A person after hearing the gospel, changes his mind. They change their mind from thinking a variety of possibilities. For example, many think that they are a ‘good person’. Some think their baptism will save them. Others may think confessing their sins will get them there or promising to turn from sin. Still others may think that a church affiliation will provide them entrance into God’s presence. Some participate in communion believing that certain graces are afforded the one taking the bread and cup. And many think that if their good outweighs their bad they will be accepted by God. The Jewish community of Jesus’s day thought they were ok with God simply because they were Jewish and followed the law, or so they thought.
Whatever one thinks he or she must do to receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life is just simply human effort, even promising to stop doing certain sins. And no human merit or works can justify (meaning to declare righteous) a person before the Lord God who is perfect and holy. Romans 4:4; Galatians 3:16
Biblical repentance unto salvation starts with a change of mind about the ‘good works’ that I am trying to do to earn my way and admit that I am a condemned sinner. If one is attempting to be saved by good works or religious duties, then one must repent, change one’s mind, realizing that those things cannot save or earn favor with God.
Interestingly the gospel of John was written for the purpose of bringing people to salvation through faith in Christ. Jesus did many signs, “but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31 Yet the word ‘repent’ is not used one time in the entire gospel of John. The reason I believe it is not there is that when one believes in Christ he has repented, changed his mind.
It is a change of mind from trusting in one self to trusting in God’s provision for my sin and separation from God, Jesus Christ. Jesus came as the God-Man, shed His blood on the cross, was buried, and rose the third day. When one changes his mind about his own goodness or works and trust solely in Christ and His work, he has repented and received everlasting life as a gift. “He who has the Son has life.” I John 5:11 The very moment you believe your sins are forgiven and you have been restored to a relationship with God.