Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

The Thin Blue Life

Working as a Believer

Police Officers Understand the Importance of an “About Face”

Police Officers Understand the Importance of an About Face
Image Credit: Brett Sayles from Pexels

On an almost daily basis, I share Jesus’ first recorded words of His earthly ministry: “…repent and believe…”. With the understanding that these two words in the New Testament Greek are literally two sides of the same coin, what is their relationship to genuine salvation? What is the biblical meaning of doing a “180 for Christ”? Well, this message will give you a solid, wholly biblical answer (God’s answer a revealed to us in His Word, the Bible).

This is not the first time I’ve shared my thoughts on this subject, but God seems to be using recent events — including recent line of duty deaths and all the mess we’re experiencing as a nation — to press me into doing so again (but always fresh).

Right off, let’s understand that repentance is not a mere “suggestion” or “optional”. This word is part of Jesus’ very first recorded sentence in His human ministry (“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” — Mark 1:15). Moreover, the call to repent is in fact virtually synonymous (same Greek root) with saving faith incorporated in Jesus’ emphatic, “You must be born again” (John 3:7, but John 3:1-21 in context) exhortation. So, what then does it mean to “repent and believe” in Christ alone for our salvation? And is repentance necessary for salvation? What God is pressing me to do here is show you that biblical repentance is a “180” — a description of the inner change that gives rise to life-changing, God-centered, Christ-exalting behavior (the “evidence” of genuine salvation). Here then are some passages of Scripture to help make the meaning of repentance more plain:

“From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’” (Matthew 4:17)

“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32)

“The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (Matthew 12:41)

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

The Lord desires “…that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

But, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3, 5)

Again, Jesus’ first words in His earthly ministry include “repent and believe” — literally a call for radical, transforming and lasting change and faith “in Christ”. Let’s break it down a little further with these 2 foundational points:

  • First, the meaning of the Greek word behind the English “repent” (metanoeo) contain 2 parts: meta and noeo . The second part (noeo) refers to the mind and its thoughts, perceptions, dispositions and purposes. The first part (meta) is a prefix that means movement or change. So, the basic meaning of repent is to experience a radical change of mind in terms of our perceptions, dispositions and purposes.
  • The second factor that points to this meaning of repent is the way Jesus, in Luke 3:8, describes the relationship between repentance and new behavior. He says, “Bear fruits in keeping with repentance.” Our Lord then gives us examples of the fruits: “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise” (Luke 3:11). Now understand that repentance is not just new deeds or even “good” deeds, but rather the inward change that bears the fruit of those deeds. In short, Jesus is demanding that we allow the Holy Spirit to make this inward, transforming (a “180”) change in us.

And why this call to repentance? Because we are ALL sinners! Jesus exclaimed, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). What was Jesus’ (God’s) view of sin? In the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus describes the son’s sin like this: “He squandered his property in reckless living…and devoured it with prostitutes” (Luke 15:13, 30). But when the prodigal repents, he says, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” Therefore, throwing your life away on reckless living, sex outside of marriage and sin in general is not just humanly hurtful but is more importantly a capital offense against God Himself. In short (and using language we cops can easily understand), this essential nature of sin is a felonious assault on God!

We see this another way in the way Jesus taught his disciples to pray: “Forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4). In other words, the sins that God forgives are compared to the ones people commit against us in the form of debts — a sin debt that Jesus would go on to pay Himself for us on the cross (“The Son of man came…to give his life a ransom for many” — Mark 10:45). Yet for us to enjoy the gift of having our debts paid in full, Jesus calls us to repent.

So, putting all this together, we see that to repent is to experience a radical change of mind (a 180) with a corresponding change in action towards God.

Now also understand also that no one , no matter how “good” they think they are or how heroic their service, is excluded from Jesus’ command to repent (as I am oft to point out, we who serve in law enforcement can’t “badge” our way into heaven or out of hell). He made this clear when a group of people came to him with news of two major disasters. Innocent people had been killed by Pilate’s massacre and by the fall of the tower of Siloam (Luke 13:1-4). Jesus took the occasion to warn even the bearers of the news: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish ” (Luke 13:5). In other words, don’t think major trials and tribulations (like being killed or horribly wounded in the line of duty (LOD), dying when the towers fell on 9/11, etc.) means that only certain people are sinners in need of repentance while others are not. No, we ALL need repentance in the same way that we must ALL be born again (Jesus used the word “MUST” — not “may” or “should”) in order to be saved (again, no “other” way — John 3:1-21, 14:6).

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.
No one , no matter how 'good' they think they are or how heroic their service, is excluded from Jesus' command to repent Click To Tweet

When Jesus said, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32), he did not mean that some persons are good enough not to need repentance. Rather, he meant some just think they are (Luke 18:9), and others have already repented and have been set right with God. For example, the rich young ruler desired “to justify himself” (Luke 10:29) while “the tax collector…beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ and went down to his house justified [by God!]” (Luke 18:13-14).

Folks, NONE are excluded: we ALL need repentance. And the need is “Code 3” (lights and siren) urgent. Jesus said, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” What did He mean by perish? He meant that the final judgment of God would fall on those who don’t repent and come to a genuine saving faith in Him alone. “The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:41). Jesus, like a good cop (the ultimate Cop), is warning of the judgment to come, and offering escape if we will repent and believe (complete surrender in faith) in Him alone (no “other” way) for our salvation. And for those that won’t, He gives us a most emphatic warning: “Woe, to you” (Matthew 11:21).

Praise God, the Gospel — the “Good News” — is that God has arrived in Jesus to call sinners to repentance and salvation before His second coming in judgment. Accordingly, His command to repent is based on the gracious, loving offer to forgive, and the equally gracious warning that those who refuse His loving offer will perish in God’s righteous judgment (ultimately, eternity in hell).

With repentance explained, what then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts places a very specific, “front sight focus” (a firearms reference my fellow officers understand) on repentance in regard to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ and surrender to Him in faith (what it means to make Christ your Lord and not just your Savior). In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to as saving faith in Him as both Lord and Savior.

Clearly, repentance and belief (saving faith) can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done for us. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to saving faith in Christ. And NO, we are not saved by a work of repentance (Ephesians 2:8-9) but if one is truly saved, they will by necessity repent.

So, now that you’ve read this, where are YOU at today? Do you truly know Christ as Lord and Savior? Are you sure? Friend, you can be.

Advertisement. Scroll to continue reading.

Michael "MC" Williams is a 35-year law enforcement veteran who recently retired at the rank of Detective/Criminal Investigator. MC continues to write, train and present to law enforcement professionals and others around the country. He's the founder and director of the Centurion Law Enforcement Ministry (

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You May Also Like

Investigating Christianity

Police officers are often the bearers of “bad news”. It’s part of our job. “You’re under arrest,” “You husband was killed in a robbery,”...

Working as a Believer

I occasionally present a talk on the nature of truth, and as part of this presentation, I discuss the existence of objective moral truth...

Working as a Believer

At a time when the world is still divided by war and conflict, Christians have a duty and responsibility to examine our position related...

Working as a Believer

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has...