A Little Understood Truth
Today, April 30, is America’s National Day of Repentance. Our National Day of Prayer is May 6. Most Christians have not heard of our National Day of Repentance. In order to participate at an effective level we need to better understand this important subject.
Biblical repentance is really a threefold process, defined by three New Testament Greek words. All are important and must be included in the process; and Holy Spirit must be involved in all of these phases. They are:
Metamellomai - sorrow, regret, remorse
Metanoia - a change of mind and heart; thinking differently; a new understanding; afterthought
Epistrepho - turn; convert; go a different direction
Sorrow, regret or remorse are part of the repentance process, but do not complete it. One can be sorry for his or her sins and not fully repent, in which case, there is no forgiveness and salvation. Judas was “sorry” he betrayed Jesus (Matthew 27:3); he did not, however, find true repentance. Being sorry for/convicted of one’s actions can, however, lead to repentance (2 Corinthians 7: 9-10), in which case it is an important part of the process. The sorrow is a result of Holy Spirit, through our conscience, revealing our sin to us. This is important but, alone, is not enough.
The second word, metanoia, is the word actually translated as repentance. It does not mean “turn and go in another direction,” as most Christians have been taught. It is, however, part of the process that creates the turning. The problem with this erroneous definition is that in oversimplifying it, part of what is necessary to the process is left out. Biblical repentance is not just of the mind; it is not simply changing the way one thinks in the brain. Biblical repentance is also a change of heart. To limit it to the mind or emotions removes the spiritual application, connection, and power.
The fact that it involves the heart means Holy Spirit has to be involved. He must bring conviction and recognition of sin, at the heart level (not just emotions), caused by what the Scriptures refer to as “lifting the veil” (2 Corinthians 4: 3-4). The biblical word for this lifting of the veil is “revelation”. (Greek: apokalupsis. Apo: “lift, remove, uncover;” kalupsis: “veil, covering, hidden”).
I don’t want to bore or overwhelm you with technical definitions and Greek words, but this understanding is crucial. Without this unveiling, repentance is only of the mind and emotions. And until this revelation from Holy Spirit is received at a heart level there is no spiritual power released to bring forgiveness and create transformation; only mental power.
The revelation Holy Spirit brings in the process also includes Christ’s solution: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. This, too, is seen by revelation. Second Corinthians 4:4 says the god of this world blinds the unbelieving to “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” The lifting of the veil is needed, not only so we can see our own condition, but see God’s provision.
Charles Finney, the great evangelist of the second great awakening, would sometimes preach in a location for 1-2 weeks before he would give his first altar call. In his meetings, he was known to have had grown men run to the altar weeping, and him tell them, “Please sir, go back to your seat, you are not ready yet.”
Astounding! Yet, Finney knew that until the remorse or sorrow for sin was deep enough, until revelation of their need had reached the heart level, and until revelation of God’s provision had produced true faith, there would not be sufficient power to transform. In his meetings, which saw hundreds of thousands of people saved, Finney had a 97% rate of true conversion - in other words, of those who became active, long term, followers of Christ. In our evangelism today, with its weak and watered down message, our rate of true conversion is around 5%. For every 100 people who pray the sinner’s prayer, only 5 of them become true believers!
The third part of the repentance process is the turning (epistrepho). When the first two aspects are fully accomplished, we can “turn” - from our hearts. There is now power, resulting from Holy Spirit’s revelation, to walk out the decision. And this change of mind and heart will now result in different actions. The faith and commitment professed will no longer be “without works” (James 2:26).
I am giving this teaching so we can pray for unbelievers and for our nation with true understanding. We must ask God to convict of sin; to reveal the depth of our depravity, our need, our deception. We must ask for the blindness to be removed from the heart - for the veil to lift - bringing true revelation.
Why can’t many unbelievers, and even some Christians, understand the heinous nature of abortion...of killing babies in the womb and even selling their body parts? Why do fathers abandon their children? Why do people rape, murder, steal? Why is there such violence in our nation? Because a veil covers their hearts, causing them to not see clearly. We must ask for this veil to be lifted, praying for the breaking of their hearts over sin and it’s devastation.
Then, we must ask for the spirit of revelation to be released over America. A rending of the heavens, a lifting of the veil at a national level, the very atmosphere charged with Holy Spirit power and influence. This produces revival! America must see her need . . .and God’s provision. Then the turning will come.
And it WILL come!
Pray with me:
Father, thank You for raising up this nation to be a light, a city on a hill, trumpeting the gospel of the kingdom to the ends of the earth. Though we have strayed from our purpose and destiny, You have not. You intend to resurrect it, and allow us to participate in the great billion soul harvest.
As we pray for America today, we focus on repentance. We ask You to reveal to us our great need for You. We ask that You break our hearts over our sin and rebellion, for the babies, sex trafficking, for those confused about their identities. Break our hearts over our self-sufficiency, even the pride, arrogance, and rebellion toward You. Break our hearts in the church over our lukewarm condition and compromise.
And Father, we ask You to send an explosive revelation into our nation regarding Jesus. Reveal Your love and grace that was demonstrated at the Cross, and the power released in the resurrection of Christ. Bring revelation of Your great redemption, Your healing power, and Your unconditional love for humanity.
And Father, we ask You for the great turning - turning to You; turning from our way to Your way; turning from sin to righteousness; turning from death to life; turning from selfishness to selflessness and love. We know this is coming quickly and we thank You for it. You are good, kind, and faithful. We declare and ask for these things in Christ’s holy name, amen.
We declare that the spirit of revelation, bringing repentance, is coming to America.