Q. When I accepted Jesus Christ I first believed that He is the Son of God who died for my sins and then repented (changed my mind) from how I viewed things around me and my destination. Now I’m now perplexed as to which one of these two verbs comes first. In Matt. 21: 32 it appears as if its repentance that comes before believing. Is that correct?
A. The Greek word translated repent means to change your mind. If you already hold a certain belief you have to change your mind about it (repent) before you can accept a different belief.
In Matt. 21:32 Jesus was talking to Pharisees who believed that keeping the Law was the way to righteousness. Before they could believe that Jesus was the way, they had to change their minds and realize they couldn’t achieve the righteousness God requires on their own. Jesus criticized them because although John the Baptist came to show them the way of righteousness, they did not change their minds and believe him.
Unbelievers normally think of themselves as good people who try to live a good life. In that way they’re like the Pharisees. Until they change their minds (repent) and recognize that they are sinners who are destined to die in their sins no matter how good a life they live, they will have no interest in becoming born again.
Therefore, changing your mind about being a sinner in need of a Savior was really the first step in your conversion. Believing that Jesus died to be your Savior came next.