Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Repentance

Are we saved simply by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul answered the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:31?  What does repentance have to do with salvation?  Can one be saved without repenting of his sins?  Let’s go to the Bible to learn what  repentance has to do with our salvation. The Greek word for repentance means to have a change of thinking or a change of heart.  Repentance is related to conversion.  It has the idea of making a 180 degree turn around. 

We preachers have a way of confusing the vital issue of salvation by using terms that may be misleading.  These are good terms if they are properly explained, but I note that they are not usually explained when inviting people to salvation.  Some of these invitations include:

Make a commitment.

Commit your life to Christ.

Surrender to Christ.

Give your heart to Christ.

Invite Jesus into your heart.

Come to Christ.

Look to Christ.

Believe that Jesus died for sinners.

Come and follow Christ.

Make Jesus Lord of your life.

Repent and be baptized.  This last one, found in Acts 2:38,  was Peter’s invitation to his Jewish audience. 

Today it is sometimes used to lead people into the false doctrine of baptismal regeneration. It is possible to be led astray into a false assurance of salvation by going forward on an invitation by the preacher to “Come follow Christ.”   That could lead a person to pride and self-righteousness as a person tries his best to follow the example and teachings of Christ.  

I understand that you could have come forward on one of these invitations and be truly saved.  The issue is not the words the preacher used to invite you to salvation.  I came forward as a child on the invitation to  “invite Jesus into my heart.”  If the lady dealing with me had not made salvation crystal clear to me,  I might have only had an emotional experience that night as a nine year old. 

 What is God’s part in salvation? 

Salvation is all of God from start to finish. God draws us to Himself. He convicts us of sin. He, in the person of His Son, Jesus, took the full punishment for our sins when He died on the cross and rose from the dead three days later. God leads us to repentance.  He justifies us.  He sanctifies us. He keeps us saved by His power and one day He will glorify us when we are in His presence.

What must I understand to be saved? 

First I must understand that I am a lost sinner, helpless and hopeless to save myself. I must understand that no church and no rites of a church can save me. Then I must understand that Jesus is God come down to this earth in human flesh to shed His precious blood and die as an offering to God for my sins. As Israelites who were bitten by poisonous snakes in the wilderness were instantly healed of the snake venom by simply  looking  to a serpent of brass that Moses had fashioned and put up on a pole, so I must simply look to Christ as my Saviour from sin.  This is how Jesus explained it to Nicodemus in John 3.  He was referring to an incident recorded in Numbers 21. 

As a young woman who has fallen in love with a young man who loves her and has called her to be his wife, entrusts herself and her future completely into the hands of her husband in the sacred act of marriage, taking his ring and his name and completely identifying herself with him; so is our relationship with Christ when we are saved. Read carefully Ephesians 5 for this wonderful analogy of salvation to marriage. 

To be saved, I believe intellectually that Jesus is God in human flesh and that He died on the cross for my sins.  Not only do I believe intellectually, but I trust Him fully with my heart.  I receive Him as my Saviour.  Read the first three chapters of the Gospel of John for a clear explanation of this.  Read also  Romans 3:10, 23,   6:23,  10:9-10  and I John 5:11-13.  Saving faith comes by reading the Word of God. 

If salvation comes by simple faith in Christ, what part then does repentance play in salvation? 

We are not saved by confessing our sins.  That is required only of Christians when we sin. See I John 1 on this.    Rather, repentance is a total change of thinking and heart attitude.  Another term for this is a 180 degree turn around or conversion. In Acts 15:3  we read of the Gentiles who were saved as being converted. They  turned from their sins and self-righteousness to Jesus.  

In Acts 20:21  we see the link between repentance and faith in Christ.  These two steps to salvation go together.  This was the message to both Jews and Greeks.  It is the message for both Jews and gentiles.  Which comes first,  repentance or faith in Christ? They go together.  Saving faith in Christ is preceded by repentance, and a life of repentance follows faith in Christ. 

Christians should repent of sin by confessing it to God as sin whenever they are aware of it.  That is illustrated in the story of the Prodigal Son who went astray and then repented and returned to His father. His father gladly received him back into  fellowship. The repentance of the lost is shown in Philippians 3:1-6  There Saul of Tarsus who was renamed Paul after his conversion, recounts life before Christ  and then after he had repented and received Christ as his Saviour and Lord.  In Philippians 3:7-8 he describes his transformed life.  The transformation was the work of our sovereign God who began the work in his heart as he watched Stephen the first Christian martyr die in Acts 6-7.  The Holy Spirit began pricking his conscience from that time forward.  Acts 9:5. 

The glorified, risen Saviour confronted Saul on the Road to Damascus as it is recorded in Acts 9.   Saul immediately repented, recognized Jesus, the one he had hated and persecuted,  as his Saviour from sin.  There never was a more radical transformation of an enemy of Christ as Saul and there has never been a greater Christian than this former enemy of Christ who became the great  Apostle Paul who wrote much of the New Testament.  

Saul’s repentance was not a fleeting emotional experience.  It was a total, radical permanent change of direction and lifestyle that Christ brings about in one who repents and puts his trust in Christ.  As Paul describes it in II Corinthians  7:10, repentance is permanent.  It is a total 180 degree turn around or conversion.  This conversion is mentioned in I Thessalonians 1:9  Psalm 51:13  Matthew 18:3  and Acts 3:19. 

What was Paul’s message to the gentile jailer in Acts 16:31? 

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy household.”  Why did Paul not command him to repent of his sins?  Because it was evident that he had already done that.  Was he converted?  Did he repent?  Absolutely.  Look at the change in his life as you read the rest of the story in Acts 16.  Only a converted, repentant Christian would act this way.  In fact, his life was so changed that his entire family followed him in trusting Christ and being baptized as a testimony to their new found faith in Christ.   Such repentance results in joy in Heaven. See Luke 15:7. 

Can one be a Christian without repenting? Or to put it another way, is one a Christian who has never had a change of heart that has resulted in a changed life?  The answer is NO.  When one is trusting in Christ,  he is a new creation of God.  Old things are passed away.  Everything is new about his life. See II Corinthians 5:17.  I’m not teaching sinless perfection. We will not be perfect until we are in Heaven.  But in the meantime, we have a changed, purified heart that longs to do right and turn from sin.  There is no one more miserable than a Christian living in sin. 

Who repented or preached repentance? 

Job, a man of God, repented of his wrong thinking and wrong attitudes.  Job 42:6  Repentance was the message of the Old Testament prophets.  See Ezekiel 14:6  18:30-32    Jonah preached repentance to Nineveh, Jesus tells us in Matthew 12:41. Besides the Old Testament prophets,  John the Baptist preached it. Luke 3:7-14 

Peter preached it at Pentecost.  Acts 28  He also taught it in II Peter 3:9 Paul preached it everywhere.  Acts 17:30 Jesus preached it in Luke 13:1-5 Preaching repentance is part of the Great Commission. Luke 24:46-51 

Christians need to have repentance preached to them. See Jesus’ message to the seven churches of Asia Minor as found in Revelation 2 and 3.   Five of those seven churches needed to deal with sin by repenting.  The Christian life that began with repentance and faith in Christ, continues with a life of repentance concerning sin.  II Corinthians 7:10  God leads us to repentance.  Romans. 2:4.  Those who refuse to repent treasure up God’s wrath and their heart grows harder.  Romans 2:5.  

If you are a Christian and God deals with you about sin in your life, you had better repent now or your heart will grow harder and you may come to the place where you no longer have any desire to repent.  Read the solemn warning in Hebrews 12:5-17. If you are unsaved and God is dealing with you about your sins; repent and turn to Christ now for salvation.  II Corinthians 6:1-2  If you are a Christian who has wandered away from God,  like the prodigal son in Luke 16,  repent; leave the pig pen of sin and come home to your Heavenly Father right now.He’s waiting for you and wants to restore you to full fellowship with Him. 

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May 28, 2006 - Posted by | Salvation

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