What Is Biblical Repentance?
by David J. Stewart | January 2006 | Updated September 2021
Baptism And Repentance
There is a great misunderstanding about “repentance.” Such verses as Mark 1:4 confuse many people because they do not take into account the rest of the Bible. Mark 1:4 reads, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” By itself, this verse seems like It is teaching Baptismal Regeneration, but it certainly is NOT.
Mark 1:4 is referenced in Acts 11:16, “Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost.” And a few verses later in Acts 11:21 we read, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” This is Biblical repentance... acknowledging one's guilt of sin and turning to the Lord by faith in the Gospel to be saved. Jesus doesn't forgive sin. Jesus paid for our sins on the cross! Jesus forgives our sins by paying for them. Thus, forgiveness is a gift to those who BELIEVE THE GOSPEL.
Here's a doctrinally sound excellent book on baptism, “A Biblical Examination Of Baptism” (.pdf book by Dr. Max Younce).
The ONLY thing that you need to repent of to be saved is whatever it is that's been keeping you from coming to Christ to be saved.
Please note that NO mention of baptism is found in Acts 11 other than the one reference to John the Baptist in verse 16. Clearly, water baptism was not required for their salvation in Acts 16, just is it has never been required. John preached the same Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we preach today, that is, salvation by grace through faith in Christ's sacrifice on the cross, His burial, and bodily resurrection the third day, plus or minus nothing (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The “Repent Of Your Sins” Heresy (excellent full sermon by Pastor Steven L. Anderson)
Dr. Jack Hyles 100% correctly and Biblically states concerning repentance...
“Repentance is not some little silly, 'I'm sorry.' Repentance is not simply a fear of God. Repentance is not a monk fasting and afflicting his body in a monastery. Repentance is not remorse because of sin's consequences. Repentance is not penance performed before the pope as you kiss his toe... Repentance is not being sorry for what I've done wrong. It is not confessing one's sins to a priest. It is not just conviction of sin. It is not the signing of a pledge of abstinence. Repentance is that thing when you come before God and see yourself as you are, and see Him as he is, and say with Isaiah 'Woe is me, for I am unclean!'” —Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001), a quote from the timeless MP3 sermon, THE GOODNESS OF GOD LEADETH TO REPENTANCE!
Baptism Of Repentance (or Repentance Unto Life)
Biblical repentance is simply TURNING UNTO THE LORD by faith to receive the gift of forgiveness for one's sins. Acts 20:21 speaks of “REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD.” Acts 11:18 reads, “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.” Repentance is a gift from God, a grace not of human works.
Notice that the Bible does NOT call this a repentance from sins. The “baptism of repentance” in Mark 1:4 is clearly not referring to water baptism, but to the “baptism of repentance.” This is the repentance unto life which can only be found in Christ Jesus. The Word of God does NOT teach that we must give up our sins to be saved.
If this were true, then no one could be saved because we are all sinners incapable of ceasing from sin. Even the best of Christians still commit sin! Believers shouldn't commit sin, but the fact of the matter is that we all do. So how can you tell an unsaved person to give up their sins to be saved? What percentage of sins must a person give up to be saved? The answer is none! Christ bore the weight of our sins upon the cross so that we wouldn't have to. Anyone who places the weight of sin upon the sinner's shoulder is preaching a false Gospel. Our part in salvation is simply to acknowledge that we are a guilty sinner in God's eyes and BELIEVE THE GOSPEL. Jesus paid it all!!!
As I mentioned, there is a woeful misunderstanding about repentance circulating in our churches today. Again, Acts 11:21 states, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” Biblical repentance is TURNING to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus doesn't forgive sin; but rather, He paid for our sins on the cross. 1st John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.” Yet, believers are taught in 1st John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to 'forgive' us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” So we see that Jesus does in fact FORGIVE SIN. It is a change of mind. Mark 1:15 proclaims, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Notice here that repentance led to believing the gospel—NO mention is made about making a commitment to God, nor forsaking sinful bad habits.
'Repentance From Sin' For Salvation Is Not Taught Anywhere In The Bible (by Dr. Don Boyd)
So do believers have a license to sin? In the sense that salvation cannot be lost, yes. Evangelist Ray Comfort does not believe that; but rather, he errantly says in his THE EVIDENCE BIBLE that believers are “not safe just because Jesus died on the cross.” Thus, Mr. Comfort believes that there is no eternal security for believers who choose to live in sin. God does not give permission to any Christian to continue in sin (Romans 3:21). A believer's Christian walk has absolutely nothing to do with his salvation. Eternal life is a free gift. You Are Not Saved By Repenting, You Are Saved By Your Faith In Jesus Christ (Pastor Danny Castle).
Some of the best help in understanding repentance comes from Pastor Harry Ironside. Please consider the following quotations:
Dr. Harry Ironside On Repentance
"Repentance is the sinner’s recognition of and acknowledgment of his lost estate" (Except Ye Repent, p. 11).
"No one was ever saved in any dispensation excepting by grace. Neither sacrificial observances, nor ritual service, nor works of law ever had any part in justifying the ungodly. Nor were any sinners ever saved by grace until they repented. Repentance is not opposed to grace; it is the recognition of the need of grace. ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick’" (Except Ye Repent, p. 10).
"There is no saving merit in owning my true condition. There is no healing in acknowledging the nature of my illness. And repentance, as we have seen, is just this very thing" (Except Ye Repent, p. 12).
"Need I add that repentance then is not to be considered synonymous with joining a church or taking up one's religious duties, as people say. It is not doing anything." (Except Ye Repent, p. 14).
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16).
* * * * * * *QUESTION 67: I understand that you teach that repentance is a prerequisite to salvation, that is, that a man has to show a certain amount of sorrow for sin before God will cooperate with him and save him. Is this your position?
ANSWER: It certainly is not. In the first place, repentance is not mere penitence or sorrow for sin. Repentance is simply a man's recognition of his own true condition before God. No man would desire to come to the Saviour unless he realized his need of a Saviour. The realization of this need and the acknowledgment of it is, in the truest sense, the work of repentance. Thus men repent and through believing the Gospel are eternally saved. We who are saved, however, have done more repenting since we were converted than we did before.
QUESTION 166: Is repentance the first or the second step in salvation?
* * * * * * *
You confess you are a sinner, unable to save yourself, and you are willing to be saved in God’s way. This is repentance. And remember, it is not the amount of repentance that counts: it is the fact that you turn from unbelief to God that puts you in the place where His grace avails through believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The following statement is from Dr. Ironside's commentary on Luke: "Repentance is just the sick man’s acknowledgment of his illness. It is simply the sinner recognizing his guilt and confessing his need of deliverance” (Luke, p. 253).
Thus, to Dr. Harry Ironside (1976-1951) repentance is simply the sick man acknowledging his illness; the sinner recognizing his need. It is a man realizing his utter bankruptcy before God, judging himself as a hell-deserving, lost, corrupt sinner before God. A person cannot be saved apart from this kind of acknowledgment of his sinful, lost condition before God. I agree with Dr. Ironside.
Charles H. Mackintosh (1820-1896), a godly Plymouth Brethren writer, also has defined repentance as:
Evangelist Charles H. Mackintosh On Repentance
[The repentant man] feels his need of God. Here lies the grand moral
secret of the whole matter. To apprehend this is to grasp the full truth
on the great question of repentance. A God of love desires to make His way
to the sinner’s heart, but there is no room for Him so long as that heart
is hard and impenitent. But when the sinner is brought to the end of
himself, when he sees himself a helpless, hopeless wreck, when he sees the
utter emptiness, hollowness and vanity of all earthly things; when like
the prodigal he comes to himself and feels [recognizes] the depth and
reality of his need, then there is room in his heart for God. . .
Have your eyes been opened to see your true condition before God? Have you
taken your true place before God as utterly lost? . . .
A penitent heart is an object of profoundest interest to the mind of God,
because that heart is morally [and mentally] prepared to receive what God
delights to bestow, namely, "remission [forgiveness] of sins"—yea, all the
fullness of divine love. . . The fullness of God ever waits on an empty
vessel. If I am full of myself, full of my own fancied goodness, my own
morality, my own righteousness, I have no
room [no need] for God, no
room [no need] for Christ.
SOURCE: Evangelist C.H. Mackintosh, Miscellaneous Writings, "The Great Commission."
What Repentance Is Not
Repentance is NOT a change of lifestyle. I think Pastor Harry Ironside (1876-1951) of the Moody Memorial Church said it very well...
“Repentance is the very opposite of meritorious experience. It is the confession that one is utterly without merit, and if he is ever saved at all it can only be through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, 'who gave himself a ransom for all.' Here is firm footing for the soul who realizes that all self-effort is but sinking sand. Christ alone is the Rock of our salvation.”
SOURCE: Harry A. Ironside; Except Ye Repent, pg. 36
Clearly, Ironside taught a Free Grace view of the Gospel. Consider further the following awesome quote by Dr. Ironside...
Sadly, Moody Ministries today (65 years after Dr. Ironside's pastorate) has become doctrinally corrupted by false prophets such as John MacArthur (they publish all of MacArthur's new books and have honored him at their Founder's Week for many years). MacArthur plainly teaches a false plan of salvation in his book HARD TO BELIEVE...
“There's no room for passive spectators: words without actions are empty and futile... The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny" (Hard to Believe, p. 93).”
First, it is not hard to believe. The reason why most people aren't saved is NOT because it is hard; but rather, because they love their sins and won't come to Jesus to be saved (John 3:20; 5:40).
Second, the upright life that we try to live as believers is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not a part of the ROOT of saving faith. We live right because WE ARE saved, not TO BE saved. The Holy Bible teaches that Jesus Christ lives the Christian life through us. Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” The life we live cannot get us to Heaven, because God does NOT accept works of self-righteousness. Isaiah 64:6, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
We are saved by HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS (that is, Christ's robe of righteousness), and not our own. I try to live upright because I love my Lord and don't want to grieve Him. I fail horribly sometimes, and it makes me mad at myself, and I get up and ask God to help me to do much better. That's how the Christian life is lived, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Even the best Christians are still sinners who battle daily with the flesh.
Misunderstood Repentance: An Enemy Of Soulwinning (a doctrinally-sound book by Dr. Jack Hyles)
The word “repent” (metanoeo, such as in Mark 1:15, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel”), simply means “a change of mind.” Evangelist David Cloud errantly defines the meaning as “a change of mind that results in a change of life.” That's not what the Bible teaches. Biblically, a changed life is the fruit of the indwelling Holy Spirit, which is not required for salvation.
I think Michael P. Bowen, in his excellent defense of the Christian faith titled, I NEVER KNEW YOU, says it best. ...
I am at eternal odds with the false, counterfeit messages of salvation-by-works that are taught from virtually every pulpit today, on every television channel, and on every Christian radio station; however, I am not at eternal odds with the individuals who preach these counterfeit messages. My heart literally goes out to all of them because they simply do not understand Christ’s plan of salvation. They have been lied to by a crafty enemy named Satan, whose sole aim is to take as many people with him to the lake of fire as he can possibly manage to steal away from God using a counterfeit plan of salvation that appears so real, so genuine, and so holy that few ever realize they have been deceived by it. Oh reader, so many of today’s professing Christians who think they are going to heaven when they die are not going to make it to heaven as they had assumed because they’ve been lied to by today’s error-filled gospel messages.
SOURCE: Michael Patrick Bowen, I NEVER KNEW YOU, pg. 17; © 2009, Xulonpress.com. Hard Copies Available.
A tree without fruit is still a tree with roots. This is evidenced by the parable of the sower and the seed in Luke 8:12-15. Of the four groups, only the first are unsaved, because the Devil removed the seed from their heart before it could sprout into new life. The second and third group represent believers who never mature to bear fruit (leading others to Christ). They never mature into fruit-bearing Christians because of shallow roots, or because they are choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this life. Ah, but the fourth group mature, having an honest heart, keeping the Lord's Word, bearing much fruit unto Christ (John 15:1-7). Just because the second and third groups don't bear fruit doesn't mean that they are not saved, as Ray Comfort and David Cloud errantly teach.
Wrong Repentance (article) | Wrong Repentance No Salvation (MP3, by Dr. Hank Lindstrom)
Repentance “From Sins” For Salvation is Not Biblical
There are only a few references in the Bible where the word “repentance” is used with sin. The Bible usually speaks of “the remission of sins,” but never commands anyone to repent from sins to be saved. Search the Bible and you will find that “repentance” is almost always mentioned with salvation, but it never tells us that forsaking sinful bad habits is the way to be saved. Ceasing from sin is self-righteousness. The truth is that God's indwelling Holy Spirit begins to change us when we get saved. This means a lifetime of being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Getting saved happens in a moment of time by trusting Jesus Christ, but becoming Christlike takes a lifetime. That's how it's supposed to work.
In sharp contrast, false prophets mandate change as a requirement to be saved. They “frontload the Gospel,” that is, they require all the traits of a mature Christian upfront as a condition of salvation. They're trying to do God's job instead of letting the Holy Spirit work. God changes lives, not we ourselves. Man trying to change himself is reformation, not regeneration. Our part is simply to “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). To demand that a person change (i.e., forsake the world and sinful living) to be saved is a false Gospel of self-righteousness. Eternal life is a free gift (Romans 5:15; 6:23), paid for by Jesus' precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19). Please listen to the awesome MP3 sermon by Pastor Ralph Yankee Arnold, “Caught Between Grace And Works.”
Listen to what Pastor Harry Ironside correctly states about repentance in chapter 16 of his book, EXCEPT YE REPENT . . .
“In all that I have written I have failed completely to express what was surging up in my soul if I have given anyone the impression that I think of repentance as something meritorious which must be produced in man by self-effort ere he is fit to come to God for salvation.”SOURCE: Dr. Harry Ironside, a quote from chapter 16, THE PREACHING THAT PRODUCES REPENTANCE, from his timeless classic book, EXCEPT YE REPENT.
I agree 100%! The entire concept of Lordship Salvation is based in human effort. Most of our evangelical churches today have bought into the lie that it's not enough to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ to be saved. The “Gospel” is that Jesus Christ DIED on the cross for our sins, He was BURIED, and He bodily RESURRECTED from the dead three days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). If you receive Christ's sacrifice on the cross as full payment for your sins, then you are saved.
But don't I have to repent? Yes, of course! Biblical repentance is “a change of mind” that causes a person to believe the Gospel. Repentance is NOT a desire to stop sinning. Repentance is realizing that you are a guilty SINNER, so you believe the Gospel and are saved. Repentance is changing your mind about whatever was previously hindering you from completely resting in Christ for salvation. Pastor Reuben A. Torrey (1856-1928) makes the following half-truth statement:
“In our day there is a danger of underestimating the importance of sorrow for sin. Sorrow for sin is not repentance, but it is an element in repentance. What the repentance or change of mind is about must always be determined by the context. Repentance of sin is such a sorrow for sin or abhorrence of sin, such a change of mind about it, as leads the sinner to turn away from it with all his heart.”
SOURCE: R. A. Torrey; “What The Bible Teaches,” p. 355; © 1898; Fleming H. Revell Company.
Now I agree with Dr. Torrey that sorrow for sin is not repentance, but he totally contradicts himself when he says that “repentance of sin is such a sorrow for sin.” He just got done saying that “sorrow for sin is not repentance”! The Bible teaches that “sorrow worketh repentance.” 2nd Corinthians 7:10a, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance.” We find an example of sorrow working repentance in the life of King David, after he commit adultery with Bath-Sheba and then murdered her husband Uriah to hide her unintended pregnancy. Psalms 119:67 and 71, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. ... It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.” It wasn't until David's sins caught up with him that he was sorrowful and repented. Regardless of the level of emotions (which may or may not present before, during or after salvation) repentance will never mean anything more than simply, “a change of mind.” And the way of salvation will always be to easily and simply RECEIVE (BELIEVE) THE GOSPEL as full-payment for your sins.
Why New Bible Versions Are So Dangerous! (wrong repentance, no imputation, no Lucifer)
I also agree with Pastor Torrey from the preceding quote, who says, “What the repentance or change of mind is about must always be determined by the context.” For example: For a devoutly religious man, whose religion has hindered him from seeing the truth of the Gospel—he must repent (change his mind) from trusting in DEAD WORKS (Hebrews 6:1) to BELIEVING THE GOSPEL (Mark 1:15). For a man living in gross immorality, he must repent (change his mind) from the denial of his sins (1st John 1:8-10), to the acknowledgment of the truth, BELIEVING THE GOSPEL. 2nd Timothy 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.”
Repentance is not a separate event from faith, although they are not the same thing. Here is the best quote that I've found on repentance, by Dr. Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951):
“Which comes first, repentance or faith? In Scripture we read, 'Repent ye, and believe the gospel.' Yet we find true believers exhorted to 'repent, and do the first works.' So intimately are the two related that you cannot have one without the other. The man who believes God repents; the repentant soul puts his trust in the Lord when the Gospel is revealed to him. Theologians may wrangle over this, but the fact is, no man repents until the Holy Spirit produces repentance in his soul through the truth. No man believes the Gospel and rests in it for his own salvation until he has judged himself as a needy sinner before God. And this is repentance.” (Except Ye Repent, p. 16)
The only thing that we need to repent from to be saved is UNBELIEF. Do we have to realize our sinful condition to be saved? Of course, yes! But there is not one verse in the entire Bible which requires a person to forsake sin to be saved. Nor does the Bible give anyone God's permission to commit sin just because they are saved (Romans 3:31). Every time Jesus forgave someone and healed them, it was only AFTERWARDS that He said... “Go and sin no more.” John 5:14, "Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee." Repentance simply means “a change of mind.” Believers change our minds every day about all kinds of things, including the sins in our life. Repenting of sins throughout one's Christian life is solely a matter of DISCIPLESHIP, not SALVATION. It is a matter of growing in the Lord's grace (1st Peter 2:2), as we yield to the Holy Spirit's leading in obedience to the Holy Scriptures (2nd Corinthians 10:5).
Thus, we don't give up our sins to become a Christian (Romans 3:20); rather, we forsake our sins because we are a Christian (Romans 12:1-2). There are no prerequisites or conditions for salvation (Galatians 3:2). God will save any guilty sinner who trusts upon the Gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation (Romans 10:13). John 6:37, “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”
I do NOT believe it is inappropriate to apply the parable of the Prodigal Son to the unsaved who need to come back to their Creator, but technically the parable is about a believer, a “son.” The parable about the Prodigal Son applies to the wayward believer who is in need of repentance from sins. The repentance unto salvation is a ONE-TIME repentance, but the repentance from sins has no limit. Christians are people, and people are sinners. Just as a man cannot be UNBORN physically, neither can he be UNBORN spiritually. If saved, always saved! For anyone to teach otherwise is to add works-to-faith alone and corrupt “the simplicity that is in Christ” (2nd Corinthians 11:3-4).
Oh Foolish Churches, Who Hath Bewitched You? (new Bibles, new repentance, new Gospel)
Once a person is saved, they begin to grow in grace by nurturing on the milk of God's Word (1st Peter 2:2). As a believer grows in the Lord, he or she realizes that there are changes in life that need to be made. God's Holy Spirit works in that person's heart. Thus, we begin to see the “FRUIT” of genuine repentance. A changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and NOT a prerequisite to salvation or a part of saving-faith. Proponents of Lordship Salvation place the cart before the horse and have it all backwards. They frontload the Gospel, requiring all the mature aspects of a believer's life upfront. This is not the Gospel, it is bad religion.
In Mark 1:4, John the Baptist speaks of “...repentance for the remission of sins”; NOT “repentance of sins.” Acts 20:21 reads... “Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." Notice that Biblical repentance is “TOWARD GOD.” In Acts 11:21 we read, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.” So you see, in the Bible “repentance” was always “TOWARD GOD,” never from sin. A man may have to repent from the denial of his sins, so that he will BELIEVE THE GOSPEL, but there is no Biblical requirement to “turn from sins” to be saved.
Consider the following quote by the mighty man of God, Dr. Harry Ironside (1876-1951)...
"Repentance is the recognition of my sinnership — the owning before God that I am as vile as He has declared me to be in His holy Word."SOURCE: Except Ye Repent, by Dr. Harry Ironside, chapter 3
This is vastly different than actually ceasing from one's sin to be saved, which is a false gospel. Pastor Ironside is correct — repentance is simply realizing that one is a guilty, dirty, rotten, hopeless sinner in God's eyes. This is why we need a Savior. Thankfully, Jesus paid the price with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 9:12).
Repentance is the admission that I am as guilty a sinner as a holy God hath declared me to be in His Holy Word (Romans 3:19). This is Biblical repentance... turning to the Lord. To turn towards Jesus Christ in faith for salvation is to turn one's back against sin, even though the person may not be willing to forsake sin at the time of salvation. It is ludicrous for anyone to teach that a lost sinner must give up their sins to be saved. As we saw with Lot and Samson in the Old Testament, and Demas and Peter in the New Testament, not all believers always live for God. Jesus even called the apostle Peter, “Satan” (Matthew 16:23).
Christian author Michael Patrick Bowen states in his excellent book titled, “I NEVER KNEW YOU,” on page 114...
“Repent, as Christ meant it to be in terms of salvation, means to change your mind from trusting in what you can do for God to trusting only in what He can do for you.”
SOURCE: Michael Patrick Bowen, a quote from the awesome book, “I NEVER NEW YOU” (Page 114)
The beloved Pastor Bob Gray Sr. of the Longview Baptist Temple church in Texas correctly preaches . . .
“Repentance means to change your mind—change your mind—change your mind about how you want to get to Heaven to what God says you've got to do to get to Heaven. If you've got to repent of all your sins, you're still headed for Hell tonight.”
SOURCE: Pastor Bob Gray Sr., a quote from the awesome MP3 sermon, Why You Should Be A Part Of A Growing Church
Repentance is a “Change of Mind,” Nothing Else
I've heard many preachers wrestle the true Biblical meaning of “repent.” Mark 1:15, “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” The word “repent” in Mark 1:15 is the Greek word metanoeo, which simply means “to think differently” or “a change of mind.” Many preachers pervert the meaning of repentance by beginning with “a change of mind,” but then they embellish (add to) the basic meaning, and therefore completely change it's meaning. For example: I've heard numerous preachers say that “repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of life.” No, that is not what it means to repent.
Somehow, someway, false teachers always add works to grace. They do it very subtly, just as Satan subtly deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden. 2nd Corinthians 11:3, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” It is amazing how accurately the Word of God identifies the problems in churches today. The Devil has subtly crept his own perverted Bible revisions into most churches, corrupting people's minds from the simplicity that is in Christ (which is the Gospel).
The new Bible paraphrases wrongly redefine repentance to mean “a change of life.” This changes the plan of salvation to include works. The satanic Easy-To-Read Version (ERV) horribly says in Mark 1:15b, “Change your hearts and lives, and believe the Good News” [emphasis added]. Do you see how the Devil is corrupting the Gospel? The popular Bible paraphrase, The Voice (VOICE) horribly says in Mark 1:15b, “Seek forgiveness, change your actions, and believe this good news” [emphasis added]. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to change our actions to be saved. Clearly, Satan is very subtly changing the Gospel, perverting God's plan of salvation for mankind. Have you believed a lie? The King James Bible simply reads in Mark 1:15b, “repent ye, and believe the Gospel” [Emphasis added]. Repent here simply means TO THINK DIFFERENTLY. It means nothing else.
There is only one “Gospel,” which 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 defines as: Christ's DEATH on the cross for our sins, His BURIAL, and bodily RESURRECTION three days later. “Repentance” is simply a person thinking differently TOWARD GOD, acknowledging that they have sinned against a holy God. Repentance is not revaluating your life's priorities, purposing in your heart to turn away from sin, and surrendering your will to God. That is consecration, which can only be expected of one who is ALREADY a Christian. Repentance is from unbelief, not sins. A person who repents thinks differently toward Jesus Christ.
John 3:20, “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” From reading this Scripture in John 3:20, it would seem to indicate that the antithesis (exact opposite) is turning away from sin to be saved, but this is not what it means. This Scripture simply teaches us why people won't come to the light to be saved. They don't want anything to do with the Holy Spirit, Who convicts men of sin, righteousness and judgment. John 16:8, “And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”
The word “repent” (Greek: metanoeo, “to think differently”) in the New Testament seems to be cryptic, that is, unclear as to its application. However, if we interpret the word repent as it relates to the preaching of the Gospel, then it becomes clear that no additional meaning is needed. Men like to complicate things. No one has ever been saved apart from the Gospel (Romans 10:14). Repentance is simply a person agreeing with God (thinking differently). God says in the Bible that all men are sinners (Romans 3:10-23). God says that we all deserve to die for our sins—both a physical death, and also to spend eternity burning in the Lake of Fire (Romans 6:23; Revelation 21:8; 20:13-15). Ah, but God in His love sent His only begotten Son into the world to die on the cross for our sins (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). Jesus was buried. He miraculously and bodily resurrected three days later (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). Thus, all men who believe the Gospel are saved (John 6:28-29, 1st Corinthians 1:21; Romans 10:13). These are the things that you must think different about. Mark 1:15b says to, “repent (change your mind) and believe the Gospel.” Repentance is the acknowledgment of my SINNERSHIP and need for the Gospel. It's all really quite simple.
Dr. Mark G. Cambron Has it 100% Correct On Repentance
Here is an excellent and needful writing by Dr. Mark G. Cambron (1911-2000) on the subject of REPENTANCE. Please read the following quote carefully, because Dr. Cambron is one of few theologian who gets it, that is, he understands the simplicity of the Gospel and that repentance does not mean turning from sin as proponents of Lordship Salvation foolishly teach...
Repentance is necessary for salvation.
The Greek word for repent is metanoeo, which, translated into English is: to change ones mind. It does not mean to turn from sin. That would add works to salvation.
Repentance for salvation means a change of mind from men's ideas of salvation and religion, to an acceptance of Gods only way of salvation.
This results in a completely new creation, not a reformation of the old. The old nature remains as evil as ever after salvation and has not been reformed . . . The old nature can now be controlled by the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
God guarantees salvation. This is His gift to us.
God guarantees reward and fruit to the obedient son.
God guarantees chastening and loss of rewards to the disobedient son.
God does not cast out disobedient children, but in some cases, does take them home. He does not permit His children to live as they please without His discipline and guidance.
Many teach repentance for salvation incorrectly, by including some form of human effort or righteousness, such as willingness to turn from sin, or turning from sin. This is heresy and has confused many people. It adds works to salvation and causes many to not understand Gods great gift. It is probation, not salvation. It is completely unscriptural. It is Galatianism and a counterfeit of the gospel.
It is a tragedy that many Christians live shallow Christian lives. The Cambron Institute is dedicated to the task of training Christian men and women in the importance of total dedication and making Jesus the Lord of their lives not to be saved but because they are saved.
Shallow Christianity cannot be cured by adding works to salvation.
Salvation is not the result of what we do, but is by receiving what God has done for us. Acts 13:38, 39; Acts 20:20: Gal. 1:8,9; Gal. 2:4; Gal. 2:21; Gal. 3:1.3; Gal. 5:1-4; Eph. 2:8-10; II Cor. 5:21;John 3:16-18; Phil. 3:9; Titus 3:5-8:11 Cor. 11:13-1 5.
SOURCE: The Cambron Institute
Repentance And Faith Are Inseparable
One of the most precious and important theological doctrines in the Holy Bible is “IMPUTATION”—Theology: “to attribute (righteousness, guilt, sin, et cetera) to a person or persons vicariously; ascribe as derived from another.” In other words, salvation is not doing your best, it is having Christ's best put to your account through receiving Him by faith. Isaiah 53:5a, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” Christ died for all mankind. Amen!
The fundamental Bible doctrine of IMPUTATION is one of the most important subjects in the Bible, right up there was the sprinkling of Jesus' literal blood upon the heavenly Mercy Seat in the Holy Place (Hebrews 9:12, 22-24; 12:24).
Salvation is not a process as some teach. You don't repent and then have faith in the Lord. There are not two steps to salvation; but rather, two parts to just one step. Repentance and faith are inseparable. In the Gospel of John, the word “believe” is mentioned 85-times; but the word “repent” is never mentioned even once. This clearly evidences that the sinner who believes on the Lord for salvation has also repented.
You can't turn to the Savior for forgiveness of sins without turning your back against sin (not the literal forsaking of the act of sin, but a realization of one's having violated God's holy Law and deserves punishment in Hellfire).
As mentioned, the Bible never mentions turning from sin to be saved. All Biblical references mention turning to the Lord to be forgiven from our sins.
The Goodness Of God Leadeth To Repentance (Dr. Hyles; God's holiness leads me to repentance)
The Change Comes AFTER A Person Is Saved, NOT Before
The internet is plagued with heretics who are teaching that a person must forsake their sinful life to be saved. 2nd Corinthians 5:17 reads, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Please notice that the man is already “IN CHRIST.” The “new creature” is not a reformed man; but rather, it is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, the Spirit of Christ (Romans 8:9). The “new creature” is Christ in us (Galatians 2:20).
Furthermore, there is nothing in this Scripture about forsaking or turning from sin. What it does mean is that the Holy Spirit comes to indwell the new believer at the moment they receive Jesus as their personal Savior. Salvation comes through childlike faith in the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ—nothing may be added or taken away. A changed life is the FRUIT of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and not part of the ROOT of saving-faith. A changed life is not required for salvation. There are many fruitless believers in the world, bearing no fruit of souls saved from soulwinning, who have never grown in the Lord (Luke 8:13); or have been choked by the cares, riches and pleasures of this earthly life, but they are still saved (Luke 8:14). God's perfect will is for every believer to keep His Word and bear much fruit (Luke 8:15). This can only happen if we prioritize the spiritual things of God in our life. 2nd Corinthians 4:18, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” What things are you investing in—SEEN or UNSEEN?
Bible Repentance Is Solely A Matter Of Acknowledging The Truth
Very few Bible preachers correctly understand what it means to “repent” to be saved. Romans 3:19-20, “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” This is so important to understand. The only purpose of God's law in salvation is to give all humanity “THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.”
A man needs to know what he is being saved from. God's law shows us our iniquities and then brings us to Christ to be saved by grace. Galatians 3:24-26, “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” Do you see that friend? When you place your faith in Christ, the law is no longer necessary in receiving eternal life. The ONLY purpose of the law is to give people THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN.
So when bad preachers tell you that you must repent “OF YOUR SINS” to be saved, they are lying to you and using the law differently than it was intended by God, to give the KNOWLEDGE OF SIN. They are requiring you to OBEY THE LAW to be saved, or to BE WILLING TO KEEP THE LAW to be saved. They say you must be willing to forsake a lifestyle of sinning. But that is not the Gospel of free grace as taught in the inspired King James Bible. Dear friend, Jesus paid your debt of sin, because you couldn't do it, and neither could I. Eternal life is a free gift from God. You don't have to give up anything, nor be willing to give up anything. Consider again this beautiful quote from Pastor Harry Ironside...
Repentance is simply a matter of acknowledging THE TRUTH of your sinnership. 2nd Timothy 2:25, “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Repentance is entirely a matter of the heart, where a person acknowledges THE TRUTH that you are a guilty sinner in the sight of a holy God; thus believing the Gospel you are saved by faith alone.
“The Bible is no mere
book, but a Living Creature,
with a power that conquers all that oppose it.” —Napoleon
To Him That Worketh Not
I Never Knew You
(The Horror Of The Great White Throne Judgment And How You Can Avoid it)
Repent! Repent! Repent!
The Raging Battle Over "Repentance"
Dr. John R. Rice Refutes Lordship Salvation
Dr. Harry Ironside Didn't Believe in Lordship Salvation
Pastor Charles Spurgeon Didn't Believe in Lordship Salvation
Mormonism & John MacArthur Have Another Gospel
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." —John 3:16
Lordship Salvation | Scriptural Proof that Lordship Salvation is a Lie
The Curse of Lordship Salvation | The Hypocrisy of Lordship Salvation
Lordship Salvation Ignores Babes in Christ and the Backslidden