Monday, August 1, 2022

Repentance unto Life

Question 87: What is repentance unto life?
Answer: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, doth, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavour after, new obedience. (WSC)
Repentance ought to be preached as part of the gospel proclamation (Luke 24:47). “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15). Along with faith, repentance ought to be our response to the gospel of Christ. While our repentance does not earn salvation or pardon, yet the promise of the gospel is often conditioned on repentance (Luke 13:3, 5, Acts 2:38). “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out…” (Acts 3:19). The Westminster Confession of Faith puts it well when it says, “Although repentance be not to be rested in as any satisfaction for sin, or any cause of the pardon thereof, which is the act of God’s free grace in Christ; yet is it of such necessity to all sinners that none may expect pardon without it” (WCF 15.3).

Repentance begins with a true sense of your sin and an apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ. Hinderances to repentance include the deceptiveness of sin, the willful blindness of a sinful heart, an ignorance of the gospel, as well as doubt and despair. If you do not think you are a sinner, there is little reason to repent. Likewise, if there is no mercy for repentant sinners, then there is little reason to repent. And so Scripture exhorts people to repent by revealing the truth about their sin and God’s mercy in Christ (Acts 2:36-38).

With this knowledge, a repentant person grieves for his sin and hates his sin, and therefore turns from it unto God (2 Cor. 7:10-11, Ezek. 36:31, Joel 2:12-13). This involves confessing our sins, praying for God’s mercy and pardon. It involves repudiating the ways of sin which we formerly practiced and devoting ourselves to the Lord. It involves seeking to give restitution and to repair the damage caused by our sins when possible, with full purpose of new obedience to God. Those who truly repent will sincerely endeavor to obey the commandments of God, being exhorted to live in a manner consistent with their repentance. “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8, see also 3:10-14). “... that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance” (Acts 26:20).

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