We believe that all who truly repent of their sins in full surrender and willing obedience to God, and who by faith accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, have their sins forgiven by an act of divine grace. Such individuals are justified, pardoned from the penalty of sin and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which literally abides within them and supplies the divine love that alone can fulfill the law and produce righteousness. They are baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, which is the true Church of God. We believe in a true change in life and attitude. Only those who have the indwelling presence of, and are being led by, the Holy Spirit are Christ's (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:29-32; 2 Corinthians 7:10; John 3:16; Ephesians 1:7; 2:7-9; Romans 3:21-26; 5:5; 6:6; 8:4, 9-10, 14; 13:1; Jeremiah 33:8; John 14:16-17; 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Philippians 2:3-5).
Repentance from dead works is listed in Hebrews 6:1 as a part of the foundation that ultimately leads to perfection and eternal life. Jesus pointed out the importance of repentance when He twice stated that "unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3, 5). God requires that everyone repent (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9).
In the first recorded sermon in the New Testament Church, Peter told the people to "repent" (Acts 2:38). Repentance goes beyond being sorry or showing remorse for one's past actions (2 Corinthians 7:8-11). True repentance involves a recognition of our nature and its opposition to God (Romans 8:7). It requires a change, a complete and thorough turnaround in one's life, a change from going the way of the world to going the way of God (Isaiah 55:7-8; Acts 26:20). It is full surrender and willing obedience, based on the knowledge of how God wants us to live.
Repentance begins with our crying out to God for forgiveness of our sins and our accepting Jesus Christ as personal Savior. It is not a decision based on emotion only, though emotion is certainly an important part (Acts 2:37), but a decision to sincerely obey God through faith in Jesus Christ. Christ's righteousness becomes ours through faith in Him (Philippians 3:8-9; Romans 8:1-4). Repentance is not simply compliance with a system of religion or a set of rules. Confidence in God and His ways will lead one to act in accordance with His will and to manifest works of righteousness (James 2:17-26). True godly repentance is not something that a person can work up by himself. It is a gift from God (2 Timothy 2:25). It is one of the many good things our heavenly Father gives us (James 1:17). He leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Repentance is a major part of the conversion process. As Peter continued in that first sermon: "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). We are to repent of sin, which is the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4). Repentance precedes baptism.
After repentance and baptism, God's Spirit is given to a person through the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6). The Holy Spirit now leads us to live God's way (Romans 8:14). We now have the love of God motivating us to keep God's laws (1 John 5:3). True Christians have the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9) and strive to live as Christ lived (1 John 2:6).
Repentance involves both sorrow and joy. Repentance leads to a joyful and eternal relationship with our loving God, our Creator and giver of life. Repentance focuses our vision on the love and mercy of God and the forgiveness of sin made possible by the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Repentance is necessary for putting off the "old man" and becoming a part of the family of God (Ephesians 4:20-24). Jesus said, "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mark 1:15). The expectation of being a part of the Kingdom of God is certainly reason to rejoice!
Soon after godly repentance, one should be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38), thereby blotting out all past sins (Romans 3:25). Afterward comes a life led by God's Spirit, growing in grace and knowledge, bearing fruit and being perfected in holiness and righteousness (2 Peter 3:18; Matthew 13:23; 2 Corinthians 7:1).
Repentance must be ongoing, however. It is not a one-time action in the life of the believer. A converted person must continue to battle sin in his or her life (1 John 1:8-10; 2:1). His human nature remains for the rest of his life and wars against his mind, leading to sin (Romans 7:17, 20-21). One desires to please and obey God. The love of God in that person (Romans 5:5) acknowledges the perfect way of God and wants to follow that way, but also realizes the weakness of the flesh (Romans 7:12-25).
God does not condemn the believer (Romans 8:1) as long as he remains in a repentant attitude of overcoming sin (Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). The converted person continues through repentance and faith to rely on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to cover his sins in this lifelong process of overcoming.
|©1997-2007 United Church of God -
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
All correspondence and questions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. Send inquiries regarding the operation of this Web site to email@example.com