At this point, you may be thinking, but isn’t there a place for repentance when you have fallen short? I’ve been cautioned that grace preachers like you don’t teach repentance.
My dear friend, let me say this right from the start. I believe wholeheartedly in preaching repentance. Let me show you something beautiful about the word for repentance in the Hebrew language. The Hebrew alphabet is made up of twenty-two letters, from aleph to tav. And each Hebrew letter has a picture, numerical value, and meaning.
The Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah, which is made up of five Hebrew letters—tav, shin, vav, bet, and hei. The first letter, tav, has as its pictogram a cross. The last letter, hei, is the fifth letter in the Hebrew alphabet, and the number five in Bible numerics represents grace. Sandwiched between tav (cross) and hei (grace) are the letters shin, vav, and bet. These three letters form the word shuv, which means “to return.” Putting it all together, teshuvah or repentance means this: “Because of the cross of Jesus, return to grace”!
Isn’t it amazing that hidden in the Hebrew letters we just saw are God’s heart and explanation of what true repentance is? Repentance is all about returning to God’s grace because of His goodness demonstrated at the cross of Jesus. It is not about returning to the law of Moses. It is about turning to the cross and returning to His grace. His grace is your source of power and strength over every sin.
So if you have made a mistake, or you are struggling with a sinful habit today, repent by returning to the cross—seeing that mistake punished in the body of Jesus—and receiving God’s unmerited favor to overcome this area of weakness. This is how you practice true repentance when you have failed. Don’t run away from Him. Run to Him! He is your solution. He is your answer. He loves you and longs for you to return to His loving embrace!