The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
Some people think of repentance as being a New Testament concept, yet a search of the Bible shows that the words ‘repent’ and ‘repentance’ occur throughout the Old Testament. Matthew’s gospel contains the earliest use of the word ‘repent’ in the New Testament (Matthew 3:2), where John the Baptist heralds the coming of the Messiah.
Looking at the Old Testament, in Ezekiel, God speaks to the people of Israel in the following way:
Therefore say to the people of Israel, This is what the Sovereign Lord says: repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices! Ezekiel 14:6 (NIV)
This gives us a clue as to the meaning of repentance. In the verse from Ezekiel we see that it involves turning away from, and renouncing sin. I remember as a young Christian the pastor of my church used military language when he said how becoming a Christian involved an ‘about turn’ – a reversal of direction in life. This describes repentance very well, because it means to turn your back on your former life and move forward in obedience to Christ.
Is repentance still relevant in the 21st century? Yes!! Look at the Bible and you will see that repentance is there right through to the end of Revelation. Becoming a Christian involves turning your back on and renouncing sin, together with turning in faith to Christ.
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