Repentance and faith



God’s salvation can be experienced by a man through repentance and faith in the Gospel, that’s why Jesus said to the Jews: “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:15), and Paul testified to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).

To repent means to be sorry and grieved for one’s sins; therefore when a man repents of his sins he recognizes that he is a sinner in the sight of God and he is sorry for the sins he has committed because he recognizes that he has broken the commandments of God, who is Holy and Right. Besides this, he decides not to sin any longer and to bear fruits worthy of repentance. In other words, he decides to turn to the Lord from his evil ways to live a holy and right life. In the Gospel according to Matthew there is this parable, which Jesus spoke to the chief priests and the elders of Israel, which shows what happens when someone repents: “A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not” (Matthew 21:28-30). As you can see, at first the first son refused to obey his father, but afterwards he repented and decided to go to work in his father’s vineyard. That son recognized he had given a wrong answer to his father, and decided to obey his father. Therefore, a man must recognize that he has disobeyed God by breaking His commandments, and must decide to forsake his rebellious conduct and begin a new life. That’s what I preach to people.

However, repentance is not enough, because a man must also believe in the Gospel, that is to say, he must believe that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again the third day for our justification. For the Scripture says that to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness (Romans 4:5). Those who believe, therefore, receive remission of sins and are reconciled to God by their faith in the name of Jesus (Acts 10:43). Besides this, they are delivered from the bondage of sin (Romans 6:5-7,22), and they receive eternal life (John 3:16,36; 6:47), so they are no longer afraid of death because they are sure that after death they will go to heaven to be with the Lord Jesus Christ.

When a sinner has repented of his sins, forsaken them and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we affirm that he has turned to the Lord from his evil ways to serve the living and true God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). He is no longer the same person, his life has changed, he has a new mind, a new heart, new desires and purposes. In other words, he is born again.

In conclusion, I want to say that both repentance and faith are granted by God, for it is written with regard to repentance: “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life” (Acts 11:18 – NKJV) and: “Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31 - NKJV); while with regard to faith it is written that “it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8). Shall we say then that a man’s conversion is determined by God? Yes, because Peter said to the Jews: “Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities” (Acts 3:26). That does not mean that man does not possess a will, but rather that God uses the will of man to fulfil what He purposed before the foundation of the world. Obviously, when a person turns to the Lord he does not know that God predestined him to repent and to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; this is unknown to him. But we will come back to this subject later.