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Section 4 .. The Heart Of The Matter/Repentance

 

003white  Index To   The Heart of The Matter ...  Sin,  Repentance, Salvation, Born Again Etc.

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Repentance
 

 REPENTANCE...THE MISSING MESSAGE

Carol Brooks

In the books of Revelation, the last words of Jesus to the church were Repent! 

ON THIS PAGE

Introduction: The Missing Message
Repentance... A Primary Theme in The Old Testament

God's 'Repentance'

Repentance... A Primary Theme in The New Testament

The Call To Repentance Was The Same in Both The Old And New Testaments

Repentance as Defined in The Scriptures... What It Is and What It Isn't
Biblical Repentance Vs. Worldly Remorse
Biblical Repentance... A Radical Change of Attitude and Direction
What Repentance Isn't

Ignoring, Watering Down, Or Falsifying The Biblical Message of Repentance
Ignoring The Biblical Message of Repentance
Repentance And Faith Are Literally Two Sides Of The Same Coin...
...Which Go Hand-in-Hand With Works.

Watering Down, or Falsifying The Biblical Message of Repentance
The New Testament Words "Repent" and "Repentance" are Explicitly Linked to Sin

Repentance... A Matter Of Life Or Death

 


Introduction: The Missing Message
There are two very disturbing trends in the modern church. Either

    1) Belief alone is being touted as the basis of salvation, with little or no mention of repentance. This, in spite of the fact that there is a mountain of Biblical evidence which says otherwise. Uncountable verses in both the Old and the New Testaments make it very plain that repentance is an indispensable part of salvation (which I will show a little further down).

    or

    2) The meaning of repentance has either been so watered down, inaccurately explained, or even falsified, that it no longer qualifies as one of the conditions of salvation.

In view of the above, it is wise to carefully examine everything the Bible says about repentance starting with the fact that it was a primary doctrine in both the Old and New Testaments.


Repentance... A Primary Theme in The Old Testament
Examples of instructions to repent abound in the OT. For example God's instructions to the prophet Isaiah were..

    "Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins. [Isaiah 58:1 NASB]

The Old Testament was chiefly concerned with the nation of Israel... a people that the Lord had chosen for Himself, given His law, which they vowed to keep, but failed to do so over and over again. Therefore, it is little wonder that the calls to repentance in the Old Testament were a call to return to God and keep His commandments.

Shb: The Hebrew word shb occurs almost 1300 times in the Old Testament (close to 150 times in the book of Jeremiah alone). Shb literally means to return or turn back, as seen in the following examples.

    By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return (Heb. shb) to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return (Heb. shb)." [Genesis 3:19 NASB]

    until the LORD gives your brothers rest, as He gives you, and they also possess the land which the LORD your God is giving them. Then you shall return (Heb. shb) to your own land, and possess that which Moses the servant of the LORD gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise." [Joshua 1:15 NASB]

    Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child's life return (Heb. shb) to him." [1 Kings 17:21 NASB]

Over and over again the prophets pleaded with the people to return (shb) to God, and warned them of the dire consequences of not doing so. 

    "Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return (Heb. shb) to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. [Isaiah 55:7 NASB]

    "If because of the sabbath, you turn (Heb. shb) your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, Then you will take delight in the LORD, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." [Isaiah 58:13-14 NASB]

    "If you will return (Heb. shb) , O Israel," declares the LORD, "Then you should return (Heb. shb) to Me. And if you will put away your detested things from My presence, And will not waver, [Jeremiah 4:1 NASB]

    "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Repent (Heb. shb) and turn (Heb. shb) away from your idols and turn (Heb. shb) your faces away from all your abominations. [Ezekiel 14:6 NASB]

      Note: Young Literal Translation renders this verse as "Therefore say unto the house of Israel: Thus said the Lord Jehovah: Turn ye back, yea, turn ye back from your idols, and from all your abominations turn back your faces". [Ezekiel 14:6 YLT]

    "Return (Heb. shb), O Israel, to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity. [Hosea 14:1 NASB]

    "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return (Heb. shb) to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; [Joel 2:12 NASB]

    "From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from My statutes and have not kept them. Return (Heb. shb) to Me, and I will return to you," says the LORD of hosts. "But you say, 'How shall we return?' [Malachi 3:7 NASB]


God's 'Repentance'
What may be confusing to some is the fact that the Bible also talks of God "repenting". However, when it comes to God, the English "repent" has been largely translated from the the Hebrew word ncham, which only occurs about 130 times in the Old Testament.  In the NASB, ncham has often been translated "relent" since it often been used in terms of God relenting, or changing His mind. For example,

    'Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent (Heb. ncham) of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.' [Jeremiah 26:3 NASB]

    'It will come about that just as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you that you may become a blessing. Do not fear; let your hands be strong.' "For thus says the LORD of hosts, 'Just as I purposed to do harm to you when your fathers provoked Me to wrath,' says the LORD of hosts, 'and I have not relented (Heb. ncham) , so I have again purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Do not fear! [Zechariah 8:13-15 NASB]

    Then the people of Nineveh believed in God; and they called a fast and put on sackcloth from the greatest to the least of them.... When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented (Heb. ncham) concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it. [Jonah 3:5, 10 NASB

    Thus the Lord GOD showed me, and behold, He was forming a locust-swarm when the spring crop began to sprout. And behold, the spring crop was after the king's mowing. And it came about, when it had finished eating the vegetation of the land, that I said, "Lord GOD, please pardon! How can Jacob stand, For he is small?" The LORD changed His mind about this. "It shall not be," said the LORD. [Amos 7:1-3 NASB]

The Bible tells of more than one occasion when an appeal from a human caused God to relent. More about this HERE

    "Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind (Heb. ncham) about doing harm to Your people. "Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" So the LORD changed His mind (Heb. ncham) about the harm which He said He would do to His people. [Exodus 32:12-14 NASB]


Repentance... A Primary Theme in The New Testament
Even a cursory reading of the New Testament will show that repentance is a primary theme of the New Testament.

Jesus Christ Preached Repentance
I do not see how any one can deny that repentance is crucial when Jesus Himself launched His ministry with a call to repentance

    "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent (Gk. metanoeo), for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." [Matthew 4:17 NASB]

In Matthew 9:13, Jesus said He had come to call sinners to repentance. And, even more drastically, in Matthew 11:20 Jesus denounced entire cities because they did not repent.

    But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Gk. metanoia) (Matthew 9:13).

    Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented (Gk. metanoeo) not: Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes (Matthew 11:20-21).

Jesus' warnings were as clear as those of the Old Testament prophets.

    And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, (Gk. metanoeo) ye shall all likewise perish. Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent (Gk. metanoeo), ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:2-5).

    "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents (Gk. metanoeo) than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance... In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Gk. metanoeo) ." [Luke 15:7, 10 NASB]

John The Baptist Preached Repentance
Matthew wrote

    In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent (Gk. metanoeo) ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camels hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance (Gk. metanoia): And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Matthew 3:1-10).

Repentance in The Book Of Acts
The Book of Acts which documents the transition from the Gospels to the Epistles, is a vivid account of the radical change which took place in the disciples, through the dramatic power of God. These disciples went from almost invisible in the days immediately following the death of Jesus, to being fearless agents of the rapid proliferation of the Gospel. As the word spread in ever widening circles, this crucial book provides us with excellent examples of the preaching of the Gospel by the 'pioneers' of our faith, whose inspired preaching of the Gospel was largely characterized by two words... Repentance and Faith. [All Emphasis Added]

    "Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 2:38 NASB]

    "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; [Acts 3:19 NASB]

    "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. [Acts 5:31 NASB]

    "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. [Acts 8:22 NASB]

    When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, "Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life." [Acts 11:18 NASB]

    "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, [Acts 17:30 NASB]

    how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [Acts 20:20-21 NASB]

    but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. [Acts 26:20 NASB]

Repentance in The Epistles
Nor did the message change, or get watered down, over time

    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 Peter 3:9 NASB]

    Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? [Romans 2:4 NASB]

    with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth [2 Timothy 2:25 NASB]

    Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, [Hebrews 6:1 NASB]

Repentance in The Book of Revelation

    'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. [Revelation 2:16 NASB]

    'So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. [Revelation 3:3 NASB]

    'Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. [Revelation 3:19 NASB]


The Call To Repentance Was The Same in Both The Old And New Testaments
However, there are those that believe that repentance is part of the Old Testament Law, and therefore does not apply to the New Testament believer, who is under grace.

    (Note... The word "grace" simply means an unmerited favor freely given by one who was not bound, in any way, to do so. However, in modern Christianity "grace" has become a very elastic term... stretched beyond recognition to cover a large number of false, and may I say it... completely preposterous beliefs. Anything in the Bible that the modern Christian finds too demanding or restricting, is usually ignored with the excuse that he (or she) is under grace).

The problem with this very misguided idea is is that the early apostles walked in the footsteps of the prophets, and urged the Jews to return to God. Noting that Metanoeo means to think differently or reconsider (morally to feel compunction), and Epistrepho means to literally, figuratively or morally revert or turn, Peter told the men of Israel...

    "Therefore repent (Gk. metanoeo) and return (Gk. epistrepho), so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; [Acts 3:19 NASB]

However, Paul used metanoia when he publicly taught that both Jews and Greeks needed repentance towards God and faith in Christ

    how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance (metanoia) toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [Acts 20:20-21 NASB]

God used the same word epistrepho when He commissioned Paul as ambassador to the Gentiles so that they might turn from light to darkness and receive forgiveness of sins.

    'But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you;  [17]  rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you,  [18]  to open their eyes so that they may turn (Gk. epistrepho) from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' [Acts 26:16-18 NASB]

In other words, not only was the message of repenting and turning (or returning) to God exactly the same preached in both Testaments, but the the New Testament used the same Greek words to urge both Jews and Gentiles to "turn" to God.

    For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned (Gk. epistrepho) to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. [1 Peter 2:25 NASB]

In other words, in the Old Testament, there was no returning to God without repentance, and nothing has changed since. Just like the ancient nation of Israel we cannt be accepted by God, unless we truly repent of our sins. There is no salvation without forgiveness for sin, and there is no forgiveness for sin without repentance. Therefore, repentance is an indispensable part of the Gospel.

It should be more than clear by now that repentance was, from cover to cover, a major theme in the Bible, which leads to the question... what is true repentance? The proper definition and understanding of the term, according to the Bible is crucial to our salvation.


Repentance as Defined in The Scriptures... What It Is and What It Isn't

Biblical Repentance Vs. Worldly Remorse
Repentance, as defined in the English dictionary, is to feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin; To feel self-reproach or sorrow for what one has done, or failed to do; to be conscience-stricken or contrite.

There are many people who feel genuine remorse for wrongs they have committed, have a real desire to change and make, what is often, a heroic effort to turn over a new leaf. Some succeed admirably and go on to lead worthy lives. However, while this is certainly more than commendable, it is not repentance as outlined in the Scriptures, simply because people who are simply penitent for something wrong that they have done, do not usually come to God seeking forgiveness.

Biblical Repentance is completely God centered, and involves a totally changed life.

That true Biblical repentance is different from remorse for wrongdoing is emphasized in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians. He wrote that he was glad that a previous letter from him (in which he had chastised them for various wrong doings) produced repentance that led to salvation. He then added that the sorrow of the world produces death.

    I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. [2 Corinthians 7:9-10 NASB]

Biblical Repentance... A Radical Change of Attitude and Direction
As a start, we have to accept full responsibility for our sins and can no longer blame other people for our problems. The full, literal meaning of the word "repent" in the New Testament is "to feel remorse and self-reproach for one's sins against God; to be contrite and to want to change direction." The operative word being "want." True repentance includes a desire to change, which will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19).There are three basic, but indispensable factors in Biblical repentance...

Intellectual: The intellectual component of repentance is a recognition of sin. However this is an exercise in futility if unaccompanied by the next two components [1]

Emotional: There has to be a change of feeling... a genuine sorrow for sin committed against a holy God.

Volitional: The word volition means the act of making a conscious choice or decision. In Biblical repentance this is manifested by turning to God and away from sin. People have to show by their conduct that they have contrite hearts, and genuinely wish to live according to God's laws.

    but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. [Acts 26:20 NASB]

    For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. [1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 NASB]

It can not be stressed enough that it is not enough just to turn away from sin; one must also turn to God for salvation:

    "... to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins ... should repent and turn to God ..." (Acts 26:18,20).

Once a person is in Christ, all things become new, as Paul told the Corinthians... "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." [2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB]. In short, Biblical repentance involves the whole man... intellect, emotions, subsequent behavior, and choices. The Prodigal son's repentance is a perfect example. He not only realized he had sinned against his father and God, but his actions proved his repentance was real. He arose and returned to his father.

    'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men."' [Luke 15:18-19 NASB].

However, it should be noted that repentance is NOT a one time event. As long as we live in our present bodies, then there will always be something to repent for. If repentance is not a regular part of the life of the believer, then that person needs to question their conversion.

    If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. [1 John 1:8-10 NASB]


What Repentance Isn't

    Changing Your Mind About God, yourself, and life, is Not Biblical Repentance. There is no question that when a person repents, believes and is born again their opinions about, and feelings towards, a number of things change. It is also an indisputable fact that when a person becomes a Christian, they do turn from hopelessness to hope, and from darkness to light. While, in this regard a "Paradigm Shift" (a change from one way of thinking to another) does occur, Biblical Repentance is specifically repenting of sin and wrong doing.

    Those that understand the term repentance to mean 'turning from sin', have the cart before the horse. Turning from sin is not the Biblical definition of repentance, but one of the results of genuine repentance, which is remorse or contrition for past conduct or sin..

    Sorrow For Wrongdoing isn't Repentance: The remorse, self-condemnation, anger or regret we feel when we make mistakes does not constitute Biblical repentance. Actually the prisons are full of people who fall into this category... they are very sorry they got caught, but if released would just go out and do it again. Even among those that genuinely feel remorse for what they have done and want to make changes in their lives, there are few that exercise repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Avoiding Sin For Fear of The Consequences is Not Repentance: Adjusting our life-style, demeanor, manner of speech and conduct so as to look better in the eyes of others, or to avoid consequences of socially unacceptable or illegal behavior does not mean we have necessarily undergone any real repentance. We may merely have changed from openly obvious sinners to hypocrites, which is worse. Obeying traffic laws because tickets are very expensive, or avoiding shoplifting because we could be badly embarrassed if we were caught, does NOT represent a righteous lifestyle. [2]

    Confession Is Not Repentance: Simply admitting to God we have made a mistake, and vowing not to repeat the same mistake again does not constitute repentance.

      King Saul was a perfect Old Testament example of this. He claimed to have sinned and even, on at least one occasion, asked pardon for his sin. However his actions did not change (1 Samuel 15:24-25; 24:17; 26:21).

      A second example was the Pharaoh after the 7th plague of hail and fire came upon Egypt (Exodus 9:22-27, 33-34), sparing the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived. Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time; the LORD is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones" (V. 27). However this was certainly not repentance since, when the hail ceased, Pharaoh "sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants" (V. 34). He refused to let Israel go.

    Pulling Up Your Socks Is Not Repentance : It certainly isn't unknown for people to turn over a new leaf.. to reform themselves. Alcoholics have stopped drinking, thieves have become honest citizens and prostitutes have become exemplary wives and mothers. This in itself is not Biblical repentance. Why? Simply because, as said before, repentance that is part and parcel of saving faith is God-centered. The gospel, calls for "repentance toward God..." (Acts 20:21). Again remember the words of The Prodigal Son... "I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee" (Luke 15:18).


Ignoring, Watering Down, Or Falsifying The Biblical Message of Repentance
I started this article with the statement that there are two very disturbing trends in the modern church. Either belief alone is being touted as the basis of salvation, with little or no mention of repentance. or the meaning of repentance has either been so watered down, inaccurately explained, or even falsified, that it no longer qualifies as one of the conditions of salvation.

Ignoring The Biblical Message of Repentance
The word repentance is scarcely ever heard in most churches today, pastors rarely calling for their congregations to do so. Instead the message heard from way too many pulpits has been watered down to just "believe" and you'll be saved. But is belief without repentance sufficient for salvation?

While it is true that Acts 16:30-31 does record Paul and Silas telling the jailer "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household", one has to take more than a cursory look at the account, before universally preaching this abbreviated message to all and sundry.

The apostle Paul was being held in jail, when suddenly, about midnight, a great earthquake shook the foundations of the prison, opening all doors and unfastening everyone's chains. This awoke the jailer who seeing that the prison doors were open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. The reason for the jailers reaction was that he would have been held responsible for the escape and, in all likelihood, executed. However Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, "Do not harm yourself, for we are all here".

    At this, the man fell down before the apostles and cried out, "... Sirs, what must I do to be saved? To which Paul replied "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house" (Acts 16:30-31).

It is entirely possible that, before the earthquake took place, the jailer had some inkling of who Jesus was said to be. Acts 16:25 records that Paul and Silas were "praying and singing" while locked in the stocks, which meant that the jailer undoubtedly heard their prayers and songs before he fell asleep..

However if Paul was urging him, as many in Christendom do today, simply to believe and accept Christ as "personal Saviour", then one would expect the very next verse to tell us that the jailer believed on the spot and was saved. However this is not the case. The text goes on to say... "Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him" (vs. 32). Apparently the "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ" was simply the introductory line, followed by additional information.

In other words, this account in Acts does not give us the excuse for the modern, highly abbreviated, version of the Gospel which, by itself, is no Gospel at all. Salvation involves more than simply affirming in one's mind that Jesus is Lord and Savior. In fact...


Repentance And Faith Are Literally Two Sides Of The Same Coin...
The Scriptures say, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel", which often causes people to ask "which comes first, repentance or faith?" However, the two are so intimately related that you cannot have one without the other. Repentance and Faith are NOT the same thing, but are literally two sides of the same coin. You can't believe without truly repenting, which doesn't happen unless until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in your soul. However, on the other side of the coin, you can not experience "Godly sorrow" without believing. [All Emphasis Added]

    And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

    repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:14-15).

    how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. [Acts 20:20-21 NASB]

In the Old Testament, there was no returning to God without repentance, and nothing has changed since. There is no salvation without forgiveness for sin, and there is no forgiveness for sin without repentance. Therefore, repentance is an indispensable part of the Gospel. Any so called Gospel message that does not include true Biblical repentance is insufficient to save... therefore, cannot be counted as the gospel at all.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not something we do to earn salvation, but without repentance there is no salvation. The Bible presents them as connected, but separate.

Therefore, if you believe that you have repented, but your life hasn't changed, you need to examine whether your faith merely consists of intellectual assent, which isn't Biblical faith at all. The Christian faith is a commitment to a covenant with God. It is life changing and life defining.

...Which Go Hand-in-Hand With Works.
Returning to the example of the jailer of Acts 16, we learn that he then took Paul and Silas "the same hour of the night and washed their stripes" (V. 33). This shows that, convinced by what he had been told, he wanted to make things right. That is repentance... a change of mind resulting in appropriate outward actions. The change itself does not save us from sin, but is the fruit of conversion. As the Bible says... [All Emphasis Added]

     but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. [Acts 26:20 NASB]

    Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17 NASB]

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. [Galatians 5:19-23 NASB]

    and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." [James 2:16-18 NASB]

    [See The Myth of Faith Alone]


2) Watering Down, or Falsifying The Biblical Message of Repentance
An example of the kind of half baked Gospel that is making the rounds of the churches today, comes from Saddleback, perhaps the most influential church in America today. In an article entitled Preaching for Life Change, Christianity.com quotes Rick Warren as saying

    If you go through the New Testament you will find repentance is the central theme in the New Testament. When I teach a seminar, I read them all these verses: Matthew 3:2, John the Baptist, "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near." Jesus, "Jesus began to preach repentance" (Matthew 4:17). The disciples went out and preached that people should repent. Peter, "Repent and be baptized every one of you." Paul, "Now He commands all men to repent everywhere." John in Revelation, "Repent." You just go through the New Testament.

All of the above sounds really good, except that Warren goes on to qualify the word "repentance". He says (All Emphasis Added)

    To produce lasting emotional life change, you have to enlighten the mind, you have to engage the emotions, and you have to challenge the will...

    I think one of the greatest weaknesses is people who are unwilling to humbly stand before people and challenge their will. A lot of guys are great at interpretation. They are pretty good at application, but they are not really willing to stand there and call for repentance. Now I preach on repentance on every single Sunday without using the word because the word is misused today; it is misunderstood. So I talk about changing your mind, and I talk about paradigm shifts. But really, every message comes down to two words: Will you? Will you change from this to this in the way you are thinking? Our culture is falling apart. If you are not preaching repentance in your message, you're not preaching. No matter what we cover, it has got to come back to change your mind, because your mind controls your life. [3]

In 9 Preaching Tips That Will Change Lives, published in January 2011, Warren says (All Emphasis Added)

    The biblical term for "changing your mind" is "repentance." But the word "repentance" is a wonderful word metanoia which means in Greek "to change your mind. Repentance is just changing the way we think about something by accepting the way God thinks about it. That's all repentance is. The new words for repentance are "paradigm shift."

    Pastors, we are in the paradigm-shifting business. We are in the repentance business. We are about changing people's minds at the deepest level the level of belief and values..... Repentance does not mean forsaking your sin. Repentance simply means to change your mind". [4]

Warren certainly hasn't changed his mind over the years. In a 2005 interview with Larry King, he said... (All Emphasis Added)

    "Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, everybody's heard the word "repent" and they don't really understand what the word means. For a lot of people, when they think of the word repentance, they think of a guy with a sandwich sign that says, "turn or burn," or, "you're going to die and fry."

    But actually, repent is the Greek word, metanoia (ph), which means literally "to change your mind." And it means that when I repent, I change my mind. First, I change my mind about God, I change my mind about myself, I change my mind about others, I change my mind about life. And a lot of people look at repentance as a negative thing, like I'm going to have to give up this, this, and this, and this, and like it's something terrible. You know, when I repented, Larry, years ago, I basically turned from hopelessness to hope, from darkness to light, from guilt to forgiveness, from loneliness to a family of God, from purposelessness to purpose, from having no meaning in my life to having meaning. It was the most positive change in my life." [5]

But is Rick Warren's take on repentance correct? While there is no question that when a person turns to the Savior and is born again, that person's thoughts and opinions on a number of subjects begin to change. He, or she, begins to see things from God's perspective, rather than a human one.

According to Strong's Hebrew and Greek lexicon, metanoia means "to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider (morally to feel compunction): - repent". However, the only thing that concerns us here is how metanoia is used in the Scriptures. Does the Bible give any indication that metanoia can mean changing one's mind about anything including, as Rick Warren says... God, life, oneself, and other people?

The answer is a resounding "no"!


The New Testament Words "Repent" and "Repentance" are Explicitly Linked to Sin
"Repent" (Gk. metanoeo) and "Repentance" (Gk. metanoia) collectively occur close to fifty times in the New Testament. At least half the occurrences explicitly link repentance to sin. For example...

    John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. [Mark 1:4 NASB]

    And he came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins; [Luke 3:3 NASB]

    So he began saying to the crowds who were going out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. [Luke 3:7-8 NASB]

      Note: The wrath to come is God's judgment against sin

    "I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance." [Luke 5:32 NASB]

    "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. [Luke 15:7 NASB]

    "Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. [Acts 2:38 NASB]

    "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; [Acts 3:19 NASB]

    "He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. [Acts 5:31 NASB]

    "Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. [Acts 8:22 NASB]

    "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." [Acts 17:30-31 NASB]

      Note: In this verse repentance is linked with God judging the world in righteousness, which means He judges the world of sin. "And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" [John 16:8 NASB]

    "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.' "So, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. [Acts 26:18-20 NASB]

    Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, [Romans 2:4-5 NASB]

      Note: The repentance in this verse is also linked to the wrath of God

    "But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 'So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. [Revelation 2:14-16 NASB]

    I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent (Gk. metanoeo) of her immorality. 'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent (Gk. metanoeo) of her deeds. [Revelation 2:21-22 NASB]

    "The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. [Revelation 9:20-21 NASB]

It is a sad commentary on the state of the church that the unknown man standing on the street corner with the sandwich board is more on point than the pastor of one of the biggest, and most influential, churches in America, who says "repentance does not mean forsaking your sin". Do not be led astray by the very broad, very inaccurate, definition of repentance that is being preached from Saddleback (and who knows how many churches like them). [More About Rick Warren and his book The Purpose Driven Life]

Do not be taken in by the re-shaping, and re-inventing, of the meaning of the word, because it is a matter of life or death.... yours!

Which brings us to another question... What, according to the Bible, is sin? An almost universal 'Santa Claus' mentality holds to the idea of rewards for those who's good deeds outweigh the bad, and punishment for those for whom the opposite is true. The subjects of sin and salvation are the warp and weft of very the fabric the Bible is woven out of yet, even when many Christians think of sin, they simply think of a violation of the Ten Commandments. The problem is that none of these views come anywhere near agreeing with the Biblical definition of sin, judgment, or even heaven and hell. This is simply because few know, or understand how the Bible defines sin. 003white [See Sin]


Repentance... A Matter Of Life Or Death
What you believe about Biblical repentance is, quite literally, a matter of life or death. God is holy, and he demands that we forsake sin if we wish to be a part of His family. On innumerable occasions, the Scriptures record God as warning that He will only have mercy on those whose repentance is real, but will destroy those who do not repent and turn from their sins.

    "So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the LORD your God has banished you. and you return (Heb. shb) to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons. Then the LORD your God will restore (Heb. shb) you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. [Deuteronomy 30:1-3 NASB]

    Seek the LORD while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. [Isaiah 55:6-7 NASB]

    Therefore, thus says the LORD, "If you return, then I will restore you-- Before Me you will stand; And if you extract the precious from the worthless, You will become My spokesman. They for their part may turn to you, But as for you, you must not turn to them. [Jeremiah 15:19 NASB]

    'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart. [Jeremiah 24:7 NASB]

    "Come, let us return (Heb. shb) to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.[Hosea 6:1 NASB]

    "Yet even now," declares the LORD, "Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments." Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in loving kindness And relenting of evil. [Joel 2:12-13 NASB]

    "Therefore say to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Return to Me," declares the LORD of hosts, "that I may return to you," says the LORD of hosts. [Zechariah 1:3 NASB]

The problem is, considering the innumerable instances where God says He will destroy those who do not repent, we are ignoring the voice of the Lord and His prophets to our own peril. [All Emphasis Added]

    God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. [Psalms 7:11-12 NASB]

    "Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord GOD, "Repent and turn away from your idols and turn your faces away from all your abominations. For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, and then comes to the prophet to inquire of Me for himself, I the LORD will be brought to answer him in My own person. "I will set My face against that man and make him a sign and a proverb, and I will cut him off from among My people. So you will know that I am the LORD. [Ezekiel 14:6-8 NASB. Emphasis Added]

    "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct," declares the Lord GOD. "Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you. "Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live." [Ezekiel 18:30-32 NASB]

    'Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds.' "And you will say to them, 'Thus says the LORD, "If you will not listen to Me, to walk in My law which I have set before you, to listen to the words of My servants the prophets, whom I have been sending to you again and again, but you have not listened; then I will make this house like Shiloh, and this city I will make a curse to all the nations of the earth."'" [Jeremiah 26:3-6 NASB]

    Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? "For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies," declares the Lord GOD. "Therefore, repent and live." [Ezekiel 18:31-32 NASB]

    I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3).

    Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, [Romans 2:4-5 NASB]

    Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lamp stand out of its place--unless you repent. [Revelation 2:5 NASB]

    "But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality. 'So you also have some who in the same way hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. 'Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth. [Revelation 2:14-16 NASB]

    I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent (Gk. metanoeo) of her immorality. 'Behold, I will throw her on a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent (Gk. metanoeo) of her deeds. [Revelation 2:21-22 NASB]

    Also See The Wrath of God

Yet, man in his sheer stubbornness has refused to heed in the past, refuses to heed now and, apparently, will continue to do so to the end of days.

    O LORD, do not Your eyes look for truth? You have smitten them, But they did not weaken; You have consumed them, But they refused to take correction. They have made their faces harder than rock; They have refused to repent (Heb. shb) . Then I said, "They are only the poor, They are foolish; For they do not know the way of the LORD Or the ordinance of their God. [Jeremiah 5:3-4 NASB]

    "Why then has this people, Jerusalem, Turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, They refuse to return. "I have listened and heard, They have spoken what is not right; No man repented of his wickedness, Saying, 'What have I done?' Everyone turned to his course, Like a horse charging into the battle. [Jeremiah 8:5-6 NASB]

    "Though the pride of Israel testifies against him, Yet they have not returned (Heb. shb) to the LORD their God, Nor have they sought Him, for all this. [Hosea 7:10 NASB]

    "But I gave you also cleanness of teeth in all your cities And lack of bread in all your places, Yet you have not returned (Heb. shb) to Me," declares the LORD. [Amos 4:6 NASB]

    The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; [Revelation 9:20 NASB]

    and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts. [Revelation 9:21 NASB]

    Men were scorched with fierce heat; and they blasphemed the name of God who has the power over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give Him glory. [Revelation 16:9 NASB]

    and they blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores; and they did not repent of their deeds. [Revelation 16:11 NASB]


The Days of Awe and Yom Kippur... Signs of Things To Come
And we are fools if we do not take the message of the Old Testament Days of Awe and Day of Atonement to heart. Far from being merely quaint ancient rituals that were peculiar to the Jews, they are poignant reminders (or types) of what is yet to come.

Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, which occurs on the 10th day of Tishri (the seventh month of the year) is the final day of the Ten Days of Repentance which begin with Rosh Hashanah... the Feast of Trumpets. Unlike other Holy Days, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur were not linked to remembrance of historical events, but were strictly a time for people to make a thorough assessment of their lives.

These ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, were called The Days of Awe or The Days of Repentance. As said on Judaism 101... "This is a time for serious introspection, a time to consider the sins of the previous year and repent before Yom Kippur". [6] It is held that, while judgment on each person is pronounced on Rosh Hashanah, it is not made absolute until Yom Kippur. The Ten Days are therefore an opportunity to repent and make amends, thus altering the judgment in one's favor. People prepared themselves with fasting and prayer because life and death hung in the balance.

According to the sixteenth chapter of Leviticus, Yom Kippur itself was a day of solemn fast, on which no food or drink could be consumed, and on which all work was forbidden. The solemnity of the occasion is highlighted by the fact that God said that anyone who did not "afflict his soul" on that day would be cut off from the community.

    "On exactly the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you, and you shall humble your souls and present an offering by fire to the LORD. "You shall not do any work on this same day, for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the LORD your God. "If there is any person who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. [Leviticus 23:27-29 NASB]

However, it is well to note that this was not just applicable to the ancient nation of Israel, and that we can blithely go forward and forget all about it. Although the church does not observe any of the 7 Feasts of Israel, they last thing we can afford to do is ignore them. All the Feasts were types... patterns or shadows of events to come... prophecies that needed no words. It is important to note that the Feasts..."holy convocations" that took place at "appointed times" were given by God in a set chronological order, therefore symbolized a sequence of events that would take place in the same exact order.

The first four feasts (Pesach or Passover, Unleavened Bread, First-fruits, and Shavuot the Festival of Weeks) have already been fulfilled... the first two by Jesus Christ on the actual feast days according to the Hebrew calendar. He was sacrificed on Passover, and resurrected on the Feast of First Fruits. The third Feast of Unleavened Bread carried great significance in light of His sacrifice, while Pentecost occurred on the exact day of the Fourth Feast Shavuot.

All of which makes it reasonable to surmise that the remaining three feasts... Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur the Day of Atonement, and Sukkot or The Feast of Tabernacles will be fulfilled in that order and on the actual feast day.

[See The Seven Feasts of Israel]

In other words, the ten Days of Awe are symbolic of the final days of the age during which repentance is yet possible... when mankind (and the church) will be given their last opportunity to repent. After Yom Kippur the doors will be closed. While the significance of the number of days is not known, there is a pertinent story in 1 Samuel that typifies the final ten days.

    When David and his men were on the run from King Saul, they asked from help from a "very great", and obviously rich man called Naval, who is described as "churlish and evil" and a "worthless fellow". In the past Naval had received protection from David's men, but refuses to help David, who then leads four hundred men to war on Naval. A potential disaster is averted by Abigail, Naval's wife who was not only beautiful, but "of good understanding". She, unknown to her husband, packed large amounts of food on asses and took it to David's camp where she asked David to spare her household, which he did. However when Abigail returns home she finds Naval very drunk and holding a feast in his house. So she says nothing until the next day when she tells him that she has made amends. Instead of admitting his error and repenting, Naval hardens his heart... Scripture telling us that "his heart died within him, and he became as a stone". Ten days later God strikes him and he dies.

This is the story of a man who was given the opportunity to be a part of the coming kingdom of Israel under David; a type of the kingdom of God under Jesus. He refuses the offer and, although he does not know it, has ten days to change his mind and repent. However, he does not do so, and is slain at the end of the ten day period... A foreshadowing of those people who, in the final days, will refuse to turn from their sin and seek God.

Yet, in spite of this graphic reminder of what will take place, it's business as usual.

Churches largely preaching a wimpy God... one that "loves everyone" and, like a celestial page boy, exists simply to give us our dearest wishes. And the man in the pew who has the cockles of his heart warmed every Sunday by a feel good sermon, and can leave church and go about his business... nothing having changed in his life...

Dont let that be you!

 

End Notes
[1] Based on Louis Berkhofs Systematic Theology, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (September 1996) Pg.486

[2] Notes on Repentance by Lambert Dolphin http://ldolphin.org/repentance.html

[3] Rick Warren. Preaching for Life Change. (Adapted from a Preaching magazine interview with Rick Warren.)
http://www.christianity.com/11574244/?p=2

[4] Rick Warren. 9 Preaching Tips That Will Change Lives.
http://www.sermoncentral.com/pastors-preaching-articles/rick-warren-9-preaching-tips-that-will-change-lives-767.asp

[5] Rick Warren, "Larry King Live," CNN, March 22, 2005. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/26/lkl.01.html. Also quoted on http://www.cephas-library.com/purposedriven/purposedriven_quotes_by_rick_warren.html

[6] Tracey Rich. Judaism 101. http://www.jewfaq.org/holiday3.htm

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