“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 were told about 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, “Been there, done that.”
But when you say you made a commitment to Christ, how long does that commitment last? Answer: A lifetime; it’s a continuing thing. When you say you believed in Christ, how long does the believing last? Answer: It lasts a lifetime; it’s ongoing. And when you say you’ve repented, how long does the repenting last? “It lasts a lifetime; it’s a continuing thing.”
The Reformers (Martin Luther, John Calvin, etc.) rediscovered this great truth in the Bible back in the sixteenth century. And it was Luther who 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 cannot be serious!” Not a lifetime of beating up on yourself, a lifetime of continual growth and change into the likeness of Jesus Christ.
Does this sound like good news to you? Why or why not?