Also, the Bible commands that those who would give their lives to Christ “should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance” (Acts 26:20). While fruit speaks of the manifestation of inward, unseen growth, works speak of what we do. Works are the outward manifestation. If there is true inward repentance, it is demonstrated in the life by works performed.
True repentance produces a complete change in the whole life, and way of living. Not a sad, strict set of rules and regulations – “I must do this, I must not do that” type of life -but rather a joyous expression of the life of Jesus Christ within us. Before, we pleased ourselves. We followed our own minds. We went our own way. But now we have repented. We have turned around. We have believed in Jesus Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord. Now “we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). He lives His life in us. So, then, we do only the things Christ does. We think His thoughts. We speak His words. These fruit and works are visible in the life of the person who has truly repented.
FOR BORN-AGAIN CHRISTIANS TOO
The command to repent is not only for those who have never personally received Christ as their Savior. Many born-again Christians need to repent also.
Surely, the weakness of our love for Christ demands repentance. Our lack of compassion for those who yet do not know Christ, our making idols of possessions, titles, position -all need to be repented of. We need to repent of our stealing. We do not break a shop window and steal goods from the shopkeeper, true -but we rob God without feeling sorry at all! One tenth of all we earn is God’s. How dare we use it for ourselves! Any offerings we may give to the Lord are over and above the first tenth of our income that belongs to Him (Mal 3:8,9).
To the Ephesian church, the Lord said: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left [abandoned] your first love” (Rev 2:4). This is possibly the most prevalent sin among those who have truly turned to Christ for His salvation. The thrill and glow of that love we had for the Savior when we first accepted Him in to our lives is there no longer. If I love my Lord any less today than I did yesterday, then I too must hear the Lord’s command: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent” (Rev 2:5).
May God help us to obey His command today! May our hearts be gripped with the urgency of our need to repent!
THE FOUNDATION DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE
Repentance is a foundational doctrine. In Hebrews 6:1 we are commanded: “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection [maturity], not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…” Of course, this does not mean we stop teaching and experiencing these blessed elementary doctrines. The writer to the Hebrews is simply saying that they should be studying deeper truths from the Word of God. But, he says: “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk, and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age [mature], that is, those who by reason of use (habitual practice] have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil ” (Heb 5:12-14).