Of all of the Bible’s forty or so writers, Luke is the only one who literally spells out the fact that repentance is connected with the application of forgiveness, or with the remission of sins. “Repentance,” or “to repent,” is from the Greek μετανοέω (metanoeō), meaning to change one's mind, i.e. to change one's mind for better, heartily to amend with abhorrence one's past sins. “Remission,” from the Greek ἄφεσις (aphesis), means the release from bondage or imprisonment; the forgiveness or pardon of sins (letting them go as if they had never been committed, as in expunging one’s record). ἄφεσις is actually translated “forgiveness” four times in the KJV (Acts 13:38; 28:18; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).
Luke’s first such connection says, “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:47). Jesus, in John 16:7-11, tells us that the Holy Spirit will bring conviction of one’s sin, of Christ’s righteousness, and of God’s certain judgment. When the Gospel is preached, the power of the message produces repentance in those who believe Jesus died for them, that is, He forgave or remitted their sins (Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Luke also uses the two together in Acts 20:21, but this time, he replaces the word “remission” with the word “faith.” One might suggest that since the two words are different, they do not teach the same truth. The verse says, “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” However, it is clear throughout the New Testament that one’s faith is in the finished work of Christ on one’s behalf; faith is in His remission of one’s sins. We do not simply have faith that Jesus existed; we have faith that His sacrifice paid for our sins (1 Cor. 15:3)! Jesus traded His righteousness to us for our sins, and for the last three hours He spent upon the cross, He became sin (Matt. 27:45-50; 2 Cor. 5:21). That was the only time between the eternities, Jesus experienced a total separation from the Father. It was that separation that caused Him to cry out, “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? (Matt. 27:46)! It was at that time, that Jesus, the Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:1-2), was totally like His creation, totally separated from God by sin!
Acts 5:31 says, “Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.” Notice that repentance is a gift! It is not a work that the individual does; it is the natural reaction to the gift of faith (Eph. 2:8)! Some might say, “Sure, He gave repentance to Israel, but what about the rest of us?” My answer to that challenge is, the same message was preached to both the Jews and the Gentiles (Acts 20:21), and in Acts 5:31, Peter is preaching to Israelites. If one doubts the message of Christ is to both Jews and Gentiles, one need only to look up the ninety-three times the word “whosoever” is used in the New Testament. Paul said, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). We call because we believe He paid for our sins, and we call because we want to be cleansed from them; we have repented!
Jesus is calling you; why not return His call?