IS REPENTANCE NECESSARY FOR SALVATION?


So many like to say, “Repentance just means changing your mind.” Ok, so what does changing your mind mean? Some of these statements are so misleading and I know in many cases intent on misdirecting souls from truth. Some enjoy taking the example of God where it “repenteth” Him that He did this or that, such as having made man or having made Saul King etc. They conclude that since God’s repenting wasn’t from sin that to repent can’t mean repent from sin. I don’t know about you, but I think the devil smiles at sch ridiculousness. The bible also says that God is not a man that He should repent, (Numbers 23:19 and 1st Samuel 15:29). God does not need to repent as man needs to repent. Obviously there are various ways to repent.

for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentanceJesus said, “for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matt 9:13)

Repent G3340 μετανοέω metanoeo (met-an-o-eh’-o) v.
1. to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction)
KJV: repent
From the Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary

So, repent does not merely mean “change your mind”. As we can see by the definition it also means to reconsider or think again. It can be also to think more carefully or more completely if we chase it down to it’s fullest. The result of rethinking can result in remorse or reward and often does include changing our ways.

If a man is conducting target practice and his bullets are missing the target and landing in a neighborhood, he needs to think more carefully or reconsider his mode of operation. When he realizes the possible damage that can result in his method of target practice, he will need to change the way he does it. He will need to back his targets up against an embankment or hill so stray bullets bury in the earth and no possibility of harm to unsuspecting folk exists.

Truly changing your mind will have behavioral effects for the sinner; that means a turning away from sin, a turning away from holding Christ in disinterest, in ambivalence, it means turning away from disbelief and so on.

I think it’s an erroneous assumption to say that repentance from sin is somehow a works salvation. Given, for some it may be but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. We often get caught up in semantics on the word repentance, but in this case, I think we have been overlooking this wrong notion that if a man does anything in obedience to God that it’s somehow works of the flesh or a works salvation. We have also made the word “works” a bad word when the bible does not do so. The bible differentiates between various types of works, some being good and some being not good.

When God tells us to do something and we obey, that is not a works salvation, that is not a work of the flesh no more than the priests stepping into the Jordon River with the Ark was a work of flesh or a works salvation. They obeyed a divine command with the ability God gave them. Do they not owe it all to God for giving them both the command and the ability? Did not God even bring them to the edge of that water? Did they have the ability to obey or not obey? Of course they did.

So it is with us. God says repent from sin. The fact that God calls us to repent is evidence that He has graced us to do so. It is not works of the flesh, it is not a works salvation at all.

What did John the baptist say? He cut through the semantics and required the religious people to show their repentance by their outwardly visible fruit.

“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance”:, (Matt 3:8)

What did Peter call them to repent from?

When God wishes He didn’t do something, obviously no sin was involved on His part.

When man repenteth himself, it may or may not be sin. For an example of the two ways we can repent, I will use something from my day. I made some wrong measurements and cuts today on a woodworking project, that was not sin, but I repented that I had done that. I really wished I hadn’t made those errors. Had I gotten so angry that I lashed out at some innocent person unfairly, that would be sin; I would feel bad about my behavior, and in repentance, apologize to that person, confess to God, and ask forgiveness of them both. So, we see, that repentance can not be defined by either always or never requiring sin to be present.

Saying that God repenteth Himself and therefore repent can not mean repent from sin is a false notion. More properly it should be said that the fact that God repenteth Himself is evidence that not all repenting needs to require repentance from sin.

Men are required to repent from sin however. I think that’s an obvious and well established biblical truth. Try being save without repenting from sin and see what happens.

Again, God calls us to repent from sin, unbelief, ambivalence toward Christ and from holding Christ as unimportant to us. He gives us the grace to do so. Therefore when we choose to obey and make a choice to exercise the power He gave us, it is NOT works salvation, it is not a work of the flesh. I think this is obvious once it’s been stated.

Back to Peter:

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

I think it’s more important to listen to what Christ’s apostle’s tell us about the word than it is to put so much weight on Old Testament usage of the word in the context of God repenting from some things.

What was Peter telling these people to repent from, to “change their mind” about? Wasn’t it sin, ambivalence toward Christ, unbelief, ungodliness, hypocrisy, etc? Isn’t unbelief sin? Paul did say where there is no faith, there is sin.

Rom 14:23 And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.

“Whatsoever is not of faith is sin”.

Unbelief and ambivalence or indifference toward Christ is sin. This is why we are saved by faith as well as grace, because having no faith in Christ is sin. We can not be saved and be unbelieving and ambivalent toward Christ. Therefore repentance is needed and it is more than merely changing the mind without any regard to sin or without any behavioral or executive evidence. Repentance from sin, unbelief, ambivalence and disinterest toward Christ is required and if one does this, it will show up in that person’s life and affections.

1Pet 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

“. . . purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit “- this statement shows both the choice of man and the enabling grace of the Spirit of God. “. . . purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit ”

Again, repentance is not works salvation nor is it a work of the flesh when we are responding to God or the inspired delivery of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, we are rewarded by God for our works which are in response to His work in us, and we will, as the elders, cast our crowns before Him, resigning to the fact that we are the workmanship of Christ even though we had full power to choose to cooperate and obey or not, because should we choose to obey, we do so by His Grace, by His Spirit and upon Him initiating the invitation and making the way for us.

Unto Him I owe. Jesus Christ made me an acceptable vessel for His Spirit by the cleansing of His shed blood on the cross. Therefore now, I have the Grace, the power of the Spirit of God to approach and to walk on His highway of Holiness. He had made a way where previously there was no way. If I should answer His invitation and walk in His way it is Him to whom I owe all glory and credit. Yet I do not have to choose, I could deny Him still, for He has not made me choiceless. We still must love and obey unfeigned. Thank God, He gave us such divine propensities.

2Pet 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2Pet 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Christ has made a way and no one who approaches Him will be turned away.

Believe on Jesus Christ. There is no such thing as believing on Christ without some sort of evidence in the life. You can believe all day long that a can of green beans will give you needed nutrition. But unless you DO something about it, unless your belief results in a sensible action on your part and you actually open the can and eat the contents, your believing will be a fantasy and utterly in vain. So it is with Christ. Our belief is tangible and has a behavioral and an executive component, giving fruits as appropriate evidence of repentance.

Finally, I think a brief look at the definition of grace, from Mickelson’s Enhanced Strong’s Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, is suitable at this point.

GRACE = G5485 χάρις charis (khar’-ece) n.
1. graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act
2. (especially) the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life
3. (also) gratitude
{abstract or concrete, literal, figurative or spiritual}
[from G5463]
KJV: acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace(- ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank(-s, -worthy)
Root(s): G5463

GRACE: the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance

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