Is Repentance Necessary For Salvation?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Does God require us to repent before we can be saved? Can’t we just trust in Christ?

Repentance

One of our authors here, Daryl Evans, wrote that repentance “is turning from the way we are going and to go the other way. It is like doing a 180 degree turn in our lives. It is an acknowledgement that we are sinners and that we need a Savior.” It’s like John the Baptist’s call to the people to repent and be baptized, meaning they were turn away from their sins and “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt 3:8). They were to show evidence of having turned away from sin and having turned toward God. Jonah called Nineveh to repentance the king repented, saying, “Let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands” (Jonah 3:8). They were to turn away from their evil ways and violence and turn to God cry out to the “mightily…God.” Repentance is to turn or change direction. It’s to change one’s own mind about how we look at sin. What we used to accept, we now abhor, knowing it is sin. A repentant life shows a changed life. That’s because we are now turning away from sin and turning to God. It is more than just changing your mind about sin, although that does happen, but it’s also about changing how you live your life, or the choices you make.What Takes To Become a Christian

God Granted

Believe it or not, the Scripture tells us that God is the One Who grants us the ability to repent. Unless God’s Spirit quickens us to new life in Christ, we remain dead in our sins (Eph 2:1-4). The Apostle Paul understood that it was Christ that came to him, calling him, not the other way around. God sent Jesus so that His chosen people would repent and be saved (Acts 5:31). The Gentiles didn’t figure out that Jesus was the Savior and then decided to repent. Scripture teaches that it was to “the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18). He writes to Timothy that “the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:24-25), and if God grants them repentance, “they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Tim 2:26). Otherwise they, like us, would have been dead in our sins and unable to repent. We’d have as much of a chance as Lazarus resurrecting himself. He needed Jesus! So do we! God grants us repentance. That repentance shows up in a changed life, and we only then are we able to escape from the devil’s snare that formerly held us captive. Unless God had granted us repentance, we would still be in Satan’s grip.

Godly and Worldly Sorrow

Sometimes people confuse worldly sorrow with godly sorrow. They may think they have godly sorrow, but if they have not repented of that which is causing them the sorrow, then it’s not godly sorrow, or God-granted repentance. The 5 year-old-child is sorry for getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar, but if he does it again, he hasn’t really repented of it. The husband feels ashamed that his wife caught him cheating on her. That’s worldly sorrow and not repentance. If it were godly repentance, the man would repent of that act, stop cheating on his wife, and he would confess it. Being sorry for our sins is not repentance. That is regret or remorse. True repentance produces a godly and obedient life. This doesn’t mean they’ll be sinless, but they will live a life where one sins less over time.

Is Repentance Works?

Isn’t repentance a form of works? Well, can we say that baptism is a works too, since we are only saved by grace alone, a free gift from God (Eph 2:8-9), but still told to be baptized. Many Christians have never been baptized and they are living in disobedience for not doing so. Baptism is still commanded, just as everyone is commanded to repent (Acts 17:30). It’s not, “I will save you freely, now just finish it by getting baptized or by repenting of your sins…otherwise you won’t be saved.” It is more like God giving us His Spirit after we trust in Christ, and then we begin desire to repent of our past sins and past life. God’s Spirit convicts us of our sins and shows us our need for the Savior. God grants all of this ability to us…including our ability to want to repent in the first place, so repentance is not works, where we are completing or adding to our salvation. Repentance is a fruit of salvation. Whoever does what is right, is righteous, so says the Apostle John in 1 John 3, and if a person does righteous things, they only do them by God’s Spirit. Repentance is not a works where we complete or finish our salvation. Repentance is when we turn to God and turn away from our former lives and all the things we used to practice (Gal 5:19-21), but unless God had granted us the ability or desire to repent, we’d still be held captive by the god of this world.

Conclusion

We can thank God that He grants repentance because we can only trust in Christ if the Spirit of God has awakened us. For him to die for ungodly, wicked enemies of God (Rom 5:6-10), is more than I can comprehend. Why He would be so gracious to a wicked servant and grant me repentance that I might be saved, is astonishing. Repentance is necessary for salvation, but even repentance doesn’t depend on man or woman, but upon God’s Spirit. This is why He alone is worthy of all honor, praise, and glory. To Him alone we give our thanks. I want to thank you God for granting us the ability to repent, so that we might put our trust in Christ and be saved.

Here is some related reading for you: What Does the Bible Say About Repentance? A Christian Study

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Randall March 11, 2019 at 12:16 am

ACTS 2:38 = Repent and be baptized = Metanoeo -Meta change and noeo means the mind, to change ones mind. 3340 in Strong’s. Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them Metanoeo= Repent Change your mind about Christ and be baptized.

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Talking Christianity March 25, 2019 at 1:25 pm

The term to repent is to the Jews and to the Gentiles the term was never used but the word believe is used. The Jews need to change their mindset/thought about Jesus and accept Him as the messiah. However, the Gentiles don’t need to repent but to believe in Him. Interestingly, Apostle John never used the term to repent but the word believe.

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Jack Wellman March 25, 2019 at 2:22 pm

Hello friend. Jesus said that the gospel includes repentance and faith or belief (Mark 1:14-15), so why would Gentiles not need to repent but the Jews do? The Apostle John did not mention repentance in his gospel, but it’s mentioned over 100 times in the New Testament. You are arguing from silence from one book in the Bible to say repentance is not necessary for Gentiles, but it is commanded, Paul said, for all men everywhere, to repent. That’s biblical truth. What you have I am not sure who or where you learned it. To teach repentance is not needed for Gentiles is to cut in half the gospel! Then you have no gospel at all. The demons believe in Jesus but that doesn’t mean they’re saved.

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Randall April 2, 2019 at 12:00 am

Repent and believe are two sides of the same coin. You can’t believe without repenting and you can’t repent without believing.

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Randall April 2, 2019 at 12:09 am

In one of your other forms you were talking about Rc Sprouls . Just type in who’s who in bible prophecy and you will find out the truth about allot of pastors, and what they really believe.

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