Repent and Believe
The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.
And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received Him joyfully….” And Zaccheus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house.”
The first thing we must do to follow Jesus is to turn from our former way of life (repent) and trust in Jesus (believe). This is how you become a Christian. As Christians we are also to help others to repent and believe.
- What does it mean to repent and believe?
- One way to explain the good news to someone who is not trusting in Christ is by telling God’s story using the four chapters:
- New Heavens/New Earth
- You can also weave your story into God’s story, explaining how you were saved.
How do I know if I have repented?
To repent is to turn from our love for the world to a love of God. This will be borne out in our actions and affections, in our hatred for sin, and our increasing love for the things of God. Jesus said in Matthew, “you will know them by their fruits. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”
Repenting does not mean that you stop sinning, but that you feel the weight of sin and hate it. It is helpful to ask other Christians what they are seeing in you.
What if I have doubts? Does that mean I don’t believe?
We all have doubts. Faith is a trust despite our doubts. Thomas came to Jesus with doubt, and Jesus invited him to touch so that he could believe (John 20:25-29). The Father of the demon-possessed boy cried out to Jesus, “I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
Yet we should be wary to be content with unpursued doubts that may end up leading you astray. If you are doubting, pursue your doubts, whatever they may be, so that you can come to a deeper understanding and trust in God, He is not afraid of your doubts, yet still calls you to believe.
Do I have to repent of my sins every day?
Yes. At our initial salvation, we decide to turn from our sin and trust in Christ. But then, we continuously must repent of our new sins. To walk in an authentic relationship with God is to admit that we are sinners, that we do sin, and this is going to happen every day. Thus, we are called to daily repentance. In our repentance we acknowledge our sin and that we are unworthy. We cling to the cross of Jesus Christ, where we are reminded that He bore all of our sins, once and for all, so we can repent and trust in Him afresh. We have full assurance that His righteousness is sufficient for us, not our own.