“Repent…and believe” ?

Maybe not? If repentance is a human work and is separated from saving faith, it would be contrary to salvation by Faith alone, and therefore NOT part of salvation. Before we close the case and go on our merry way, maybe it would be wise to see how “repent” is used in the Bible in relation to salvation. Also, we should clearly state what the Gospel is.

Rest assured, I am not going to get into the weeds of the Free Grace, vs Lordship Salvation debate. I do however, want to encourage, and warn, fellow evangelical minded believers in this. Do not fear inadvertently causing someone to go to hell because you uttered the “wrong” word when presenting the Gospel message. Yes, we should never be cavalier about what God has commanded us to be doing, especially in the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus. That said, we tend to give ourselves too much credit in our evangelizing, often neglecting the truth that the Holy Spirit is the one in control. We are commanded only to share the Good News and make disciples! We do not, and can not, save or damn anyone. There is no hardline, specific way the Gospel is to be preached or shared, for we see even in scripture many different approaches from Jesus and the Apostles. The Gospel message is clear however, so let it be clearly stated. Be sober minded and true to God’s Word! There are very bad eternal consequences that fall upon all who knowingly preach a false gospel. That is certainly a good reason to get the Gospel right!

2 Peter 2:1   – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

God is also clear that each individual soul is responsible for what he or she does with the truth that He exists, and that He alone holds the power of life eternal. Those who believe a false gospel, are like anyone who has not heard the true gospel. Should they die in ignorance they will be judged rightly by God for what they know in their heart. The destination of such souls are not ours to say.

Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Here is the seed of the Gospel… (I say seed, because out of it grows the amazing panorama of Biblical truth, God’s rescue plan for all people. It’s roots run deep throughout God’s Word)

THE GOSPEL – GOD SENT HIS SON JESUS INTO THE WORLD. JESUS LIVED A SINLESS LIFE, DIED ON A CROSS, TAKING ON HIMSELF THE GUILT AND PUNISHMENT FOR SIN. JESUS WAS BURIED, AND ROSE FROM THE GRAVE AS THE SCRIPTURE FORTOLD.

Wow! This is so simple that even children can understand.

What if I believe the words but don’t believe I am a sinner? Is that faith? No, it is not. What does saving faith involve then? Well, faith is defined as placing ones trust in someone or something. Saving faith, is placing ones trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ on the cross. How would I be trusting in Christ’s person, purpose, and promise, without some understanding that God’s purpose in Christ, the defeat of sin, is personal to me and my own sin?

Take a moment. Think back to before you believed. In your heart, is there any doubt that you knew you did wrong and selfish things? As a child I remember this truth came into focus when the Gospel was presented to me. I now know that it was The Spirit that convicted me specifically, it was MY sin that Jesus died for.

Jesus tells us in the Word that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts the World of sin.

John 16:7-9 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; 

It was this personal conviction of my sin that produced in me a repentant heart. I then trusted God to forgive and save me from my sins. Was I saved because I repented? No, It was through faith alone in Christ alone. My repentant heart was simply the nature of the faith I put in Christ alone, when I heard and believed the Gospel. I had a change of mind, from unbelief to belief.

Today, and even since the earliest churches, the biblical term “repentance” has been badly misunderstood by some. The New Testament word for repentance means to change your mind. So this kind of repentance IS part of salvation because we realize we need saving. In connection with salvation, repentance is always used this way. After we are saved repentance takes on a new purpose with the power of the Holy Spirit, as our minds begin to change, we are conforming more and more to the example of Christ. This changing of our mind brings changes that are part of a process of sanctification; however such repentance to works of righteousness are never taught in scripture as being part of our salvation. We are never called to fix our sin, or make good our wrong doing, to come to Christ. In fact, we know it is quite the opposite. We bring no good works to our salvation.

The Bible is clear that salvation is the gift God provides because of His love. John 3:16 teaches, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Ephesians 2:8-9 also makes clear salvation is based on God’s grace and that we respond by faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

In conclusion.. Repentance, or to change one’s mind, is part of salvation in our faith response to the Gospel. If you use the word in your Gospel presentation, you need to be sure that you clearly convey that it is a changing of mind, a realization about your sin, NOT a call to make yourself acceptable to God. It is only being in Christ that we become acceptable to God as we are told in 2 Corinthians 5:18-21. And…we are in Christ the moment we repent…and believe the wonderful message of salvation.

Don’t believe it? You may need to repent 😉 Here’s a few verses to help…

Luke 5:32 (NKJV)

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance

Luke 24:47 (NKJV)

and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem

Acts 20:21 (NKJV)

testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

II Corinthians 7:10 (NKJV)

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Matthew 9:13 (NKJV)

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Luke 15:7 (NKJV)

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Acts 11:18 (NKJV)

When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”

Mark 2:17 (NKJV)

When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

II Peter 3:9 (NKJV)

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Matthew 12:41 (NKJV)

The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here.

Mark 6:12 (NKJV)

So they went out and preached that people should repent

Luke 15:10 (NKJV)

Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Acts 17:30 (NKJV)

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,

Acts 3:19 (NKJV)

Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

Acts 2:38 (NKJV)

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit

AMEN.

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