who conceals his transgressions will not prosper. But, he who confesses
and forsakes them will find compassion"
God desires "truth in
the innermost being" (Ps. 51:6 OT) and commands all men everywhere to repent
(Acts 17:30). The sinner must repent before he can become the recipient of salvation
by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9). The saved must practice repentance
if he is to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God (Job 42:1-6 OT). Someone
said, "I repented before I understood the meaning of the word, but since
then, as a Christian, I have repented many times."
Repentance is granted by God
(Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18). "The kindness of God leads you to repentance"
(Rom. 2:4). The kindness of God is not merited; therefore, the results of His
kindness which is repentance is a gift. This gift of repentance is an inward
change produced by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as the Word of God
is proclaimed (Acts 2:38,38 and John 16:7,11). The results, "repentance
toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21); faith that
Christ died for our sins; and that He was buried and that He rose from the dead
(1 Cor. 15:1-4).
Repentance qualifies a man
for salvation, but it takes a faith in Christ to acquire it. True repentance
is always coupled with faith. It is impossible to have saving faith and not
repent. "Repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ"
are essential and inseparable in salvation.
Faith without repentance is
the ultimate of hypocrisy and repentance without faith in the death, burial,
and resurrection of Christ is sheer folly.
Read: 2 Pet. 3:9
First, let us see that repentance
- Sorrow. "Sorrow that is
according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret,
leading to salvation" (2 Cor. 7:9, 10). Godly sorrow is a guilty
feeling that leads to repentance, but it is not repentance.
- Penance. Penance is an act on the
part of the guilty to render payment for sin. It is to make an effort, in
some way, to atone for wrongs done against God of man. God calls all
men to repentance, not to do penance.
- Jesus did not say, do penance and believe
the gospel. He said, "repent and believe in the gospel" (Mark
- Peter did not say, do penance and be baptized
everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ. He said, "Repent,
and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of you sins" (Acts 2:38).
- Paul did not say, God is declaring all
men everywhere to do penance. He said, "God is now declaring to men
that all everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30). If penance is
repentance, then salvation is not the gift of God, and we are not saved
by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8, 9).
- Reformation. Reformation is a change
brought about by the efforts of man for self-glory (Matt. 12:43-45). It
is a turning away from known sin, or giving up bad habit, or trying to overhaul
the old nature, or turning over a new leaf, or making restitution.
Judas reformed but it did not save him and neither can it save you (Matt.
Second, let us see what repentance
- A change. The change is always evidenced
in three elements.
- The intellectual element, a change
- The emotional element, a change of
- The volitional element, a change of
- The parable of the prodigal is a perfect
illustration of repentance. He had a change of mind, a change of heart,
and a change of will (Luke 15:11-32).
- The intellectual element, "He
came to his senses."
- The emotional element, "I have
- The volitional element, "I will
get up and go to my father."
Repentance is a change.
The prodigal had a change of mind; and his change of mind effected a change
of heart; and his change of heart effected a change of will. No one is
ever saved until he wills to be (Rev. 22:17). Repentance is change of mind,
of heart, and of will.
Read: Mark 1:1-4
Repentance was preached in
the Old Testament before the birth of Christ, and during the life and during
the life and ministry of Christ. It was preached on the day of Pentecost,
and in the Book of Acts after Pentecost. It is taught in the Epistles and the
Book of Revelation. It is a doctrine to be preached and practiced in all dispensations.
- John the Baptist preached repentance.
- He preached the baptism of repentance
- He preached. "Repent, for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:2). He was "THE VOICE CRYING IN
THE WILDERNESS, MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD" (Matt.
3:3). Johns preaching of repentance exalted Christ, denounced
sin, warned of judgment, and it cost him his head.
- Jesus preached repentance.
- He preached, "Repent and believe
in the gospel" (Mark 1:14, 15). He went about doing mighty works and
calling sinners to repent and to have faith in the good news of God.
- His preaching of repentance was an ultimatum,
repent or perish (Luke 13:1-5). Salvation by grace is for the repentant
soul, and judgment, without mercy, for those who resist!
- Peter preached repentance.
- At Pentecost he preached, "Repent,
and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness
of your sins" (Acts 2:38).
- In his second Epistle he preached that,
the Lord "... is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish
but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). Every soul that
goes to hell goes against the will of God .
- Paul preached repentance.
- He preached that God ".. is now declaring
to men that all everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30). This
message was given on Mars Hill to the intelligentsia of Athens. The
results were three-fold:
- Some procrastinated
- Some believed (Acts 17:32-34)
Repentance From Dead Works
Read: Heb. 6:1
What does the writer of Hebrews
mean by, "repentance from dead works"? First, we need to see the other
two categories of works. They are:
- Good works (Matt. 5:16). Only saved souls
can do good works and please God. Of the lost, He said, "There
is no one who does good, not even one" (Ps. 14:1-3 OT). The believer
is not to hide his good works, but lit them be seen to the glory of the heavenly
Father. Mary of Bethany anointed the head and feet of Jesus with precious
perfume while He sat at the table of Simon the leper. Some of the disciples
called her deed an extravagant waste, But Jesus said, "She has
done a good deed to Me... She has done what she could" (Mark 14:3-9).
Like Mary, we are to do all we can to the glory of God, not in order to be
saved , but because we are saved, having no other motive. This is the way
to do good works.
- Evil deeds (Col. 1:20, 21). Evil deeds
are deeds done by the unregenerated, natural man ( 1 Cor. 2:14).). He walks
according to this world system. He is motivated by the "prince of the
power of the air (Satan)". His talk is filled with the lust of
the flesh and he lives to gratify the desires of the flesh and the natural
mind, He is a child of wrath and his works are wicked because he is dead in
sin (Eph. 2:1-3).
- Dead works (Heb. 6:1). Dead works could
be called religious works. They are done by the religious for the purpose
of meriting eternal life. It is legalistic effort to keep the moral and ceremonial
laws of God for the purpose of winning Gods favor and be saved by works
(Eph. 2:8, 9). Paul said, "because by works of the Law no flesh
will be justified in His sight" (Rom. 3:20).
Dead works are performed by
the religious, "For not knowing about Gods righteousness, and seeking
to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness
of God" (Rom. 10:1-4).
Paul is a good illustration
of repentance from dead works. He clearly stated the he had "no confidence
in the flesh"; then he lists his dead works of which he had to repent (Phil.
3:1-9). When he compared this righteousness which is by dead works of the law,
with the righteousness of Christ which is by faith, he counted the former but
rubbish. He knew the meaning of "repentance from dead works".
Repentance and God
Read: Heb. 7:21
is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent"
(Num. 23:19 OT). Yet the Bible tells us that He does repent (Gen. 6:5-7 OT).
This is not a contradiction. It is paradoxical, but not contradictory.
God makes two convenants with
The first is unconditional.
When He makes and unconditional covenant, He never repents (change His mind
[Ps. 110:4 OT]). He made such a covenant with Israel (Rom. 11:25-36).
The second is conditional.
The Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever because he also
is flesh; nevertheless, his days shall be one hundred and twenty years"
(Gen. 6:3 OT). In the days of Noah, God gave the human race a 120 years to repent.
Only Noah and his family repented and "found favor in the eyes of the Lord:
(Gen. 6:8 OT). They met Gods condition and were not judged with the rest
f the human race who refused to repent. "The Lord is not slow about His
promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for
any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2 Pet. 3:9). It is clear
that God wills to save all lost souls. He is "not wishing for any to perish".
To be saved the lost must meet His condition, "repentance toward God and
faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). Now if a man does not
repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God will repent. He will
change and judge that man. In love He bestows grace; but, if salvation
by grace is rejected, in justice He terminates it. In this way God repents.
Repentance, Impossible to Renew
Read: Heb. 6:4-6
The key that unlocks the mystery
to this difficult portion of Scripture is the word, "impossible" in
verse 6. The writer is saying, that the person who so sins will find it
impossible to repent again.
First, let us see what the
writer does not mean. He does not mean a backslidden Christian. Simon
Peter backslid (Matt. 26:69-75), repented (John 21:3-17), and was restored to
fellowship with the Lord. King David sinned (2 Sam. 11:1-27 OT), repented
(Ps. 51:1-19 OT), and was restored to fellowship with the Lord (2 Sam. 12:13
OT). Any backslidden Christian can repent and be restored to fellowship with
Second, let us see what the
writer does mean. Hebrews 6:4-6 is proof that being religious is not enough
to save you. They professed, but did not possess eternal life. In outward
appearance they would be called Christians. But Jesus said, "Not
everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven"
Esau so sinned against the
Lord when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (Gen. 25:27-34
OT). Later he tried to repent, but found it impossible to do so. The Scripture
says, "he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears"
(Heb. 12:16, 17).
At the great white throne judgment
where only the wicked dead are judged (Rev. 20:11-15), they too, will try to
repent but will find it impossible.
The Importance of Repentance
Read: Acts 17:30
Repentance is so important
that God commands that "all everywhere should repent" (Acts 17:30).
- The lost are to repent. Jesus said,
"I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:13).
Again, He said, "Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish"
- Backsliders are to repent. Paul said,
"I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made
sorrowful to the point of repentance" (2 Cor. 7:9). There
were fleshly Christians in the church at Corinth. In Pauls first
letter to them he called upon the church to discipline the guilty. In his
second letter he rejoices because the guilty repented.
- Local churches are to repent. In the
Book of Revelation (Rev. 2-3), our Lord sent seven letters to seven local
churches. He called upon five of the seven to repent.
- The church at Ephesus was to repent because
she had left her first love.
- The church at Pergamos was to repent because
she permitted the doctrine of Balaam to be taught, and to eat things sacrificed
to idols, and to commit acts of immorality.
- The church at Thyatira was to repent because
she tolerated Jezebel to teach and lead Gods servants to commit acts
- The church at Sardis was to repent because
she was a dying congregation.
- The church at Laodicea was to repent because
she taught she was rich and did not need anything. In her opinion,
she had arrived. She did not know that she was neither hot or cold, but
lukewarm and God was ready to spit her out of His mouth.
The Lord called upon these
five churches to repent or else He would remove their candlestick and they would
cease to be a light in darkness.
- The lost are to repent or perish.
- The backslider is to repent or be disciplined.
- The local church is to repent or lose its
effectiveness in a world lost in sin.
The Evidence of Repentance
Read: Acts 26:19, 20
The evidence of repentance
toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ is seen in:
- The repentance of unbelieving Thomas (John
20:24-29). Thomas would not believe that Christ had been raised from
the dead until he saw the risen Savior and was given the opportunity to touch
His nail-pierced hands and put his hand into His wounded side. Thomas repented,
believed, and made his great confession of faith. "My Lord and My God!"
- Three thousand changed their minds, hearts,
and wills on the day of Pentecost and immediately gave evidence of repentance
- Saul of Tarsus experienced repentance when
he met Jesus on the Damascus road and gave evidence of repentance (Acts 9:1-22).
- Cornelius, his family, and friends repented
when they heard the gospel preached by Simon Peter, and evidence of repentance
followed (Acts 10:24-48).
- The Philippian jailer and his house repented
when witnessed to by Paul and Silas; the evidence of repentance followed (Acts
Repentance is a change of the
mind, the heart, and the will. The proof of repentance is: turning from "transgressions"
(Exek. 18:30 OT), turning to God (Acts 26:19, 20), followed by good deeds (Acts