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09 July, 2013

Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?

Romans 2: 4  “Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

I have read on several occasions that there is no need for repentance to be saved. I have no idea what that means. The Bible could not be clearer on this subject. So, what would possess someone to say you do not need repentance is beyond me. Luke 13:3 “tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.” The Bible tells us that God is the one that brings repentance into the heart and 2 Tim 2: 25 “Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to knowledge of the truth.” Sadly, with our washed down gospel, the opponents are right here in the Church with us today.

Until God brought the gift of repentance to my heart, I had no idea that I was going through my Christianity without ever truly repent. All of us have the ability to babble some words and ask God for forgiveness, especially before communion time, we close our eyes and in all the sincerity we have in our heart we ask Him to forgive our sins. But what does that means? If repentance has not been granted to you by God, then you go on recycling the same old things over and over again.

This is why ignorance is truly sad. I remember my father used to say “I’d rather have the fever than being ignorant” I have no idea where he got this saying from. But as I became a true Christian, I realized how this silly saying is so important. With ignorance, it is like being born blind and you go through life never knowing that it is not normal to be born this way.  Mind you, in such case, it would be a blissful ignorance, but not when it comes to God’s Word. As we go through our own mechanical repentance, we have no idea that we are not right with Him and we never quite get what the word of God means in Mathew 3:8 the new living translation says it better “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God”

The fruit of your repentance is not an outward thing, but, rather the work of the Holy Spirit gets you there, by changing your mind and your heart. Only then the outward action is right. Only then, the fruit and the work of your faith are pleasing to God. And this is also the only way you do not keep recycling the same sins decades after decades.  Without knowing what true repentance of the heart means, you never move forward, you can never grow spiritually in grace. And I do not care if you memorize the whole Bible and other ignorant like you have appointed you to a leadership role.

This is also why I like using myself as a prototype when I Blog. Most of you know that they do not come more clueless than I. The point I am trying to make when I use myself as an example is that we do not have to remain and die in our ignorance. I use myself because I am grateful for His grace at work in me. If one person can come off their pedestal and acknowledge their need for Him, through reading me, then it is worth making a fool of myself, because God is not looking for quantity, but quality. Most of us what we need is to stop living in our self-righteousness, our man made morality with our precious do’s and donts list. We have not gotten to the place where we have hearts like the poor publican sinner.

Repentance goes hand in hand with Salvation. Not accepting it as such, is like trying to convince people that it is possible to have a coin with one side only, and we all know it is impossible. Even if the other side is blank but it has to be there. I am not saying that repentance has to enter our hearts right away when we receive salvation, but you can be sure saving faith in your heart will lead you to repentance sooner or later and whether you like it or not. If you never experience true repentance in your heart where you come face to face with God, then I can say with no qualm and God will be my judge on this, YOU DO NOT HAVE SAVING FAITH. I have learned it directly from Him, therefore I will not compromise to make someone else feel good. I serve God, not man.

True repentance in the heart whether we like it or not we find that it changes our mind as well as produce actions. And the word of God is clear on that as well because we are told that it leads us to the knowledge of the truth in 2 Tim 2: 25.  When the gift of true repentance enters your heart, you will find yourself face to face with God Himself. It is a transaction between you and God the Father. Then you will be saying oh! That’s what you meant in Acts 20:21 “… That they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Until then, I did not care about the distinction. But notice two important things in this tiny verse: First, repentance has been distinguished from faith. Second, repentance is toward God the Father.

It is both, blissful and bittersweet experience when your heart comes to the realization as to why God hates sin with a passion. All of the sudden the exceeding sinfulness of man before God, His purity and Holiness that cannot come in contact with sin and His grace and mercy that He showers on you. As you come to grip with Christ’s suffering, the abhorrence of sin, the heavy grief in your soul for finding out who you truly are, they all bring you down to your knees and your heart melt. Through the pain of all that you have come in contact with, you realize even though you are undeserving, yet, He is washing you in his love, it is like you are bathing in it. The uncontrollable tears flowing down your face while you are down on the floor and you cannot help it never to have anything to do with sin anymore, because of what it looks like, because of God’s indignation and because of what it cost Him. Guess what? You do not have to force yourself to feel that way, it is just being put into your heart and it is becoming who you are. Only then, your soul understands the difference between being saved in your sins and saved from sins.