Home About Us Articles Links Presentations Tracts Blog Support

Articles > Repentance


November 12, 2008




There is a fine line between evangelism that never produces a false convert ---and evangelism that fails to produce ANY converts.  However, if you look at Christianity across the board today, something is tragically wrong.  Barna Research Group found in 1994, 1 in 4 professing Born-Again American adults believed Jesus sinned.  72% of Christian teens believed the Bible, yet 42% watched MTV weekly (more than 33% of non-Christians), 55% fornicated,  and 20% got drunk or used drugs. In 2003, it was reported that  1 of 10 Born Again believers also believed in reincarnation –and 50% believed a person can earn eternal life by good works!   While many factors play a role, the lack of true biblical repentance is a significant factor in why so many professing Christians show little evidence they possess eternal life.  A weak gospel produces weak converts, and without Biblical repentance, that’s what will be produced.  Jesus said Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)  No repentance, no salvation.  False repentance, false conversion.


What is repentance?

Salvation is repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, Salvation is not in a prayer.  The Bible says repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.  That is different than praying a prayer.  That is different than believing a prayer. 

Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.  As we will see below, repentance is more than a change of mind, and more than going from belief to unbelief.  It is more than a "hand caught in a cookie jar, sorry I got caught, Elliot Spitzer type apology".  Salvation is a supernatural miracle of God that no prayer, no program (ie, a wonderful organized banquet, a well done touching cantata, a moving funeral, a heart-felt song of invitation), and no profession can create. If someone repents and believes, they are saved whether they pray a prayer or not.  If someone doesn't repent, it doesn't matter how sincere their prayer is.  They are not saved.  Believing is not praying.

 If someone continues in a lifestyle of sin, according to the Bible they are not saved.  Salvation is not a one time deal, and what we have done is turned the supernatural miracle work of God into our own version of infant baptism.  We say it's by faith, but if someone wants to receive Christ they are told to pray a prayer.  If there is no change, we blame lack of discipleship.  Proof of salvation is the fact they naturally become a disciple, continue in the word, hear Jesus' voice and follow Him.  The devils believe and tremble. 

Proof someone meant their "I do" is they are still married!  It's not works, but a heart change that causes someone to commit to "til death do us part" means far more than how wonderfully poetic one's vows sound!  People are emotional after the wedding day.  If she bolts after the Honeymoon, the vows were empty words.  How much more should real salvation produce something real?  If man is fickle ---one day he says, "Hosana in the highest" and one day he shouts, "Crucify him!" -----then salvation can't be kept by man.  Yet God doesn't change.  God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  When God saves someone He likens that to marriage.  God won't divorce someone.  And think of this----God won't divorce himself.  God draws, the Holy spirit convicts, the person gets born again, and the Holy Spirit then indwells! He can't deny himself!  HE moves in, and it's for good!  How could someone not change?  If God promises that he will begin a good work, and will finish the good work ---if there is NO WORKING GOING ON, no turning from sin, no changed life, no desire to live for God, no inner drive to love God and go to church and serve GO ----then it should be obvious to all that GOD HASN'T BEGUN ANYTHING IN THAT PERSON!!!! They first need to get SAVED!!!!!!  We don't work to earn our salvation. We don't work to keep our salvation.  Yet if we are saved, GOD is going to get glory out of us, and He does that though WORKING THROUGH US!!!! We must see how much of a disgrace it is to God, and to our Christian fore-fathers when we liken salvation to an empty profession that allows people to continue to be innoculated to the true Biblical Gospel of a changed life that turns from sin, does works meet for repentance, and lives for God's pleasure and for God's will.

Faith without works is dead.  We are not saved by works, but just like apple trees produce apples, we naturally are hard-wired to produce fruit once we are saved.  Empty professions that don't change anyone is a slap in God's face---he saves us and changes us for his glory.  Just like the Jews lived differently to prove that they worshipped the true and living God, when we get saved, He changes us (some to a greater instant degree than others) right then and there, and continues to conform us to his image FOR HIS HONOR AND GLORY and to prove to the WORLD He is the true and living GOD.  He puts the fear of Him in us so we won't depart from Him.   HE that began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. 

Repentance isn’t praying a prayer.  Praying a prayer isn’t believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Sinner’s prayer has become the infant baptism equivalent of the Baptist and Protestants.  We must question our methods and find out if we’ve replaced Bible doctrine with Men’s Vanity. 

I. Repentance

 Words: Repent 43 Verses, Repented 32 verses, Repenting 1 verse,  Repentance 26 verses, Turn to God –30 verses,  New heart –4 verses, New spirit –5 verses, New Mind –0 verses, Change mind –Hab 1:11, New creature ---2 verses

Definition  -- a good Biblical definition:  it is a change of mind/ heart that leads to a change of action.

                A. Types of Repentance

                     1.  Wordily Sorrow

                                Worketh Death.  (2nd Cor. 7:10)

                                Ex:  Judas  (Matthew 27:3 Then Judas…repented), Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27 –“I have sinned this time”….)     The hand in the cookie jar-- sorry you got caught.

                                  Esau  --Hebrews 12:17 …he found no place of repentance though he sought it carefully with tears.

            Here we have weeping and yet it's not Biblical repentance.   This again is merely worldly sorrow.

                     2.  Godly Sorrow


              Broken and contrite heart.           

              Worketh salvation not to be repented of.  Psalm 51:17, Psalm 34:18, 2nd Corinthians 7:10-11 

                                Holy Spirit reproves of sin, righteousness and judgment.  Knowledge of sin is by the law written on our hearts.   Holy Spirit convicts, sinner sees lost condition, and looks to Cross of Calvary.  Sin is atoned for, fellowship with God is established, Holy Spirit moves in, and man’s hard stony heart is removed and replaced by a new heart of flesh and a fear of God, and regenerate man now can and wants to please Christ.  He is a new creature, born again from above.   –John 3:3, 2nd Cor 5:17, John 16:8, John 6:44, Romans 2:15, Romans 4:20, 7:7, Romans 8:15-16, Ezekiel 11:19-20, Jeremiah 32:39-40, Isaiah 45:22, John 3:14-15, Acts 3:19a –Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,   

                B. God’s Repentance

My spirit shall not always strive with man. (Gen 6:3) Genesis 6:6  And it repentedthe Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.  And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth….  (Gen 6:7)  And all flesh died… (Gen 7:21)











II. Biblical Examples of Repentance

                A.   People of Ninevah—Jonah 3:5 “people of Ninevah believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.”

                Jesus said they “repented at the preaching of Jonah”.  See Luke 11:32

                And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.  (Jonah 3:10).  God saw fruits of their repentance.  Change of mind that leads to a change of action.

                B.   Zacchaeus –repented (Luke 19:6) and restored 4-fold whatever he stole (Luke 19:8-10)

                C.   David –Psalm 51, 2nd Samuel 12:12-13 “I have sinned against the Lord”

              D.  Woman at the well—John 4:28-29.

                E. Paul –what wilt thou have me to do? (Acts 9:5)

                F. Prodigal Son –Luke 16:18.  I have sinned against heaven.  Saw his sin and who it was against, and arose and came to his father.

               G.  Job  --42:6 Wherefore I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes.  Saw holiness of God “Woe is me! For I am undone;” (Isaiah 6:5) and dust and ashes were fruits of repentance. 

               H.  People of Thessalonica –1st Thess 1:9. Turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.  Not “adding Jesus” Hinduism, but trading in your dead idols for the true and living God.

               I.   Esau  --Hebrews 12:17 …he found no place of repentance though he sought it carefully with tears.

            Here we have weeping and yet it’s not Biblical repentance.   This again is merely worldly sorrow.

              J.  Son in the vineyard

                Matt 21:28-32   A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said Son, go work to day in my vineyard.  HE answered and said, I will not, but afterward he repented and went.  And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not.

Jesus likened the second son to the Pharisees who after the saw Jesus, repented not afterward, that they might believe him.  Jesus likened the first son to the publicans and harlots.  This shows repentance is more than just a change of mindBoth sons changed their minds, but it was their actions Jesus said was important.

III. False Views on Repentance

1)  Repentance is not needed in today’s dispensation.

                See Acts 17:30-31.  Then he winked at it, now he commands all men everywhere to repent because there is coming a day of Judgment.  This command is still in effect because that day is still pending.     (See 2nd Tim 3:16, 2:15)

2) Repentance is turning from every sin before Jesus will save you.

                               This is impossible, and works of penance. Further, if a murderer stops murdering, he is still guilty for his past crimes.

See James 4:17, 2:10, 1st John 1:8, Phil 1:6, 1st Peter 2:2,. Let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. (Hebrews 1:6)

3) Repentance is only a change of mind.

                See 1st Corinthians 6:9-11, John 3:3, Gal 5: 18-20, Acts 26:20, Mat 3:8  --Bring…fruits meet for repentance.  See  Revelation 9:20-21  --yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils.

4) Repentance is only going from unbelief to belief

                See Romans 8:7-8, John 3:3,20, Rev 21:8 (more than just unbelievers are cast into the Lake of Fire to perish---implies those in continuous sinful lifestyles.  see  2nd Peter 3:9 ..The Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. ---hence repentance targeted to more than unbelievers.) 

5) Repentance, like baptism, comes after salvation

                See Acts 3:19  --Repent and be converted.  Mark 1:15 Repent and obey the Gospel.

IV. Role in Salvation

                Steps to Salvation:  Acts 20:21

                A. Repentance toward God   --Turning from. 

               B. Faith Toward our Lord Jesus Christ –Turning to

Why must we repent?  Does sin send us to Hell or does rejecting Jesus Christ?

                The soul that sinneth it shall die. (Eze 18:4)  They that are in the flesh cannot please God. (Romans 8:8), we are born on the devil’s team, and yet we’re created for God’s pleasure (Rev 4:11).  

Someone with cancer will die because of the disease.  Neglecting the cure, rejecting the cure, being unconvinced of the disease, or receiving a false cure will cause death.   Those who haven’t heard the gospel are condemned already (John 3:36) ---so how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent?  (Romans 10:14-15).  The gospel saves –and changes—sinners!

                Jeremiah 33:38-40  And they shall be my people, and I will be their God: And I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me forever,…. and I will make an everlasting covenant with them… I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.  

                                Isn’t this a good picture of repentance, showing 1) the new creature (See Gal 6:5) and 2) that it is a miracle of God?

V. Where is Repentance in Gospel of John?

Repentance is implied in believing.  My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.  Ye must be born again. John 1:29 ---Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! Follow me, John 1:43.  John 3:21 –cometh to the light that his deeds may be manifest.  John 8:31-32 continue in my word… truth shall make you free.  John 8:36 if the son sets  you free, ye are free indeed! John 9:31 God hears worshippers. John 12:24-25 those who hate their life shall find it.  John 15:14 Jesus’ friends obey him.  John 16:13 Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth.  16:8 Holy Spirit will reprove of sin. John 21:15, 19 Lovest thou more than these?  Feed my lambs.  Follow me.

I think it’s clear that repentance involves more than just a sinner’s prayer trying to get a ticket to heaven.  Salvation produces a radical change in someone’s life, but only for the repentant sinner. The sinner must accept Christ, but Christ must first accept the sinner.  To be accepted, one must repent!