Hear him speak on YouTube (less than 5 minutes): https://bit.ly/2Nmeg4Y
This learned man claims he did his doctoral thesis on “Repentance as a condition for salvation” and his conclusion is that repentance is NOT required for salvation. Only faith is required.
Radical free grace (no-lordship) proponents, like Dr. Bob Wilkin, assert that repentance is not required for salvation, arguing that we only need to believe. To be fair to him, the Bible does lend credence to the fact we are saved by grace through faith.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
However, there are many references in scriptures that refute his assertion that repentance is not a condition for salvation.
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.
Perhaps those like Dr. Bob, who claim that repentance is insignificant—not a condition for salvation—have not considered the following passages:
Jesus, after emerging victorious from the temptation in the wilderness, preached: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (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).
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).
Mere remorse for sin associated with persistent willful sinning—without a positive change in lifestyle—will not reap salvation's ultimate reward, eternal life: "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).
It is strange that repentance is found in so many references above but Dr. Bob has chosen to cherry pick those books in the Bible where it is not explicitly mentioned..
In the video, Dr. Bob claims that in the book of John, an evangelistic gospel, repentance is not mentioned.
However, he has failed to mention what Jesus told the woman caught in the act of adultery after forgiving her, “Go, and from now on, sin no more (John 8:11). She is to forsake her adulterous lifestyle, repent of her sin, after receiving God’s forgiveness.
Also, John 3:36 warns anyone who accepts Christ’s invitation to believe in John 3:16 must also obey God or else face His wrath. The believer cannot afford to be lax or careless, thinking that faith is merely giving intellectual assent to Jesus’ claims. He must demonstrate that his faith is genuine through obedience. And to be obedient is to seek to live a repentant lifestyle empowered by the Holy Spirit.
And when the Holy Spirit comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16: 8). This conviction of sin would lead the sinner to repent and change his ways— godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). Just like King David after his adultery with Bathsheba, the sinner will acknowledge that he has sinned against God (Psalm 51: 3-4) and this conviction would lead him to repent.
So though the word ‘repentance’ may be absent in the book of John, as Dr. Bob asserts, there are at least three instances in John’s gospel (John 8:11, John 3:36, John16: 8) that shed light, whether directly or indirectly,. on the fact that repentance is necessary for salvation.
Next, Dr. Bob mentions in the video that the word ‘repentance’ is absent in the book of Galatians. But Paul exhorted believers to walk by the Spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5: 16). The apostle also warned that those who pander to the flesh will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21). Despite the fact that faith is the means by which we are saved, and not good works, which is the central thrust of Galatians, believers must walk in the Spirit and lead repentant lives in the fear of God if they want to inherit salvation.
In the video, Dr. Bob also downplays the significance of repentance by saying that it is akin to a path of wellness or wholeness that a person chooses to follow (citing the examples of the prodigal son and an alcoholic who stops drinking). However, he reiterates that repentance is not a condition for salvation, thus giving the impression that repentance is like a behavioral change, a step in self-improvement, rather than a crucial factor that will determine where a person will spend eternity. This kind of reasoning that downplays repentance certainly flies in the face of what Jesus taught—unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3). This soft approach is also unlike the serious tone in the teaching of John the Baptist: Bear fruits that befit repentance or face the risk of being chopped down like a fruitless tree and burnt (Luke 3: 8-9).
Citing the example of the Philippian jailer, Dr. Bob says there is no evidence that he repented when he believed in Christ. But he forgot to mention the example of Zacchaeus, who not only repented but showed its genuineness by restitution, and this caused Jesus to say, “Today salvation has come to this house.” Why choose a reference where repentance is not mentioned, but ignore one where repentance is evident?
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.”
Faith and repentance are like two sides of the same coin. If we say we have faith, we have to prove that its genuineness by living out a repentant lifestyle in the fear of God (James 2:17, Philippians 2:12-13). Without holiness, no one can see God (Hebrews 12:14).
To reiterate, Jesus warns: Unless we repent, we will all perish (Luke 13:2-3). And Paul adds: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation without regret (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Unfortunately, Dr. Bob has joined the ranks of liberal teachers today who give believers the impression that the road to heaven is through a wide gate and that the journey is easy, whereas the truth is the exact opposite.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13-14).
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24).