regards to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah, to faith in Him as both Lord and Savior.
This is not to say that repentance is a work which earns us salavtion, but a step towards salvation. It is our acceptance that we both need salvation and that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour.
It is a needful and necessary act that calls the pentinent heart to God. It is the beginning of Grace by Jesus Christ.
The following are passages from 1st Clement, purportedly written by Clement of Rome
These things, beloved, we write unto you, not merely to admonish you of your duty, but also to remind ourselves. For we are struggling on the same arena, and the same conflict is assigned to both of us. Wherefore let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling. Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of Him who formed us. Let us look stedfastly to the blood of Christ, and see how precious that blood is to God, which, having been shed for our salvation, has set the grace of repentance before the whole world. Let us turn to every age that has passed, and learn that, from generation to generation, the Lord has granted a place of repentance to all such as would be converted unto Him. Noah preached repentance, and as many as listened to him were saved. (Genesis 7:1-24; 1st Peter3:20; 2nd Peter2:5) Jonah proclaimed destruction to the Ninevites; (John 3:1-10) but they, repenting of their sins, propitiated God by prayer, and obtained salvation, although they were aliens [to the covenant] of God.
Chap. VIII. — Continuation Respecting Repentance.
The ministers of the grace of God have, by the Holy Spirit, spoken of repentance; and the Lord of all things has himself declared with an oath regarding it, “As I live, saith the Lord, I desire not the death of the sinner, but rather his repentance;” (Ezekiel 33:11) adding, moreover, this gracious declaration, “Repent O house of Israel, of your iniquity. (Ezekiel 18:11) Say to the children of My people, Though your sins reach from earth to heaven, I and though they be redder (Comp. Isaiah 1:18) than scarlet, and blacker than sackcloth, yet if ye turn to Me with your whole heart, and say, Father! I will listen to you, as to a holy people.” And in another place He speaks thus: “Wash you, and become clean; put away the wickedness of your souls from before mine eyes; cease from your evil ways, and learn to do well; seek out judgment, deliver the oppressed, judge the fatherless, and see that justice is done to the widow; and come, and let us reason together. He declares, Though your sins be like crimson, I will make them white as snow; though they be like scarlet, I will whiten them like wool. And if ye be willing and obey Me, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse, and will not hearken unto Me, the sword shall devour you, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things.” (Isaiah 1:16-20) Desiring, therefore, that all His beloved should be partakers of repentance, He has, by His almighty will, established [these declarations].