God makes a universal call to all sinners.
Note: - "We can thank God that every twinge of conscience we feel, and every spasm of remorse that ever troubles this tragic world, is a token of life and a herald of hope." - James S. Stewart, The Strong Name, page 15.
We can be sure also of the constant theme of Jesus the Christ's preaching/ministry. How can we be sure? By reading the words from God's mouth to us. In Matthew 4:17 you may read this: "From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." And in Matthew 18:3 you may read: "Except you be converted, and become as little children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
In addition we can be sure that Jesus intended the gospel of repentance to be preached after His departure because in Luke 24:47 we may read: "Repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."
So we have repent and repentance. To define these, first let's stay in God's words to us. In Ezekiel 18:30 you may read: "Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions."
George Arthur Buttrick in, Prayer page 219, states that "The Greek work for 'repent' implies a rightabout-face. It looks on sin to deplore and confess, but then swings round sharply with resolute will to tread a new path. God does not wish us to remember what He is willing to forget."
Note: - "We can never remind ourselves often enough that the chief action in conversion is God's action upon us. When we are first converted, it is often because we are unhappy over the sins from which we ask to be released; and this is natural.
At some time in the process of Christian conversion--whether before it begins, or afterwards--we must come to appreciate something of the real meaning of Christian redemption.
The holiness of God, our estrangement from Him through sin, the cross as the sign of God's readiness to span the distance between Him and us--theses things may sound very old-fashioned to one who merely contemplates them; but they are the only explanation that fits the facts for one who has really discovered the exceeding sinfulness of sin's and been lifted from it by the power of Christ.
We come, through conversion, to a life that has been provided for us, not one which we created for ourselves. God's part in our conversion is always the primary part...Our part in conversion is self-surrender to God and His will
If this is not to be a fleeting emotion, if it is to get into the will and be a permanent possession, it must be filled with actual moral counter. We must surrender, not just in general, but specifically the sins of which we are conscious at the time.
The further renewal of our surrender must involve confessing and banishing the actual sins which have crept in since we made our first decision."--Samuel M Shoemaker "A Way of Renewal," Religion in Life, vol. 12, No. 4, pp. 485, 486.
So we can be sure that the turning from sin to God must be clear and uncompromising let's read what God has to say to us. In Matthew 6:24 you may read: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."
In Isaiah 55:7 you may read: "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." And in Joel 2:12,13 you may read: "Therefore also now, says the Lord, turn you even to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God."
But now what do we do? We need to rend our heart but our heart is full of sin and part of us does not even desire to turn to the Lord our God. Good News my friend! In Jeremiah 24:7 you may read: "I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart."
It is written, "Repent, ... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38
So we want to 'turn unto the Lord our God', to repent, what do we say to Him? Let's see what God has to say to us. In Hosea 14:1,2 you may read: "O Israel, return unto the Lord your God....Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say to Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips."
Note: - "Forgiveness never means the remission of penalty where God and man are concerned. Nobody ever escapes some result of his sins. Forgiveness doesn't mean penalty remitted. It means relationship restored." Leslie D. Weatherhead, In Quest of a Kingdom, pg 91.
So we repent and turn unto the Lord with all our heart, our iniquity is taken away, we are abundantly pardoned and have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Now what? Let's read what God has to say to us. In Matthew 3:8 you may read: "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance."
Note: - "The word 'conversion' implies the transformation of the old man. New birth means salvation, deliverance from sin and its consequences. Thereupon genuine repentance manifests itself in a sincere determination to forsake sin and obey God, as conviction of sin is accompanied by sorrow for sin, hatred and renunciation of evil ways.
With confession of sin and a desire for forgiveness there comes into the penitent's heart an eager willingness to yield without striving, a submission to God coupled with a resolve to make restitution.
Thus is a great change worked in the
heart of the penitent sinner. He now receives from the Holy Spirit a new
power to do what is right in the sight of God." - Emile Cailliet, "
So, we now say with God and Paul:
"Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance."
2 Corinthians 7:9