REPENTANCE

(Acts 17:30, 31.) 

THERE is no discussion in the religious world of 
the necessity of repentance. There 
is, however, some misunderstanding as to the meaning 
of the term. Let us study it in the light of its usage 
in the Word. The Bible furnishes some very clear 
illustrations of its meaning. In all the various pas- 
sages where it occurs, the same meaning is conveyed 
by the term. We will study the more important of 
these passages. 

1. Gen. 6 : 5-8. Man had grown extremely wicked 
— so wicked that "it repented the Lord that he 
had made man on the earth. " This is not to be 
construed as if God had conceived regret over a false 
step He had made, as does a man when he perceives he 
has committed an error. It implies a complete change 
of attitude towards the unfaithful race. Heretofore 
He had been long-suffering; from that moment He 
began to plan to bring a flood upon the world of the 
ungodly, saving the only righteous man, Noah, and his 
family. 

2. Ex. 13:17, 18. Why didn't God lead them 
through the land of the Philistines? He knew they 
lacked faith; and that, when brought face to face with 
the warlike Philistines, they would likely turn back 
into Egypt. 

3. Ex. 32 : 1-14. The people erect and worship the 
molten calf. The wrath of God. The prayer of Moses 
(vs. 11-14). "The Lord repented of the evil which 
he had thought to do unto his people." This does 
not mean that He regretted His previous resolve to 
destroy them, as His wrath had been just. It means 
that He changed His attitude towards them. Where 
He had hitherto been determined to punish, He was 
now willing to forgive because of the intercession of 
Moses. Again repentance means a complete change 
of attitude. 

4. Jer. 18:7-10. The attitude of God towards a 
nation depends upon its righteousness. In these pas- 
sages, repentance, in each case, means a complete 
change of attitude. 

5. Ps. 110 : 4. Repeated in Heb. 7 : 21. The Lord 
has sworn that Jesus Christ shall be a High Priest 
after the order of Melchizedek, and His attitude will 
not be changed. He has willed it to be so; and the 
resolution will not be changed. 

6. Jer. 4 : 28. The Lord has spoken this and will 
not turn from the decree. Repentance again means 
a complete change of attitude. 

7. Jonah and the Ninevites. This story is recorded 
in the Book of Jonah. Type explained in Matt. 12: 39- 
41. "The people of Nineveh repented at the preaching 
of Jonah.' ' What did they do when they repented? 
They turned from their evil way (Jonah 3:8). Re- 
pentance is a complete turning from the evil way 
(Acts 26:17, 18). 

8. Matt. 27 : 3-5. The attitude of Judas was 
changed. With an open confession of his sin, he 
brought back the thirty pieces of silver. Had he 
obeyed the gospel, he could have been saved. Instead 
of doing that, however, "he went out and hanged 
himself. ' ' 

9. 2 Cor. 7 : 9, 10. Repentance is not godly sor- 
row — but godly sorrow causes repentance. The sorrow 
which a man experiences over his sins causes him to 
turn from the power of Satan unto God. 

10. Rom. 2 : 4. God 's goodness is manifested in the 
giving of His only begotten Son (John 3:16, 17). 
The contemplation of this wonderful display of love 
on the part of God, in spite of the exceeding sinful- 
ness of humanity and the awfulness of sin, causes men 
to turn from their evil ways. 

We are commanded to bring forth "fruits meet 
for repentance'' (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20). What are 
some of the fruits of repentance? The truly penitent 
man makes an open confession of his sin (Ps. 51:3, 
4; Matt. 27:3, 4; Luke 15:21). Genuine repentance 
is always accompanied by restitution (Matt. 5:23, 24; 
Luke 19:8). To be genuine, it must result in a new 
life (2 Cor. 5:17). 

What, then, is repentance? A complete turning 
from evil ways to righteousness (Isa. 1:16, 17; Heb. 
6:1). The parable of the prodigal son is a splendid 
example. He went far away from home; spent all 
of his substance in riotous living; became poor and 
wretched; got down so low that he had to go to 
feeding swine, which was the most despicable thing 
that a Jew could do. Finally, he came to his senses. 

While sorrowing over his sins, he resolved to arise 
and go back to his father, with an open confession 
of his guilt, and implore the father's forgiveness. He 
put the resolution into effect, and found the father 
waiting to meet him with outstretched arms (Luke 
15: 11-24). 

Why should we repent? Because God commands 
it (Acts 17:30). Because God has warned us time 
and again that, unless we repent, we shall perish 
(Luke 13:2, 3). Because God has been so good to us 
that we ought to show Him our gratitude by lives of 
service (Rom. 2:4; John 3:16). Because, unless we 
are regenerated by the power of the gospel, unless we 
have purified hearts, we can not enter heaven (Ps. 
24:3, 4; Matt. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:22). 

The fate of the antediluvian world, of Sodom and 
Gomorrah, of Tyre and Sidon, of Babylon and of Jeru- 
salem. These repeated examples of the judgments of 
God should cause every one to repent, and obey Him. 
Hence, we close with the command of Peter, in stating 
the Scriptural terms of pardon (Acts 2:38)