REPENTANCE IS NOT JUST A CHANGE OF MIND
Nothing in scripture even hints at the idea that repentance is just a change of mind. One of the greatest diabolical attacks of our day by Satan is on the gospel/ salvation, and therein specifically against repentance and Christ’s Lordship. The Devil doesn’t want people to be saved, so he damages the area that will affect that to the greatest degree. False repentance is a false gospel. A change of mind only repentance is false repentance. I believe some genuine believers teach this simply out of ignorance, so I would like to be of help to clear up some of that. For those who teach this wilfully in spite of the massive amount of Biblical evidence against it, are classified in Scripture as false teachers and need to be marked and avoided (Rom 16:17).
God Himself demonstrates repentance in Scripture (not from sin obviously, but of a decision He had made and then subsequently changed His mind and plans towards man because of man's genuine repentance of their sin and change in action). Repentance attributed to God is found in 30 or so places including Gen. 6:6-7; Ex. 32:10-14; De. 32:36; Ju. 2:18; 1 Sam. 15:11, 29, 35; 2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Ch. 21:15; Ps. 106:45; 110:4; 135:14; Jer. 15:6; 18:8, 10; 26:3; 42:10; Joel 2:13; Am. 7:3, 6; Jon 3:9-10; Ze. 8:14-15. Most of these refer to God repenting or promising to repent if man would change. I have heard the false argument, even recently, that since God repented it must only be a change of the mind. No, all three faculties are involved in Gods repentance, like man — the mind, the emotions and the will.
So it’s not true that God only changes His mind, though there is obviously some difference to God’s repentance and man’s. Even if repentance meant just a change of mind; not having a corresponding change of action would mean nothing to the change of mind. It would just be a form of mental gymnastics, such as demonstrated by Esau (Heb 12:16-17). He even had tears! No place in Scripture where God repented was there not a corresponding change of action. For instance, when God repented of the evil He said He was planning to do to His people, the Christ-rejecting Israelites in the wilderness, what was the corresponding action? He didn’t destroy them.
But God didn’t just change His mind; He also changed His will followed by a change of action, which is the definition of true repentance. Sometimes His emotion of anger is involved, which is replaced with love and mercy and grace. Of course God never has to repent of sin or self or stuff or people, but that doesn’t change the definition of what repentance is. True Biblical repentance is a change of the mind and the will that always results in a change of action (for man that involves turning from sin, stuff [idols], self, and people with a humble, poor and contrite heart) which leads to a change of life (which is salvation, and obviously only pertinent to man). God doesn’t change. The change of mind only repentance is a faith of intellectual assent only, which is a false gospel (Gal 1:6-9; 2 Cor 11:4), a “repentance” that is shared with the devils (Jam 2:19).
Both the intellect and the volition (will) are involved in true repentance, two of the three facilities of man, the other being emotion. God is also God of emotions (anger, wrath, sorrow, crying, happy, joyful, etc). It is absolutely critical that that we believe and teach the Bible in what it precisely says. There is much there on its pages on any subject but especially on salvation. It is after all a Book of salvation. So it is imperative that we study out doctrines in their completion, lest we be found guilty of privately interpreting the scriptures (2 Pet 1:21) or wresting the scriptures (2 Pet 3:16-17).
There is no salvation without repentance (Mk 1:14-15; Lk 13:1-9; Ac 3:19; 17:30-31; 21:20; 26:20; etc). This is the gospel that John the Baptist preached (Mk 1:1-4; Lk 3:3-16), that Jesus preached (Matt 4:17), that the apostles preached as commissioned by Christ (Mk 6:12), that the apostle Paul preached (Ac 20:21, cf. v 24b) and that every born again believer will preach (Lk 24:44-48; Ac 17:30-31). John the Baptist did not preach a different gospel than anyone else, including what we preach today. John immersed those who demonstrated the fruit of true repentance. He, the forerunner prophet, was to Christ what repentance is to faith.
Jesus continuously preached repentance, His gospel preaching was based entirely around it (Matt 4:17), even when not using the word itself (e.g. Matt 10:32-40; Lk 9:23-26; 14:25-36; Jn 12:24-25; Mk 8:34-38, incl. the case of the rich ruler in Matt 19, Lk 18 and Mk 10), continuously throughout His ministry, preaching, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt 4:17; 10:7; Lk 10:9, 11; 11:20; 21:31). When Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom, He preached repentance (Matt. 4:17; 11:20-24). That is the hurdle lost man must overcome to be saved, for they hate the light and love their evil deeds (Jn 3:19-21).
They also love to be in control of their own lives (Lk 14:25) and the lives of others (Mk 10:42-45). Jesus “upbraid[ed] the cities wherein most of His mighty works were done, because they repented not” (Matt 11:20). That word “upbraid” is a very strong “negative” term which means to “cast in teeth” and “revile” and “reproach.” Jesus also pronounced “woes” 31 times in Gospels, which is an exclamation of grief, mostly based around those who wouldn’t repent. When Jesus sent out the 12 apostles, they were commanded to preach repentance. “And they went out, and preached that men should repent.” (Mk 6:12). That was the basis of their preaching, like Jesus. And it’s the basis of our preaching today as well (Lk 24:44-48; Acts).
Below I will briefly show that repentance is much more than an intellectual assent (a change of mind). It is in fact primarily a matter of the will (volitional—Rom 1:18-3:20; Mk 7:20-23) and requires a turning from sin and self to God in surrender to Christ’s Lordship for it to be true in the cause of salvation. This happens to also be the historic Baptist/Anabaptist position.
Looking at and understanding the words translated as repentance or its principles in the Hebrew (OT) and in the Greek (NT), forms a perfect picture of what saving repentance truly is.
1. The Hebrew words for Repentance, OT. None of the Hebrew words translated as repent or its principles mean “change of mind.” The verbs “shub” and “nacham” are used in the OT for the concept of repentance.
(a) “Nacham” emphasizes the emotional aspect of repentance, conveying the expressive idea and deep feeling of sorrowfully sorry, to regret something, and is found with reference to human repentance in texts such as Jer 31:19 and Job 42:6: “Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” It literally means "to pant; to sigh; or to groan" (Vines).
"It indicates the aroused emotions of God which prompt Him to a different course of dealing with the people. Similarly when used with reference to man, only in this case the consciousness of personal transgression is evident. This distinction in the application of the word is intended by such declarations as God "is not a man, that he should repent" (1 Sam 15:29; Job 42:6; Jer 8:6)." (ISBE). Though it’s used most frequently towards God, that doesn’t change the definition of “nacham” or repentance. Its sister word in the NT is “metamelomai.”
(b) “Shub,” means to turn away from sin/self/stuff/people and around to God and be converted, to abandon a course of action to desist from doing wrong (e.g. Is 55:7; Ezk 14:6; Hos 12:6; Jon 3:8). "Shub" is employed to indicate the thorough spiritual change which God alone can effect (Ps 85:4). Its two sister words in the Greek NT are "epistrepho” and "metanoia.” It is a common verb and most generally utilized to express the Scriptural idea of genuine repentance, a conscious response to forsake all (sin/self/stuff/people) and to turn to the righteousness only available and provided through Christ (De 4:30; Neh 1:9; Ps 7:12; Jer 3:14). It typically refers to God in His relation to man (Ex 32:12; Jos 7:26).
It appears in passages such as the following texts: “Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent (shub), and turn yourselves (shub) from your idols; and turn away (shub) your faces from all your abominations. ...But if the wicked will turn (shub) from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. ...Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return (shub) from his ways, and live? ... Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent (shub), and turn yourselves (shub) from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, …Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn (shub) from it; if he do not turn (shub) from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. ...Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn (shub) from his way and live: turn (shub) ye, turn (shub) ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezk 14:6; 18:21, 23, 30-31; 33:9, 11). Though this passage is geared towards the Israelites, it equally applies to Gentiles as noted in the same language used throughout Scripture for salvation of all.
“Shub” obviously means a change of the mind/will/emotions that leads to a change of action (turning from sin, self, stuff, people to God) which is the doctrine of repentance in the OT—the gospel is received in the same manner in both the OT and NT (Heb 11:1-6; Rom 4). Exhortations such as the above make it clear that Ezekiel is calling unconverted Israelites to salvation, which is the entire history of Israel as nation. They have never been saved, every book of the OT very plainly tells us that, and Paul says it in 2 Cor 3:13-16, as does the Hebrews writer in Heb 3:7-4:11 and Stephen (Ac 7:51-52). Ezekiel calls the Israelites, as he does all who hear, to enter into the promises of the New Covenant of a new heart and a new spirit (Ezk 36:25-27) through repentance.
Similarly, the fact that Ezekiel calls on the “wicked” to turn from his evil ways proves that the prophet exhorts the lost to turn from their sins in order to be saved. Ezekiel never employs the word “wicked” for a saved person (3:18-19; 7:21; 13:22; 18:20-27; 21:3-4, 25, 29; 33:8-15,19) but only for the lost, such as the idolatrous Babylonians who destroyed the Jerusalem temple (7:21). Indeed, not one reference to either the Hebrew or Greek word for “wicked” is referred to a saved person—the wicked are uniformly those headed to damnation, who are “turned into hell” (Ps 9:17) under the curse and wrath of God, in contrast to those who trust in the Lord, (by grace) are righteous, and thus saved.
2. The Greek words for Repentance, NT. None of the four Greek words (“metamelomai,” “metanoeo,” “metanoia” and “epistrepho”) translated as “repent[ed][eth]” or similar words that engross the principle of repentance (“turn,” “convert”) mean “a change of mind.” They mean MUCH more than that.
(a) “Metamelomai” is mostly used to describe the actions secondary to emotions concerning a certain course of conduct, such as regret about something, to be very sorry, bearing striking similarity to the OT verb “nacham.” This Greek verb appears 8 times in 5 different NT texts such as: “He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went” (Mt 21:29; see also Matt 21:32; 27:3; 2 Cor 7:8; Heb 7:21). The son obviously changed his action based upon his will, because “he repented, and went" (Matt 21:29). He turned from his evil rebellion and did the will of his father, like the prodigal (Lk 15). He got converted (Matt 21:29-32) just like the prodigal (Lk 15:4-32). The feeling of regret or even remorse on account of sin indicated by the word may issue in genuine repentance (Matt 21:29, 32), or it may degenerate into mere selfish remorse and regret (worldly self-sorrow) brought about by being caught in sin and the due consequence, which is false repentance because it brings no change of heart towards God, no turning from the sin and evil to God, as noted in the case of Judas the betrayer (Matt 27:3).
Although "metamelomai" is significant and properly reflects the sorrow and contrite heart that man has towards God in having sinned against Him (although may more often than not reflect a false repentance, a worldly sorrow) the central words for the NT doctrine of repentance however are “metanoeo,” “metanoia,” and “epistrepho,” though they likewise engross some emotional aspect of repentance on their own.
(b) The standard NT Greek lexicon BDAG (A Greek-English Lexicon of the NT and other early Christian Literature) lists all verses with the verb “metanoeo” under the definition “feel remorse, repent, be converted,” including the mention of repentance “of …immorality …of …sins …repent and turn away.” It is the most common word we find translated as "repent[ance][eth]” in the NT, being found 36 times in 32 passages (Matt 3:2; 4:17; 11:20, 21; 12:41; Mk 1:15; 6:12; Lk 10:13; 11:32; 13:3, 5; 15:7, 10; 16:30; 17:3-4; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20; 2 Cor 12:21; Rev 2:5,16, 21, 22; 3:3, 19; 9:20, 21; 16:9, 11).
This word differs from its close kin (“metanoia”) in its greater association with the mind, the intellect, where turning from and abhorring sin with compunction is based upon a reconsideration of the mind, to think differently. It is commonly defined as a change of mind and will with manifest tokens of regret, sorrow and contrition for the course pursued with abhorrence of one’s past sins as consequent to this after-knowledge, with a change of conduct for the future springing from all this. It always reflects a repentance from sin/self/stuff/people, which are forms of idolatry thus sin.
Compunction is a word often used to describe "matanoeo", meaning “a pricking of heart; poignant grief or remorse proceeding from a consciousness of guilt; the pain of sorrow or regret for having offended God, and incurred His wrath; the sting of conscience proceeding from a conviction of having violated a moral duty.” (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828). It’s what we see in particular with Pauls conversion in Acts 9. Consider a few representative texts with "metanoeo.”
In Matt 12:41 Jesus said, "The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented [metanoeo] at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here." Christ refers here to what took place in Jon 3:5-10. When the Lord Jesus spoke of repentance, he spoke of the kind of change of mind and will or heart that took place at Nineveh—which happens to be God’s standard of repentance for today (Lk 11:30-32)—when the Ninevites and their king “believed God ... and ... turn[ed] every one from his evil way,” where “their works” were evidence that they had “turned” (Jon 3:5-10).
In the single parable (v 3) of Lk 15, Christ illustrates the conversion of publicans and sinners (vv 1-2, 11-24) by the restoration of a lost sheep, coin, and son, while the unconverted and self-righteous Pharisees who thought they did not need to repent (v 2; cf. 5:31-32; 19:7-10) are illustrated by another son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1; Rom 9:4), who was not willing to enter his father’s house (vv 25-32) but greatly dishonoured his father because of his perceived superiority to the restored lost son (vv 25-32). When Christ spoke of repentance, he spoke of the attitude expressed by the words of the son that was lost but then found: “I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants” (vv 18-19). Such an attitude expresses the change of will/heart that results in a change of action (turning from his evil sins, himself, and unto the Father) and change of life doctrine of repentance.
(c) The Greek noun "metanoia” provides crystal-clear evidence for repentance being a change of mind and will that always results in a change of life. "Metanoia" is not the most common word translated as "repentance” as is commonly reported by repentance-deniers or changers; it is found 24 times in as many passages (Matt 3:8, 11; 9:13; Mk 1:4; 2:17; Lk 3:3, 8; 5:32; 24:47; Ac 5:31; 11:18; 13:24; 19:4; 20:21; 26:20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:9-10; 2 Tim 2:25; Heb 6:1, 6; 12:17; 2 Pet 3:9). “Metanoia” is similar in meaning as “metanoeo,” though it is a noun in the feminine, versus the verb of “metanoeo.”
Strong's defines it as "compunction for guilt". The emphasis in both “metanoeo” and “metanoia” seems to be more specifically the total change, both in thought and behaviour, with respect to how one should both think and act concerning sin and righteousness. Whether the focus is upon attitude or behaviour varies somewhat in different contexts, though the focal semantic feature of these terms clearly behavioural rather than intellectual. It is equivalent to the OT word “shub.”
Consider the following uses of this word. “Metanoia” is found in 2 Cor 7:10, which speaks of true repentance (godly sorrow) as contrasted with the “sorrow of the world.” The Greek word translated “sorrow” ("lupe") is also translated “heaviness” (Rom 9:2; 2 Cor 2:1), “grief” (1 Pet 2:19), and “grievous” (Heb 12:11). Godly sorrow concerns itself with God. The idea is a change of one’s mind/will and attitude toward God and sin, producing sorrow and contrition over our sins against Him, which then results in a change of action (turning, sorrow, surrender, denying self). This repentance is the product of Gods Word (2 Cor 7:8; Rom 10:17). It was the Apostle’s inspired letter which produced repentance in the Corinthians. It produced a change of action (2 Cor 7:11). The sorrow of the world, on the other hand, concerns itself with self and with temporal loss. It is merely to sorrow for the trouble that one’s sins have brought about with due consequence. Thus it does not result in salvation or sanctification, but only in death (2 Cor 7:10). Paul speaks about his ministry given by the Lord to the Gentiles, “that they should repent [metanoeo] and turn to God [epistrepho] and do works meet for repentance [metanoia]" (Ac 26:20). Many claim that this word or “metanoeo” merely means a “change of mind" but this is a false definition as we do not derive a definition from etymology alone. The same people typically refuse to acknowledge there are multiple words translated from the Greek into repentance.
(d) The Greek word "epistrepho" is translated into repentance–companion terms "be converted" (Mk 4:12; Ac 3:19), ”turn about" (Mt 9:22; Mk 5:30; Jn 21:20) and "turned" (1 Th 1:9) and is found 39 times in the NT in various contexts. It incorporates the change of direction, to turn, to turn about, to revert, to convert, to change belief or course of conduct, to change one’s mind and will and thus course of action. It also mirrors the Hebrew word "shub.” This happens for salvation, though it is used in the context after salvation as well (e.g. Lk 22:32). "That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted [epistrepho], and their sins should be forgiven them." (Mk 4:12).
Mk 4:12 is quoted from Is 6:9-10 "And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed." The word "convert" here is translated from “shub” the OT version of “epistrephos. “Repent [metanoeo] ye therefore, and be converted [epistrepho], that your sins may be blotted out.” (Ac 3:19).
Paul explains what takes place when men repent, are converted, and are born again: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned [epistrepho] to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Th. 1:9-10). Conversion involves a conscious and definitive turning to God and away from idolatry (stuff), self and other sins with the purpose of serving the living and true God and waiting for the return of His Son. Such a doctrine is very plainly a change of mind and will that results in a change of action and change of life. Nothing less defines true saving repentance.
In conclusion now, the Biblical doctrine of repentance always results in a change of action (turning, godly sorrow, surrender, denying self), not the view that repentance is only a change of mind and may not result in change of action or life. All four Greek words and two Hebrew words combined reflects the true picture of repentance and reveals a radical conversion, an allegiance of the will to God’s will, a transformation of the nature, a definitive turning from evil, a resolute turning to God in total obedience and submission, obeying the gospel, affecting the whole man, first and basically the centre of personal life, then logically his conduct at all times and in all situations, his thoughts, words and acts.
The words underlying repentance, or its synonyms or principles in both OT and NT provide overwhelming and crystal-clear evidence in favour of the position that true Biblical repentance is always a change of mind and will that always results in a change of action and always (in the case of man) leads to a change of life, and against the position of a “change of mind” repentance. Were the the latter position true, very many standard lexica’s would have to be in error, along with many verses of Scripture. There is in fact a Greek word translated as “change of mind” but its none of the four words covered above. It is “metabalo,” found once in the NT and translated as exactly that: “they changed their minds” (Ac 28:6).
A good summary of all three aspects of repentance (intellect, will and emotions) is noted in the salvation of the Ninevites (Jon 3:5-10). We also see God’s repentance, a change of the mind and will (“God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them”) resulting in a change of action (“and he did it not”) (v 10). The intellect is noted in that they believed what Jonah had proclaimed about Gods coming judgment (vv 4-5). The emotions are noted in their sorrow for their sin exhibited in a very striking way by humbling themselves, “cry[ing] mightily unto God” (v 8), “in sackcloth and ashes” (vv 5-6). Then the volition is noted, the purposed turning away from their evil ways and violence unto God in such humble contrition that even their cows wore sackcloth and ashes (vv 6-8).
This is the benchmark of repentance, God’s expectation of repentance for salvation, according to the words of God the Son (Lk 11:30-32). Also noted in this account of salvation of the Ninevites is Christ’s Lordship, which dovetails with repentance. The king of Nineveh “arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.” (v 6). He, the king of a very powerful and ever growing in power Gentile nation (Assyria), got off his throne so Christ could get on it — he set aside his kingly robes, took upon himself the garb of affliction and humility, and turned from all his evil ways with humbleness before Almighty God in acquiescence and contrition while crying out to God for mercy. This earthly king recognized his subservience to God, his evil towards Him and that God was God and he was not, and thus forsook all that he had in humble surrender to the King of kings and Lord of lords (Lk 14:31-34, 26-27). Repentant faith in Christ involves losing one’s life, that is, turning from our own way of living, exaltation of self and comfort, to surrender to Christ as unconditional Lord (Mk 8:35; Matt 10:32-39; Lk 9:23-24; 14:25-33). It’s an exchange of masters (Matt 6:24).
Saying the term “repent” and believing what the Bible actually says about repentance are two entirely different things. I know many preachers that redefine what “repentance” is — e.g. turning from unbelief to belief or synonymous with faith or a change of mind — but the Bible’s definition, as noted here, is very different. And true repentance always results in a super-dramatic conversion and changed life, both immediately and permanently.
Despite the existing large volumes of references to repentance in writers from the past, none is found where repentance refers to just a change of mind. The modern idea that repentance does not involve turning from sin/sins/self/stuff/people, or the Biblical truth that repentance does indeed involve turning to Christ from one's sin/sins/self/stuff/people are two radically different ideas, and one of them is highly displeasing to God according to Gal 1:8-9. Those who love God and take a stand on His truth including His salvation, will passionately love the true gospel and loathe, detest, and expose false gospels, and are never sympathetic to a radically different view of how the lost appropriate salvation.
A corrupt gospel is not a problem for some; two utterly contradictory views of repentance, at least one of which is Satanic, are fine as long as one holds to the KJV. Paul stated that "no other doctrine" was to be allowed in the church (1 Tim 1:3), and when Peter confused a lesser issue that only indirectly related to the gospel—not eating with Gentiles rather than only, hypocritically, with Jews (Gal 2:14), Paul withstood him to his face (Gal 2:11-14). For Paul, those actually promulgating a false gospel were not tolerated, "no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue" (Gal 2:5). That should be our attitude.
Sadly, for many, a corrupt gospel is to be tolerated, and with such an attitude, the truth of the gospel will not continue. Vast multitudes are screaming in hell today because of the abominable rejection of true repentance for a placebo. And vast multitudes more will adopt and teach their heresy, leading to the damnation of multitudes more, making many two-fold children of hell, if such apostasy continues to be tolerated. Anyone who cares about the purity of the gospel, loves the Holy Lord of the church who wants a pure Bride for Himself, or who believes in Biblical separation, should avoid anyone or any organization that doesn’t teach the truth.
A gospel that denies or changes repentance is “another gospel” (Gal 1:6-9; 1 Cor 11:4). Saving faith is never divorced from true saving repentance (Mt 3:1-10; 4:17; 11:20-30; 21:28-31; Mk 1:14-20; Lk 5:31-32; 11:32; 13:3-5; 15:1-32; 19:1-10; 24:44-48; Ac 8:22; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:18-20; Rom 2:4; 2 Cor 7:10-11; I Th 1:9; 2 Tim 2:24-25; Heb 6:1). I understand that some may do this out of ignorance, voluntary ignorance that turned into self-delusion. They've convinced themselves that this is salvation. But many purposefully, because they don't like the doctrine since they’ve never exercised it unto true conversion—they just easy believed without any true repentance and thus are false “believers” (Jn 2:23-25; Mt 7:21-23; Lk 13:23-30).
The enemies of repentance are the enemies of Scriptural doctrine, a true gospel, and how God told us to do it in His Word. People that reject repentance will argue it out of the gospel by means of circular reasoning. Instead of exegeting passages on repentance, they gloss over them and treat them very superficially. They make it clear that they do not want to actually know what Scripture says about it and thus salvation. To treat the most foundational issue of salvation—i.e. repentance—as insignificant, is very tell tale. These are likely heretics, since, firstly, scripture should never be handled in such a manner, and secondly, repentance is a huge part of the gospel which without no man can be saved.
“To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.” (Pr. 21:3). To love God and His Word is to hate every false way. “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold. Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.” (Ps 119:127-128).
REPENTANCE UNTO SALVATION
Jesus warned, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Lk 13:1-5). To perish means to die unconverted and burn eternally in the unquenchable fires of hell. There is no salvation without repentance. Todays churches are full of mere professors who are unconverted because they’ve never truly repented. They are fed a counterfeit “gospel” of self-gratification by false teachers who either pervert this doctrine (and other aspects of the gospel) or don’t teach it at all in their anemic “gospel” plans.
The new birth, which is not a process but an instantaneous event (2 Col 6:2), demands both true repentance and faith (Matt 21:28-32; Ac 20:21).
True saving repentance means a change of the mind and will that leads to a change of action, and for man, that always brings a change of life. Repentance involves turning from all known sins/idols: from general sin (Is. 55:6-7; I Th. 1:9; Ac. 26:20) and from specific sins (Ezk. 18:20-23, 28-32; Ac. 3:19, 26), and this is the change of action wrought from a change of mind and will. The major issue with lost people unwilling to repent is because of wilful rebellion and love for sin and self. We see that in Rom 1, where lost people “hold the truth in unrighteousness;” (Rom. 1:18-23).
What does saving repentance all involve?
1. Repentance involves turning from all self-righteousness (Lk. 5:31-32; 18:9-14; Rev. 3:17).
2. Repentance involves turning from our stuff—which is idolatry and covetousness (Mk. 10:21; 8:36-37; Lk. 9:25; 18:22; Ac. 14:15; I Th. 1:9), and from the world (Phil 3:8-11; I Jn 2:15-17; Matt 6:24; Jam 4:4; 1 Jn 2:15-17).
3. Repentance involves turning with contrition and compunction from going your way to God’s way with the desire, intention and motivation to serve and obey Him in holiness and righteousness (Ex. 8:1; Is. 55:7; Mk. 10:21; Lk. 15:17-21; 18:22; Rom. 2:1-4; I Th. 1:9).
4. Repentance involves turning from ones peoples, from loved ones, which is idolatry before God (Matt. 10:34-37; Lk. 14:26).
5. Repentance involves denying self and dying to self (Mk 8:34; Jn 12:24-25).
6. Repentance involves losing your life for Christ and the gospels sake (Matt 10:39; Lk 9:24; 14:26; Mk 8:35; Jn 12:25).
7. Repentance involves taking up the cross (Matt 10:38; Mk 8:34; 10:21; Lk 9:23; 14:27).
8. Repentance involves turning from false religion (2 Cor 6:14-18; Heb 6:1; Jn 4:23-24).
9. Repentance involves a desire to make things right with God (Lk 19:5-10; 2 Cor 7:10-11).
10. Repentance involves counting the cost (Lk 14:28-32; 10:21; Matt 13:44, 45-46) and forsaking all (Lk 9:57-62; 14:26-33).
11 .Repentance involves receiving Jesus as Lord, which means to surrender to the King (Mk 10:21; Lk 14:25-35; 19:12-27; 23:40-43; Ac 9:3-6; 10:36; Rom 10:9-13).
12. Repentance involves all three faculties of man: intellectual (Pr 1:29; 2:1-5; Jer 8:6; Rom 3:11), emotional (Ez 9:6; Ps 34:18; Ezk 6:9; 9:4 Jon 3:8; 2 Cor 7:10) and volitional—the will (Is 55:6-7; Ezk 18:30; 1 Th 1:9; Ac 14:15; Matt 13:44-46). In the N.T. repentance is described and translated by four different Greek words (three in the Old), and they are illustrated by all the above.
It is God, motivated by His own goodness, Who allots and enables repentance unto sinners under conviction (Jn 16:7-11), not only with repentance (Rom 2:4; Ac 5:31; 11:18) but also faith (Rom 4:5; Gen 15:1-6; Phil 1:29 — since true repentance produces saving faith, granting repentance is also granting faith). But the sinner chooses whether he or she will repent, and is certainly able to resist the grace and mercy of God. Many examples noted throughout Scripture, such as Judas Iscariot and Balaam.
Repentance is not a work—it’s demanded for salvation. The Bible says it and then it has nothing that contradicts it. Love rejoiceth in the truth.
But this is just one part of the equation. In repentance you must turn to God (I Th 1:9-10; Ac 20:21) for in repentance alone there is no merit. You don’t earn God’s favour or become inherently righteous when you repent. It is the blood of Christ, not your repentance, that is the ground of forgiveness; repentant faith is simply the means through which salvation is received. Only those wretched, ungodly, poor, blind, and naked sinners who come to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in humbleness and contrition with nothing but repentance receive mercy.
To these, salvation is freely given—for Christ came not for the “righteous;” (the self-righteous, the religious who refuse to admit they are sinners and ungodly and so refuse to repent—Lk. 5:31-32). The Lord Jesus will save the worst sinner, yea only the ungodly, who repents (Rom. 5:6); but they must repent, and it must be true to God’s Word. That is the essence of saving faith. If you refuse to repent but say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” and “knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev 3:17), you will never be with those who “have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 7:14).