The basic meaning of repentance is “a change of mind.”
Repentance is what began to happen with Gentiles as the apostles moved out beyond Jerusalem and shared the gospel with non-Jews. God clearly wanted this. He even sent an angel to be the set-up person so that Peter could meet the Roman centurion Cornelius.
But when Peter shared the gospel with Cornelius, as well as a large group he had gathered in his house, another mini-Pentecost occurred. The Holy Spirit was poured out on them, and they began — just like on the original Pentecost — to speak in various languages.
At Peter’s command, they even got baptized afterwards!
There are times in life when a complete course correction is needed. The life we’re living might even be a pretty good life, as Cornelius’ life was. He was a successful, well-respected man. But he still sensed that he needed to change his mind when it came to God. He wanted to know the true God. And Peter was introducing him to Jesus as the only true Son of God, and the only pathway to the Father.
So when Cornelius heard the gospel from Peter, the gospel touched his heart. He was drawn to believe in Jesus as his Savior, and his faith and repentance was evident to those around him.
No one could object, because this was a cause for celebration!
And that’s still true today. When we see someone baptized at CrossWalk, when we watch a person come to faith in a Class System class, or in a growth group or our Resilience Ministry, it’s still a cause for celebration that God has granted them repentance that leads to life.
“When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, ‘So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.'” (Acts 11:18, NIV).
Lord, grant us the ability to see many celebrations at CrossWalk, celebrations that acknowledge your Spirit’s power at work through word and sacrament. Through our ministry, bring many people to the repentance that leads to life: true sorrow over our sins, and true faith in Jesus as our Savior and our Lord.