Maybe you’ve reflected on your faith before. You remember at a certain time in your life you turned to God from sin to serve the living and true God. These twin themes that intertwine the Scripture, repentance and faith, truly became yours. Ever since then you’ve considered yourself a person “of faith.” Now, when you read passages in the Bible that talk about repentance and faith, you remember fondly of your conversion and hope for others to experience the same. When Jesus calls out, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28), you think of your non-believing friend who needs to hear these words. This kind of thinking is right, nostalgic and perfectly flawed.
Scripture is God’s revelation to humanity no matter what side of the cross one is on. When God calls out for us to believe and repent, he expects us too! Just because we are now believers, we have no excuse to forgo seeing this passages as “for us.” Our entire life should be marked by trust and repentance. These are not one time acts that ‘get us into heaven’ but are a sustained characteristic that we manifest. We are called to a life of faith and confession.
FAITH AND REPENTANCE ARE A LIFESTYLE
Let’s take faith as illustration. We can at one time believe in Jesus and yet stop believing, and so fall away. So when the people “believed in his name [Jesus’]” in John 2:23, John tells us, “But Jesus, on his part did not entrust himself to them” (John 2:24). This is because Jesus knew that human faith was fickle and without divine aid will fail (cf. John 2:25). This wordplay between the people “trusting/believing” in Jesus and him not “entrusting” himself to them is significant for our point. Just because we begin to believe means nothing unless we continue to believe.
The warning in the book of Hebrews encourages us to continue in faith. For example, after particularly jarring exhortation to continue in faith (Heb 6:1–10), the author writes, “And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” Hence, the author here wants us earnestly persevere with full assurance, and that only through a life of faith (cf. Heb 11).
It stands to reason that a lifestyle of repentance is also characteristic of the believer. Christians are to confess their sins to God (1 John 1:9) and to others (James 5:16). In short, repentance and faith are not one stop affairs — they’re a lifestyle.
When you read Bible passages that exhort us to faithfulness and confession of sin, they are meant for you. More than that, if you are tempted to rest on your laurels, stop it now. Just because you believed and repented in the past gives you no excuse to stop now. These are not actions that we do once or twice, but faith and repentance characterize our lives. God calls us to a radical transformation in how we live, and we must not stop after we become believers. You there! Repent and Believe still more!