The following is an excerpt from a recent sermon I preached on Acts 2:37-41. The prose has been slightly edited for ease of reading, but I’ve tried to retain the sermonic, spoken feel as much as possible.

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More often than not when I find people who know of Christ and are not interested in Christ, it’s simply because they do not want to change. They are not interested in someone telling them who to be or how to think or how to live, even if that someone is God.

Repentance is the stumbling block for so many. It is one thing to say, “believe in Jesus.” And in fact, many churches, I think, produce many false Christians and false conversions because all they say to people is “believe in Jesus.” They never say “repent.” And the two must always go together.

What you have so often from the pulpit or in Christian books or on radio is a message that says, “Come to Jesus and he’ll give you a better marriage.” “Come to Jesus, he’ll give you purpose in your life.” “Come to Jesus, he’ll help you with your unruly children.” Or in some contexts, “Come to Jesus and you’ll get rich. You’ll have success.” In the best cases, you’ll hear, “Come to Jesus, he’ll forgive your sins.” That’s true–wonderfully true. But we have not given the whole gospel call unless we are adjoining to that message and that invitation and that call to Christ, also a call to die and to repent.

It is very easy to get people excited about Christianity: “Here’s what Jesus will do! Here’s what he’ll do! Here’s what he’ll do!” And he will do many amazing things for us. But we need to turn to him. And that means repentance— a change of mind and a turn of direction. We must renounce ourselves and bid farewell to the world.

In repentance there is confession of sin, there is contrition for sin, and there is consecration to a new way of life.

The importance of repentance cannot be overestimated for true biblical religion. There is no gospel, there is no heaven, and there is no Christianity without the call to repent.

You can listen to the entire sermon and watch the whole thing here.

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10 thoughts on “The Importance of Repentance”

  1. donsands says:

    It’s a subtleness in the Church culture of our day that we need not repent. I wish more Christians would hear what you say here in this sermon. To repent is very natural for a heart that loves Christ. It may still feel awkward and even unpleasant, but the reward for one’s soul is joy and peace when we truly repent. And the repentance is an every day portion of my life. And yet at the same time “my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the Cross.”
    Knowing Christ has taken all my guilt once and for all doesn’t make me not want to repent, but makes me love Him and seek Him for His Spirit to help me repent.

    Thanks for the essential truth.

    I heard a popular “Christain” song by ‘Tenth Ave. North’, “You Are More”. It’s a well done song, but the message is lacking repentance.
    Another one: “By Your Side”, even has Jesus saying: “Please don’t fight these hands that are holding you.” Another well done song, but with a subtle message of love without the Cross, and a croos for us.

  2. Kevin Jandt says:

    This is the gospel. Unfortunately very few “churches” or institutions that call themselves churches are faithful to the call. Praise God for your message.

  3. LoisW says:

    Thank you for this. I cannot say “Amen!” loudly enough! But why is the repentance not preached? Because the preacher would have to talk about our sinfulness and God’s sure, righteous and eternal judgment. There is a theological climate today that prefers to talk about the great new creation rather than the wrath of God. I find a focus on physical resurrection, rather than being made spiritually alive because I am now reconciled to God. The gaze is on the here and now, not on eternity. In the Word of God, I find a relentless emphasis on the world to come–a resurrection to life or a resurrection to judgment. Only with this understanding can we begin to comprehend what the suffering of the Son was, and what it accomplished for us. How great our deliverance–when we repent.

  4. Scott Walker says:

    Amen,Amen,Amen! Message for the day! Churches are filled with false converts of which I once was.

  5. Bill says:

    There are a couple summary statements by Paul in Acts that give insight into his ministry and how he viewed repentance:
    Acts 20:21, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
    Acts 26:20: “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”
    The adage “the proof is in the pudding (deeds)” comes to mind right now!

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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