There's a lot of confused preaching these
days regarding forgiveness. In too many places, respondents
who want to become Christians often quietly slip up their
hands to acknowledge their need and privately pray to God for
Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called this “cheap grace”.
He wrote, “Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of the church.
Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack’s
wares (a peddler’s inferior merchandise). Cheap grace is the
preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, without
church discipline, communion without confession, absolution
without personal confession.”
Another preacher calls this “easy believism”. Sadly, it
seems little is said anymore about true repentance. Repentance
is “a turning from wickedness and dead works toward God and
His glory, eternal life, and knowledge of the truth”.
One time a Sunday school teacher asked a class what's the
meaning of the word, “repentance.” A little boy raised his
hand and said, “It is being sorry for your sins.” Before the
teacher could acknowledge his answer, a little girl also
raised her hand and said, “It is more than that. It is being
sorry enough to quit!”
An old child’s hymn states, “Repentance is to leave, the
sins we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve, by
doing so no more.” This's so true. In fact, the meaning of the
word, “repentance” from the Greek (metanoia) is “change of
mind” or “turning from sin and turning to God.” If one doesn't
repent of their sin, they're not genuine in seeking salvation
for, as Corrie ten Boom has said, “An unrepented sin is a
Author Gordon MacDonald stated, “Repentance is not
basically a religious word. It comes from a culture where
people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no
maps or street signs. It’s easy to get lost walking through
the desert. You become aware that the countryside is strange.
You finally say to yourself, ‘I’m going in the wrong
direction.’ That’s the first act of repentance. The second act
of repentance is to go in an alternate direction. It implies
that you not only do this but you admit it to your
True repentance is never easy to do. C. S. Lewis wrote,
“Fallen man's not simply an imperfect creature who needs
improvement; he's a rebel who must lay down his arms. This
process of surrender, this movement full speed astern is what
Christians call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all.
It's something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It
means unlearning all the self-conceit and self-will that we've
been training ourselves into for thousands of years. It means
killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.” Let's
determine what the Word of God says about true repentance.
First, God commands it: “And the times of this ignorance
God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to
repent” (Acts 17:30).
Second, repentance is for sinners: “I came not to call the
righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5: 32).
Third, repentance is brought about by godly sorrow: “For
godly sorrow worketh repentance” (2 Corinthians 7: 10).
Fourth, it brings spiritual life: “hath God also granted
repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18).
Fifth, Repentance obliterates sin: “Repent ye therefore,
and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:
Sixth, repentance refreshes “… the times of refreshing
shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3: 19b).
Seventh, deeds prove repentance. “do works meet for
repentance” (Acts 26:20).
Eighth, it causes rejoicing in heaven: “joy shall be in
heaven over one sinner that repenteth” (Luke 15:7).
Ninth, the penalty for not repenting is death: “except ye
repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
The Prodigal son is a primary example in the Bible of the
process of true repentance. After he had unjustly received his
inheritance and squandered it foolishly on sinful pleasures
and was reduced to feeding hogs, which was anathema
(abomination) to the Jew, the Bible says, “he came to himself”
His first step was Realization. He had to admit he'd done
wrong. No one else could do it for him. His next step was
Remorse; “And the son said unto him, “Father, I've sinned
against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be
called thy son” (Luke 15:21). He had to get to the place where
he was willing to humble himself and remorsefully ask for
forgiveness, both from God and from his family.
His final step was Redirection. “But the father said to his
servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and
put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring
hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be
merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was
lost, and is found. And they began to be merry” (Luke 15:
22-24). He had to take the first two steps to reach the third
and that process is necessary for everyone who wants to
achieve true repentance!
Acts 3: 19 tells us that “times of refreshing” will come
for those who truly repent. Now what does that mean? This
phrase in the Greek (anapsuxis) means, “Recovery of breath.”
It denotes rest and deliverance.
The Jews who were listening to Peter’s sermon knew this
phrase well. It's used by the Septuagint in the Old Testament
nine times and refers to the era when the Messiah would come
and bestow His blessings upon all of God’s people as a “time
According to Barnes Notes, “The idea, however, that the
times of the Messiah would be times of rest, ease, and
prosperity, was a favorite one among the Jews, one instance
being found in Isaiah 28:12, ‘To whom he said, This is the
rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the
refreshing,’ “They anticipated the times of the gospel as a
period when they would have rest from their enemies, a respite
from the evils of oppression and war, and great national
prosperity and peace. Under the idea that the happy times of
the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures
them that they might obtain pardon and peace.”
No matter what one’s age, they can still repent. One person
said, “Late repentance is seldom true but true repentance is
never late.” If you're unconverted, take the wise advice of
our Lord, repent and be converted. It'll be the best decision
you'll ever make!