REPENTANCE

Biblical repentance, as preached by John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles, involved A CHANGE OF MIND TOWARD GOD AND SIN, THAT RESULTS IN A CHANGE OF LIFE.

Note the following summary of Paul’s message: "But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that THEY SHOULD REPENT AND TURN TO GOD, AND DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE" (Acts 26:20).
The gospel message preached by Peter on the day of Pentecost and by Paul after Pentecost required repentance and defined that as a mindset to turn to God from evil works.
Paul summarized His gospel message as "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21).
The gospel requires that the sinner exercise repentance toward God and faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Biblical repentance is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life.

Repentance was preached by John the Baptist

"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire"
(Matthew 3:1-10).

Repentance was preached by Jesus Christ

"From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand"
(Matthew 4:17).

"But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Matthew 9:13).

"Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes" (Matthew 11:20-21).

"And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2-5).

"I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. … Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth" (Luke 15:7, 10).

"And said unto them, 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).

Christ’s goal in dealing with men was not merely to lead them in a sinner’s prayer, but to bring them to repentance and genuine salvation. He described salvation in terms of coming to repentance.

Repentance was preached by the Lord’s Disciples

"And they went out, and preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12).

Repentance was preached by Peter

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31).

"Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:22-23).

Repentance was preached by Paul

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30).

"And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have showed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:20-21).

"But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20).

The Bible says that God is "longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). There is no Bible example of people being saved who did not evidence a change in their lives. The Apostle Paul, reviewing his ministry before King Agrippa, noted that he went about preaching to Jews and Gentiles "that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance" (Acts 26:20). This is exactly the message we are to preach today.

WHAT BIBLICAL REPENTANCE IS NOT

REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE HUMAN REFORMATION

Men have the ability to reform their own lives in some sense. It is not uncommon for men who have gotten into trouble to come to their senses and to change their ways. Drunkards have stopped drinking; wife beaters have ceased from their violence; thieves have become honest citizens; harlots have turned from a life of infamy. This in itself is not biblical repentance.

First of all, reformation is man-centered and this-world-centered; whereas repentance is God-centered and eternity-centered. The man who merely reforms has his eyes on the people he has offended and the consequences of his actions in his present life. The gospel, on the other hand, calls for "repentance toward God…" (Acts 20:21). The Prodigal Son’s repentance was demonstrated by his change of attitude toward God as well as toward his father. "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I HAVE SINNED AGAINST HEAVEN, and before thee" (Luke 15:18).

REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE REMORSE FOR WRONG ACTIONS

The Bible tells us that men can be remorseful about their actions without exercising genuine repentance unto salvation. This is described as the "sorrow of the world" in 2 Cor. 7:10. There are key examples of this in the Old and the New Testaments. King Saul is the prime Old Testament example. He was sorry that he got caught in various sinful acts, but he did not demonstrate repentance because his actions did not change (1 Sam. 15:24; 24:17; 26:21). Judas is the fearful New Testament example of a man who was remorseful but did not repent toward God (Matt. 27:3-4). Like reformation, remorse is man-centered rather than God-centered. Those who repent change their mind about their relationship with God and this results in a change in the way they live. Judas regretted his actions, but he did not turn to God.

REPENTANCE IS NOT MERE CONFESSION OF OR ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF SIN

Repentance is also not mere acknowledgement of sin. Pharaoh did this, but he did not repent toward God and his actions did not change (Exodus 9:27). While working in a county jail ministry for several years, I saw many men and women who acknowledged that they had sinned, but most of those did not exercise repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

THE BIBLE’S DEFINITION OF REPENTANCE

In the following study, we examine every Bible passage dealing with repentance toward God.  According to the following verses, repentance is a supernatural work of God whereby a responsive sinner, being convicted by the Holy Spirit of his rebellion, turns to God from his sinful ways and trusts Jesus Christ for salvation. Bible examples of repentance show a clear change in people’s behavior. The change itself does not save us from sin, but IT IS the clear fruit of Bible salvation.

Exodus 13:17. "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt."

God knew that repentance on the part of the Israelites would result in a change of action. In this instance, a change of mind without the resulting change of action would have been meaningless. Repentance is defined in this verse as turning, as a change of direction, as a change of mind that results in a visible change of action.

Judges 21:1,6,14. "And the children of Israel repented them for Benjamin their brother, and said, There is one tribe cut off from Israel this day."

The men of Israel had sworn that they would not give any of their daughters as wives for the Benjamites, but they repented and gave them wives (vv. 6,14). Again, the change of mind without the resulting change of action would have been meaningless.

1 Kings 8:47-48. "Yet if they shall bethink themselves in the land whither they were carried captives, and REPENT, and make supplication unto thee in the land of them that carried them captives, SAYING, WE HAVE SINNED, AND HAVE DONE PERVERSELY, we have committed wickedness; And so RETURN UNTO THEE WITH ALL THEIR HEART, AND WITH ALL THEIR SOUL, in the land of their enemies, which led them away captive, and pray unto thee toward their land, which thou gavest unto their fathers, the city which thou hast chosen, and the house which I have built for thy name."

God promised that if captive Israel would repent He would hear them. He defined repentance as acknowledging their wickedness and turning to God with the whole heart.

Job 42:6. "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes."

Here, again, we see that repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action. The dust and ashes were the evidence of his repentance.

Jeremiah 8:6. "I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle."

Repentance is defined as acknowledging and turning from sin.

Ezekiel 14:6. "Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations."

God defined repentance as turning from sin and idols. Surely, no one thinks that God would have been satisfied if they had merely changed their minds without changing their actions.

Ezekiel 18:30. "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin."

Again, repentance is defined as turning from sin and idols.

Jonah 3:5-8. "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands."

The word repentance is not used in the Jonah passage, but in Matt. 12:31 Jesus said they repented. The repentance of the people of Nineveh was witnessed in their actions. True repentance is always observable by a change in one’s manner of living.

Matthew 3:1,8. "And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. ... Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."

John the Baptist defined repentance as a change in life. He demanded ‘fruits meet for repentance,’ which obviously meant that he wanted to see some evidence that they had repented before he would baptize them. The specific changes of action are listed in the parallel passage of Luke 3:8-14. The various kinds of people had to show different changes of action, because their particular sins had been different.

Matthew 9:13. "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Jesus defined repentance as a sinner changing his attitude to sin.

Matthew 11:20-21. "Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes."

Christ defined repentance as a dramatic change in one’s attitude toward God and His Word. He said this change of mind is evidenced by a change in action.

Matthew 12:41. "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here."

Jesus stated that the men of Nineveh ‘repented at the preaching of Jonas.’ Jonah 3 shows that they heard the Word of God, believed God, fasted, put on sackcloth, and turned from their sin. Christ considered their actions to be a result of their repentance. Would He have approved what they did if there had been no change of action? The answer is obvious.

Matthew 21:28-29. "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went."

The son’s repentance was witnessed by his change of mind and his obedience. A mere change of mind without a change in action would not have satisfied the father’s command and would not have been true repentance.

Matthew 21:33. "For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him."

This verse is connected with verses 28-29 above. Jesus illustrated the repentance He demanded of the Jews with the example of the son who repented and obeyed his father. Repentance is not merely to believe in the sense of a mere mental assent to the gospel. James tells us that the devils believe in that sense (James 2:19-20). Salvation repentance is to change one’s mind about sin and one’s relationship with Almighty God and is to be ready to turn from that sin by God’s power.

Luke 3:3-6. "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

The reason John the Baptist preached the baptism of repentance was because Isaiah 40:3-5 had predicted that valleys would be filled, mountains be brought low, crooked places made straight, and rough places smooth. Anyone can see that these are outward, visible changes. Note that repentance is required for the remission of sins.

Luke 5:32. "I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Christ’s objective was not merely to bring men to a mental belief in the gospel but to bring them to repentance, which, as we have seen, means a turning from sin, a change of mind that results in a change of life.

Luke 13:3-5. "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."

Christ absolutely requires repentance for salvation.

Luke 15:7-10. "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."

Again, we see that Christ requires repentance for salvation. God and Heaven do not rejoice merely because someone prays a prayer in the name of Christ (Mt. 7:21) or because someone makes a mental assent to the gospel (James 219-20). God and Heaven rejoice when a sinner repents.

Luke 19:1-10. "And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

Zacchaeus’s repentance was a change of mind that resulted in a dramatic change of life. The evidence of his repentance was that he gave half his goods to the poor and restored five-fold that which he had stolen through his tax collecting business.

Luke 24:47. "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Repentance is part of the gospel message that is to be preached to the ends of the earth. Repentance is part of the Great Commission.

Acts 2:37-41. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost."

The Jews in Acts 2 who heard Peter’s sermon repented, and the evidence of this is that they gladly received his word, were baptized, and joined themselves with the hated Christians. Again we see that repentance is to turn one’s life from sin and rebellion to God and obedience; it is a change of mind toward God and sin that results in a change of life.

Acts 3:19. "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord."

Repentance is God’s requirement for every sinner who will be saved. Repentance precedes and brings conversion and forgiveness of sin.

Acts 5:31. "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins."

Repentance is required for forgiveness of sin. It is a work of Christ in the heart of the responsive sinner.

Acts 8:21-22. "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee."

Peter warned Simon to repent of his covetousness, which meant he was to turn from it, to reject it, to change his mind about it, and to stop it. Note that Peter instructed Simon to repent of his sin, yet some fundamental Baptist preachers today are claiming that repentance is not to repent of sin.

Acts 11:18. "When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life."

Note that the disciples described salvation as repentance. There is no salvation without repentance. They thought of salvation commonly in these terms. Note, too, that repentance is a work of God in the heart of the responsive sinner.

Acts 17:30. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent."

Paul preached repentance to the idolatrous people at Athens. He did not even mention faith in Christ, but he explained that God demands repentance. The preaching of God’s holiness and righteousness and man’s fallen condition and need of repentance precedes and prepares the way for the preaching of the Cross.

Acts 20:21. "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

This verse summarizes Paul’s preaching and the true gospel message: repentance toward God and faith in Christ. The sinner must repent about his disobedience toward God and exercise faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for his sin. Repentance and faith are not the same thing.

Acts 26:20. "But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."

Paul preached the same message as John the Baptist, so no one can limit this to the dispensation of the law. The words of this verse, ‘that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance,’ show that repentance is not a work! When we preach repentance for salvation, we are not preaching a works salvation, as some have charged. When we say that repentance produces a change of works, it would be ridiculous to say that the two are one. Food produces energy, but they are two different things, so repentance and works are two separate things. Repentance produces and results in good works, but repentance itself is not works salvation. The bottom line is this: Paul preached repentance and required that repentance produce a change in the life. We must do the same today. Those who accept a mere prayer as salvation and who baptize people who demonstrate no change in life are not following the Bible pattern of evangelism.

Romans 2:4. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?"

God does many things with the objective of bringing men to repentance. This is another reminder that God desires that all men repent.

2 Corinthians 7:9-11. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter."

This verse plainly defines repentance as a change of mind that results in a change of life. The Corinthians’ repentance produced a great change in their manner of living: ‘carefulness ... clearing of yourselves ... indignation ... fear ... vehement desire ... zeal ... revenge.’ Note that repentance is not the same as reformation or other forms of "the sorrow of the world." Repentance has to do with God and sin, whereas reformation has to do with other people and with conditions and things in this world. Many people, when they get into trouble, are sorry for the trouble and they determine to change certain things in their lives that produced that trouble. This is not repentance, because it does not deal with one’s wickedness against Almighty God and does not result in a change of attitude and action in relation to God.

2 Corinthians 12:21. "And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed."

Repentance is not only about sin in general; it involves a change of mind and a change of action concerning specific sins.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. "For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come."

This passage gives a clear definition of salvation repentance. It is turning to God from idols to serve the living and true God. Note that repentance is directed to God (compare Acts 20:21; 26:20). Repentance results in a change of life (turning from idols to serve God).

2 Timothy 2:25-26. "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."

Repentance produces ‘acknowledging of the truth’ and recovery from the snare of the devil. Repentance is a work of God in the heart of a responsive sinner. God convicts of sin and calls the sinner to repentance and faith in Christ, and if the sinner responds, God grants salvation and fulfills His work of repentance in the sinner’s life.

Hebrews 6:1. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God."

The ‘repentance from dead works’ is obviously a change of mind that results in a change of action.

Hebrews 12:17. "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears."

Esau ‘found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.’ Bruce Lackey says: "Since there is no record of Esau trying to change the sale of his birthright to Jacob (Gen. 25:29-34), this must refer to his effort to get Isaac to change the blessing from Jacob back to himself (Gen. 27:34). Some interpret this to mean that Esau could not repent; I think it means that he could not get Isaac to repent of having given the firstborn’s blessing to Jacob. In either case, the meaning of repentance would be the same. Esau found a place to change his mind, but he could not find a place to change the action. This is one of the strongest proofs in Scripture that a change of action must take place, or there is no repentance."

2 Peter 3:9. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."

Again, we see that the Bible frequently describes salvation in terms of repentance. God requires repentance for salvation.

Revelation 2:5. "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."

Repentance obviously involves turning from actions that are wrong to doing actions that are right. It means to change one’s mind about a wrong behavior so that one determines to change that behavior by God’s grace.

Revelation 2:16. "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth."

The Christians at Pergamos were instructed to repent of the sin and error that they were allowing in the church, which meant they were to turn from the specific sins that Christ mentioned.

Revelation 2:21-22. "And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds."

Christ required that the people ‘repent of their deeds.’ He surely would not have been satisfied with a change of mind without a change of action. Here again we see that repentance IS in relation to sin. To say that there is no repentance from sin is to deny what the Bible plainly teaches.

Revelation 3:3. "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee."

The repentance Christ required produced a complete change in attitude and action about specific sin and error.

Revelation 9:20-21. "And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts."

From these verses, we see that repentance that is acceptable before God is to reject and turn from sin, idolatry, and error. Again, to say that there is no repentance from sin is to deny what the Bible plainly teaches.

Revelation 16:9,11. "And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds."

These passages say that tribulation sinners will not repent ‘of their deeds.’ Their lack of repentance is connected with their refusal to turn from their evil doings. According to the Bible, repentance is a turning to God from sin, a change of mind about sin that results in a change of action.

QUOTATIONS

"Repentance is the true turning of our life to God, a turning that arises from a pure and earnest fear of him; and it consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man and in the vivification of the Spirit. It not only constantly follows faith, but is also born of faith" (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 1559).

"We believe and confess, that, as the ‘imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,’ and consequently inclined to all unrighteousness, sin, and wickedness, that, therefore, the first doctrine of the precious New Testament of the Son of God is, Repentance and amendment of life. Gen. 8:21; Mark 1:15)" (The Dordrecht Confession, Mennonite, 1632).

"Repentance unto life is an evangelical grace, the doctrine whereof is to be preached by every minister of the gospel, as well as that of faith in Christ. By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins as to turn from them all unto God, purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments" (Westminster Confession of Faith, Presbyterian, 1646).

"Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed" (Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance, 1668).

"Unfeigned repentance is an inward and true sorrow of heart for sin, with sincere confession of the same to God, especially that we have offended so gracious a God and so loving a Father, together with a settled purpose of heart and a careful endeavor to leave all our sins, and to live a more holy and sanctified life according to all God’s commands" (The Orthodox Creed, Baptist, 1679).

"[Repentance is] to change their mind and to act more wisely, to break off the worship of idols and bind themselves to the worship of the true God. Nay, it is to turn with sorrow and shame from every sin, and with cheerfulness and resolution to every duty" (Matthew Henry, commentary, Acts 17:30, 1710).

"True repentance is a change of the heart, of the will and affections, as well as of the outward conversation, a change which is accompanied with all the fruits and graces of the Spirit of God" (Jonathan Dickinson, "The Marks of True Repentance and Saving Faith," c. 1730).

"So saving repentance and faith are implied in each other. They are both one and the same conversion of the soul from sin to God, through Christ; the act of the soul turning from sin to God through Christ, as it respects the thing from which the turning is, viz. sin, is called repentance; and as it respects the thing to which, and the mediation by which it turns, it is called faith" (Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," 1741).

"This saving repentance is an evangelical grace, whereby a person, being by the Holy Spirit made sensible of the manifold evils of his sin, doth, by faith in Christ, humble himself for it with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrency; praying for pardon and strength of grace, with a purpose and endeavor by supplies of the Spirit to walk before God unto all well-pleasing in all things" (Philadelphia Confession of Faith, Baptist, 1742).

"Repentance is the carnal and corrupt disposition of men being changed into a renewed and sanctified disposition. … It is the nature of such repentance to make a change, and the greatest change that can be made here in the soul. Thus you see what repentance implies in its own nature; it denotes an abhorrence of all evil" (George Whitefield, "Repentance," c. 1750).

"The repentance then which is in the New Testament required of sinners is such an entire change of mind, or of views and sentiments respecting sin and salvation, as discovers itself by a genuine sorrow for sin, a firm resolution to hate and forsake it, and a sincere endeavor so to return to God in Christ as to walk with Him in newness of life: the sincerity of which is to be evidenced by fruits meet for repentance. … repentance itself, instead of being a passing act, is an abiding principle, a lasting disposition of soul, a gracious principle lying deep in the heart, disposing a man at all times to mourn for and turn from sin" (John Colquhoun, Repentance, 1826).

"[Repentance is] real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is accompanied and followed by amendment of life" (Noah Webster, American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828).

"We believe the Scriptures teach that repentance is a personal act, prompted by the Spirit; and consists in a godly sorrow for sin, as offensive to God and ruinous to the soul; that it is accompanied with great humiliation in view of one’s sin and guilt, together with prayer for pardon; also by sincere hatred of sin, and a persistent turning away from, and abandonment of, all that is evil and unholy. Since none are sinless in this life, repentance needs to be often repeated" (New Hampshire Confession, Baptist, 1833).

"Repentance signifies that sorrow for sin which produces newness of life" (Charles Buck, A Theological Dictionary, 1851).

"Repentance is an evangelical grace, wherein a person being, by the Holy Spirit, made sensible of the manifold evil of his sin, humbleth himself for it, with godly sorrow, detestation of it, and self-abhorrence, with a purpose and endeavor to walk before God so as to please Him in all things" (Abstract of Principles, Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, 1859).

"Repentance unto life is sorrow for sin, grief for having committed it, and a turning away from it with abhorrence, accompanied with sincere endeavours, in reliance on God’s grace and the aid of the Holy Spirit, to live in humble and holy obedience to the commands and will of God" (John Eadie, Biblical Cyclopaedia, London, 1872).

"Just now some professedly Christian teachers are misleading many by saying that ‘repentance is only a change of mind.’ It is true that the original word does convey the idea of a change of mind; but the whole teaching of Scripture concerning the repentance which is not to be repented of is that it is a much more radical and complete change than is implied by our common phrase about changing one’s mind. The repentance that does not include sincere sorrow for sin is not the saving grace that is wrought by the Holy Spirit. God-given repentance makes men grieve in their inmost souls over the sin they have committed, and works in them a gracious hatred of evil in every shape and form. We cannot find a better definition of repentance than the one many of us learned at our mother’s knee: ‘Repentance is to leave the sin we loved before, and show that we in earnest grieve by doing so no more’" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "The Royal Saviour," Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, Feb. 1, 1872).

"In repentance there is of necessity an intellectual apprehension of ourselves as sinners, of the holiness of God, of his law to which we have failed to be conformed as sinners, of the holiness of God, of his law to which we have failed to be conformed and of his mercy in Christ; there is a moral disapprobation of our character and conduct; a feeling of sorrow, shame and remorse; and a purpose to forsake sin and lead a holy life" (Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1873).

"True repentance leads to a holy life; and a holy life is the fruit and proof of true repentance" (Willis Lord, Christian Theology for the People, 1875).

"A turning from sin to holiness, or more strictly, from a state of consecration to self to a state of consecration to God, is and must be the turning, the change of mind, or the repentance that is required of all sinners. Nothing less can constitute a virtuous repentance, and nothing more can be required" (Charles Finney, "Repentance and Impenitence," 1878).

"…repentance … is a turning from sin, a loathing of it; and if thou hast that, thou hast sure repentance; but not else. Repentance is also a sense of shame for having lived in it, and a longing to avoid it. It is a change of the mind with regard to sin--a turning of the man right round. That is what it is; and it is wrought in us by the grace of God. Let none therefore mistake what true repentance is" (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, "Mistaken Notions about Repentance," Metropolitan Tabernacle, London, England, April 20, 1879).

"‘Metanoeo [repentance] involves: (1) to know after, (2) the change of mind consequent on this after-knowledge, (3) regret for the course pursued, resulting from the change of mind consequent on this after-knowledge, (4) the change of conduct for the future, springing from all this" (R.C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament, 1880).

"Repentance is a change of mind or purpose. Until a man repents he commonly feels comfortable about himself and his ways; but when the Saviour, through the Spirit, gives him repentance, he changes his mind about himself, and seeing nothing good in his heart or in his works, his whole soul cries out, ‘Lord, be merciful to me a sinner’ (Lk. 18:13)" (William Cathcart, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881).

"Repentance and the firstfruits of repentance [baptism and other steps of discipleship mentioned in Acts 2:38-42] were generally inseparable. The former could not be genuine without manifesting itself in the latter. And in the circumstances of that day a willingness to be baptized was no slight evidence of a new heart" (Horatio Hackett, Commentary on Acts, American Baptist Publication Society, 1882).