Repentance as part of becoming a Christian

Both John the Baptist and Jesus, during His personal ministry, preached that Israel must repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matthew 3:1-2 and 4:17).  Repentance has been defined as a change of heart that leads to a change of life.  No one, well hardly no one, would argue that in the process of becoming a Christian or child of God that it was unnecessary to have a change of heart.

Paul points out, in writing to Christians (Romans 6:1-13), "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (verses 3-4).  Furthermore,  "our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (verse 6).

When Nicodemus, a ruler in Israel, came to Jesus (John 3:1-12), He used the opportunity to teach Nicodemus about the New Birth. We understand, of course, in becoming a Christian - one MUST be born again.  As Jesus stated it, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (verse 3).  The New Birth consists of being "born of water and of the Spirit" (verse 5).  It is clear that a spiritual rebirth is of necessity a part of being born into the family of God.  Thus Jehovah becomes, our "Father which is in Heaven" (Matthew 6:9 ASV), to whom we can go with all our troubles and cares.

When Jesus was giving the Great Commission to His Apostles, He said, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things" (Luke 24:46-48).  This was the central message in the first century.  When preaching Christ to the pagan philosophers in Athens (Acts 17:23-31), Paul pointed out that God "now commandeth all men every where to repent" (verse 30).  The rationale for repentance was of course the Judgment Day (verse 31).

When carrying out the Great Commission, Peter pointed out in his great sermon of Pentecost (Acts 2) that God had made Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ (verse 36).  When they realized they were guilty as charged, they ask what they could do to make this terrible wrong, right (verse 37).  Peter told them to "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins" (verse 38).  We note that, "they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (verse 41).

The contemporary pulpit call to "come as you are" has too often been received by the hearers, to come to Christ without repentance - that is without change in their lives and without the fear of God in their hearts.

Dale I. Royal, Elk City OK