How often do you think a person must repent to be in a right relationship with God?
A) Only once, when the person believes in Christ for salvation.
B) During special church services when others are also “rededicating” their lives to God.
C) Daily, in order to keep a clean slate before God.
D) At salvation and anytime thereafter that God convicts the person of sin.
Repentance in Romania
The role of repentance can be seen in every revival movement in history. One such revival happened in Romania in the 1970s. Christians there were once ridiculed as “Repenters” by their fellow countrymen, based on the emphasis
given to repentance as being essential to conversion. There was a church in the town of Oradea which had been languishing for a long time. Then God called a godly pastor to the area who was deeply committed to prayer. He began to preach on the theme “The Repenters Must Repent!”
God began to move in their hearts, and the Christians entered into a “covenant of repentance.” They agreed to abstain from alcohol in any form and from lying to employers. (Both were common practices and were the issues in which God’s conviction was most intense.) These Romanian believers became serious about forsaking the lifestyle that was common to the unbelievers around them.
The region was soon ablaze in revival and spiritual awakening. Many became believers and were baptized. A Bible college was established and became the largest producer of national church leaders in Eastern Europe. Several years later, when the Communist regime collapsed, those who were forming the new government sought the counsel of the church leaders in Oradea. The influence of the “Repenters” was felt throughout that portion of the world.
The Requirement of Repentance
Like our Romanian brothers and sisters, every child of God who is seeking after Him with a whole heart must realize that repentance is not an option but a requirement. God says, “Return to Me, and I will return to you” (Malachi 3:7 NASB). The act of returning to the Lord—forsaking known sin and obeying what He says—is repentance. This is a crucial step for all who are seeking God for revival.
Calls to repent abound throughout the Bible. In the Old Testament, the nations of Israel and Judah repeatedly strayed from the Lord, and each time, God sent messengers to plead with His people to return to Him.
An attitude of repentance is crucial in our initial coming to Christ for salvation. The New Testament apostles called both Jews and Greeks to respond in “repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). To become a Christian, a person must repent—turn away from—an old way of life and turn to Christ for forgiveness and salvation.
Yet repentance does not end there. This same attitude is also needed in our ongoing relationship with God. Christians will still be tempted to sin even though they have been given a new nature. They will sometimes yield to temptation and choose to sin. However, the inclination of those in God’s family will be to humbly confess and forsake sin whenever they are confronted with it in their lives.
At one point in his ministry, the apostle Paul was forced to send a strong disciplinary letter to the church in Corinth, to address a particular issue that needed to be corrected. In the book of 2 Corinthians, he commends the Christians there for responding to his earlier rebuke with godly sorrow and true repentance.
I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter.
(2 Corinthians 7:9–11 ESV)
From the point of regeneration until the day we are finally free from the presence of sin, our heart attitude must always be: “Lord, I am willing to forsake any sin that You show me, in order to have a pure heart and glorify You.” In other words, once a repenter, always a repenter.
Prayer for today: LORD, You are gracious and compassionate, yet I often find my heart wandering from You. Please, don’t allow me to continue in sin. Confront me quickly through Your Holy Spirit and Your Word. Soften my heart that I may repent and return to You with everything I am. Let me know the joy of walking closely with You. In Jesus’ name, amen.