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The Umbilical Cord Of New Birth


"Unless you repent, you too will perish". (Luke 13:5)  "If he says I repent, forgive him". (Luke 17:4)  "Repent for the forgiveness of sin". (Acts 2:38)  "Repent that your sins may be wiped out". (Acts 3:19)  These are just a few of many verses that show us the importance of Biblical repentance, a subject in my opinion, that is being downplayed, rethought, or, even ignored, in many Christian circles these days.   


It seems to me that Christians in the western world prefer to sit down to a fast food style inspirational sermon, and then split for Sunday lunch.  I personally prefer to sit down to a well prepared dinner style message that will educate me sufficiently enough that I need to go home and take time to digest it.  Our emphasis on inspiration to the neglect of education has led us to a place of "inspired ignorance".  Many of us cannot properly define the basic truths of the faith we claim to embrace.  Repentance is one such Biblical concept that sadly needs to be revisited. 


It's becoming a common occurrence.  He does wrong.  He gets caught.  He confesses on national TV.  Even though genuine repentance is questionable, he expects immediate forgiveness.  There's no doubt in my mind.  We need to understand Biblical repentance.         


The above verses make it clear, without repentance there is no forgiveness of sin.  Repentance is the prerequisite to forgiveness.  If there is no forgiveness, there is no real faith, and obviously no salvation.  If we preach salvation without preaching Biblical repentance, we're aborting the potential convert before he is born again.  We're cutting his spiritual umbilical cord that provides the  necessities for new birth.  This spiritual abortion is the worst kind of abortion.  It has eternal consequences.  It's not just aborting life from this planet.  It's aborting life as it is meant to be in eternity.     


The fact that all of New Testament writers, with the possible exception of Luke, were Jewish is important.  These men were well versed in Hebrew thought and culture.  However, the New Testament literature they penned, was written in Greek.  Thus, to understand anything they wrote, including Biblical repentance, we must understand their writing from both a Greek and Hebrew perspective. 


Many Christians define repentance as changing one's mind about their sin.  Instead of thinking sin as being okay, they change their minds and believe it's wrong.  This is in fact the Greek perspective to repentance.   The Greek word "metanoeo" is translated into our English New Testament as "repent".  The prefix "meta" means "after".  "Noeo" means "mind".  Thus, we conclude that "metanoeo" in Biblical terms means, "after seriously considering our sin, we have a change of mind concerning our sin".    


The Hebrew word "nacham" is translated into our English Old Testament as "repent".  "Nachan" in Hebrew means something different than "metanoeo" in Greek.  It means "to draw a deep breath, to pant, or, to groan".  In the Hebrew Old Testament "nachan", or,  "repent", doesn't just mean to change your mind about sin.  It means to be sufficiently out of breath that with groans of grief you  turn from your sin.  You begin to stop sinning.  I'm sure you can see the difference between Greek and Hebrew thought concerning repentance.      


John the Baptist, the last of the Old Testament Hebrew prophets, demonstrated the Hebrew concept of repentance.  "John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, 'you brood of vipers!  Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance'" (Luke 3:7-8)  John would not baptize this crowd until he saw "fruit in keeping with repentance".  In other words, he needed to see more than a change of mind concerning sin.  He needed to see these people turn away from their sin.  John needed to see visible evidence of genuine repentance, and so should we.      


Biblical repentance is the process by which one acknowledge his sin, changes his mind about his sin, and then, turns away from his sin.  If there is no visible evidence that one has actually turned away from his sin, like John the Baptist, we can question the validity of his repentance.


There are three things man is responsible for during the process of salvation, all of which needs God's divine assistance.  We need to repent, believe, and receive.  We repent of our sin.  We believe, or, give our lives to Jesus in faith, and, we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives.  There is no salvation apart from any one of these three.  Repentance is the first step in the process of salvation. That's why I call it "the umbilical cord that provides the necessities of new birth".  If you attempt to make salvation easier for people by downplaying or ignoring repentance they will not be saved.  If you tell people that they can simply believe and be saved, without repenting, you're deceiving them into thinking they're saved when they're not.  This is a serious matter.   


Our present day Biblically illiterate Christian world that has little or no knowledge of Biblical truth does not sit well with the Lord.  If the truth were known, and here's the truth to know, God says such "lack of knowledge destroys His people".(Hosea  4:6 )  Once knowing how God thinks on this issue, I'm sure you will conclude as I do; knowing the meaning to Biblical repentance is not optional.  It's the umbilical cord that provides the necessities of new birth.  



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