A controversy exists over repentance being or not being a crucial part of salvation. Controversy exists over the Millennium, over the timing of the rapture, over the gifts of the Spirit, over God Himself — is He all love with no wrath? I believe I’ve answered most of these questions from scripture in AND THEN THE END SHALL COME, but in this article I intend to tackle repentance — is it necessary to salvation, and what is it?
Mark 1:14-15 Now after 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.
This gospel that Jesus preached is often said to be a different gospel then the the gospel we preach today because it is said that Jesus was offering at this time the earthly kingdom to the nation Israel. If that were true then Jesus was changing His entire plan as outlined within the pages of the Old Testament. Why? — consider, had Israel accepted this offer of an earthly kingdom then history would have moved into the coming age, with no promised blessing (salvation) to the Gentiles as prophesied to Abraham and through the prophets. With no possibility of you and I (whose names were recorded in the book of life before the foundation of the earth) to be saved. Isa. 53, as well as many other Scriptures would have become false Prophecy had Israel accepted the earthly kingdom at the preaching of Jesus.
The truth is that the Old Testament prophets prophesied that Israel as represented in the nation’s religious hierarchy (not God’s remnant) would reject Jesus death in her place for her sins and be widowed (Isa. Chapters 53&54). The promise to her after this widowhood was to one day restore her back into the marriage relationship.
Also Jesus own promises to her would have been nullified had He offered and she accepted an earthly kingdom at that time. Why? — because He stated that he came to lay down his life for His sheep. John 10:17-18 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”
Why would Jesus be offering something different, when His death was His Fathers commandment? He even states that His Father’s love was dependent on this. We can’t even comprehend what that means. But maybe what He requires of us can help us understand it:
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Many say that repentance has no place in the gospel message, many therefore say that there are two gospels, because Jesus obviously taught repentance. They say Paul did not teach repentance, but they misunderstand what repentance is, and what Paul taught. Paul taught that we Gentiles who were once outside looking in on God’s covenants and promises, are now one with the saints who before us possessed those covenants and promises, making us fellow heirs with them of the same promises. Included in these promises was the New covenant that Jesus procured by His death, burial and resurrection. This is the Gospel message Jesus died to give us this inheritance. The new covenant involves our death in Him and our resurrection both present and future as a new man. This is the process wherein He said that He would give us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
So what is repentance? It is turning away from something and turning toward following Jesus or God as represented in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Is repentance turning from sin? — yes, but it is first turning from placing our trust in the world system and our efforts to save ourselves by good works which itself is sin, and turning to put our trust in Him for life and eternity. In so doing He is free to reveal to us our sin and to write His laws upon our hearts. Through this process we become more like Christ and He loves us for keeping His commandments. God is going to one day Judge us based on what He has shown us to be truth. To whom much is given much is required. When we walk in repentance, we walk in the knowledge that He is leading us into all truth.
So getting back to repenting of sin, can we actually do that — yes we can turn from a lifestyle of sin which is a condition, but we can only turn from sins as they are revealed to us as individual sin by the Holy Spirit. We have no power over sin on our own except it be given us by God.
John in His gospel states that you and I, who have been born not just of flesh but of the Spirit, have been given the power to become the sons of God John 1:12-13). Repentance is part of the believers walk (1John 2:1-3). Keeping His commandments is a result of the Holy Spirits work in us as we yield to Him.
There is a reason why men resist the truth. Acts 7:51 “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
The circumcision of the heart is a new covenant promise. Paul tells us to not resist the Holy Spirit. Brethren walk in the Spirit (Gal 5:16-24). God bless you in your walk.