Upon completion of this post you will be able to:
- Write the Key Verse from memory.
- Explain the importance of repentance.
- Explain what causes men to repent.
- Name four things associated with repentance.
- Define conversion.
- Explain the importance of conversion.
- Define justification.
- Explain what it means to be “saved.”
- Use the parable of the prodigal son to describe repentance and conversion.
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
The last chapter defined “repentance from dead works” which is the first of the basic doctrines listed in Hebrews 6:1-3. “Dead works” were defined as sin and the origin of sin was examined. You learned how the original sin of Adam and Eve corrupted human nature and how this sinful nature is inherited by all men. You also learned how this corrupt nature results in all men sinning individually when they are drawn by this nature into actual acts of sin.
This post continues study of the first foundational principle of repentance from dead works.
Repentance from dead works was defined as “an inward decision or change of mind resulting in the outward action of turning from sin to God and righteousness.” Acts 20:21 calls it “repentance toward God.” By the act of repentance you turn from your own dead works of sin towards God. Repentance is a personal decision to forsake sin and enter into fellowship with God. It is the power of God which actually brings the change in the mind, heart, and life of the sinner:
Then God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
Repentance is a gift of God:
Him [Jesus] hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance…(Acts 5:31)
Although emotions may be involved in repentance, true repentance from dead works is a decision, not just an emotion. As you learned, sorrow for sins, shedding tears, etc., is not enough. This must be accompanied by an inward decision that results in an outward change.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REPENTANCE
There are several reasons why repentance is considered a foundational truth of the Christian faith:
GOD COMMANDS IT:
…but [God] now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30)
IT IS NECESSARY TO AVOID SPIRITUAL DEATH:
…but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)
IT IS NECESSARY FOR ETERNAL LIFE:
Through repentance the penalty of death is removed and eternal life is granted:
When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)
IT IS NECESSARY FOR FORGIVENESS:
God cannot forgive your sins unless you repent:
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 2:38)
IT IS NECESSARY TO ENTER GOD’S KINGDOM:
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)
IT IS GOD’S DESIRE FOR ALL:
God does not want anyone to experience the spiritual death of eternal separation from God in
The Lord…is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
IT IS THE REASON JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD:
I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)
DO CHRISTIANS REPENT?
In the first act of repentance, sinful men turn from wrong to right, accept the Gospel message, and become true believers in Jesus Christ. In the process of going on to perfection (which will be studied later in this course), a believer sometimes falls back into the old patterns of sinful behavior. According to the Biblical record, whenever believers sin they must also repent:
The believers at a city called Corinth had to repent:
Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance… (II Corinthians 7:9)
For I fear, lest, when I come…that I shall bewail many which have sinned already and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed. (II Corinthians 12:20-21)
The believers at Ephesus were told to repent:
Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent and do the first works. (Revelation 2:5)
CHRISTIANS IN PERGAMOS:
God told the Christians in Pergamos:
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. (Revelation 2:16)
CHRISTIANS IN SARDIS:
Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. (Revelation 3:3)
CHRISTIANS IN LAODICEA:
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; Be zealous therefore, and repent. (Revelation 3:19)
Wherever there is sin, there must be repentance:
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:8-9)
THE MESSAGE OF REPENTANCE
Because repentance is necessary for salvation, God made a special plan to enable the message of repentance to reach everyone. The call to repentance began in the New Testament with the ministry of John the Baptist:
The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way the Lord, make His path straight.
John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. (Mark 1:3-4)
Repentance was necessary in order for the Messiah [Jesus] to be revealed. Until Israel had been called back to God in repentance, Jesus could not be revealed. Repentance was the first message Jesus preached:
Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God,
And saying, the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:14-15)
Repentance was preached by believers in the early church:
…Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)
Today, believers still have the responsibility to spread the message of repentance throughout the world. Jesus gave final instructions to His followers that…
…repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:47)
WHAT CAUSES MEN TO REPENT?
Since repentance is a foundation on which the Christian faith rests, we must understand what causes men to repent. If you are responsible to spread the message of repentance throughout the world then you must know how men are persuaded to repent from dead works.
GOODNESS OF GOD:
The blessings of God in the life of an ungodly person are not to be mistaken as God’s approval of his life style. The goodness of God is one way the Lord appeals to men to turn to Him:
Despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)
The preaching of the Word of God causes men to repent. The preaching of Jonah resulted in the whole city of Ninevah repenting:
The men of Ninevah shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas. (Matthew 12:41)
As the Word of God is preached, people hear and respond to the call of Christ which leads to repentance:
I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
GOD, THE FATHER:
Jesus said no one could come to Him except the Father draw him. God draws men to repentance:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him… (John 6:44)
Rebuke causes men to repent. Rebuke is correction given from the Word of God:
…If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)
As you learned, repentance may be accompanied by emotion. Natural emotion alone is not true repentance, but Godly emotion leads to true repentance:
Godly sorrow [for sin] worketh repentance to salvation.
(II Corinthians 7:10)
THINGS ASSOCIATED WITH REPENTANCE
The Bible identifies several things associated with repentance:
Faith towards God is associated with repentance. It is listed in Hebrews 6 as the second foundational principle of the Christian faith. Repentance from dead works must be combined with faith towards God:
…Repent ye, and believe the Gospel. (Mark 1:15)
…Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
You will learn more about “faith toward God” in the next chapter as you study the second foundation of the Christian faith.
Baptism should accompany repentance as an outward sign of the inward change which has occurred:
Repent and be baptized every one of you. (Acts 3:19)
The doctrine of baptisms will also be discussed later in this course as it is part of the foundations mentioned in Hebrews 6.
The works of man, which the Bible also calls fruit, testify as to whether or not there has been true repentance:
The Gentiles should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20)
Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. (Matthew 3:8)
“Works” and “fruits” both refer to outward behavior which should change after true repentance.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.
Since conversion is related to repentance, you need to understand conversion.
Conversion means “to turn.” When it is used in connection with Biblical repentance, it means to “turn from the wrong way to the right way.”
And many of the children of Israel shall He turn to the Lord their God.
And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw Him, and turned to the Lord.
And the hand of the Lord was with them; and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. (Acts 11:21)
Conversion is turning from the darkness of sin to the light of God’s righteousness:
…to turn them from darkness to light. (Acts 26:18)
It is turning from the power of Satan to God:
…to turn them…from the power of Satan unto God. (Acts 26:18)
It is turning from worldly things to spiritual things:
…Ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God. (Acts 14:15)
It is turning from false gods to the true and living God:
…Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.
(I Thessalonians 1:9)
IMPORTANCE OF CONVERSION
Conversion must accompany repentance. You must turn from the wrong to the right because…
IT IS NECESSARY TO ENTER THE KINGDOM OF GOD:
Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3)
IT SAVES FROM SPIRITUAL DEATH:
He which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death and shall hide a multitude of sins. (James 5:20)
IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE BLOTTING OUT OF SIN:
Our sin is written in the records of God until we repent and are converted, then it is blotted out:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out… (Acts 3:19)
THE PRODIGAL SON
Repentance and conversion are best illustrated by a story Jesus told about the prodigal son. Read the story in Luke 15:11-24. This young man left his father and home, went to a distant land, and through sin wasted all he owned.
Eventually this young man realized his condition. He was hungry, lonely, in rags, and tending pigs for a job. Then he made an important decision. He said, “I will arise and go to my father.” This inward decision resulted in a change in his outward actions. He went home to his father to seek forgiveness.
REPENTANCE…THE CHANGE OF MIND:
Read Luke 15:17-19. The young man realized his sinful condition. He made a decision to go to his father and repent of his sin. This is an example of repentance, an inward decision which results in outward action.
CONVERSION…ACTING ON THE DECISION:
Luke 15:20 records how the young man arose and left the old life and went to his father to start a new life. This is conversion.
In his own sinful condition, every man has turned his back on God as his Father and on Heaven as his home. Each step he takes is a step away from God and one step nearer the spiritual death of eternal separation from God.
There is a major decision he must make. He must “come to himself” and recognize his spiritual condition. He must make a decision which will result in a change of spiritual direction. That change in spiritual direction will turn him from sin towards God. This is the first step in building a proper spiritual foundation.
JUSTIFICATION AND SALVATION
There are two other terms used in the Bible which relate to repentance. These terms are “justification” and “salvation.” God is the judge of all mankind. When you are living in “dead works” [sin] you are condemned before Him:
…but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:18-19)
When you repent from sin and make the decision to turn from your sinful ways this establishes a right relationship with God. This right relationship or right standing before God is called “justification”:
Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
The penalties for sin are physical and spiritual death. When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the penalty for the sins of all mankind:
For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (II Corinthians 5:21)
If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, repent, and accept Him as Savior, then you will not experience spiritual death of eternal separation from God in Hell. Although your physical body will die, you will be resurrected to eternal life. This is made possible through the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. You are justified, or brought into right relationship to God, by Jesus Christ:
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:24)
Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. (Romans 5:9)
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… (Romans 5:1)
When you are justified by repenting and accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior you are saved from a life of sin and the penalties of sin:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)
This is what it means to be saved and is what the Bible is speaking of when the term “salvation” is used.
It is God’s desire that all men obtain salvation rather than experience the wrath of God’s judgment of sin:
For God had not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ…who died for us. (I Thessalonians 5:9-10a)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)