Mark 1:14, 15; Acts 2:37, 38; Acts 20:20, 21
… it is necessary first to repent before you can speak in terms of believing in the Lord Jesus. The act of repentance does not include believing in Jesus, but believing in Jesus will certainly include repentance. How can a person who does not confess his sin, and turn from his sin, still believe in Jesus? What kind of a person would be prepared to continue living in sin and to die in sin and yet call himself the disciple of Jesus? When we preach the Gospel we must certainly preach the Gospel of Jesus having died for sinners, but we need first to make people aware of their sin and of the painful consequences of sin. We must call upon people to repent toward God. When they are aroused by the realisation of their sin, and when on account of their sin they reprove themselves and hate themselves and are ashamed of themselves and humble themselves, then we can go on and introduce them to the Savior and to the way of salvation that God has provided for them. When they repent before God, and confess and forsake their sin, and when with the eye of faith they look away to Jesus, they will then be forgiven and saved. In the light of this we can say that all who truly believe in Jesus will have first experienced the act of repenting toward God. In other words, they are all people who have confessed and forsaken their sin. We note then that not only are repenting and believing closely related to each other but that the act of repenting is prior to the act of believing.
One of the deplorable tendencies today is for many preachers to preach the doctrine erroneously. All that they preach is the doctrine of believing in the Lord and being saved, but they do not preach the doctrine of repentance. They have not awakened people to a sense of their sin, let alone led them to confess it and forsake it. Although these preachers preach about Jesus having died for sinners, their listeners have not yet become conscious of their own sin — and even less have they confessed their sin before God and repented of it — so naturally they are not in position to put their trust in Jesus. So if you are concerned with people of this kind who indicated that they wish to believe in Jesus and who would like to join the church, please consider what kind of Christians they are! The best among them are those who adire what they have seen in Jesus of the “Spirit of sacrificing one’s life to preserve one’s integrity” … or who look up to the moral character of Jesus and His great personality. We neet not talk about those who have lower aims than this.
I add a warning. I urgently call on those who regard themselves as Christians to look at themselves carefully and to ask themselves before God whether they have sincerely repented and believed. If your life is dominated by sin; if your thoughts, words, and deeds are still full of unbelief, unrighteousness, deceit, lying, covetousness, envy, hatred, pride, selfishness and violence, and so on, and if you are still not ashamed of these things, then I tell you, you have certainly not yet repented and believed in the Lord. Not only so, but since you constantly hear the truth and you know that these sins are what God hates, yet you still call yourself a believer, then your sins are even greater than those of others differently placed. You will certainly receive the greater punishment. Yet if today you awaken to a sense of your own sin and repent before God, if you acknowledge and forsake your sin, if you seek God’s compassion and salvation and put your trust in the Lord Jesus,it will not be too late. But if you harden your heart, having the name of a Christian but not being a Christian in reality, then sooner or later you will bitterly regret having deceived yourself and having brought about you own destruction. It grieved me to see such a possibility, so I cry unto you earnestly, warning you of your danger and hoping against hope that you will awaken. Are you prepared to receive my warning?
Adopted by B. Andrew Song from Wang Ming-Dao, “Repenting and Believing,” from Spiritual Food, trans. by Arthur Reynolds (Southampton, Hants.: Mayflower Christian Books, 1983), pg. 23, 25-26