As we look to recover the Biblical theology and practice of salvation, one discovers all too often there is something missing in our Christian culture and practice: repentance. Repentance was clearly a part of receiving the gospel in the early church. To repent means “to turn away from” or “to return to”. To repent means you realize that you are going away from God, so you do a complete “about turn” towards God. Acts 17:30 states that the Lord “now commands all people everywhere to repent.”
To repent is to recognize that God is wholly right and we are wholly wrong. It is the realization that we need a change of mind and a change of heart as well as a change of direction (Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 55:8-9). Tim Keller defines repentance as “an inward change leading to the fruit of new behavior.”
To repent is a practical step. It involves zeal and action (2 Corinthians 7:10-11). This means when I repent, I stop doing ungodly things and start doing godly things. We are told to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8). Repentance results in a change of behavior. In the Bible, when people repented they got rid of idols, burned occult books, paid back money they had stolen and so on. See Luke 3:10-14 for more examples of changes that resulted from repentance.
Repentance is not just something you do one time at the beginning of your Christian life. Second Corinthians 7:10-11 refers to Christians who were needing to repent of things they had done wrong. Repentance is part of our process of becoming like Christ. The good news is that God promises forgiveness and restoration to all who truly repent.