“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,
“return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
and rend your hearts and not your garments.”
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster. – Joel 2:12-13 (ESV)
James Montgomery Boice writes:
Joel uses the word “return” but the meaning is the same as “convert.” Convert is from the Latin words con, meaning “around,” and verto, vertere, meaning “to turn.” It means “to turn around.” Return means “to turn again.” In both cases there was a right relationship to God (in Adam before the Fall), but the person has turned away from God and now needs to turn back.
This is the essential meaning of repentance too. [The Latin word for repentance] refers to a change of mind, a change so basic that the direction of one’s life is altered. In a Sunday school class one day a little boy said that repentance was being sorry for your sins. But a little girl added that it was being sorry enough to quit. She was right. Repentance is essentially an about face. [Donald Grey Barnhouse] writes, “A group of men are facing south, and the officer gives the command. There is an immediate pivoting and the group comes to its new position facing north.” He concludes, “You, today, are facing yourself, and your hope and confidence lie in your character and your good works. Behind you is the Lord Jesus Christ, despised and rejected by you. If you hear God’s command to repent – if you are drawn by the sweet wooing of the riches of His grace – there will be an ‘about face’ that will change the direction of your walk forever. Now you will know values in their true light. You shall put all your hope and confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in Him alone.”
MEMORY WORK – Shorter Catechism Q/A 90
Q. 90. How is the word to be read and heard, that it may become effectual to salvation?
A. That the word may become effectual to salvation, we must attend thereunto with diligence, preparation and prayer; receive it with faith and love, lay it up in our hearts, and practice it in our lives.