Someone asked me recently what I thought were the top three heretical teachings in the church today; and my answer was, #1 The repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel; #2 The repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel, and; #3 The repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel. This is, as you know, the false teaching that one has to stop their sinful habits, or at least try to, in order to get saved. And this heretical teaching has infiltrated the church at all levels today; from well-known preachers, to your friends on Facebook, everyone’s believing in and regurgitating this repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel.
And I have touched on it in our Galatians study, mentioning how it’s basically the same works-based false gospel that had infiltrated the church in Paul’s day; the same false gospel that Paul was combatting with his epistle to the Galatians. But I want to expose, in more detail, today’s version of it, the repent-of-your-sins version. And I want to give you the verses that you need to combat this false gospel, when you’re faced with it.
I also want to talk about when we should repent of our sins, because we’re definitely supposed to repent of our sins, it’s just that we don’t have to repent of them in order to get saved, or to prove that we’re saved; because repenting from sins has nothing to do with salvation.
- What Does the Word “Repent” Mean?
Let’s start with a KJV word-study on just the word, “repent.” Turn to Genesis 6:6-7. We’ll look at how the word “repent” is used in the Bible, and, by it’s usage, we’ll determine what the word “repent” actually means.
- Word Study
- Genesis 6:6-7
So starting at Genesis 6:6, which is the first occurance of the word “repent,” we read, “And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.” Here we see that the word “repent” is used in association with the word “grieve”; It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
When God had first made the earth and man, just 5 chapters previous, God thought that his creation was “very good,” according to Genesis 1:31. But now he had a change of heart, or a change of mind, because now it grieved God that he had made man. And so the first times the word “repent” is used, it’s talking about grieving God, and it’s talking about God changing his mind about making mankind.
- Exodus 13:17
The next use of the word “repent” also speaks of a change of mind. Look at Exodus 13:17; “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.” So God did not want the people to repent, he did not want them to change their mind about leaving Egypt, and end up returning there, or turning back. So, here, the word “repent” means to “change one’s mind” or to “turn.”
- Jonah 3:9-10
And, next, I want you to look at Jonah 3:9. Because, here, the KJV’s built-in dictionary gives us a clear definition of the word “repent” as meaning to “turn”; Jonah 3:9: “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?” So, here, the word “repent” is used interchangably with the word, “turn.” In this usage, the people of Nineveh were hoping that God would repent; that is, they were hoping that God would turn away from his plan of destroying their city.
And, in fact, God did repent; God did change his mind about destroying Nineveh; in Jonah 3:10 it says that, quote, “… God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”
So judging from these biblical examples of how the word “repent” is used, repent means to “turn” or to “change one’s mind” about something, and it may include feeling grieved about one’s previous choices.
- Matthew 21:29
Next look at Matthew 21:28-29; “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went.” So, again, here’s a plain, easy-to-understand usage of the word “repent.” It means to change one’s mind, and/or to turn to a different course of action. The man’s son, at first, disobeyed his father and refused to work, but then he changed his mind, he repented, and decided to go to work for his father afterall.
- Romans 11:29
Lastly, let’s consider Romans 11:29. This verse is speaking about the promises of God, and it says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”; “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Meaning that God doesn’t change his mind about keeping his promises to people, God doesn’t rescind his gifts and calling. Like Numbers 23:19 says, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” So God doesn’t repent about his promises, he doesnt’ change his mind about keeping his word.
And now we have a good understanding of what the word “repent” means; it means to “change one’s mind” about something, or to “turn” from one course of action, to another. “Repent,” in the Bible, is basically used as a verb, meaning, again, to change one’s mind, or to turn. And what’s being turned from, depends upon the context that the word’s used in.
- God Repents, You Can’t Just Add “Of Sins”
- Review God repenting verses
Now note that, in the examples we just read, it was often God who repented, or who didn’t repent. In Genesis, God repented that he made man; in Jonah, God repented of his plan to destroy Nineveh; and, in Hebrews, it says that God doesn’t repent when it comes to his gifts and calling.
- 35 X’s “Repent” in Ref. to God
In fact, there are 35 verses in the Bible where the word “repent” is used in reference to God; 35 different times where the Bible says that God repented, or didn’t repent.
- “Repent” Can’t Mean “Repent of Sins” if God Repents
And the reason I’m making a point of this is because a lot of people see the word “repent,” in the Bible, and they assume that it’s talking about repenting of sins. But you can’t just add the phrase “of sins” to the biblical word “repent,” because God repents more than anyone else in the Bible, and we know that God isn’t repenting of sin, because God doesn’t sin. Therefore the word, “repent,” by itself, cannot automatically mean repent of sins. Again, the word “repent” simply means to “turn,” or to “change one’s mind”; and what’s being turned from depends on the context that the word’s used in; and so you can’t just assume that the word “repent,” by itself, means “repent of sins.”
For instance, people will quote Mark 1:15 to me, where Jesus preached, “… repent ye, and believe the gospel”; and they’ll say to me, See, Jesus preached that you have to repent of your sins to be saved! But that verse doesn’t say repent of sins! Jesus just preached the word “repent,” by itself; he said, Repent ye, and believe the gospel; so he was saying, Turn, change your mind, and believe the gospel; he was saying, Turn from not believing the gospel, to believing it. He wasn’t talking about turning from sins, in general. Again, you can’t just assume the word “repent,” by itself, means “repent of sins,” otherwise you’d be saying that God repented of sins in all those verses where it says that God repented.
- Other Common Misconceptions (What “Repent” Doesn’t Mean)
- It Doesn’t Mean Confess/Admitt You’re a Sinner
Now here’s another misconception about repentance: some people think that the call to repent, in regards to salvation, is talking about confessing one’s sins, or admitting that you’re a sinner. Because, yeah, you do have to admit that you’re a sinner before you can get saved; you have to admit that you’re a sinner, who deserves the punishment for your sins, before you can put your faith on Jesus to save you from that punishment. Because, If you don’t think that you’re going to be punished for your sins, then why would you put your faith on Jesus to save you.
But the word “repent,” in the Bible, does not mean “admit that you’re a sinner.” Again, “repent” just means to “turn” or to “change your mind”; so people who think that the word “repent” means “admit that you’re a sinner,” are simply confused about the definition of “repentance.” And so if you hear someone saying that you-have-to-repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved, first find out what their definition of repentance is. Because if they’re just saying that you have to admit that you’re a sinner, well they’re right about that, and they’re just confused about what repentance means. So, in those cases, they may actually be preaching the right gospel, and just have some of their definitions mixed up.
- The Deceivers vs the Deceived
Now when it comes to people who actually have the right definition of repentance, and who are knowinly preaching that you have to repent or turn from your sins to be saved, it’s important to understand that there are different categories of people who are preaching this false gospel; there’s the deceivers, and there’s the deceived. The deceivers are the false teachers, some of which are reprobates, who have basically made a career of leading believers astray, and of leading the lost to hell.
And then there’s the deceived, those who have been influenced by the false teachers. Some of the deceived are believers, who were saved by the true gospel, but then later got led astray. And some of the deceived are false converts, the ones who never put their faith in the true gospel, but believed in the repent-of-your-sins thing from the beginning.
And so when dealing with someone who’s actually preaching that you have to turn from your sins to be saved, it’s good to try and determine whether you’re dealing with someone who’s been deceived, or if you’re dealing with a deceiver. Because the deceived believers and the false converts both need the true gospel; one needs to be reminded of it, and the other needs to put his faith in it, for the first time. Whereas the false teachers, the deceivers, need to be marked, they need to be exposed, in an effort to minimize their influence on others.
- Paul and the Galatians
In Paul’s epistle to the Galatians, Paul addressed the two different categories of people; the deceivers, and the deceived. Paul was harsh towards the false teachers, saying, “Let them be accursed.” But Paul lovingly rebuked the deceived believers, marvelling that they had been deceived, and imploring them to get back to the true gospel that saved them.
In Galatians 1:6-8, Paul wrote: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”
Again, note that Paul expressed heartfelt concern for the deceived believers, while he cursed to hell the false teachers. And so we should be like Paul when dealing with people who are preaching this false gospel. We should lovingly, but resolutely correct the deceived believers, while marking and exposing the false teachers.
- Winning Back Deceived Believers
Again, the deceived believers basically need to be reminded of the true gospel; that salvation is just by grace, through faith, and not by works, and that should get them back on track. Also share with them the points that I make in this sermon, teach them the true definition of repentance; what it means, and what it doesn’t mean. And share with them the history and origin of this false gospel, because those things really should help them.
- Personal Testimony
As you guys know, I was a deceived believer myself, at one point. I got saved by the true gospel, and was saved for well over a decade, and then I kinda joined the pro-life movement, and most pro-lifers are preaching this “repent of your sins” false gospel, and so I got caught up in it too. I hated abortion so much, and I wanted people to repent of their support of abortion so much, that I fell for the temptation of preaching that one has to repent of their sins to get saved. But then I watched a Steven Anderson sermon on repentance, on the true definition of repentance, and it got me right back on track. It was one of those moments when you’re like, Oh yeah! What was I thinking?? Of course salvation is just by faith!!
iii. Street Preacher
While I was preparing this sermon, and posting mini exposés on the “repent of your sins” false gospel, on Facebook, I got into an in-depth discussion with a self-proclaimed street preacher who preached this “repent of sins” false gospel. But he really listened to what I had to say about it, and, although it took a couple hours of me debunking all the supposed “proof” verses that he had… he eventually turned, and he eventually realized that you don’t have to repent of your sins to be saved. It’s so rewarding to see a deceived believer get back on track again. I pray that he stays with the true gospel, and I pray that God blesses him and uses him to save many souls.
III. Salvation By Grace Through Faith, Not Works
- Ephesians 2:8-9
And it’s whether or not you have the true, biblical gospel in the forefront of your mind that’s really at issue here. Turn to Ephesians 2:8-9. When you’re combatting the “repent of your sins” false gospel, it’s best to start with the real gospel; that salvation is by grace through faith; Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” In particular, note that it says that salvation is not by works. Salvation cannot be by works, otherwise we could boast that we saved ourselves, or that we had a hand in our own salvation, through our works.
- Romans 4:5
But the Bible says that you have to actually not work for your salvation, in order to get saved. Romans 4:5 says, “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” It says, To him that worketh not, so it’s seriously saying that you have to not work for it, in order to get saved.
- Romans 11:6
And that’s because salvation is by grace, through faith; and grace, which means a gift, according to Ephesians 2:8, is incompatible with the concept of works; because grace is the opposite of works. If something is a gift, you don’t work for it; because if you have to work for it, then it’s no longer a gift. And so salvation can’t be by both grace and works, as a lot of people claim it is; no, salvation has to be by either one, or the other.
Turn to Romans 11:6. Now just prior to this verse, Paul says that salvation is by grace, and then, here in Romans 11:6, Paul says, “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” This verse is saying that if salvation is by grace (and it is), then it can’t be by works; because one negates the other. So the fact that the Bible says that salvation is by grace negates even the possibility of attaining salvation by works; “And if by grace, then it is no more of works …”
- Repenting of Sins is the Works of the Law
- Repenting of Sins is Works; Jonah 3:10
And the reason we need to be absolutely clear that salvation is not by works, is because the Bible defines repenting from sins as works; repenting from sins is works, it’s doing works. Turn to Jonah 3:10. In this verse you’ll see that turning from one’s evil way is defined as works. So turning from your evil way, which is another way of saying, repenting from sin, is defined here as works. Jonah 3:10 says: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way …” Let’s just stop there: “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way …” So it says that God saw their works, and then it says what those works were: it was them turning from their evil way. So turning from your evil way, or repenting from sin, is works!… And since we know that salvation is not by works, then we know that you can’t get saved by the work of repenting from sin.
- Repenting of Sins is Following the Law; 1 John 3:4
And the Bible has another definition for repenting from sin; turn to 1 John 3:4. The Bible also defines repenting from sin as following the law, it defines it as following God’s law. 1 John 3:4 reads, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” So sin is trangressing or breaking God’s law. Therefore, repenting from sin is following the law. You get that, right? If sin is breaking God’s law, then repenting from sin is followng the law. Pretty straight forward, right?
- No One’s Saved by Works of the Law; Galatians 2:16
But the Bible clearly says that no one gets saved by following the law. Galatians 2:16 says, “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” So repenting from sins is doing works, and repenting from sins is following the law. But salvation isn’t by works, and salvation isn’t by following the law; by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified! However which way you look at it, you Can’t. Get. Saved. By. Repenting. Of. Your. Sins!
- The Phrase “Repent of Sins” Is Not In the Bible
- The Phrase “Repent of Sins” Is Not In the Bible
In fact, the phrase, “repent of sins” isn’t even in the Bible. You can’t find the phrase, “repent of sins,” or “repent from sins” anywhere in the Bible, not even one time. At least not in the King James Version, the only unaltered English Bible. But even most of the modern perversions of the Bible don’t really add the phrase “repent of sins” to the text; that is, except for the New Living Translation, which does add the phrase “repent of sins” to the Bible about a dozen times, or so.
But consider how many preachers today say that you have to repent of your sins to be saved. Most preachers say that today. But that phrase isn’t even in the Bible! I mean, what does it say about a preacher if one of the key phrases in his gospel presentation, repent of sins, isn’t even in the Bible?… It says that preacher isn’t preaching the right gospel! It says that he’s preaching another gospel, a false one.
- The Word “Repent” Is Not In the Gospel of John
Now let’s talk about the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is the only book in the Bible that specifically states that it’s written to get people saved. John 20:31 says, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” And so if you have to repent of your sins to get saved, wouldn’t the one book in the Bible whose stated purpose is to get people saved, the Gospel of John, wouldn’t that book say that you have to repent of your sins? But it doesn’t say that. The Gospel of John doesn’t say anywhere that you have to repent of your sins. In fact, the word “repent” isn’t even in the gospel of John. And so if you have to repent of your sins to get saved, why would God leave the word “repent” out of the one book in the Bible specifically written to get people saved? Of course, God wouldn’t do something like that; God wouldn’t leave part of the gospel out of the Gospel of John; God’s not trying to hide the way of salvation from people. The answer is that you don’t have to repent of your sins to get saved, and that’s why the word “repent” isn’t in the Gospel of John…
But do you know what word is in John’s gospel? The word, “believe.” The word, “believe” is in the Gospel of John 85 times; more times than in any other book of the Bible. Why is it in there so much? Because the Gospel of John is written to get people saved, and, to get saved, all you have to do is believe. You don’t have to repent of your sins to get saved, all you have to do is believe on Jesus to get saved; just about every chapter in the Gospel of John says that you get saved by just believing on Jesus…
John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.”
John 3:16: “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 11:25-26: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”
And on and on… 85 times in the Gospel of John you’ll find the word believe!
- Out-of-Context ‘Proof’ Verses for Repentance of Sins
Now when I tell people that the Bible doesn’t say, anywhere, that you have to repent of your sins to be saved, they’ll often throw some out-of-context verses at me, trying to prove me wrong. And so I want to briefly look at, and debunk, some of these supposed “proof” verses for repenting of your sins to get saved…
- Matthew 9:13
Let’s start with Matthew 9:13. Now the part of this verse that gets thrown at me is where Jesus says, “… I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” First of all, notice that Jesus says he came to call sinners to repentance, but he doesn’t say what he calls them to repent of. He doesn’t say that he calls them to repent of their sins. Again, you can’t just add the phrase “of sins” to the word “repentance.”
What Jesus is actually saying here, is that one has to know that they’re a sinner, before they can put their faith on Jesus to save them from the punishment for their sins (like we talked about earlier). You see, in Matthew 9:11, the Pharisees asked why Jesus was eating with quote, unquote, “sinners.” So the Pharisees thought that they were better than the people that Jesus was eating with. The Pharisees saw themselves as righteous, and they saw those other people as sinners. But what the Pharisees didn’t realize was that we’re all sinners; the Pharisees didn’t realize that they were sinners too, and that they needed Jesus to save them, just as badly as those other people did. And so that’s why Jesus tongue-in-cheekly said to the Pharisees, “I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Meaning that if someone thinks he’s righteous, then he’s not going to turn to Jesus for salvation.
- Luke 13:3, 5
Next, turn to Luke 13. In Luke, chapter 13, verses 3 and 5, Jesus says, quote, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Now this quote from Jesus gets thrown at me a lot, as supposed proof that you have to repent from your sins in to get saved. But the word “perish” here is not talking about the second death, hell. It’s talking about the first death, the death of this mortal body.
You see, the context of this verse is a discussion about people dying the first death. Let’s read Luke 13, verses 1-5: “1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
So Jesus was telling the Israelites that, unless they repent, they will suffer the first death, just as the Galileans that Pilate murdered had suffered the first death, and just like those people who died when that tower collapsed on them had suffered the first death. Unless the Israelites of Jesus’ day repented, Jesus was going to let their nation get completely wiped out, and many of the Israelites would die when that happened, many of the Israelites would suffer the first death. So Jesus wasn’t even talking about heaven and hell there, he was talking about people dying the first death, when the nation of Israel got wiped out.
And this can be further seen in the following verses, where Jesus gives a parable about a man deciding to uproot his vineyard, if it didn’t produce fruit; which is a veiled reference to the nation of Israel being uprooted.
- John 5:14, 8:11
Now let’s talk about John 5:14, and John 8:11. In these verses, Jesus healed a paralytic and told him to, “Sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.” And, likewise, Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, to, “Go and sin no more.” Now people try to use these verses as supposed proof that one has to repent of their sins to be saved. But Jesus didn’t say anything about salvation in these verses either. In these verses, Jesus was talking about living holy in this life, and the consequences, in this life, for sinning and not living holy.
After healing the paralytic, Jesus told him to sin no more, or something worse would happen to him. Meaning, something worse would happen to him in this life; something worse than being paralyzed, probably like being killed.
And, likewise, the sin in question with the woman caught in adultery, was adultery. So when Jesus told her to sin no more, he was telling her to stop committing adultery. John 8:10-11 reads, “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” Now when the woman said that no one condemned her anymore, she was saying that no one condemned her to death for committing adultery anymore. And so when Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee; he was also saying, I don’t condemn you to death, I don’t condemn you to be executed for the crime of adultery either.
Jesus wasn’t part of the Roman political power structure; Jesus had no authority to order her execution. In fact, if he had ordered her execution, he would’ve broken Roman law; and that was the very trap that the Jews were trying to set for Jesus; they were trying to get him to break Roman law so that they could have him arrested.
And so then Jesus said to her: “go, and sin no more”; as in, go and stop committing adultery. But Jesus didn’t say go and sin no more in order to get saved from hell; they weren’t even talking about salvation.
- James 2:19
And then there’s James 2:19, which reads, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” So a lot of people bring up this verse to me, and say, See, believing is not enough, the devil believes in Jesus, and he’s not saved!… um, no, the devil just believes that Jesus exists, and the devil hates Jesus. The devil hasn’t put his faith on Jesus to save him from hell. There’s a big difference between believing that Jesus exists, and believing on Jesus to save you from hell.
Aside from that, the verse actually says that the devils, as in the demons, believe that there’s one God. But believing that there’s one God isn’t saving faith either; Jews believe there’s one God, Muslims believe there’s one God, Jehovah’s Witnesses believe there’s one God… and all of those religions are false! And no one who believes in the doctrine of those religions are going to heaven! So obviously just believing that there’s one God, just being monotheistic, isn’t saving faith.
Now there’s a few more supposed “proof” verses for repenting-from-sins-to-get-saved that I want to debunk; 2 Corinthians 7:10, Hebrews 10:26, and James 2:17. But those verses take a little more time to unpack, so we’re going to record an adendum, after the sermon, and tackle those three verses. And I want to encourage you to listen to that adendum, because those three verses really do come up a lot as well.
VII. The History of the “Repent of Sins” Heresy
Now, as I mentioned earlier, the “repent of your sins” false gospel has really been around since… always. It’s just another way of saying that you have to follow God’s law to be saved, which is the very same false gospel that Peter and Paul were combatting in their day. Remember, sin is the transgression of the law, so saying that you have to repent of your sins to be saved is just another way of saying that you have to follow the law to be saved.
- From the NT Era
And so let’s look at some of the history of the “repent of your sins” heresy; starting from the early church, and going up to the modern era, to today.
In the book of Acts, we see that some deceived believers started saying that you had to follow the law to be saved. Acts 15:5 reads: “But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circmcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.” But then Peter corrected them, saying, in Acts 15:10-11: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.” So Peter corrected those beleivers who had been deceived into following that false gospel. Peter said that salvation is just by grace, that it’s a free gift, and that you don’t get saved by following the law.
And isn’t it amazing to realize that Peter was fighting the same false gospel that we’re fighting today? I mean, when you think about it, we’re literally walking in the footsteps of the Apostles, when we’re combating this repent-of-your-sins false gospel.
And the Apostle Paul talks about this same battle in his epistle to the Galatians. The Christians at the churches at Galatia had also been deceived into trying to follow the law to be saved. And so, if you remember, Paul wrote to them, and said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.” So Paul was defending that salvation was just by grace; note that Paul referred to the gospel of Christ as the grace of Christ.
And the false gospel, that Paul was combatting, was the idea that one had to follow the law to be saved; and you can see this from what Paul wrote in Galatians 3:1-2; which reads: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth … This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Paul was trying to remind the Galatians that they received the Spirit, they got saved by the hearing of faith, not by the works of the law. And so why switch, Paul was asking them, why start thinking that following the law is going to save you now?
- To Church “Fathers”
And this same false gospel, that Peter and Paul were combatting in the first century, continued to infiltrate the church in the centuries that followed. Listen to these quotes I have from some so-called church “fathers,” and you’ll see that they too were clearly preaching the repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel…
- Justin Martyr (100–165)
Take Justin Martyr, for instance, he was an apologist and martyr from the 2nd Century. But he said, quote: “If you repent of the sins you have committed, acknowledge Jesus as the Christ, and keep his commands, you will obtain forgiveness of sins.” (http://bit.ly/1L8O6ek). That’s a crazy quote, right? Repent of your sins, and keep his commands, in order to get saved?? So, as you can see, the “repent of your sins” false gospel was being taught in the 2nd Century too.
- Augustine of Hippo (354-386)
And then there’s the 4th Century church “father” Augustine of Hippo, otherwise known as ‘Saint’ Augustine. In his tretise on Church Doctrine, Augustine wrote the following about how to get saved; he said, quote: “… whosoever should believe and should repent, and turn from his sins, should be saved by the same faith and repentance on the ground of which he is received into the bosom of the Church” (http://faculty.georgetown.edu/jod/augustine/ddc1.html) [Church Doctrine I, 17]. So Augustine likewise taught the false doctrine that salvation came by repenting/turning from sins.
- John Calvin (1509-1564)
And then there’s John Calvin, one of the “fathers” of the Reformation, along with Luther. Here’s a quote from Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion; where he says: “Surely no one can embrace the grace of the gospel without betaking himself from the errors of his past life into the right way, and applying his whole effort to the practice of repentance” (http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/gospelrepentance.html). So that’s a 16th Century way of saying, you gotta repent of your sins to be saved, you gotta betake yourself from the errors of your past life into the right way. Yeah, Calvin was preaching the same, “repent of your sins” false gospel that’s plagued the church down through the ages, until today.
So now knowing that even these supposed church “fathers” were preaching that you had to repent of your sins to be saved, it makes more sense how and why this heresy is being taught in so many churches today.
And just because someone’s universally revered as being a Chruch “Father,” doesn’t necesarily mean that he preached the right gospel. In fact, universal acceptance of someone should really make them suspect to us, if anything, and not automatically trustworthy.
- To Modern-Day Preachers
And, as you know, this same “repent of your sins” false gospel is being taught today by the big-name preachers of the modern era.
- Billy Graham
Now I’ve exposed Billy Graham before, but checkout this crazy quote, from the supposed greatest living evangelist; this is from a magazine interview from just a few years ago; Graham said, quote: “If someone says to me: Pastor, I really believe in Jesus and want to be baptized. However, I am having an extra-marital affair and I refuse to repent of it. I would have to answer: If you refuse to repent, then you don’t trust in Christ. If you did trust Christ, you would follow Him. Your faith is like the Devil’s faith. He too believes in Jesus, but His faith isn’t a saving faith” (http://mannsword.blogspot.com/2013/11/billy-graham-and-easy-believism.html). Really, Billy Graham? You think people can’t get saved unless they repent of adultery? Adultery’s an horrific sin, but repenting from sin doesn’t save you. Salvation is just by faith on Jesus, not by repenting of sin. I wonder how many people Graham has shut the doors of salvation to, by preaching this false gospel?
- Dr. James Dobson
Or how about Dr. James Dobson? Probably one of the most influential Christians today. But he preaches the same false gospel. He wrote that, quote: “… the first obligation for anyone is to accept what Christ did as being for him, personally … But as I understand the Scripture … there’s a second responsibility … you must want this relationship with God. He must be so important that you will allow Him to turn your life around and change your behavior.” And then Dobson goes on to define saving “repentance” as including, quote, “… a resulting change of mind and heart and behavior” (http://drjamesdobson.org/articles/defending-righteousness/a-man-and-his-god). So Dobson’s falsely preaching that you have to change your behavior to be saved; he saying that you have to repent of your sins to be saved.
- T.D. Jakes
And here’s a quote from T.D. Jakes’ website, Jakes’ church has over 30,000 members, putting it in like the top 5 churches in America, in terms of size; and this quote is from Jakes’ version of the sinner’s prayer; so Jakes is saying that you have to pray this, to Jesus, in order to get saved: “… I ask you to come into my life, to be my Lord and Savior. I believe You died for my sins and rose victorious over death. I ask You to forgive me of all my sins. I turn from my sin today, only to follow Jesus Christ all the days of my life…” (http://www.tdjakes.org/salvation/salvation-packet.pdf). So Jakes is likewise saying that you have to turn from your sins in order to be saved.
So now you can see that this “repent of your sins” false gospel has been preached from the 1st Century, to the Reformation, to the modern era.
- To The Common Man
And that’s why it’s so prevelant among people that you talk to today; like on the streets, or going door-to-door soul-winning, or just on Facebook. In fact, whenever I post something on Facebook about how you don’t have to repent of your sins to get saved, I get bombarded by comments from supposed Christians telling me that I’m the one that’s preaching a false gospel.
This past week I posted the following, I said that, quote: “You don’t have to repent/turn from your sins to get saved, all you have to do is put your faith on Jesus to save you, and you’re saved! That’s it!”… Ok so that’s the simple, true, gospel message, right? Salvation is not by repenting of sins, salvation is just by faith. Not very controversial, you would think. But listen to some of the responses I got…
A guy named “Tony” said: “This is a lie from the pit of Hell. You are a apostate.”
A guy named “John” responded by saying: “Your comment is misleading. With salvation requires repentance from your old ways. Luke 5:32 ‘I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance'”
A guy named “Mickey” responded by quoting John 8:11, where Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more.
A girl named “Rashel” said to me: “Lies! … No repentance = no forgiveness. No forgiveness = hell. You are leading people astray with your unbiblical lies.”
A guy named “Trevon” said: “Ummm I don’t know what your bible says, but mine says you must repent, turn from your wicked ways and believe on the father.” … hmm, I don’t remember seeing a verse like that in the Bible; not about salvation.
And a woman named “Belinda” wrote: “You are wrong…You must repent and turn from your sins…Believing in Christ is not enough…Satan believes in Christ…”
I’m kinda laughing at these people, but It’s actually sad that so many people are deceived by this false gospel. But, at the same time, it’s also fascinating to see the exact same false gospel being preached by Justin Martyr, John Calvin, James Dobson, and even regular people on Facebook. It shows you that this false gospel has always been around, although it does seem to be spreading at an accelerated pace today.
And if you’d like to read or see the sources for any of the quotes in this sermon, go to our website, NewCovenantBaptist.org, click “Resources” and then click “Preachers of the ‘Repent of Your Sins’ False Gospel”; I got em all there.
VIII. What Do You Have to Repent of Before Salvation?
Alright, so we’ve clearly established that salvation is just by believing on Jesus. That salvation has nothing to do with repenting from sinful habits. And we’ve also established that those who preach that you have to repent of your sins to be saved, are preaching an unbiblical and false, works-based gospel.
But what do you have to repent of in order to get saved? You don’t have to repent of your sins, but the Bible does speak of repentance as being a part of salvation, doesn’t it? I mean, both John the Baptist and Jesus preached repentance, in association with salvation. In Matthew 3:2, John preached, “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” And, in Matthew 4:17, Jesus also preached, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So what were they talking about? What were they saying that you have to repent of in order to get saved?
Again, they weren’t saying that you have to repent of sinful habits, in general, but there are a few things that you have to repent of, to get saved; you have to repent of unbelief, you have to repent of idolatry, and you have to repent of thinking that your works can save you. Why those 3 things? Well it’s just basic logic really; because you can’t believe on Jesus, if you don’t believe on him, so you have to repent of unbelief. And you can’t believe on Jesus, if you’re worshiping idols, instead of Jesus, so you have to repent of idolatry. And you can’t put your faith on Jesus to save you, if you’re trusting in your works to save you, so you have to repent of trying to work your way to heaven.
- Unbelief (Mark 1:15; Matthew 21:32)
Now let’s examine more closely what Jesus was preaching, when he preached repentance; again, in Matthew 4:17, Jesus preached, “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand”; but Mark 1:15 (as I mentioned at the beginning of the sermon), Mark 1:15 makes it clear as to what exactly Jesus was saying that you do have to repent of, in order to get saved. Jesus said there, quote, “… The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” Again, “repent” means “turn,” and what’s being turned from depends on the context the word’s used in. So when Jesus preached, “repent ye, and believe the gospel,” Jesus was saying, Repent/Turn from not believing the gospel, to believing it. You see that, right? Repent ye, and believe the gospel; turn from not believing the gospel, to believing it. Jesus was saying that salvation comes by believing on the gospel. Jesus was not saying that you get saved by turning away from sinful habits, in general. He was talking about repenting of unbelief.
And Jesus also exhorted the Jewish chief priests to repent of unbelief, in Matthew 21:32; there Jesus said to them: “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye belived him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him.” So Jesus rebuked them for repenting not afterward, that they might believe. So Jesus was clearly preaching there also that one had to repent of unbelief in order to get saved.
So what about John the Baptist? Was he preaching that you had to repent of your sins to be saved? No. John’s baptism represented the washing away of sins, through faith, the same as water baptism represents today. So John’s baptism of repentance didn’t mean that John was preaching that you had to repent of your sins to be saved. In fact, the Bible actually tells us what John was preaching, when he baptized; he was saying that you had to believe on Jesus; Acts 19:4 says, quote: “… John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus”; end quote. So John preached that believing on Jesus saves; that’s what John preached, while he baptized.
- Idolatry (Acts 14:11-15; 1 Thessalonians 1:9)
And so one has to to repent/turn from unbelief to belief, in order to get saved. And one has to also repent of worshiping idols, in order to get saved. Look 1 Thessalonians 1:9; which reads: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” So they turned to God from idols; again, logic dictates that you have to turn from, you have to repent from idolatry, and instead worship the true God, if you want to get saved. It’s like what Paul said to a bunch idolators, in Acts 14:15; Paul said to them, quote: “… turn from these vanities unto the living God …” So Paul was telling them to turn, to repent from vain idols, and, instead, worship the living God. In other words, one has to repent from believing in a false religion, and instead believe in the true religion, the gospel of Jesus Christ, in order to get saved.
- Dead Works (Hebrews 6:1; Matthew 11:28-30)
So that covers unbelief and idolatry; you have to repent of unbelief and idolatry, in order to get saved. But probably the most important thing that you have to repent of in order to get saved is dead works; you have to repent of thinking that your works can save you. And really all the false religions out there are centered around the false teaching that men can be justified by their works. And that’s what differentiates biblical Christianity from false religions; the Bible teaches that salvation is by grace, through faith; and not by works. And so, again, in order to get saved, you have to repent of thinking that your works can save you
Turn to Hebrews 6:1. This is the definitivie verse in terms of telling us what we do have to repent of in order to get saved; Hebrews 6:1 says: “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.” So here Paul is saying, to the Hebrews, that he wants to stop discussing the foundational principles of the doctrine of Christ, and, instead, Paul wants to start talking about deeper things with them. But then Paul mentions exactly what the foundational principles of Christianity are; he says they’re, quote: “repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” So Christianity is built on the concept of repenting from dead works, and, instead, putting one’s faith toward God, or toward Jesus. Repenting from dead works, repenting from thinking that your works can save you, is the foundational principle of Christianity.
It’s like when Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest …” Labour means work, right? So when Jesus said come unto me, all ye that labour, Jesus was saying, come to me all you that work, come to me all you that are trying to work your way to heaven. Trying to work your way to heaven is like putting an impossibly heavy load upon your shoulders. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”
Salvation is easy. It’s just by faith on Jesus. Don’t try to work your way to heaven; because you can’t! It’s impossible! Remember what Peter said, in Acts 15, when a false, works-based gospel began to infiltrate the early church; Peter said: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved …” (Acts 15:10-11). It’s impossible to earn one’s salvation by works; it’a a weight too heavy to bear. So one must repent of dead works, and, instead, put their faith on Jesus for salvation.
- What Do You Have to Repent of After Salvation?
Now when I tell people that they don’t have to repent of their sins to be saved, they’ll sometimes accuse me of being permissive of sin. People will say to me, Oh, so you’re saying that we can just live however we want to? That we can just sin all day long, and it doesn’t matter!?… No, that’s not what I’m saying; of course it’s not Ok to sin. I’m saying that we don’t have to repent of our sins in order to get saved… but, yeah, we should repent of our sins after we’re saved. In fact, Christians are commanded to live holy, so we are commanded to repent of sin. And there are dire consequences, for us, if we don’t repent of our sins (but losing our salvation isn’t one of those consequences).
- Christians May Naturally Repent of Sins
First of all, we have to keep in mind that a lot of times repenting from certain sins, those that we’re convicted of, will naturally accompany turning to Jesus. Because once we understand the gospel, once we realize how serious sin is, and the consequences thereof, it’s just natural that we’d want to try not to sin. The thing is, we just have to understand that turning from sin isn’t what saves us.
Also, once we’re born-again, we get a new inner man, a regenerated spirit; and our new inner man, or new spirit, doesn’t want to sin anymore. Our spirit is now sinless, but our flesh is still sinful. And so Christians now have a war going on between their new inner man, and their old sinful flesh. As Paul wrote, “For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind …” (Romans 7:22-23). But, because our inward man no longer wants to sin, it makes sense that a new believer will likely repent of some sins. The thing is, because our flesh is still sinful, repenting from sin is not automatic- it doesn’t always happen. Christians have free will, and so, if we choose to walk in the Spirit, we’ll repent of sin; but, if we walk in the flesh instead, we won’t repent of sin.
And, sadly, many Christians, in our culture today, are walking in the flesh; I mean like 24/7 they’re walking in the flesh. Why? Because a lot of Protestant churches don’t teach their members that they should stop sinning. Think about it, if someone gets saved by the true gospel, by grace through faith, and then somehow they end up in a Joel Osteen type church (and his church is the largest in America by the way), then those believers will never be told that they’re supposed to repent of sin. And so real believers who get caught up in watered-down, or fake churches, will likely live the same as they lived before they got saved.
- Christians Commanded to Repent of Sin
But believers are commanded to repent of sin, and so we should try to walk in the Spirit and repent of our sins.
- Ezekiel 18:30
Back in the Old Testament era, beleivers were commanded to repent of their sins; like in Ezekiel 18:30, which says, “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”
- Romans 6:12
And us believers in the New Testament era are also commanded to repent of our sins. Romans 6:12 says, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.” So that’s an indirect way of telling us Christians to repent of our sins, to not let sin reign in our mortal bodies. And, by the way, if Christians repented from sin automatically, like some people claim we do, then the Bible wouldn’t have to command us to not let sin take over our lives; therefore the command, itself, in Romans 6:12, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, is proof that Christians can let sin reign in their bodies, and that some Christians do, in fact, live in sin.
- Hebrews 12:1
But we should obey the Bible, we should repent of our sins. As Hebrews 12:1 says, “… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
- Consequences for not repenting of sin
So us Christians are commanded to repent of sin. And, no, we won’t lose our salvation if we disobey God and refuse to repent. But there are still dire consequences, for us, if we don’t repent of our sins.
- Individual Consequences
- “Your Ruin”; Ez 18:30; Jn 15:10-11; Heb 11:26-31
For instance, in Ezekiel 18:30, one of the verses I just read, the Lord said, “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” Note that last part: so iniquity shall not be your ruin. So iniquity, or sin, can ruin a Christian’s life, in the here and now.
How can sin ruin our lives? Well, for one thing, it takes away our happiness, it takes away our joy in life. It’s the simple truth that when we obey Jesus, we’re happy; but when we disobey him and sin, we lose our joy. in 1 John 1:4, John says, “And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” And then, in 1 John 2:1, John says, “… these things write I unto you, that ye sin not.” So he said that he wrote the epistle of 1 John in order that our joy may be full, and he wrote the epistle so that we sin not. Now when you put those two verses together, you see that our joy is full when we sin not; when we don’t sin, our joy is full. And, conversely, when we do sin, we lose our joy. So not repenting of sin can mess up our lives by making us unhappy; not repenting of sin can make us lose our joy in life.
Another way not repenting of sin messes up our lives is that it causes God to discipline us. Hebrews 12:4-6 says: “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” So every believer gets disciplined by God, when we sin; he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son who he receieveth. And if we’re sinning a lot, that means we’re gonna get disciplined a lot. And, as Hebrews 12:11 says, “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous …” So, if we’re constantly getting chastized by the Lord for sinning, then we’re going to be feeling grieved constantly also. The bottom line is that If we don’t repent of our sins, we’re gonna have a messed up life, instead of a blessed one.
And, the thing is, God’s disciplining of a believer for sin can even include execution. Now God shows us a lot of mercy, so this is more of the exception than the rule, but God does sometimes execute believers for sinning too much, or for not repenting of sin. I’m thinking of Ananias and Sapphira, who were counted among the beleivers in the early church, and who sinned by lying to the Holy Spirit, and pretending they gave all their money to the church, when they didn’t. And so God executed them (Acts 4:32-5:11). And, remember, Sapphira, at least, was given the chance to repent; Peter asked her how much she had sold the land for, and so she could have repented of her previous lies, and told the truth instead, but she didn’t, she lied again, and so she was executed, on the spot, by the Holy Spirit.
And God also executed some believers in the church at Corinth, for observing the Lord’s Supper unworthily; 1 Corinthians 11:30-32 reads: “For this cause … [speaking of eating the Lord’s Supper unworthily] For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord …” Note that it said that many slept, in that church, as a result of their sin. Sleep, in this instance, is a euphamism for dying. So Paul was saying that many people in the Corinthian church had been executed, by God, because they observed the Lord’s Supper unworthily.
And so there are serious consequences, in this life, for Christians who don’t repent of sin; we lose our joy, we get disciplined by God, and we may even get executed by him.
- “Suffer Loss”; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; Mt 5:19
But it’s not only in this life that we suffer consequences for not repenting, we also suffer the loss of rewards in heaven, that we could’ve earned. How does that work? Well, if we’re spending our time sinning, and not repenting of our sins, then we’re not spending our time doing good works and earning eternal rewards. Now, in my mind, getting less rewards in heaven is the biggest consequence for not repenting of sin, because it affects our eternal state. I want you to think about this: whether or not we repent of our sins will determine how good heaven will be for us.
Turn to 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. This passage makes it clear that us believers receive varying degrees of rewards in heaven, depending upon our works. The passage reads: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” So, on the Christians’ judgment day, our works will get tested, and we’ll get rewarded for our good works; that’s what the phrase, if any man’s work abide … he shall receive a reward, means. But we won’t get rewarded for anything else that we did with our time; and that’s what the phrase, If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss, means; it means we’ll suffer the loss of rewards, in heaven, that we could’ve earned, if we spent our time more wisely.
And the fact that we’ll get rewarded for our good works, and that we won’t get rewarded for the other stuff that we do, shows that there we’ll be varying degrees of rewards, in heaven, for each believer, based upon our works. It’s like, if you spend 50% of your time doing good works, and I only spend 25% of my time doing good works, then you should get about twice the rewards, in heaven, that I get… or something like that, anyway.
Another thing that 1 Corinthians 3:15 shows us is that some Christians don’t do any good works, at all, and, therefore, they don’t get any rewards in heaven; but it says that such Christians, even though they don’t do any good works at all, will still get saved. Again, 1 Corinthians 3:15 reads: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” So if a Christian has all of his works burned up on Judgment Day, meaning he didn’t do any good works for the Lord, his entire life… then that Christian will suffer the loss of all the rewards that he could’ve earned, but he himself will still be saved, yet so as by fire; meaning, he’ll still be saved, but just by the seat of his pants. He’ll be empty-handed, he’ll have nothing, in terms of rewards, but he’ll still get saved.
You know, it’s kind of amazing, when you think about it (and not amazing in a good way), but it’s amazing to realize that there some Christians don’t do any good works, at all, the whole time that they’re saved. And so, if we were looking at the lives of such a Christian, we wouldn’t even be able to tell that they’re saved. I mean, they literally do no good works at all, so how could you tell that they’re even Christians? You couldn’t. And that, by the way, debunks Calvanism’s Lordship Salvation, which says that if you’re saved, you will do good works. No. 1 Corinthians 3:15 clearly says that some Chrisitans won’t do any good works. Zero. Zilch. But it says that they’ll still be saved. Works have nothing to do with salvation.
And the passage says they’ll suffer loss, meaning they’ll suffer the loss of rewards that they had the opportunity to earn. So if someone tries to tell you that 1 Corinthians 3:15 is talking about people who got saved, right before they died, and so they didn’t have time to earn rewards. Tell them they’re wrong; because the verse says that they’ll suffer loss; that means they had the time and opportunity to do good works and earn rewards, but they failed to do so – they lost the chance that they were given (probably because they were too busy sinning, and refused to repent of their sins).
You know, Most Christians think everything’s going to be equal in heaven, but it’s not. Each of us will have varying degrees of rewards in heaven; and that will affect how good heaven will be for each of us. Not that anyone’s gonna be having a bad time in heaven, but the more rewards we get, the better heaven will be. Otherwise why would Jesus tell us, in Matthew 5:12, to, quote, “… rejoice, and be exceeding glad …” when we know that we’re doing something that‘s earning us rewards in heaven? It’s because rewards affect how good heaven will be for us. So we should rejoice when we earn rewards, and, conversely, we should probably mourn, a little, when we lose opprotunities to earn rewards. All in all, we should strive to repent of the sin that so easily besets us, and, instead, strive to do good works, and strive to get a full reward in heaven; as 2 John 1:8 says, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
Earning rewards is a good and biblical motivation for us Christians to repent of their sins and do good works instead. Working for rewards is a motivation that’s sorely lacking among believers today, because most believers don’t know that we earn varying degrees of rewards in heaven, based on our works. And so most Christians don’t realize how important it is to repent of our sins, and to spend that time doing good works instead. And that’s precisely why so many believers today don’t repent of their sins. The biblical teaching on earning rewards has been purposely hidden from us; and this lack of knowledge is really hurting us.
- Corporate Consequences
So not repenting of sin affects us individually by taking away our joy, by getting us disciplined by God, and by causing us to lose rewards in heaven. But aside from these individual consequences for not repenting of sin, there are also corporate consequences for not repenting. That is, sometimes us Christians get disciplined, by God, corporately, as a group, when we don’t repent.
- “Will Remove Thy Candlestick”; Revelation 1:20, 2:5
Turn to Revelation 1. Now in Jesus’ message to the church at Ephesus, Jesus warned that local church that if they don’t repent of their sins, Jesus was going to shut down their church. But, first, in Revelation 1:20, I want to show you that when Jesus talked about “candlesticks,” here in the book of Revelation, he was talking about local churches. Revelation 1:20 reads, “The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.” So the 7 candlesticks mentioned at the start of the book of Revelation are the 7 churches that Jesus addressed.
Now turn to Revelation 2. In 2:1, we see that Jesus was addressing the church at Ephesus, and, in 2:4-5, we read Jesus’ warning to that church; he said, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.” So, unless that church repented of their later works, and instead went back to their first works, Jesus was going to shut down the church. Jesus’ threat to, quote, “remove thy candlestick … except thou repent,” meant that he was going to shut down their church, if they didn’t repent. Here we see that sometimes there’s corporate, or group consequences for Christians that don’t repent of corporate sin… And that’s someting to keep in mind for our own church, both now, and as we build and grow; we need to be careful not to let sin destroy our church. I pray that we keep our love for God, and I pray that we, as a group, repent of any sin that threatens to destroy this precious church that God is building here.
- “Heal Their Land”; 2 Chronicles 7:14; Jonah 3:4
So Churches that don’t repent of sin can be taken out! And God sometimes also takes out, or destroys, cities or countries that don’t repent of corporate sin. I think we’re all familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14, which reads: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” This was to the Old Testament believers in ancient Israel, but the general principle here is that God will curse or bless the land, occupied by believers, depending upon whether the believers repent of their sins, as a group, or not.
And the city or country doesn’t necessarily have to be occupied by a bunch of believers, for this principle to be in effect. In Jonah’s day, the Gentile city of Nineveh was grievously wicked. But God had Jonah preach to Nineveh; Jonah preached that God was about to destroy the city, but then Nineveh repented, the city, as a whole, repented, and so God spared their city, and didn’t destroy it, at least not in that generation.
And America is under a similar sentence today. It grieves me to say that, ultimately, it’s too late for America; God will destroy this country, because of all the unavenged blood-guilt from abortion; it’s just a matter of when God will take out America, it’s no longer a matter of if. In fact, this nation is already being judged; God has allowed the enemies of America to infiltrate positions of power, and to start destroying the nation, from the inside out; take President Obama, for instance; Obama is the frontman for the enemies of this nation; and everything that Obama does, every executive order, ever presidential act, everything he does is for the purpose of destroying America. The Bible says that God, “… removeth kings, and setteth up kings” (Daniel 2:21), so you can be sure that God allowed America’s enemies to put Obama in office as judgment against this nation, for turning away from God.
But there are still a lot of believers in America. And if we, God’s people, stop participating in our national sins, like abortion, and fornication, and the promotion of sodomy, then this nation might be spared, for a time, for our sake. America can’t be saved, but her judgment can be postponed; if more pastors like Pastor Steven Anderson, and Pastor Roger Jimenez, and Pastor Donnie Romero, and our own Pastor Yaghtin, if more pastors, like these men, stand up and preach against our national sins, and if enough Chrisitans listen to them and turn and repent of participating in America’s sins, then God’s judgment on our nation may be delayed.
And so there are dire consequences, both individually, and corporately, for not repenting of sin. Individually, we can lose our happiness, and get disciplined by God. And, corporately, unrepentant churches can be destroyed, and unrepentant nations taken out.
So, please, those of you preach the repent-of-your-sins-to-be-saved false gospel, stop accusing me of being permissive of sin. I’m not permissive of sin. I know that there are dire consequences for us Christians who don’t repent of our sins, and I warn others about those consequences. But… losing our salvation is not one of those consequences.
- But You Don’t Lose Your Salvation
Everyone here knows about the biblical doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved; yet it’s good to briefly reexamine those verses. Let me give you some of the key ones.
- John 5:24
Turn to John 5:24. John 5:24; where Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” So once you believe on Jesus, he said you “hath everlasting life,” meaning you currently possess everlasting life; and that means you can never lose it, otherwise Jesus wouldn’t call it everlasting. Also, in John 5:24, is the promise that believers “shall not come into condemnation”; that means that, no matter what we do, or don’t do, we shall not be condemned to hell. In this verse, alone, Jesus repeatedly teaches that once you’re saved, you’re always saved.
- John 10:28
Next turn to John 10:28; there Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Here we have the unmistakable and precious promise that believers, quote, “shall never perish”; Jesus said, “and they shall never perish”; that’s never, as in never! Once you put your faith on Jesus, you’re saved, and you’ll never persih; you’ll never die the second death.
And note how these biblical promises are general statements; meaning, they don’t leave any room for exceptions. It’s because once you’re saved, you’re saved forever, whether or not you repent of your sins. Once you put your faith on Jesus, you hath everlasting life, you shall not come into condemnation, and You. Will. Never. Perish. There are no exceptions to these promises!
iii. Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; 2 Timothy 2:13
And the Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine can also be seen when you look at verses that talk about the sealing of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1:13 says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” So note here that it says, After that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise. So right after we believe, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit.
And that seal lasts until Redemption Day, until the day our bodies are redeemed, and we get new, sinless, imortal bodies. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And grieve not the holy Spirt of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” When we sin, we grieve the Holy Spirit, who is in us. So we shouldn’t sin; and, when we do sin, we should repent of it. But even though we grieve him, when we sin, we don’t lose the Holy Spirit. Remember Ephesians 4:30 said that, even when we grieve the Spirit, we’re still sealed, by him, unto the Day of Redemption. Praise God that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is a seal that cannot be broken. Not even by sin.
And that explains 2 Timothy 2:13; which says that even if we stop believing, God will be faithful to us, because he cannot deny himself; implying that he’ll still save us, even if we sin, because we’re permanently sealed by the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 2:13 says, quote: “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.” The Holy Spirit is God. And so even if we somehow stopped believing, God will not deny himself; God will not deny the Holy Spirit, who is in us, and by whom we are sealed unto the day of redemption.
In total, all these verses show that we cannot lose our salvation; that once we’re saved, we’re always saved, no matter what. And thank God that we can’t lose our salvation! Thank God that even though we should repent of our sins, and even though there are dire consequences for not repenting of sin, thank God that losing our salvation isn’t one of those consequences. Salvation is just by faith, and Jesus promised that once we’re saved, we shall never perish! Our life may get messed up in the here and now, and we may lose out on eternal rewards, but we will never persih; we will never lose our salvation.
- Benefits of Repenting of Sin
Now I want to talk about the benefits of repenting from sin; just as there are negative consequences for not repenting, there’s benefits, or positive consequences when we do repent.
- Shows Your Love for Jesus
First of all, we should repent, when we sin, because it shows Jesus that we love him. Remember that repenting of sins is just another way of saying, following the law. Repenting of sins is following the law. And Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” John 14:15. So repenting from sin is following the law or obeying Jesus’ commandments; therefore, repenting from sin shows Jesus that we love him.
Now a lot of people try to use this verse, John 14:15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments,” to say that all believers will obey Jesus’ commandments. But, as we’ve already covered, that’s just not true. A lot of believers, unfortunately, don’t obey Jesus, but they’re still saved – once saved, always saved – our salvation isn’t dependent on our obedience. But, having a good relationship with Jesus is dependent on our obedience. Think about it, if a son is an unloving son to his father, and never obeys his father, he’ll still be his father’s son, but he just won’t have a good relationship with his father. For instance, if the Prodigal Son never returned home, he wouldn’t have ceased to have been his father’s son; his father would have alway loved him, and would have always been hoping he’d come home; but, if the Prodigal never did return home, he simply wouldn’t have been a good son, and he wouldn’t have had a good relationship with his father. And that’s kind of how it is with us Christians, and Jesus; when we disobey Jesus; we’re not being good children, but we’re still his children. And we’re obeying Jesus, we are being good children.
- Blesses Your Life Now
So repenting from sin, or obeying the Lord, shows our love for the Lord, and it also gets God’s blessing on our life. We talked before about how God disciplines us when we don’t repent of our sins, but, conversely, he blesses us when we do obey him, and when we do repent of our sins.
As the Israelites were told, in Deuteronomy 11:26-28: “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; a blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God …”
And similarly Jesus said in Luke 11:28: “… blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” So if we obey the Lord, if we keep his word, if we repent of our sins, which is the same thing as obeying the Lord, then our life will be blessed.
- Eternal Rewards
And not only do we get blessed in this life, if we repent of our sins, but we also get blessed in the next life, so to speak; because we get rewards in heaven; as we already talked about: when we spend our time doing good works, instead of sinning, we earn eternal rewards that we get to enjoy in heaven.
First of all, we have to keep in mind that we have a limited amount of time to spend earning rewards; Ephesians 5:15-16 says: “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” So because we have a limited amount of time to spend, we need to redeem the time; we need to spend our time doing works, and earning rewards; rather than “going with the flow” and wasting our time sinning.
You see, God saved us in order for us to do good works; in fact, God has before ordained specific good works for each of us to walk in; Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” And since God has prepared good works for us, then he must also have in mind rewards that he wants to give each of us for doing those works. That’s why 1 Corinthians 3 says that we suffer loss if we fail to do good works and earn rewards; we suffer the loss of the rewards that God wanted to give us.
So let’s redeem the time. Let’s see that we get a full reward. “… let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”
What do we get rewards for? Well we get rewards for doing stuff for God; in particular, we get rewards for edifying the saints, and for evangelizing the lost. Galatians 6:9-10 says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” So we will especially reap rewards for doing good, quote: “unot them who are of the household of faith.” So that’s one of the benefits of being part of a church; we get rewards in heaven for doing good to each other, here at church.
And here’s a familiar verse that might surprise you a bit, when you think about the implications of what it’s saying; I’m talking about Matthew 5:19, where Jesus said the following, in reference to obeying God’s moral commands; Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” So if we obey God’s commandments, and teach other Christians to obey them also, then we will be called great in the kingdom of heaven; meaning, we’ll get a greater position in heaven. Whereas, if we break God’s moral commandments, and teach other Christians that it’s Ok to break them too, then we’ll be called least in the kingdom of heaven, we’ll have a lesser position in heaven. So not only are there varying degrees of rewards in heaven, but there are also greater and lesser positions in heaven. And we’ll get a higher, or lower position, depending upon whether we taught other Christians to obey God’s moral commands, or not.
And we also, of course, get rewards for soul-winning, for evangelizing the lost. After Jesus soul-won the Samaritan Woman, Jesus taught his disciples about the importance of evangelizing and about the rewards you get for it. Jesus said, in John 4:35-36: “Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.” So Jesus taught them about soul-winning, using the analogy of farmers harvesting crops. Jesus said, He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal; so he’s saying that we get eternal wages, eternal rewards, when we produce fruit, when we produce other Chrisitans, that is, when we soul-win.
And take heart, because even if we preach the gospel, and it’s not received well, we still get rewards for preaching. In fact, if we get persecuted because we’re preaching the gospel, Jesus said that we get a great amount of rewards in heaven. Jesus said, in Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Great is our reward in heaven, when we get persecuted for preaching the gospel, or for just being a Christian.
Working for rewards is a biblical motivation. The fact that we get varying degrees of rewards, and greater or lesser positions in heaven, should motivate us to repent, when we sin, and to, instead, use our time serving the Lord, and earning rewards in heaven. In Matthew 16:27, Jesus said, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” See that? Jesus sais that every man, every individual will be rewarded according to his works. Now Jesus wouldn’t talk about rewarding us, for our works, if he didn’t want to be motivated by rewards.
So we learned today that we do not have to repent from a sinful lifestyle, in general, in order to get saved. And we learned that saying that one has to repent of their sins to get saved is preaching a false gospel. We also learned that this false gospel has infiltrated the church from it’s inception. We learned that the foundational principle of Christianity is actually “repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God”; that is, we have to repent of thinking that our works can save us, and instead realize that just faith on Jesus saves. And we also learned that, as Christians, we should repent of our sins, and that there are dire consequences, for us, if we don’t repent when we sin… but losing our salvation is not one of those consequences.
The simple, pure gospel is the only thing we need to preach, because it’s the only thing that can save the lost; 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. The gospel is whosoever believeth. That’s it. It’s so simple, but it’s the power of God unto salvation. Christians, don’t get deceived into following the false, work-based gospel of repenting from sins to get saved. Stick with whosoever believeth; that’s the gospel that saved you, and that’s the only gospel that you can save others with. Let’s pray…