LANGUAGES of apology, of which there are five – 1. Expressing regret; 2. Accepting responsibility; 3. Making restitution; 4. Genuinely repenting; and, 5. Requesting forgiveness – we have learned there is a process, which is the complete apology.
Now, we may well ask, “Where does apology fit within the gospel context?”
As we look into our theology of salvation – the basis of the gospel, for the gospel is the “good news” regarding the proclamation of God saving us through his Son – we have to note something peculiar and fascinating.
Of the five languages, the genuine salvation experience features four we must do.
There is one mode of these languages that God has done for us; one mode we cannot do, for Jesus has done it.
We could not make things right with God. It took the sinless, holy Jesus to do that.
Restitution means “the return of something lost or stolen so that the original situation is restored. This central theme of the Old Testament law is supremely fulfilled through Jesus Christ making restitution for Adam’s sin, thus restoring fellowship with God and hope of eternal life.” 
Jesus made restitution for our sin. He did what we cannot and could not do.
But we must speak all the other languages in our confession of faith.
We must express regret for having lived how we have lived; for having disappointed God by many of our life choices. We must be able to say to God, “I am sorry.”
We must accept responsibility that we have departed from the Divine Path. We must be able to say before God, “Lord, I was wrong.”
We must genuinely repent, which means, when we accept Christ as our Lord, that he truly becomes Lord over our hearts, minds, and lives. We must say for the rest of our lives, “Jesus, I’ll seriously try never to live like that again. I will rely on your strength, not mine.”
We must finally seek forgiveness. Proclaiming from within us, vocally, to the outside world, “I’m sorry, I was wrong, I’m turning back to you...” is, of a point, incomplete without us seeking forgiveness.
Seeking forgiveness requires the most contrite mood of bowing before God, seeking his grace and mercy, never expecting it. But God has already forgiven us, so, with a contrite heart, we receive his forgiveness. “Lord, I need your forgiveness; I therefore seek it.”
God has already made a way for us to come to back him, through Jesus. What we are required to do is express regret and accept responsibility for the old life, repent of it, and request God’s forgiveness, which has already been given.
© 2013 S. J. Wickham.