INTRO: It is my humble opinion that the subject of repentance is one of the most critical and relevant of Bible subjects. Because all have sinned and come far short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23), the only hope for a proper relationship with God hinges on repentance. Having said that, I would hazard to say that this critical point in ones seeking to establish himself with God may be the most difficult of steps. There is just no doubt that the tug and pull of ones past and his having the freedom to do as he pleases to do without feeling accountability to God are issues so hard to overcome. So, while one may believe that Jesus is the Savior and that he needs to blessing of the atonement in his life, the decision to commit is a struggle.
I. SOME PRELIMINARY THOUGHTS ABOUT REPENTANCE...
A. Im sorry does not constitute repentance
1. Im sorry is not a magic formula which makes everything right
2. too often the words are said ... and there is no change of behavior
B. Im sorry, but... does not constitute repentance
1. the but is too often an excuse for inappropriate behavior which I think one often thinks just makes everything right
2. we are an excuse making society ... personal accountability, up front and immediate is become a rare thing
C. Feeling sorry is not repentance
1. the feeling of sorrow may lead one to repentance (more later)
2. but the feeling alone is not repentance ... feelings are often fleeting and induced by causes other that godly sorrow
II. IT REALLY DOES MATTER THAT WE BELIEVE...
A. Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of life
1. this is a fairly simple definition which explains the difference between an Im sorry and bringing that Im sorry to really mean something
2. Ezek 18:30b-32 - the change of mind and change of life are emphasized
B. Repentance issues from sorrow toward God
1. now, there is most assuredly and element of sorrow involved here
2. 2 Sam 12:13 with Ps 51:1-4 - here is godly sorrow at work in his heart
3. 2 Cor 7:10 - godly sorrow works repentance ... but alone, is not repentance
4. the difference is noted here between sorrow toward God and the sorrow that is more worldly ... sorrow for ones behavior which does not see the ultimate problem of relationship with God and which does not change anything
C. Repentance requires a changed mind
1. sorrow toward God alone is simply not enough
2. notice at Ezek 18:31 the words make you a new heart and a new spirit - a mental revolution
3. change in how we view sin, how we view God, how we view the word, how we view our lives, how we view allegiances, how we view the future
4. change of life without this change of mind is not true repentance
D. Repentance to salvation certainly requires a changed life
1. this change of life seeks to conform to Gods will in loving obedience
2. for example, Acts 2:38 ... with a changed mind baptism is no issue!
3. obedience is just not a problem for a person whose mind has undergone this dramatic change - but if we are struggling with obedience, does that perhaps raise some question about the genuineness or depth of the change?
4. 2 Cor 7:11 clearly notes the changed mind and its desire to do whatever is necessary to be in a right relationship with God
E. Repentance necessarily implies permanence of change
1. this may be where the changed mind becomes so important with its sorrow toward God
2. almost anyone can change momentarily ... but what about permanently?
3. consider Acts 26:20 - that word do is so significant - its form necessitates habitual doing ... permanence
4. 1 Jno 3:9 - sinning is not impossible ... but the point of the passage is clearly this ... a child of God (one who has repented to salvation) does not keep on sinning ... permanent change
CLOSE: What we believe about repentance is crucial to our salvation! Few subjects which bear so heavily on our eternal destiny have been as neglected as this one. We know the word and texts which use it. But is penitence a vital part of our lives?
Cecil A. Hutson
11 December 2005
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)