Repentance

by David J. Stewart | May 2001 | Updated June 2014

       “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE” (2nd Peter 3:9). God wants ALL people to repent; that is, change their mind. Repentance is a change of mind. Most people try to rationalize and justify their sins. Romans 3:19 states... “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become GUILTY before God.” We are all guilty sinners, under the condemnation of God's Law, justly deserving of being punished in Hellfire forever. Thanks be to God the Father for sending His only begotten Son into the world to pay our sin debt by His own LITERAL blood (Hebrews 9:12, 24; 12:24; 1st Peter 1:18-19, Revelation 1:5).

Dr. Jack Hyles 100% correctly and Biblically states concerning repentance...

“Repentance is not some little silly, 'I'm sorry.' Repentance is not simply a fear of God. Repentance is not a monk fasting and afflicting his body in a monastery. Repentance is not remorse because of sin's consequences. Repentance is not penance performed before the pope as you kiss his toe... Repentance is not being sorry for what I've done wrong. It is not confessing one's sins to a priest. It is not just conviction of sin. It is not the signing of a pledge of abstinence. Repentance is that thing when you come before God and see yourself as you are, and see Him as he is, and say with Isaiah 'Woe is me, for I am unclean!'” —Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001), a quote from the timeless MP3 sermon, THE GOODNESS OF GOD LEADETH TO REPENTANCE!

Amen and amen!

God's law is a measuring stick, which shows us that WE CANNOT SAVE OURSELVES because of our ungodly condition, and then the law BRINGS US to Christ. Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” The whole notion that a person has to experience a profound regret for sin, and a consuming desire to depart from sin, and intent to reform, have NOTHING to do with Biblical repentance unto salvation. Repentance is turning to Jesus by faith because you realize that you are a guilty sinner incapable of saving yourself and you rest totally in the death of Christ upon the cross, His burial and His resurrection from the dead three days later. That's the gospel!

My friend, you are lost because you are a sinner! Jesus Christ came into the world to pay your sin debt and mine. No religion can save you! Unless you by faith accept Christ's payment for your sins, you will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. Christ died upon the cross for our sins, He was buried, and He bodily raised up from the dead three days later (this is called “the gospel”). We are saved by acknowledging that we are an unholy sinner in the eyes of a holy God, and we receive the gospel by faith as full payment for our sins. When you turn to Jesus as the Christ to be saved, you have turned your back against sin, otherwise you never would have come to Christ to be saved, as John 3:20 teaches. John 3:20, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.”

You need God's righteousness to enter Heaven, which is solely through faith in Jesus as the risen Christ. The Lord took our sins upon Himself at Calvary's cross, and by faith He places His righteousness upon us (2nd Corinthians 5.21; Romans 4.5-6). What an awesome Savior!

I am not saved by any human effort or self-righteousness of my own; but rather, I am saved by completely resting in Christ because of what He did to pay for my sins. Jesus promises to save anyone who comes to Him for forgiveness (John 6.37). Believe and the work is done!
Acts 20:21 speaks of “repentance TOWARD GOD.” The Word of God NEVER teaches repentance FROM sin to be saved; BUT, rather, repentance TOWARD GOD. Repentance is a change of mind, a change of mind from what you want to do to get to Heaven to what God says you must do to get to Heaven—concerning sin and the Savior. Childlike faith is all that is required for salvation. If a person knows they are a guilty sinner, bound for Hellfire, and turns in faith to Jesus Christ to forgive their sins and save them--that person has repented.

THE PREACHING THAT PRODUCES REPENTANCE (Dr. Ironside; awesome stuff on real repentance!)

Repentance Towards God

You can put all the faith in Christ you want, it means nothing if you're in denial about your sins... "If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1st John 1:10). The entire matter of salvation deals with OUR SINS. Thus, repentance is when we come to the realization that we have sinned AGAINST GOD. Notice what Joseph said to Potiphar's wicked, adulterous wife who tried to seduce him in Genesis 39:9... "There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back any thing from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin AGAINST GOD?"

Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951) is 100% correct on repentance. He says in his gospel tract, ANOTHER GOSPEL? ...

"When anyone comes promising salvation to those ‘who make full surrender' of all that they have to God, and who 'pay the price of full salvation' he is preaching another gospel, for the price was paid on Calvary's cross and the work that saves is finished. It was Christ Jesus who made the full surrender when He yielded His life on Calvary that saves us, not our surrender in any way to Him."

SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside, from the Gospel tract, Another Gospel.

Dr. Ironside is Biblically correct!

Joseph realized that if he did commit adultery, he would be sinning AGAINST GOD! In Luke 15:21, the repentant prodigal son said... "Father, I have sinned AGAINST HEAVEN, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son." Notice what king David said in Psalm 41:4... "LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned AGAINST THEE." Notice what the Apostle Paul taught in Acts 20:21... "Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You see, lost sinners need to repent TOWARDS GOD. Carefully notice in Mark 1:15 what Jesus said... "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." Notice that Jesus DIDN'T say "repent ye, and forsake your sins." No, rather, He said, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."

Repentance is changing your mind about whatever is keeping you from coming to Jesus to be saved, which the Bible says is the love of sin in John 3:20. John 8:12 says that Jesus is the light. Folks who love their sins WON'T come to Jesus to be saved because they don't want to be proven wrong in their sins. But when a man sees the our God, and admits that he is an unholy sinner, condemned under God's holy law, only then that man comes to Christ to be saved (Galatians 3:24-26).

Why So Many Preachers Are Being Misled Concerning Repentance Unto Salvation (the purpose of God's law)

The Sin-Question and the Son-question

Tragically, few people today have genuinely repented. Many people today falsely claim to be "Christian," but they are not. They have never repented concerning their sins. Please note that I said "concerning their sins," and not "from their sins." There is a big difference. Salvation involves BOTH the sin-question and the Son-question:

  1. THE SIN QUESTION. If a person does not see their need, then why would he or she need a Savior? To be saved, the sin-question must be dealt with. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), guilty before God (Romans 3:19), and justly deserving of eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). 1st John 1:10 states that we are calling God a LIAR if we deny that we have sinned. Many people today falsely think they are going to Heaven because they "committed their life to Christ," or "made a decision for Christ." There can be NO salvation without the Law of God.

    Many unrepentant people today, who are proud and self-righteous, "think" they are saved simply because they "gave their life to Jesus." This is the nonsense being taught in Charismatic circles today, and by their televangelists. Judas gave his life to Jesus and went to Hell. The Pharisees gave their lives to God, and went to Hell. You'd better get BORN-AGAIN! We are saved through Jesus' blood, that takes our sins away. The great evangelist Charles Finney said...

    "The severity of the Law should be unsparingly applied to the conscience until the sinner's self-righteousness is annihilated, and he stands speechless and condemned before the Holy God."

    Too many preachers today explain the CURE without the GUILT of sin. We don't hear much today about the GUILT of sin. What we do hear a lot about is the CURE. Televangelists utterly fail to preach against America's sins. All we hear is how someone was on the brink of bankruptcy, but then sent in their last $20 to The 700 Club, and now their life is a bed of roses. 2nd Peter 2:3 describes these greedy imposters in exact Words... "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." Woe unto America's televangelists!!!
     

  2. THE SON QUESTION. It is not enough to merely decide to turn over a new leaf to be saved. One cannot admit his or her sinful condition, and then attempt to reform the sinful flesh, expecting to be saved. Only Jesus has the nail-scared hands and feet, and we can only be saved through Christ. Roman Catholics readily admit their sinfulness, but foolishly trust the Catholic Church to save them, instead of relying on Jesus Christ alone as the Word of God teaches (John 14:6). There can be NO salvation apart from the name of JESUS (Acts 4:10-12).

Thus, repentance is a change of mind, i.e. turning by faith to Jesus Christ for forgiveness, because of the acknowledgment of one's sinful condition. It's that simple. It is the blood of Jesus that washes our sins away; not water baptism, not church membership, not turning over a new leaf, not surrendering one's life to God, not forsaking one's sins, not making Jesus Lord, et cetera. We are sinners, and Jesus is the Savior! To go to Heaven, our sins must be washed away by Jesus' blood, and all we have to do is BELIEVE upon the Lord as our Savior. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, and only He has the nail-scared hands and feet. Thus, only through Christ's sacrifice for our sins can we receive eternal life.

REPENTANCE AND FAITH (you don't repent first, and then have faith. They are inseparable!)

Except Ye Repent, Ye Shall All Likewise Perish!

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5).

Some people had brought bad news to Jesus, about the tragic deaths of others. We experience these same types of reports almost daily in modern times. In fact, there's not a day that passes that we don't hear from the newsmedia about the tragic deaths of so many people. Death is often sudden, and without warning. This is what Jesus meant when He warned... Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Jesus was simply saying that life is unpredictably short, and all that matters is whether or not we're ready to meet our Maker! You need to get saved! Hebrews 9:27 states that we all have an appointment with death. Death is often sudden and we have no guarantee of tomorrow (Proverb 27:1). Are we any better than others, that we are immune to heartache and tragedy? No, not for one moment. Are you ready to die? Have you been born-again by the Spirit of God?

Charles Spurgeon Rightly Said: “Repentance is a grace... There are no conditions of salvation!”

I recall hearing of a tornado that ripped through a little Baptist church in Georgia, killing many of the members. Were they being judged by God? No, not at all. The earth is under a curse because of man's sin, and all men are susceptible to the woes of living in a fallen world. This is the curse that sin has brought upon the human race. Life is short. All that will matter 100 years from now is whether you DIE IN THE LORD (Revelation 14:13), or you DIE IN YOUR SINS (John 8:24). Hopefully, you'll die in the Lord. 2nd Corinthians 6:2 states, "...behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Only a fool would postpone getting saved.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions and neon signs; the road to eternal life is plain and simple (Matthew 7:13-14). The road to Hell exalts religion; but the road to Heaven exalts Jesus. There are two types of religions in the world: DO and DONE. Either you believe that you must DO something to get into Heaven OR you are simply resting upon Jesus and His precious blood. DO or DONE, which are you? I’m in the DONE category! Jesus paid it all!
 

Repentance is Not an Option

God COMMANDS us to repent... "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). It is not an option whether or not we want to repent, it is a divine command from Almighty God. 2nd Thessalonians 1:8,9 WARNS... "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction..." This is a serious matter friend. God has commanded all men to repent. But don't be misled concerning what it truly means to repent.

Ray Comfort and John MacArthur frequently lift Pastor Charles H. Spurgeon's words out of context, attempting to bolster up their straw-man of Lordship Salvation; but if you read the entire sermon, titled “REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE,” you'll find the following quote (which you'll never hear from Mr. Comfort or Mr. MacArthur because it totally contradicts their teachings) . . .

“'Repentance' is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. —Charles Spurgeon

SOURCE: http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0044.htm (Charles Spurgeon, from a sermon titled, REPENTANCE UNTO LIFE, preached at the New Park Street Chapel, Southwark, on Sept. 23, 1855)

Spurgeon is not saying that repentance (metanoeo, that is, a change of mind) is not necessary for salvation; but rather, metamellomai, which means “to care afterwards, that is, regret, a changed life” is not required for salvation. In Matthew 27:3 the Bible says that the apostle Judas repented. He felt sorry for betraying Christ, but he did not repent toward God. Judas even brought the 30 pieces of silver back, but the Pharisees refused the money, so Judas cast them upon the floor and fled. Then Judas went and hung himself, and is burning in Hell this moment and for all eternity, because he died in his sins instead of trusting upon the Savior as did the other apostles. The heresy of Lordship Salvation is built around the false repentance of Judas, which attempts to reform and rehabilitate the sinner, but there is no regeneration which only the new birth can produce.

Biblical repentance is the Greek word metanoeo, which simply means to change one's mind so as to compel that person to come to Jesus Christ for salvation. The reason why repentance is necessary for salvation is because without repentance no person would ever come to Christ to be saved. The man who believes has repented, which is why the words “believe” and “believed” are mentioned 85 times in the Gospel of John, but the word “repent” is not mentioned even once. The man who believes has repented, and the man who repents has believed. Repentance without faith is not genuine repentance; but rather, mere self reformation, which is what Judas experienced. Faith without repentance is mere optimism and religious devotion, not genuine salvation. To be saved, a person must realize that they are a guilty sinner in the eyes of God, and receive the gospel of Christ's death on the cross, burial and resurrection as full payment for their sins.

Repentance unto life is a change of mind. The change of mind is whatever was previously keeping you from coming to Christ, which the Bible says is sin in John 3:20. When a man repents, he now sees himself as a guilty sinner and therefore comes to Christ to be forgiven and cleansed of his sins (Romans 3:19-20; Galatians 2:24-26). We are saved immediately by trusting Christ, but sanctification is a lifetime process. We are saved immediately by trusting Christ, but it takes a lifetime to become Christlike. Albeit, becoming Christlike is not required for salvation. Eternal life is the free gift of God, paid for by Christ's sacrifice on the cross and His blood being sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat in the heavenly Holy Place.

Table of Contents

REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS (chapter 8 from Dr. Harry Ironside's book, “EXCEPT YE REPENT”)