What Happened to the
Doctrine of Repentance
C.H. Spurgeon once made
the statement: "Brethren, we shall not adjust our Bible to the age,
but the age to the Bible."
We are living in
a day and age where man is taught to think good thoughts, high
thoughts, wonderful thoughts about himself. Within the last 20 years
or so there has been a covert invasion in Christianity in America
without hardly a whimper of protest. This invasion can best be
described as "Christian" psychology which is nothing more than
watered-down humanism. While there are millions of people searching
for answers to their complicated problems created by their
increasingly complex lives, psychology comes along and attempts to
answer and solve man's sin problems and its consequences through the
building up and restoration of man's self- esteem and self-image. We
are told today to get in touch with our inner self and ask the
question: "How do you feel about yourself?" The bottom line is, it
doesn't amount to a hill of beans what we think or feel about
ourselves, but what does the
Bible say and teach.
This matrimony between
psychology and Christianity has created an unholy alliance which is
producing some strange children that are permitting, promoting, and
preaching deceiving, dangerous, and damnable false doctrines. This
diabolical psycho-babble of self-love is sweeping through churches
today among self-seeking men in a self-centered society whose
greatest problem is a desire to worship at the altar of self. The
apostle Paul warned us that one of the characteristics of the last
days would be that "men shall be lovers of their own selves"
I'm afraid many have
fallen into the trap of teaching this mushy self-worth propaganda
that seeks to camouflage itself in robes of charity and tolerance.
Churches and preachers alike are abandoning their God-called purpose
of holding up the mirror of God's Word and graphically revealing to
man what he really looks like in the sight of a holy God. The
missing message in modern-day preaching is the biblical doctrine of
repentance where a sinner is convinced and convicted of his
exceeding sinfulness and lost condition.
that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the
gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and
the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."
When the very Son of
God, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared upon the scene in His public
ministry, He came preaching the narrow and exclusive doctrines of
repentance and faith. If Jesus felt compelled to preach such a
message before a lost and dying world, so should we. Galatians 1:6-9
teaches that there is only one gospel and any gospel message that
leaves out the doctrine of repentance or faith or both, you can be
assured it is a false gospel.
The words "repent,"
"repentance," and "repented" are mentioned over 100 times in the
Bible. There has been a lot of misunderstanding and confusion over
what the word repentance means. When the word "repent" is used in
the Word of God in the context of biblical salvation it is referring
to a truly God-given, Spirit-led change of heart and mind toward God
therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
(Acts 3:19). The greatest need for any sinner is have his sins
blotted out but a man will never have the pardon of sin while he is
in love with his sin. There must be a hatred of sin, a loathing of
it, a turning from it. Repentance is a revolution in dealing with
our attitude and view towards sin and righteousness. Repentance is
not something one does with his hands but it is an inward attitude
of the soul. Sin must become, in the eyes of the sinner, exceedingly
All Sinners Are
Everyone knows they are
not perfect but for most sinners that is consolation, not
condemnation. But the Bible declares all sinners are already
condemned: "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn
the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that
believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is
condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the
only begotten Son of God." (John 3:17-18)
The problem is "all
have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23).
Man, in his lost, sinful, condemned state, has failed to glorify
God. Until a person becomes personally exceeding sinful in his own
eyes, he will never see his need for repentance. Eph.2:1 says man is
spiritually dead; Rom.3:10 and Isa.64:6 tells us no one is righteous
before a holy God; Rom.3:19 says all stand guilty and condemned
before God; Eph.4:18 declares all sinners are separated from God
whose hearts and minds are blinded so that they cannot understand
God or the things of God.
involves two facts: the fact of sin and the fact of God's grace. If
a person is not a sinner, he would not need to repent and if God was
not the God of all grace, it would do no good to repent. Repentance
implies sin, sorrow for it, and a changed attitude towards God about
It should be stressed
that repentance comes only from God (Rom.2:4), that it is a divine
gift of God (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25).
The Nature of
In true biblical
repentance there will be three things to occur as God does a work of
grace upon the sinner's heart:
-- where sin is admitted.
Man must see himself as a lost, ruined, guilty, desperately wicked
sinner without hope or help, in danger of hell. In repentance, a
lost sinner not only sees himself as a sinner, but he recognizes the
fact that he has sinned against a righteous and holy God. The
message that Paul preached was: "repentance toward God, and faith
toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). In repentance there
will be confession of sin to God (Ps.32:5; 51:1-4).
-- where sin is abhorred.
When one sees himself as he appears before God, he is brought to a
place where there is godly sorrow for his sin and hates it
"For I will
declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin."
(Psalms 38:18); "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation
not to be repented of...." (2 Corinthians 7:10)
To hate sin is to love
God. In true repentance there is not only the desire to escape the
consequences of sin but to be rid of sin itself as a thing
displeasing to God.
-- where sin is abandoned.
Repentance involves the forsaking of sin:
"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his
thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy
upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
(Isaiah 55:7); "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but
whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs
Repentance is not only
a heart broken for sin, but also from sin. We must forsake what we
would have God forgive.
It should be stressed
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
In true repentance
there is conviction, contrition, and conversion as one turns from
his sin to Christ for salvation. Salvation is deliverance of a
person from his sin, not merely from a sinful environment. Jesus
Christ is the Saviour from not only the penalty and punishment of
sin, but also the power of sin.
Why Did Jesus Come?
"... I am not
come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
(Matthew 9:13) The reason Jesus came to this earth was to call
sinners to repentance and those who did not see themselves as
sinners, deserving God's wrath, were not candidates for God's
salvation. The sinner must reject his own righteousness because
Jesus did not come to call the righteous, not even the
self-righteous. The only way a sinner will come to reject his own
righteousness is by coming face to face with his own wickedness. You
can take it from the lips of Jesus Himself as a settled issue that
He will not call the righteous. Only those to whom it is revealed
that they are lost, depraved, ungodly sinners will respond to the
calling of the Saviour in salvation.
Commanded To Repent and Believe
Jesus soundly declared
the message in His day: "repent ye, and believe the gospel."
Repentance and faith are inseparable and occur simultaneously in a
sinner's heart; you cannot have one without the other. The order as
given in the Bible is repentance and faith (Mk.1:15; Acts 20:21;
26:20; 2 Tim.2:25; Heb.6:1).
Repentance is turning
from sin and faith is turning to Christ. Repentance comes about
through the convicting power of the Spirit of God using the Word of
God to cause a change of attitude, action, and affection.
Saving faith is trust
in and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ as one's personal Lord and
Saviour. Saving faith is believing with your heart, it is coming to
Christ, receiving Christ, looking to Christ, calling upon Christ to
save your soul.
Yes, Jesus said you
must repent and believe the gospel because the gospel of Christ is
the power of God unto salvation, to every one that believes
(Rom.1:16). The gospel, the good news for every sinner, is that
Christ died on the cross for our sins, as our Substitute, and shed
His precious blood to wash away our sins and arose from the dead on
the third day in order that we might have the forgiveness of sins
and have eternal life through Him. Salvation of one's soul is the
most important thing in this whole world.
faith is nothing more than remorse or regret; faith without
repentance makes Christ nothing more than a fire escape. There must
be a work of repentance and faith upon the sinner's heart before
salvation can become a reality. Repentance is caused by the working
of the Holy Spirit who takes the Sword of the Spirit and slays the
sinner's self-righteousness, self- goodness, self-decency,
self-esteem and causes him to cry out: "God be merciful to me a
sinner" (Lk.18:13) and "what must I do to be saved?"
Serious Questions To
Is the preaching of
Jesus thought so enough
that He preached it. John the Baptist preached it (Matt.3:1-2). The
apostles were commanded to preach it: "And that repentance and
remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations,
beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:47)
Who is commanded to
"And the times
of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every
where to repent:" (Acts
17:30). The good, the bad, the rich, the poor, the old, the young,
the educated, the uneducated -- every man must repent because we are
all sinners. Notice it is God's command that is to be obeyed now.
What happens if you
"I tell you,
Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
(Luke 13:3,5) The worst thing in the world for any person is to
perish in their sins without Christ as their Saviour and spend an
eternity in the lake of fire, to be tormented and suffer forever and
"For God so
loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever
believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For
God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that
the world through him might be saved."
Turn from your self and
sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ to save your soul -- that is
the sinner's only hope.
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