“The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15 (NIV)
Some Christians hear the word repentance and immediately think: Been there, done that! It’s easy to see why.
Let’s say you were brought up under teaching that emphasized repentance at the beginning of the Christian life. Sermons ended by calling sinners to repent and believe, inviting them to come to the front of the church, or raise their hands if they wanted to receive Christ.
You grew up on the ABCs of the gospel: Admit that you are a sinner. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Commit to following him. But you’ve already done these things. And over the years you’ve seen many others do the same, so when you hear the word repent, it’s natural for you to say, “I’ve already done that.”
But when you say, “I made a commitment to Christ,” how long does that commitment last? A lifetime—it’s a continuing thing. When you say, “I believe in Christ,” how long does the believing last? It lasts a lifetime—it’s ongoing. And when you say, “I repented,” how long does the repenting last? It lasts a lifetime—it’s a continuing thing.
Martin Luther (and others) rediscovered this great truth in the Bible back in the sixteenth century. Luther wrote, “When our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ, said ‘Repent,’ he called for the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.”
Now at this point all the beating-up-on-yourself Christians will be saying, “A lifetime of beating up on myself? You can’t be serious!” Not a lifetime of beating up on yourself, a lifetime of continual growth into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Does repentance sound more like the ABCs of the Christian life, or do you see it as part of the lifestyle of a mature believer too?