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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Repentance - part 1

The sermons at my church on Sunday were both so good and so useful that I felt like I need to share them with you, but I'll write about them one at a time. (This post has gotten so long I'm dividing it, too.)

Sunday morning's sermon was about repentance. It is sad to think how far even "fundamentalists" have strayed from the "doctrines of Christ," and the downward decline only seems to be accelerating. There are fewer and fewer pastors and churches that believe and preach the whole Gospel of Christ. Various elements of the salvation message are being denied and/or ignored. No longer is it generally believed that Christ had to shed His blood to atone for our sins. Instead, many people are leaving out the references to the blood in the belief that the blood is not necessary for our salvation. Repentance is another element that is oft rejected. The prevailing philosophy seems to be, "God is love and loves everyone regardless. Just pray a prayer, and He'll accept you, and that's the end of it." This kind of teaching is sending people to hell because as Pastor Bill Wingard says, "A lack of the teaching of repentance leads to false professions of faith."

Is there a Scriptural basis for the doctrine of repentance? The answer is an absolute affirmative. Here are a few of the many Scriptures that expound the necessity of repentance.

  • Matthew 9:13 "But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
  • II Corinthians 7:9-10 "[9] Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. [10] For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
  • II Timothy 2:25-26 "[25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will."
  • II Peter 3:9 "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
  • Luke 13:3;5 (both verses are exactly the same) "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish."
  • Hebrews 6:1 "Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,"
When God says something once, it is established; when He says it twice, it is important. The theme of repentance is a recurring theme throughout the Bible; therefore, it is of utmost importance.

Not only is repentance often cast aside, but also there is much confusion about what true repentance actually is. First, let's list a few things that repentance is NOT.
  • Repentance is NOT conviction - Conviction is a step along the road to repentance, but you can be convicted without ever repenting.
  • Repentance is NOT being sorry - Often sorrow over sin is merely the sorrow of being caught rather than the sorrow of repentance. Sorrow CAN put you in the right attitude for repentance.
  • Repentance/salvation is NOT church membership - Church membership is merely joining a body of believers; it will not save you nor does it mean that you are repentant. A great many church members are lost and on their way to hell.

Coming tomorrow: repentance defined and illustrated