Repentance 

 

This page is a resource that we use for Christian bible study. We have developed some of the information on this page and we have borrowed information from other studies which are freely available. Our intent is to provide a study resource that we can access when traveling. We do not disagree with anyone's personal interpretation of scripture and our thoughts are not offered as an argument for the perspective from our understanding of this revelation. Please feel free to read or use the study material if it is of help. Thank you // JL|

 

Seeking a working definition for repentance

 

Seeking a definition for repentance, we find that Old Testament verses focus on an outward action and scriptures of the New Testament focus an internal change ... these are two of the three components of this spiritual process ...

 

 

 

It's interesting to note that the emotional release which a person may feel during the act of repentance is not defined in scripture as a component of this spiritual process ... there is nothing "wrong" with emotion - it just does not seem to be one of the three integral components of repentance ... in Mat. 27: 3-4 ... "Judas repented of his action" ... the Greek word here is "metamelein" which means an emotional anguish or remorse ... not "metanoein" ... which means a "change-of-mind" ... Judas had emotional remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver which is an outward action ... however ... a "change-of-mind" seems to have been missing ... he unfortunately could not seek or accept forgiveness ... this is the third component of the spiritual process which we call repentance ... that is ... asking for and accepting forgiveness ... the individual who is repenting has a "change of mind", participates in some external action which is consistent with a "turning back" to God and the individual must be open to ask God for forgiveness and be ready to accept that forgiveness ...

 

Mat. 3; 1, 2, 6, 11 ... "... John the Baptist  ... saying ... ' repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' ... and ... (they) were baptized by him ... confessing their sins ... ' I ... baptize you with water ... he who is coming ... will baptize you ... with ... the Holy Spirit' ..."

 

Repentance is very important for us as individuals and for the local church ... the context for this consideration is not related to numbers of people who have found Jesus Christ ... rather ... it is the spiritual strength which repentance provides for both the individual and the local church ... note ... Lk 15; 7 + 10 ... "... there is more joy in heaven ... over one sinner ... who repents ... than over ... ninety-nine just persons ... who need no repentance ... there is joy ... in the presence of the angles of God ... over one sinner ... who repents ..." ... this chapter of Luke also contains three parables of Jesus regarding repentance:

 

Lk 15; 4 - 6 ... "... what man ... having a hundred sheep ... if he looses one ... does not leave the ninety-nine ... and ... go after the one ... which is lost ... until he finds it ... rejoicing ... " ...

Lk 15; 8 - 9 ... "... what woman ... having ten silver coins ... if she looses one coin ... does not ... light a lamp ... sweep the house ... search carefully ... when she has found it ... calls her ... friends ... saying ... rejoice ... " ...

Lk 15; 12 - 32 ... parable of the prodigal son ... note in verse 32: ... "... your brother was dead and is alive again ... was lost and is found ... " ...

 

If we consider spiritual repentance from the text of Lk 15; 7 ... there is something of interest with regard ... not to the one sinner ... but ... to the ninety-nine just persons who need "no repentance" ... certainly ... our initial repentance to faith in Jesus Christ resulted in our receipt of redemption ... the question we find in this passage ... for this study ... is ... if ... repentance may not also be a useful spiritual tool in our on-going development of relationship with God ... both ... as individuals ... and ... the local church ... we find two contexts for review:

 

 

First:

Heb. 6; 6 ... "... if ... they ... fall away ... to ... renew ... them again ... to repentance ... since ... they crucify again ... for themselves ... the Son of God ... and ... put ... Him ... to ... an open shame ..." ...

This reference from Hebrews, chapter six, is often a message that we find when Christian evangelism ministries are directed toward members of the Christian church ... that is ... to call a Christian "back" to the commitment of repentance which brought her/him to their original faith in Jesus Christ ... certainly ... this is an important ministry within the church ... and ... very helpful for Christians who have returned, in one way or another, to a sinful life ... however ... it seems that this spiritual process does not represent the building up of the local church in Jesus Christ ... rather ... it's more of a reparative process for both the individual and her/his local church ... it's a component of each local church's mission to minister to its individual members ... in this case, members who perhaps need a little help ...

 

 

Second:

The question that we often ask from the context of Heb. 6; 6 ... is does every Christian "fall away" and need to start from the "beginning" again with her/his development of relationship with God ???  ... we do not believe so ... and ... if that is case ... then ... perhaps we can ask - what role does repentance play in the life of such Christians ... if you like, from Lk 15; 7, the life of those ninety-nine folks who do not need repentance ... it's an interesting question ... can repentance help the development of our relationship with God ??? ... perhaps, part of the answer lies in the two spiritual attributes: knowledge of God's will and the knowledge of God ...

 

As our personal relationship with God develops and grows ... we become not only more aware of God ... we also become more aware of ourselves ... within this relationship ... as we become increasingly more knowledgeable of God and God's will ... we also become increasingly aware of aspects within our life which do not please God ... or ... if you prefer ... prevent God from coming closer to us in our daily life ...

 

To mature in our relationship with God ... we need to commit ourselves to change in our personal life ... we probably do not need to look for "what is wrong" ... if we are truly seeking God ... those aspects of our life ... which prevent God from coming closer ... become apparent ... because ... they are impediments to increasing dimension within the relationship ... an individual who seeks to develop, maintain and grow in her/his relationship with God ... also ... needs to be aware of the need and be prepared to make committed change ... essentially along the meaning of the Greek work: "metanoein" ... that is ... to change one's mind ... this is the on-going, refining, process that permits God to move closer to us in our daily life ...

 

In the context of the spiritual attributes: to know God and to know God's will ... a local church should recognize that each of its individual members are growing in their personal relationship with God ... perhaps different church members are at different levels of personal relationship with God ... and ... they may or may not be growing at different rates ... however ... they are all hopefully growing in that relationship ... and ... each local church member requires on-going opportunities to express via some outward action repentance, e.g.: "to turn", "to return" or "to turn back" ... remember ... repentance has three components: to "change one's mind", to "turn back to God" and to accept forgiveness ... the opportunities to "turn back to God" should be varied ... examples are various types of piety, local church stewardship, participation in components of liturgy and study groups of scripture ... all are certainly helpful ... though ... we feel ... that ... active study groups of scripture ... in particular ... create ... a structured spiritual environment ... with the necessary social interaction ... that permits ... an individual ... to enable her/his own outward actions ... as personal growth in her/his relationship with God requires ... our experience ... is ... that the expression of these outward actions ... in conjunction with an individuals commitment to "change one's mind" ... permit a person to move ahead in her/his relationship with God ... the process is spiritually supportive for all church member who participates in such study groups ... for ... as individual members of a local church ... grow ... in their personal relationship with God ... the local church itself grows ... in the context that it is the living body of Christ ...

 

Repentance, as an on-going spiritual process, in the life of the individual Christian and also within the local church ... is a building process ... it is subtle and quiet ... like the "still small voice" ... it represents ... and ... requires ... a lot of variety ... for repentance is different for different individuals ... the internal "change of mind" is pretty similar for us all ... though ... the outward actions ... which represent a "turning back" to God ... seem to be different from one individual to another ... and ... also different for the same person at different periods in their relationship with God ... the purpose of this on-going focus for repentance in our life ... is ... that ... individuals and groups of individuals ... can move forward into a more matured, developed, relationship with God ... through ... the repentance which we have in our faith for Jesus Christ ... note these two verses from the gospel of Mark, the words of Jesus:

 

Mk 2; 21 ... "... no one ... sews a piece of un-shrunk cloth on an old garment ... or ... else ... the new piece pulls away from the old ... and ... the tear is made worse ..."

 

Mk 2; 22 ... "... no one puts new wine into old wineskins ... or ... else ... the new wine bursts the wineskins ... the wine is spilled ... the wineskins ... ruined ... new wine must be put into new wineskins ...

 

Repentance permits God to move closer to us ... new wine requires new wineskins ... if we can conceptualize our faith as a vessel ... it is remade through the process of spiritual repentance ... our vessel of faith becomes new again ... concurrently ... each time God moves closer to us in our daily life ... it is new wine ... our relationship with God has changed, it is matured and has increased depth ... we are changed through repentance so God can become "new" in our life ... this process iterates as our relationship with God grows, matures and acquires new dimension.

 

 

Reviewing the relationship of:

    the spiritual attribute: knowledge ... and ... the spiritual tool: repentance

 

Our scriptural studies identify spiritual attributes ... which ... while an absolute for God ... also ... permit growth and development in our personal relationship with God ... they seem to change in an individual as her/his relationship with God matures and increases in dimension ... they are ... wisdom, knowledge and understanding ... we also note that "knowledge of God" and "knowledge of God's will" seem to be discrete spiritual attributes ... spiritual attributes associated directly with the growth of our relationship with God are also related to holiness ... holiness is associated specifically with the presence of God ...

 

Gal. 4: 9 ... "... now that you have come to know God, or rather be known by God ..."

 

James 4: 8 ... "... draw near to God and he will draw near to you ...

 

In this study, we are studying repentance ... which is related to the spiritual attribute knowledge ... to define knowledge we must first look to its relationship with the other spiritual attributes ...

 

Prov 2; 6 - 10 ... "... the Lord gives wisdom ... from His mouth come knowledge and understanding .. you will understand righteousness, justice, equity, and every good path ... for wisdom will come into your heart ... and ... knowledge will be pleasant to your soul ... understanding will guard you ..."

 

Prov 3; 19 - 20 ... "... by wisdom the Lord founded the earth ... by understanding established the heavens ... by His knowledge the deeps broke forth and the clouds drop down dew ..."

 

Our daily conversation may use these terms with a contextual meaning of:

 

The same terms apply as an absolute spiritual attribute of God:

 

Prov 9; 10 ... "... reverence for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom ... knowledge of the Holy One is insight ..."

 

1 Cor 12; 8 ... "... gifts of the Spirit ... include ... utterance of wisdom ... utterance of knowledge ..."

note: it should be getting obvious that the spiritual attributes of wisdom and knowledge are linked to our interactions with people on earth ... these two gifts (wisdom and knowledge) are best placed in context by reference back to 1 Cor 12; 4 - 7 ... "... there are varieties of gifts but the same Spirit, varieties of working inspired by the same God and to each is given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good ..."

 

Col 2; 2 - 3 ... "... knit together in love ... to have ... understanding ... and knowledge ... of Christ ... in whom are hid ... wisdom and knowledge ..."

 

Ecc 2; 26 ... "... to those who please Him ... God gives wisdom ... knowledge and joy ..."

 

Is 33; 5 - 6 ... "... the Lord ... will fill Zion with justice and righteousness ... he will be the stability of your times ... an abundance of salvation, wisdom and knowledge ... reverence for the Lord is his treasure ..."

 

Prov 1; 7 ... "... reverence for the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ..."

 

 

Wisdom and Knowledge Considered Together

 

Wisdom Considered Alone

 

Knowledge Considered Alone

 

Considering Understanding

 

 

Hosea 6; 6 ... "... I desire mercy ... not sacrifice ... the Knowledge of God ... more than burnt offerings ..."

The Hebrew word, translated as mercy, in Hosea 6; 6 is "checed" which has a more literal translation: "kindness".

 

 

Col. 1; 9 - 10 ... "... we ... pray ... that ... you ... may be filled ... with the knowledge of His will ... in all wisdom ... and ... spiritual understanding ... that you ... may walk worthy of the Lord ... pleasing Him ... fruitful ... in every good work ... increasing ... in the knowledge of God ..."

The Greek word, translated as worthy, in Col. 1; 10 is "axios" which has a more literal translation: "appropriately" ... or ... we actually prefer an alternate literal translation: "as becoming" ... we feel that Paul makes this statement in the context of our personal relationship with God ... if we consider a similar context, perhaps ourselves in relationship with our spouse or parents ... Paul's use of the term, "as becoming", is a little more understandable ... a better fit to what close relationship means rather than the more puritan translation of "worthy" for "axios" ... we feel that ... in our relationship with God ... we walk "as becoming" of the Lord ... if ... we continue ... to consider this literal translation of "axios" ... and our preferred translation: "as becoming" ... there are just two other verses in which Paul uses this word, "axios":

Ep. 4; 1 ... "... walk ... as becoming ... of the calling ... with which ... you were called ..."

1 Thes. 2; 12 ... "... walk ... as becoming ... of God ... who calls you ... into ... His ... kingdom ... and ... glory ..."

In many studies ... we find this reference from Col. 1; 9 - 10 ... to be ... a ...  key ... New Testament ... frame ... for defining the spiritual attributes of wisdom, knowledge and understanding ... these ... spiritual attributes ... enable ... us ... to walk ... "as becoming" ... of the Lord ... our growth in these spiritual attributes ... please God ... this growth permits us to be "fruitful" in every good work ... growth in these spiritual attributes permit a person to increase her/his personal knowledge of God ... it is interesting ... we find it in many references ...note ... there is a distinct difference between the spiritual attribute: knowledge of God's will and the spiritual attribute: knowledge of God ...

 

Our focus, at this point in our study of repentance, is the relationship between spiritual knowledge and repentance:

 

 

 

 

Note in this reference from Proverbs how knowledge is the bridge between the "spiritual" (understanding) of heaven and the "physical" (wisdom) of our world - earth ... Prov 3; 19 - 20 ... "... by wisdom the Lord founded the earth ... by understanding established the heavens ... by His knowledge the deeps broke forth and the clouds drop down dew ..." ... both spiritual attributes ... the knowledge of God's will .. and ... knowledge of God ... facilitate ... spiritual understanding ... we feel that ... repentance ... is always a useful tool for growth in our relationship with God ... for ... as a person gains ... greater insight ... into ... what is really going on ... and ... what is really important ... her/his perception of the world and of personal self will change ... to grow in one's relationship with God ... is ... a commitment to continual change in the perception that a person has of her/his personal self and the world ... like most things in our experience ... growth in relationship with God is not a continual linear curve, ever increasing at a constant rate ... God accommodates each of us ... as we are ... certainly ... we are all different ... and ... each of us is different at different periods of our relationship with God ... there are periods of relative steady state in our relationship with God ... and ... then ... there are periods when this relationship has growth and increasing dimension ... during such periods of growth in our relationship with God ... there is an increase in spiritual understanding ... at these times ... change is imminent ... at such periods of change ... repentance permits a person to enable change ...which permits ... continued growth in her/his relationship with God ... at these points in time ... when ... spiritual understanding increases ... a person ... must ... commit ... to ... a ... "change-of-mind" ... a ... physical action which represents: "turning back" to God ... and ... be ... personally open ... and ... sincerely ready ... to ... ask for ... and ... accept ... God's forgiveness ... which ... for us ... as Christians ... is through ... our knowledge ... of ... Jesus Christ ... what a wonderful gift ...

 

 

Baptism and Repentance

 

Mat. 3; 1, 2, 6, 11 ... "... John the Baptist  ... saying ... ' repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand' ... and ... (they) were baptized by him ... confessing their sins ... ' I ... baptize you with water ... he who is coming ... will baptize you ... with ... the Holy Spirit' ..." .

 

Prov 3; 19 - 20 ... "... by wisdom the Lord founded the earth ... by understanding established the heavens ... by His knowledge the deeps broke forth and the clouds drop down dew ..."

 

Baptism and Spiritual Attributes

 

Baptism and the spiritual trees of the Garden of Eden

 

God speaking as he sends Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden ... "... man ... has become ... like ... us ... to know ... good and evil ... lest he put out his hand ... and ... take ... also ... of the tree of life ... and ... eat ... and ... live forever ..."

 

John 3; 5 - 8 ... words of Jesus ..."... unless one is born ... of water ... and ... the Spirit ... he cannot ... enter the kingdom of God ... that which is born of flesh is flesh ... that which is born of spirit is spirit ... the wind blows where it wishes ... you hear the sound ... but ... cannot tell ... where it comes from ... where it goes ... so is everyone ... born of the spirit ..."

 

Baptism, actually both baptisms, are milestones in our relationship with God ... there is committed change which occurs both for the person of faith and also with God's relationship to that person ... the word group which is the basis of our translation of baptism is derived from the Greek verb: "bapto" ... literally translated: "whelm" ... we find it useful to borrow the following scripture reference from a study we have on Redemption:

Isaiah 43; 1 - 12 ... '... says the Lord ... I have redeemed you ... I have called you by your name ... I will be with you ... I am the Lord your God ... you are precious in my sight ... I have loved you ... I am with you ... everyone who is called by my name ... I have created for my glory ... you are my witnesses ... whom I have chosen ... that you may know and believe me ... and ... understand that I am He ... before me ... there was no God ... nor ... shall there be after me ... I ... am the Lord ... beside me there is no Savior ... you are my witnesses ... that I am God ..."

In this passage from Isaiah 43, the word translated as "redeemed" is actually the Hebrew noun: "gawl" ... which has the literal meaning of: "next of kin" ... the literary context is the protection and privilege of being "kin", essentially "in the family" ... the other word that we often find interesting here is the Hebrew noun "ayd" ... translated here as "witness" ... a pretty literal translation ... the interesting aspect of "ayd" is that the root comes from the Hebrew verb: "uwd" (spoken: "ood") ... "uwd" has the literal meaning to "restore", "repeat" or "duplicate" ...

 

Isaiah 28; 9 - 10 ... "... whom ... will he teach ... knowledge ... whom ... will ... understand ... the message ... for ... precept ... must be upon ... precept ... line ... upon ... line ... here a little ... there a little ..."

 

1 Kings 19; 11 - 12 ... words of Elijah ... "... he said ... go ... stand on the mountain before the Lord ... and ... the Lord passed by ... a great and strong wind tore into the mountain and broke the rocks ... but ... the Lord was not in the wind ... and ... after the wind an earthquake ... but ... the Lord was not in the earthquake ... and ... after the earthquake a fire ... but ... the Lord was not in the fire ... and ... after the fire a still small voice ..."

 

What we are working on here, with regard to repentance and baptism, is a conceptualization of what is actually happening spiritually ... both baptisms are milestones because they represent a fundamental change in the relationship of an individual with God ... we feel that the Hebrew word "gawl" from Isaiah 43 is reflective of this process ... essentially the concept of becoming "next of kin" or "in the family" ...  there are two stages of relationship in Isaiah 43; 1 - 12 ... the first relationship stage begins with: "I have called you by your name" ... and ... the second begins with ... "everyone who is called by my name" ... our redemption, or if you prefer status of kinship, comes first ... then ... in the first stage, the action is all by God: God is with us, is our Lord and God, loves us, we are precious in God's sight ... in the second stage, there are two actions ... God reveals his identity: I am, there is no other God, there is no other Savior, etc. ... also ... in the second stage: our personal role is defined: we are to know and believe, we are witnesses ... if we follow the meaning of the Hebrew word "ayd" to its root "uwd", the translation "witness" becomes a little more understandable: we are part of God's plan for restoration ... the reference from Isaiah 28 is here to remind us that our matured spiritual role does not just flow-in at the time of either baptism ... it evolves over time ... as our personal relationship with God grows ... the reference from 1 Kings 19 is here to remind us that the process is not noisy and distractive ... rather ... it's quiet and personal ... sometimes we'll carry this concept of "restoration" back to the Garden of Eden and the two spiritual trees ... many times it is not necessary and the study will continue on a related thread of revelation ... one example from Revelations 17; 14 ... "... and those with Him are called, chosen and faithful ..."

 

Additional References

 John 6: 44 Jesus stating: "No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him"
 Ps. 80: 3 - 7, 19 Turn us again, Lord, and we shall be saved
 Lamentations 5: 21 Turn us to Thee, Lord, and we shall be turned
 Mark 1: 3 - 4 The baptism of John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance which was necessary before the revelation of the Messiah
 Mark 1: 14 - 15 Jesus stating "repent and believe the gosple"
 Luke 13: 3, 5 repent or perish
 Luke 24: 46 - 47  ... that the repentance for transgression of sins should be preached ...
 Acts 2: 37 - 38 repent and be baptised
 Acts 17: 30 repent
 Acts 20: 20 - 21 Paul: " repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ
 Heb. 6: 1 - 2 one of Christianity's foundation doctrines:  repentance from dead works

 

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