Friday 2 September 2016


Believers are saved when we trust in Christ. Does it mean that repentance and obedience are optional?

Radical no-lordship proponents assert that repentance is not part of the gospel, arguing that we only need to believe. When the jailer asked Paul and Silas what he must do to be saved, the latter replied: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household” (Acts 16:31).

But faith is a word with broad ramifications. If a person claims he believes in Jesus but fails to make Him Lord in his life—and continues to willfully live in sin—his belief is fake, spurious and questionable. Without repentance and obedience, belief alone is empty. Genuine faith has to be evidenced by good works. Faith, by itself, without works, is dead (James 2:17, James 2:26).

True repentance involves not only believing that Jesus paid the price for our sins but turning away from sin and turning towards God in obedience. Repentance must involve a change in thought and behaviour—and goals, aspirations and lifestyle as well.

A change in behaviour, in itself, does not constitute true repentance, which involves a change in mind, heart and will and, consequently, transformed behaviour.

According to Berkhof, repentance has intellectual, emotional and volitional components. The intellectual element of repentance is described as "a change of view, a recognition of sin as involving personal guilt, defilement, and helplessness." The emotional element is seen as "a change of feeling, manifesting itself in sorrow for sin committed against a holy God." The volitional element involves "a change of purpose, an inward turning away from sin, and a disposition to seek pardon and cleansing" (Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 486).


Perhaps those who claim that repentance is insignificant—not part of the gospel—have not considered the following passages:

  • Jesus, having emerged victorious from the temptation in the wilderness, preached: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15).

  • Peter, in the first sermon given at Pentecost: “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2: 38).

  • Paul affirmed that “I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21).

  • In his defence before King Agrippa, Paul stressed: “I preached first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that all must repent of their sins and turn to God—and prove they have changed by the good things they do” (Acts 26:20).

  • Though he was the forerunner to Jesus, John the Baptist preached on repentance: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). He also urged the people to bear fruits in keeping with repentance (Luke 3:8).

  • Finally, Christ used an incident to illustrate the fact that, unless we repent, we will all perish. Some Galileans, while offering sacrifices in the temple of Jerusalem, were killed by Pilate soldiers and their blood were mixed with that of the sacrifices at the altar. To those who think that these unfortunate souls must have been great sinners, Christ has this to say: “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).

Let’s not be fooled by those who tell you that repentance is not part of the gospel. They are only trying to pull the wool over your eyes. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

The gospel, which offers salvation by grace through faith in Christ’s atoning work at the cross, has all these elements:  
  • Faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, Acts 16:31, John 1:12)
  • Confession with our lips and belief in our heart (Romans 10:9)
  • Repentance (Acts 2:38, Acts 20:21)
  • Obedience (John 8:11b, John 15:6)
Mere remorse for sin associated with persistent willful sinning—without a positive change in lifestyle—will not reap salvation's ultimate reward, eternal life:

"For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

“If we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

If we think that we just need to believe in the saving virtue of Christ’s blood, but refuse to acknowledge His lordship in our lives—through repentance and obedience—we may be confronted by these shocking words on judgment day: “I do not know you.”

Concerning what we would like to hear, the choice is ours. Would we choose ear-tickling truths now and face the consequences later? Or choose the harsh truth which saves?  

Sermon topics such as repentance and obedience seem harsh and even offensive. But they show us the way to eternal life and blessings forevermore.


How do we differentiate between the true and false gospel?

It is true that we receive God’s grace (salvation) through faith, not works. But, then, what comes next? God is looking for fruit: Changed lives, repentance and obedience, all of which does not nullify at all the grace we receive by faith.

The foolish virgins were shut out from heaven. Who do they represent?

1 comment:

  1. It is possible to BELIEVE IN VAIN if we do not hold fast to the word: “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2).

    "For merely listening to the law doesn't make us right with God. It is OBEYING the law that makes us right in his sight" (Romans 2:13).