Repentance is the first stage in the development of the church in a person. The communion known as a church is composed of as many people as have the church in them; and the church enters into a person when he is being regenerated. Everyone is regenerated by abstaining from sinful evils, and shunning them as anyone would on seeing the hordes of hell seeking with torches in their hands to attack him and to throw him upon a pyre. As a person advances into early manhood there are many ways in which he is prepared for the church and brought into it; but it is acts of repentance which really bring this about in him. By acts of repentance are meant all that prevent him from willing and so from doing the evil actions which are sins against God. For until this happens, he stands outside the process of regeneration. If at that time any thought about everlasting salvation occurs to him, he may incline towards it, but very soon he turns his back on it. It does not reach further into him than the ideas he is thinking about, though from these it may emerge as spoken words, possibly also as gestures in keeping with what he says. On the other hand, when it enters the will, it becomes a part of the person, for the will is the real person, because it is where his love resides. Thought lies outside him, unless it comes out of his will. If so, will and thought act as one and together make up the person. The consequence of this is that for repentance to be genuine and effective in a person, it must come from the will, and from thought coming from the will, not from thought alone. In other words, it must be expressed in action, not merely on the lips.
 The Word establishes plainly that repentance is the first stage in the development of the church. John the Baptist, who was sent beforehand to prepare people for the church the Lord was to found, preached repentance at the same time as he was baptising. His baptism was therefore called a baptism of repentance, because baptism means spiritual washing, or being cleansed from sins. He did this in the Jordan, because the Jordan meant being brought into the church, since it was the first boundary of the land of Canaan, which was where the church was. The Lord Himself too preached repentance for the forgiveness of sins. By this He taught that repentance is the first stage in the development of the church, and that to the extent that a person repents, his sins are distanced from him; and to the extent they are distanced, they are forgiven. Moreover, the Lord laid upon the twelve Apostles, as well as the seventy He sent out, the duty of preaching repentance. These facts clearly show that repentance is the first stage in the development of the church.