Repentance. It's amazing how one simple word can cause so much confusion and division in the "Christian" community. Why is this word so important? Because if one desires to be saved, they may be told they have to "repent" by certain people who misunderstand what the word actually means. Repentance plays a part in salvation, but what part? What does this oftentimes abused word mean?
Some say it is by simple faith in Jesus Christ that you are saved. Others say you must repent of your sins in addition to belief on Christ. For a time, I was confused, because if a person accepts Christ, but they continue to sin, then are they saved? We all have areas where we fail and struggle. None of us will ever be able to stop sinning. If, as some claim, repenting means turning our backs to sin, how can we ever truly repent? I looked at website after website, attempting to get to the bottom of this word. It seems that the word itself comes from a Greek word, “metanoia,” which means “to have another mind.” Take a look at John 6:47: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” These were the words of Jesus. If there was an additional condition to salvation, then Jesus really dropped the ball here by not naming it. The Bible makes no mention of repenting of sins. Note the first words spoken by Jesus in Mark 1:15: “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Jesus commanded us to repent, or to have a changed mind, regarding the gospel. Some say repentance means feeling deep sorrow for sin. If Jesus wants me to feel deep sorrow for every sin I have committed, and will commit, then I cannot be saved. I enjoyed some sins greatly. Does that mean I’m proud of them? No. Repentance, when defined as meaning a change of mind, is something I have experienced though. I am aware of sin. If I commit a sin, I may enjoy it because of the fact that I’m a regular person in the flesh, but I am aware that it is sin, and so I am not pleased that I do this.
Acts 20:21: “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse does not say to turn from sin. It says to have a changed mind and attitude toward God. If you do not repent, or change your mind about God, you cannot be saved. In this sense, repentance is recognition of our need for Jesus Christ. Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Why believe on Jesus if you are not a sinner? Belief and repentance go hand in hand, and they are sometimes used interchangeably. To be saved, you must realize you are a sinner and that God must punish sin. This is repentance. Then you must believe that Jesus is who He is, and that He did what He did. This is belief. Salvation is simple. It makes me angry that some people try to make it seem difficult. I watched a video of a pastor named Paul Washer on youtube. He said a woman asked him how to be saved, and he told her to seek Jesus and pray continuously until she found him. She came back a week later and asked again how to be saved. Paul Washer told her the same thing. How can this man be the pastor of a church? He perverts the simple message of the gospel. He said if you don’t turn from your sins, you are not saved. So does he never sin? Romans 3:10-12: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” The only person who was sinless was Jesus Christ. How dare Paul Washer keep the simple truth of the gospel from a woman who desired to be saved! Salvation is quite simple. Living a good life is NOT. Perhaps Paul Washer should read Galatians 2:21: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” That’s right, if man can earn his way to Heaven by living a good life, then Jesus died for nothing. I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t go through with Calvary because he had nothing better to do. He did it because it was the only way we could be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” God says salvation is a gift. How can it be a gift if we must work for it? That is not a gift. That is payment.
My brother used to collect Chick tracts. They are little comic books that illustrate Bible principles. They are a great way to reach people. Unfortunately, they get the salvation message wrong. On the last page, they list the following steps: 1. Admit you are a sinner. 2. Be willing to turn from sin (repent). 3. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, was buried, and rose from the dead. 4. Through prayer, invite Jesus into your life to become your personal Saviour. Step 2 is wrong, and it adds a clean life to being necessary for salvation. Why do some people insist on writing a different gospel than the one Jesus Christ fulfilled? Sin is wrong, and a Christian should try to stop sinning. They will never be able to stop, but they should strive to better themselves. However, sin will not keep you from going to Heaven. All that can do that is unbelief. John 3:18: “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” It took me a long time to learn all of this, and I wanted to share it with anyone who will read this. Jesus Christ paid for my sins on Calvary. If His death was not enough to save me, then I guess He isn’t much of a savior at all. It would also mean that He did not tell people the truth about salvation. His way would therefore be incomplete, making Him a liar. Titus 1:2: “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began.”
When Jesus was on the cross, two thieves were hanging there on crosses of their own. Luke 23:39-43: “And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” One man did not believe, and he mocked Jesus. The other believed. One man went to hell, and the other went to Heaven. The thief who went to Heaven did so not by turning from sin, but by acknowledging Jesus as Lord.
When Jesus rose from the dead, Thomas, one of the twelve disciples, refused to believe this had occurred without proof. When Jesus appeared in the flesh to the doubting disciple, Thomas changed his mind. John 20:28-31: “And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
Luke 18:10-14: "Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." Those who are working for salvation receive their reward here, by being able to brag about their good deeds. Works play no part in salvation.
Once again, Ephesians 2:8: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” Now look at Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God does not change His mind about salvation. Once a person is saved, they remain saved. If a person becomes saved by their works, and they quit performing works, how can they stay saved? If a person believes in works salvation, they will never know if they are going to make the cut. The Bible, however, says a person can indeed know where they are going. 1 John 5:13: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” And once again, John 6:47: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” Notice the word hath. It is present tense. Works salvation does not guarantee salvation. You will not find out until the end, when you receive your final grade. The message of the Gospel on the other hand says that once you believe in Jesus, everlasting life is yours already. Galatians 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” These people did many works, and yet Jesus says He NEVER knew them. They did not believe that salvation was by grace alone. They will tell Jesus they did many works to earn their salvation, and He will turn them away, because they did not do “the will of my Father.” What is this will? The answer is found in John 6:40: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” His will is not that we forsake sin, though that will only benefit us. His will is that we have faith in Jesus. John 6:28-29: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” Romans 3:22-28: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
The words faith and believe are the key to understanding salvation. The Bible firmly supports the notion that it is faith alone which saves us, or a belief in the work of Jesus Christ. Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Belief in Christ places one under the law of grace, and out from under the law of works, or the law of Moses. Those who would pervert the simple plan of the Gospel are false apostles. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” Anyone who changes the Gospel message is a minister of Satan, and notice that they are under the law of works. Because they have refused to accept Christ as their savior, they will be judged by their works, which will be unpleasant for them since they turned others away from the truth. Without Christ, one is under the law of works, and they will end up in hell. Again, Romans 3:10: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” The only way to obtain righteousness is by faith in Christ. Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” It is a common misconception for people to look to one’s life as the indicator of their eternal destiny. Some people believe living a good life is the ticket to Heaven. God, however, does not operate this way. Those who are attempting to live good lives in order for a reward are forgetting that their righteousness is worthless to God. Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” So how does one obtain righteousness? It is through faith in Christ and nothing else. Romans 4:5-6: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.” God is not looking for us to create our own righteousness, because it is impossible for us to do so. God is simply looking for belief in His Son. When Christ returns, will He be looking for righteousness? The second part of Luke chapter 18 verse 8 says otherwise. “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” According to Jesus, true faith will be scarce upon His return. Joel Osteen, the famous and charming pastor whose church services can be seen on TV, does not believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven. John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Paul Washer, on the other side of the spectrum, says Jesus is the only way, but he complicates the matter by saying we must forsake sin to be saved. 1 Timothy 1:15: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” Christ did not die in order to save the righteous. He died for the sinners who would accept Him. If Paul Washer is correct, then one who receives Christ must live a clean life, or he will lose his salvation. Let’s see what 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 has to say about this. “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” If a person is saved, and they do no works for Christ, their works will be deemed worthless and will be burned. That will not, however, take away that person’s salvation. A person gets to Heaven on no merit of their own. If salvation is a gift, given without the doing of works, how can it be taken away without the doing of works? In Matthew 7:23, Jesus says He will say to some “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” He did not know them once, but their lifestyle cause them to be lost. No, He NEVER knew them. Joel Osteen and Paul Washer, no matter how charming or sincere they may seem, are false apostles, and they are leading many people away from the truth.
In closing, repentance is a simple change of mind toward God. It is the moment a person admits they are a sinner, and that they are doomed to pay the price for breaking the law. Faith, or belief in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb who paid our debt for us, is all that is necessary for salvation. If someone bought an expensive gift for you, one that you could never afford yourself, and offered it to you free of charge, would you not take it? Jesus did that, by paying for the sins of the world. 1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Propitiation means something that appeases. The death of Christ satisfies God’s wrath when it comes to sin. It is up to each individual person whether they will accept this gift or not. God does not force anyone to be saved. He simply offers them the choice. John 5:40: “And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.”
There is only one sin that cannot be forgiven. Matthew 12:32: “And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.” Mark 3:29: “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.” The Holy Spirit is what speaks to us, telling us that the Word of God is true. 1 Corinthians 2:10-13: “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” When one rejects the Holy Spirit, they are rejecting Christ. Sin is forgiven when one accepts Christ as their sacrifice, but if Christ is rejected, there is no sacrifice, and that person will have to pay for his or her own sin debt. 1 John 2:22: “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”
When it comes to being saved, the Bible makes it clear that salvation is simple. Let's take a look at one single Bible verse about salvation. I could use many, but let's just take one for now. I'll pick one that isn't used as often. John 3:18: "He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." According to Jesus, believing on Him is what saves one's soul. That clearly lines up with the rest of Scripture, so we have to accept it for what it says. You believe on Jesus, and you are saved. No action is required on one's part other than simple belief, or reliance, upon the work Jesus did on the cross.
So where do all these self-righteous people come from who say that we must turn from sin to be saved? Most of them are tripping over the word “repent.” They ignorantly believe that repent automatically means to turn from sin. I’ve asked people to show me one single time in the Bible where people are told to turn from sin in order for Jesus to save them, and I have received some incredibly stupid replies. These repentance preachers will simply point out a verse where the word repent appears, even though it does absolutely nothing for their argument. If repent means to turn from sin, why did God repent 36 times in the Old Testament? Now you won’t see that if you have the bastardized NIV, because that removes any mention of God repenting, and that book is a classic source of false doctrine. Let’s look at Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Does repentance mean turning from sin there? Why don’t these self-righteous people who like to tell others they must repent to be saved ever mention this verse when pointing out verses about repentance?
Romans 11:29 blows this “repent of your sins” nonsense out of the water. Repentance is having a change of mind. Does a person repent to be saved? Yes, but not from sin. Turning from sin, reforming your lifestyle, call it what you want, is not necessary to be saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 says salvation is a gift of God. Romans 11:29 says gifts of God are without repentance, meaning God does not repent, or change His mind about them. Once you get the gift of salvation, God does not take it away. Would you like further proof that salvation is a free gift? Read Romans 5. Paul refers to salvation as a gift in verses 15, 16, 17, AND 18. Not only that, but THREE times in those verses salvation is called a FREE GIFT. What kind of gift is not free? A gift, by nature, MUST be free, or else it is a payment for services rendered. To call salvation a FREE gift is to overly stress the fact that it is indeed FREE. Therefore, no amount of turning from sin is required for one to be saved. If turning from sin WAS required, then salvation would not be a FREE GIFT! It would be a PAYMENT!
I believe there would be a lot less confusion about this simple topic if people would actually READ their Bibles. And again, not the NIV, because that garbage simply removes many words, mistranslates, and changes essential doctrine. People need to stop following heretics like Paul Washer, Ray Comfort, Jack Chick, etc. Stop complicating what Jesus did. Stop trying to play a part in your salvation.
Romans 3:10: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:”
Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”
Thank you for reading my article on
repentance. Please understand that this was only the beginning. I would suggest
that you head on over to “Repentance 101” in order to go deeper into this