Question 75 & 76

When people hear the good news about Jesus, they must act on it in some way. They will either accept it. Or they will refuse it.

 

But what do I need to do to accept the good news about Jesus? What must I do to be rescued from the results of my sin?

 

The Bible* uses two words to answer that question.

 

I must repent. And I must believe.

 

Sometimes, the words repent and believe are used together in the Bible. When Jesus told people about his kingdom*, he told them that they must ‘repent and believe the good news’[1] to be a part of it. Paul* reminded a group of church* leaders that his message was always the same. ‘Repent of your sin and turn to God. And believe on the Lord Jesus.’[2]

 

Sometimes, the words repent and believe are found by themselves. When Peter* or John the Baptist* or Paul wanted people to come to Jesus, they told people to repent.[3] Jesus even said that if they did not repent, they would die[4]. But he did not mention the word believe. At other times, both Jesus and Paul told people that they needed to believe to be right with God[5]. And they did not mention the word repent.

 

So how do those two words fit together?

 

The more you read the Bible, the more you understand how the Bible uses these words. Although the terms are sometimes used alone, repent and believe always belong together. They are two parts of the same thing. Just as a coin has two sides, there are two sides to how people must reply to the good news about Jesus. A person can not truly believe and not repent. Nor can a person truly repent and not believe.

 

Think of it this way.

 

Imagine that you are walking to a village. You start down a path that you think will take you there. But after you have gone a long way, you see a sign. The sign says that the way you are going is not the way to the village. You were going away from it.

 

What would you do?

 

First, you would decide if you believe that what the sign says is true. And if you believe the sign, you will stop. You will turn and go the other way. When you believed, it meant you would also change your direction.

 

That is what it means to repent and believe. When you come to hear the good news about Jesus and believe that it is true, you turn away from your old way to go a new way. You will change.

 

You must first change your mind about who Jesus is. Before you heard the story of Jesus, maybe you did not know about him at all. Or maybe you believed that he was only a wise man. Or maybe you thought he was only a man in a story that someone made up. But now you come to understand that Jesus is God. You understand that he came as a man to live among us. And that Jesus will forgive* you and rescue you if you go to him.

 

When you change how you think about Jesus, that leads to other changes. Before you came to believe in Jesus, you may have done bad things. And when you did these things, you did not care. You did not feel bad about doing them. But now you see that God hates sin. Now you know that God is not pleased when you do those things. So, you feel regret when you act badly. You have changed your mind about sin.

 

The prophets* in the Old Testament*often called on the people to repent. Many times, the people turned away from the true God to worship* false gods. They followed the false gods of the nations about them. When they did this, the prophets called them to turn away from the false gods and turn back to God. It is always that way.

 

The word ‘repent’ means a change of mind. But it goes far beyond that. When you repent, you see sin for what it is. You see Jesus for who he is. And you turn away from one to turn to follow the other. You cannot turn to Jesus without turning away from sin.


[1] Mark 1:14-15
[2] Acts 20:21
[3] Matthew 3:1-12; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30
[4] Luke 13:1-5
[5] Acts 16:31