I hardly ever hear Christians using the word "repent" anymore. In fact, I cannot remember the last time someone mentioned it. That is really a shame. Without repentance, a person cannot be saved. I can almost hear my few readers gasping at what must sound like heresy to you. How could I say such a thing when for over two years, I have insisted that saving faith is a gift from God, and therefore, genuine salvation cannot involve man's works. Before you remove me from your "bookmarks," please hear me out.
Luke 24:45-47 says, "Then (He opened) their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and (He) said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved 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 among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The context of these verses is the Lord's last instructions to His disciples before He ascended into heaven (v. 51). Notice two very important facts revealed in the text.
The first is that repentance and remission are two sides of the "Gospel coin." That is, both are to be preached. By comparing this passage with Christ's instructions to His disciples to preach the Gospel (Mk. 16:15), it is clear that Gospel includes both. Acts 5:31 says, "Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance...and forgiveness of sins. Just as faith is a gift from God, so is repentance.
The second is that repentance is not a form of works. The Greek word translated "repentance" is μετάνοια (metanoia), and most concordances define it as "a change of mind." A better definition would be, "to have one's mind changed." When a person is truly persuaded that his sin has been remitted, that is, paid for and thereby forgiven, his mind is changed. Jesus "opened their understanding" that He had died to pay for their sin. The result was "they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (v. 52).
I like to use an illustration of what occurs when salvation takes place. A man is walking down a path with his back toward God. At some point in his journey, he hears God's loving voice calling his name, and turning around, he begins walking toward Him. It is like Saul of Tarsus. He was on his way to destroy Christians, and when Jesus revealed Himself to him, his first reaction was to ask, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" (Acts 9:6). Saul's response to Jesus clearly reveals that Saul not only knew the truth about Him, but he had also accepted Him as his Lord.
Have you received the gifts of faith and repentance? The devil believes, but he certainly hasn't repented (Jam. 2:19). I feel it is safe to say that if your life has not been surrendered to the will of God (repentance), you may have "half of the Gospel," but you definitely are not saved. Turn to His Lordship today!