In Luke 24:47, we read, “in His name repentance and forgiveness of sins will be proclaimed to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.….”
In Acts 20:21, we read, “I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.”
Here in Luke 24:47 and Acts 20:21, the Bible shows us how to witness for Christ. We are to tell everyone, both Jew and Gentile, to repent and have faith in Jesus.
What does it mean to repent?
Repentance means to change the way you live your life because your current lifestyle is offensive to God. How do we change? First of all, we need to know what is offensive to God. The Bible says, in 1. John 3, sin is lawlessness. So when you do break Moses’s law, you have done something you need to repent of. To repent of breaking the law of Moses, you decide to follow the law instead of disobeying the law. According to Luke 24:47 and Acts 20:21, choosing to obey the law guarantees forgiveness.
Then Paul says, in Acts 20:21, “and have faith in Lord Jesus Christ”. So having faith in Jesus is secondary, not first, according to Paul. First, we need to repent so we can be forgiven, then we need to believe in Christ. Why repentance first and then faith secondary? Because Christ is our sacrifice for our past sins, the sins we did before Yehovah forgave us on account of our repentance. So first, we are forgiven, then we sacrifice for our past sins.
Now that you know how to witness for Christ, you can go out into the world and tell everyone to repent from lawlessness to law and tell them to believe in Jesus.
Is this what you have the church has told you? Chances are the church has told you to have faith in Christ for your salvation and not bother with the law of Moses because the law was “done away with” at the cross.
Paul wrote Acts 20:21 after the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. In Acts 20:21, Paul does not say “have faith in Christ”; he does not say ” repent/turn to Jesus.” Instead, he says, “repent/turn to Yehovah and then have faith in Christ.”
Who is Yehovah?
Yehovah is the God of the Old Testament, the Father of Jesus, the one who gave us the law of Moses. There is only one way to repent/turn to Yehovah, 2.Chronicles 7, and Exodus 19 says we repent/turn to Yehovah when we decide to obey His law, the law of Moses.
So what Paul and Jesus are saying here is that Yehovah can only forgive us if we decide to stop breaking the law of Moses. Your obedience to the law is what forgives you, according to the Bible. But the law can not atone for your past sins, and the law demands a sacrifice for all the times you decided to break the law in the past. This is why you need to have faith in Jesus, to atone for your sins, and this is also why the cross is a one-time offer. (Hebr 10)
So you can’t have one without the other; you can’t have the law of Moses without the cross or the cross without the law of Moses.
There is a good possibility this is not what you have been taught in church. Perhaps they told you repentance was to believe in what Jesus did for you? Or maybe they told you only to believe? If you believe, but you have not repented back to the law of Moses, you are not forgiven by God, and your faith in the cross is dead and unable to save you. (James 2).
So choose to repent today so your sins can be forgiven. Decide to start obeying the law of Moses and sacrifice for your past sins by faith in the cross. Tell others about their need to repent and believe; then you will be able to rescue souls from hearing “depart from Me, for I never knew you, your workers of lawlessness”. (Matt 7:21-23)