A Heart of Repentance

Acts 3:19-20

 “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.”

In Acts 3, Peter explains to the people who had just witnessed the crucifixion of Jesus, that this One whom they had killed, and whom God had raised from the dead, was actually the Savior, the Holy and Righteous One. Moreover, he shared with them the most important message that can ever be conveyed to a human being. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” (Acts 3:19-20)

Repentance is a difficult message for many because no one really enjoys admitting that they are sinners. Many are offended by the idea of humbling themselves before God and confessing that they are helpless and dependent like little children. John Piper writes in his book, Think, “If we are not willing to see ourselves as helpless, ungodly sinners, and cast ourselves for mercy on the grace of God in Christ, we will not know God or be saved by him.” Paul declares in Romans 6:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Paul could not state it any more clearly. We are all sinners. Therefore, we all need to repent!

From this passage of Scripture, I offer three reasons why we all need to repent. However first, let me give you a definition of this word. The word repentance comes from the Greek word metanoia. Metanoia is composed of two parts; meta, meaning change, and noia meaning mind. Thus, the word repent literally means “to change one’s mind.” However, repentance is far more than a mere intellectual decision. It is a change of mind that leads to a change of behavior. Here is how it works. First, one becomes aware of indwelling sin and how egregious it is to a holy and righteous God. This conviction comes from the Holy Spirit and leads to a sincere sorrow to the point where change is desired. Finally, it is this change in one’s behavior by the Spirit that gives evidence of one’s salvation. Sinclair Ferguson in The Grace of Repentance, says, “I cannot come to Christ in faith without turning from sin in repentance. Faith is trusting in Christ; repentance is turning from sin. They are two sides of the same coin of belonging to Jesus.”

Now, let me give you three reasons why everyone needs to repent. First, we all need to repent so that we may be forgiven. Acts 3:19 states, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.” The moment anyone turns to the Lord by faith and seeks His forgiveness, that individual’s sins are completely forgiven. Psalm 103:12 states, “As far as the east is from the west, so far as He removed our transgressions from us.” Isaiah 43:25 states, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Don’t you find this incredible? God is not only willing to forgive, but also, to forget.

Secondly, we all need to repent so that we experience God’s blessings of peace, joy and contentment. So many people live with guilt—a heavy load to carry through life. But God offers to all the opportunity to unload that guilt on His Son. After David committed his egregious sin with Bathsheba, he wrote Psalm 51, “Have mercy on me, Oh God, according to your unfailing love…wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…cleanse me… wash me…let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.” David had a great burden of guilt. He desired to unload it. And he did. How about you?

Finally, we all need to repent and receive Jesus into our lives by faith to have assurance of eternal life. Acts 3:19-20 states, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” When we place our trust in Jesus, He sends His Spirit to indwell us. This is what is meant by the second birth (see John 3:1-16). The Spirit regenerates your dead spirit—you come alive spiritually.

When I was a young boy back in the late 1960s, I used to watch Billy Graham on television. He always presented the gospel clearly. He would look into the camera and say something like this: “God loves you and He sent His Son into the world to die for you. All you have to do is place your trust in Jesus and you will be saved.” Then, he would invite people to get up out of their seats and come forward and stand before him and surrender their lives to Jesus publicly. Thousands would come forward as the choir sang, Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidd’st me come to Thee, O Lamb of God, I come! I come! Right there, in my den, in front of our little TV, I received Jesus into my heart by faith. I have never regretted making this decision. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me!

If you would like to know that you are saved, then pray this simple prayer…

Dear Heavenly Father. I confess that I’m a sinner. Help me to turn away from my sin and live in the power of your Holy Spirit. I ask you to come into my heart and bring to life my dead spirit. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen!