Answer: Many people do not understand what the word “repent” means in the Bible. It is often misdefined using today’s terminology: to ask forgiveness, to feel regret or sorrow, or to exhibit penitence.
This incorrect meaning fills the gospel message with confusing questions like, how can I know I have truly repented of all of my sins?
When “repent” is used in the Bible, it carries a different meaning than its modern definition. The term comes from the Greek word metanoia, which means “a one-time change of mind.” Biblical repentance is a decision, not a feeling. Although many people feel sorrow when they realize they are sinners in need of a Savior, the feeling is not what saves. We are saved when we decide to place our trust in Christ’s payment for our sins through His finished work on Calvary.
So yes, repentance is necessary for salvation — Biblical repentance, which means to “change your mind.” The person needs to change his mind from trusting in his works to save him to trusting in Jesus’ payment on the cross alone.
Article by Dr. James A. Scudder