Over the past months I have been reading and hearing more debating and teaching online about the nature of repentance; and whether it is necessary for a person to be truly saved. In considering this issue over the last several years, I find that most people have little understanding of what repentance is. This is why I posted my video blog back in April and why I am commenting on it again.
When repentance is spoken of in some way of it being necessity for salvation, it is usually and in error, deemed a one-time prayer or repeated verbal prayer when one is sorry for sin. When this is the case, it may line up with the limited religious mindset of the Jews, at and before the time of the Jesus, but it does not line up with the meaning of the word in either Hebrew or Greek; nor does it line up with what either john the Baptist or our Lord Jesus Christ taught.
For instance, perhaps the most extensive instruction on what repentance is and looks like comes from John the Baptist. In Luke chapter three…
Luke 3:7-14 (NKJV) Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.” So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
In the first place, the word repentance or metanoia in its original Greek, means a change of mind. This is the simplest definition, but as I teach in the video Greek scholars agree the word means a changed mind leading to a change in behavior, due to a abhorrence of ones sin.
John the Baptist uses the word in a phrase “bear fruits worthy of repentance” which means a changed mind leads to a change in behavior. The people the Baptist spoke to were in need of some clarity, so they asked John and He clearly explained what he meant. Repentant people change their behavior, in practical ways, as a preparatory act of receiving Christ by faith for salvation. This is John’s ministry as described prophetically in Isaiah 40:3-5.
In addition to this let us remember that the Lord Jesus Christ’s first message was a call to repentance (Matthew 4:14; Mark 1:14-15). Our Lord spoke of repentance in other places as well, such as Luke 13:1-5 and Luke 19:6-10 and as a primary point in His last message to the disciples.
Luke 24:46-49 (NKJV) “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things. Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.”
Even if all we had were the teaching of John and the Lord Jesus Christ, that would be sufficient, but the preaching of the early church leaders (Peter and Paul) used the call to repentance to lead people to Christ. Please read these passages…
Acts 26:14-18 (note the phrase to turn them in verse 18)
It is also vastly important to remember that II Peter 3:9-10, perhaps one of the more often quoted passages in the New Testament concerning God’s desire for man, used the word repentance metanoia rather than a word indicating N.T. salvation. Why?
Because true repentance is the hard work, we must do, to walk in saving faith, which is given by Christ Himself. This is not to save oneself, but to follow the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which in godly sorrow and fear of the Lord (and the wrath to come), working repentance, which leads to salvation. This is an uncomfortable truth of the scriptures, but so is being alive forever in a lake that burns with fire, that is called the second death.
Here is the issue and why I have reposted this blog, with the original video teaching and notes, because some declare that preaching repentance makes salvation more difficult than it need be. Many people, want to declare from Romans 10:9-10, that all that is necessary is to confess Jesus as Lord with your mouth and believe that God raised Him from the dead and were saved.
This is a true statement, presupposing the person has repented first and is walking in it still! Without true repentance there can be no salvation.
If one returns to God they must be the one who turns toward Him, emptying their hands and lives of that which kept them from grace. I find it interesting that the overwhelming Biblical evidence for both Old and New testaments is that repentance is essential, but some want to pronounce a person saved merely by what they say.
Is this not inherently the problem? How many are falsely converted, having not even a small desire to walk in holiness, yield to righteousness or leave behind desiring world, the flesh and the devil, and the things attached to them.
Perhaps we ought not to be looking to boost numbers of salvations and baptisms but be more interested in “teaching all things whatsoever I (Jesus) have commanded”. Perhaps we ought to become better at proclaiming the whole gospel, including what we are saved from (God’s wrath), that people would have a proper fear of God and desire to be saved.
Perhaps we ought to leave who is in and who is out of the kingdom of God (saved), to the Lord Jesus, who alone has the perfect knowledge to judge (Matthew 7:21-23); and let each man work out their own salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12).
Perhaps, rather than be concerned about how easy or difficult another’s ministry is, we all ought to fixated on the absolute excruciating and painful suffering of our Savior in His death on our behalf, that we may always understand the value of salvation and a changed life, in those who believe the Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
Below is a more comprehensive teaching I did back in April on repentance.
Click the link below for the PDF of the notes.