What is Biblical Repentance?
John the Baptist said, “repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” in Matthew 3:2
Jesus said: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” in Matthew 4:17
But so many people today are confused about what Biblical repentance actually means.
There are many reasons for this, including modern versions such as the NLT which add the phrase, “of sins” to repent …
For example, in Matthew 3:2, instead of simply “repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” from the KJV, the NLT changes this to: “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom ofHeaven is near”
Similarly in Matthew 4:17, the NLT changes this to: “from then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God ….”
This is ADDING TO THE PURE WORD OF GOD, which is a damnable offense.
Proverbs 30:6 says: “Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
We see this also in the final book & chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22:19:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
There is no doubt that REPENTANCE IS NECESSARY FOR SALVATION.
The Bible is clear on that. You must repent!
But what is BIBLICAL REPENTANCE?
By doing a Biblical word-study, we can look up the words, “repent” and “repentance” … & get our definitions from the Bible’s own built-in dictionary.
The first time that a word appears in the Bible, it sets a precedence for that word and defines that word for future occurrences in the Bible.
The King James Bible translators were very aware of this and used Bible words to define themselves.
Now, this doesn’t usually work with the modern corruptions of the Bible, because they’ve changed words around and broken this continuity that we have within the Word of God …
… but it does work with the King James version of the Bible, which is God’s supernaturally preserved Word in the English language.
So let’s look up the word, “REPENT” & found out exactly what the Bible means when it says we must repent in order to be saved!
The first time “REPENT” appears in the Bible, it is found in the very first Book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter 6, verse 6.
So it doesn’t take long before the concept of repentance is introduced.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
So the first mention of “repent” is in relation to God repenting … not man.
And God is not repenting of sin, but He has regret that He made man, because man’s actions grieved his heart.
Of course, God cannot sin, so there is no association with sin the first time “repentance” appears in the Bible.
The next mention of repentance in the Bible is in 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 thatwas near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt:
Here, again, Repent means to change the mind or to want to “return”.
That gives us our first clue as to what John meant when he preached repentance to the Israelites … He was calling the nation and the people to RETURN to God.
& In the New Testament, Paul describes exactly what John’s baptism meant.
He explains it plainly in Acts 19:4:
Then said Paul, 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.
So REPENTANCE here is described as “believing on Him which should come after him … that is … n Christ Jesus.”
Repentance is defined as believing.
Let’s continue with the word study.
In Exodus 32:14, the Bible says: “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”
So, again, it was God changing His mind …
… In this case, changing his mind about destroying His own people.
In Numbers 23:19 the Bible 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 in Numbers, REPENT = God not changing his mind; not going against His own word, since he cannot lie.
Repentance is associated with a CHANGE OF MIND.
We see this again in Psalm 110:4:
The LORD hath sworn, and will NOT REPENT, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.
We see that in every instance of the word “repent” from the very foundations of the Bible, IS NOT associated with TURNING FROM SIN.
Yet preachers are preaching that you have to turn from your sins to be saved …
When the Bible is clear, always has been clear … salvation is by faith alone!
Ephesians 2:8-9: “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.
Turning from sin is a work … and has nothing to do w/ salvation!
Now, we should always strive to turn from sin as believers … but it has zero bearing on our salvation!
Salvation is a free gift!
Judges 2:18: And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them.
In 1 Samuel 15:11 God says: “It repenteth me that I have set up Saul to be king:”
In 1 Samuel 15:29, it says that God “is not a man, that he should repent.”
In 2 Samuel 24:16, the bible says: “And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand.”
Again and again the majority of instances of “repent” are actually associated with God repenting or not repenting.
Look also at Acts 16:30
Paul & Silas are locked up in prison for preaching the Gospel …
… and at midnight they prayed and sang praises unto God and a great earthquake shook the prison’s foundations and they were set free!
And the keeper of the prison brought Paul and Silas out and said to them:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
.. But what did Paul & Silas say?
Did they say, ‘Repent of your sins! Stop sinning and believing the Gospel!”
No, they simply said:
“… Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved …”
Very simple, just believe.
SINNERS TO REPENTANCE
Now turn to Matthew 9:13, This is a verse that people like to use to claim that repentance means turning from sins.
The second part of the verse which they truncate out of context, says:
“… for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
OK, BUT GO BACK & READ the whole passage in context.
You can’t just pluck a verse out randomly & say, “See, it says repent of sins!”
Starting in v. 10 of Matthew 9:
10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw [it], they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard [that], he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13 But go ye and learn what [that] meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
Jesus was throwing the Pharisees hypocrisy in their faces.
He was saying: “You think you’re perfect! You think you’re without sin! You think that you don’t a Savior!”
So be it … you self-righteous wicked Pharisees!
“ … for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Jesus was being sarcastic …
- The last encounter in the Bible I want to look at today is about Philip & The Ethiopian Eunuch in ACTS 8:26-38:
An Angel of the Lord directs Philip to go to Gaza, where he meets a Eunuch reading from the Scriptures …
… from passages in Isaiah which pointed to Christ …
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.
36 And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
… And of course, Philip stopped the Eunech at this point and said, first you have to turn from your sins … right?
…. You can’t just continue sinning & be saved!
You can’t just live any way you want!
That would be easy-believism!
… You can’t just say a prayer and get saved … right?
… BUT NO, that’s not what Philip said …
So why are preachers today saying it?
The Eunech said:
See here is water, what doth hinder me to be baptized?
37 And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
38 And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.
The Bible CLEARLY DEFINES WHAT REPENTANCE IS … and it’s not turning from sin …
It’s not repenting from sins and believing in Jesus … THAT’S A FALSE GOSPEL!
… It’s turning from UNBELIEF & DEAD WORKS to FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
It’s simply admitting that you’re a sinner and realizing your need for a Savior.
1Therefore 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.
Paul clearly identifies REPENTANCE as TURNING from DEAD WORKS to saving FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST.
That is the TRUE DEFINITION of BIBLICAL REPENTANCE.
There are 3 things you have to repent from to be saved:
- DEAD WORKS.
That means all the works that you try to do to save yourself are like filthy rags before an Almighty and holy God.
There is nothing you can do to earn your own salvation.
Your good works are meaningless & DEAD without Christ.
- You have to repent from idolatry.
The Bible says: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
That’s that 1st of the Commandments!
You must worship Jesus Christ alone.
You can’t worship Allah or Buddha or any other false gods or religions …
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” In John 14:6.
- You must repent from unbelief!
Romans 10:13 says: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
The Bible doesn’t say to turn from sin … it doesn’t say to do good works … for your salvation …
It simply says: believe.
Believing in the atoning work of Jesus Christ to save you!
Now, once you’re saved, I encourage you to do good works!
Good works are the pillars for living a godly life in Christ Jesus and being a disciple of Jesus Christ.
But John 5:24 says that there’s nothing that you can do to lose your salvation!
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.