We have already learned that we repent by turning away from sin and surrendering our lives to God. Repentance begins with God's calling—His opening our minds to correctly understand His Word. Then we must pray for His help and begin studying the Scriptures to find out what we need to change. We do this by comparing our beliefs, behavior, customs, traditions and thoughts to the Holy Bible. God's Word is the only trustworthy standard by which we can measure our attitudes and behavior.
This thorough self-examination process is essential if our repentance is to be genuine, and it may take a considerable amount of our time, especially if we are unfamiliar with the Scriptures. Now let's see what the Bible says about real repentance and its importance to our relationship with God.
Did Jesus stress the importance of repentance?
"I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Luke 5:32).
"Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel'" (Mark 1:14-15; compare Matthew 4:17).
Jesus taught that our most important priority should be to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). From the beginning of His public ministry He stressed that repentance is an integral part of reaching that goal.
Did God's prophets of old preach repentance?
"And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them, but you have not listened nor inclined your ear to hear. They said, 'Repent now everyone of his evil way and his evil doings ...'" (Jeremiah 25:4-5).
Must this same message continue to be preached to the whole world?
"Then [Jesus] said to them, '... All things must be fulfilled which were written ... concerning Me ... Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:44-47).
The Scriptures show God is consistent. From the beginning He has sent His servants with the same message: "Repent, and turn from all your transgressions, so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 18:30-31).
Must everyone repent?
"I tell you ... unless you repent you will all ... perish" (Luke 13:3; compare Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9).
Eternal life in the Kingdom of God is available only to those who repent of their sins! There are no exceptions, because "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).