REPENTANCE


For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 RSV

It is strange, and at the same time significant, that the apostles always indicated Repentance as being “TOWARD,” in the direction of, or “UNTO” Salvation, as here.

  • Peter said that God had granted the Gentiles repentance “UNTO life”
  • Mark noted that repentance was “UNTO the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4)
  • In Acts 20:21, it is declared that “Both to Jews and to Greeks repentance TOWARD God and faith TOWARD our Lord Jesus Christ” constituted a part of the Pauline testimony to all people.

The direction impact of these references cannot be overlooked.

Of all the primary steps of obeying the gospel, faith, repentance, confession and baptism, all are said to be “unto” or “toward” salvation, God, Christ and the remission of sins; whereas of baptism alone is it declared that it is “INTO Christ.”

Several important teachings with regard to repentance appear in this verse:

  • Christians who commit sin are commanded to repent, the same being an invariable duty of all people, aliens and Christians alike.
  • In the case of sin, repentance is never waived.
  • Christians who commit sin, until they do repent are not in a saved condition, else the repentance of the Corinthians could not have been said to be “unto” salvation.
  • Repentance is not sorrow for sin, which in many cases is mere “sorrow of the world” due to the inconvenience caused by sin or its discovery.
  • Even godly sorrow is not repentance, but a condition that produces repentance. What then is repentance? It is a change of the will, with regard to sin, preceded by godly sorrow and followed by “fruits worthy of repentance”

Through remorseful sorrow for sin, Judas committed suicide; and there have been countless other examples of the sorrow of the world working death.

But what is mentioned here goes beyond physical consequences and speaks of “eternal death, which is the opposite of salvation” (Romans 5:21).

People must come “UNTO” the Father in order to be saved.

  • This is done by Learning the truth (John 6:44)
  • By Believing in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10)
  • By Repenting of their sins (Acts 11:18)
  • By Confessing Christ (Romans 10:10). But this prodigal was still separated from the father until he came all the way home.

Just so, the sinner is still in his sins even after coming “UNTO” the father by his learning, believing in Christ, repenting of his sins, and confessing the Lord.

There was one more thing the prodigal had to do before he was restored; and there is yet another thing the sinner must do to receive the robes of forgiveness and the ring of sonship.

Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

Matthew 3:8‭-‬9 RSV

“Fruit worthy of repentance” suggests the true relationship between repentance and reformation of life.

Reformation of life is not repentance but issues forth from repentance and is a direct result or “fruit” of repentance.

That repentance cannot be reformation of life is seen in the words of Christ who allowed that it is possible to repent many times in one day (Luke 17:4), a thing that cannot be understood of reformation.

When they heard this they were silenced. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance unto life.”

Acts 11:18 RSV

In one sense repentance is something that men must do; in another it is something that God gives.

There is no merit pertaining to men in such a thing as repentance, or any other obedience.

Therefore, when God consents to permit repentance on man’s part as one of the prior conditions of forgiving him, it is in essence a gift of God.

The New Testament speaks of:

  • Faith being “UNTO” righteousness (Romans 10:10)
  • Repentance being “UNTO” life (as here)
  • Confession being “UNTO” salvation (Romans 10:10)

It is of Baptism alone that the word of God declares it to BE “INTO CHRIST” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27), and “INTO ONE BODY” (1 Corinthians 12:13).


But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry; for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to make merry.

Luke 15:22‭-‬24 RSV

The prodigal son arose and came to his father. Men must come “UNTO” the Father in order to be saved.

This is done by learning the truth (John 6:44), by believing in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:10), by repenting of their sins (Acts 11:18), and by confessing Christ (Romans 10:10).

But this prodigal was still separated from the father until he came all the way home.

The sinner is still in his sins even after coming “unto” the father by his learning, believing in Christ, repenting of his sins, and confessing the Lord.

There was one more thing the prodigal had to do before he was restored; and there is yet another thing the sinner must do to receive the robes of forgiveness and the ring of sonship.

He came to the father and submitted to the father’s government which he had once spurned, he accepted the robe, the shoes, and the ring, and took his place once more at the father’s table.

All of this corresponds to a sinner’s being baptized into Christ, whereupon he receives the robe of forgiveness, accepts his place at the father’s table by a faithful observance of the Lord’s supper.

People who might fancy that the plan of salvation is not in the parables should look again.

For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.

Romans 10:10 RSV

The preposition “UNTO” (in the English Revised Version (1885)) is here translated from a Greek word [EIS], which means “for” in the sense of “in order to receive.”

No Greek scholar on earth would deny this.

Attention is here called to two other New Testament passages where the same [EIS] is involved:

  • This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many UNTO remission of sins (Matthew 26:28).
  • Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ UNTO the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38).

Putting the sense of these Scriptures in view together, we have this:

  • Blood of the covenant (Christ’s blood)
  • Remission of sins repentance and baptism [EIS]
  • Remission of sins man believeth
  • Righteousness confession is made
  • Salvation

In the New Testament, faith, repentance, confession and baptism are all categorically said to sustain exactly the SAME relationship to salvation, being “UNTO” it, meaning that they are all, and all alike, divinely-imposed preconditions required of men, upon the fulfillment of which God gives them justification.

This great truth should have been known even without what is said in Matthew 26:28; but the statement there, in which the blood of Christ is also said to be “unto” the remission of sins, makes the understanding of this vital truth almost impossible, for the same word [EIS] in the Greek) “unto” relates the blood of Jesus Christ to remission of sins, in the sense of there being no remission of sins without it.

This in no sense equates the blood of Christ with the primary steps of obedience leading to justification, because the blood of Christ is the causative and enabling factor making it possible for people to be saved, thus not resembling in any way the primary steps of obedience.

But IN ONE SENSE, the sense of being absolutely necessary and prior to man’s salvation, the first principles of the gospel (faith, repentance, confession and baptism) are actually placed in the same time sequence leading to salvation as the blood of Christ, all of which, and each of which, are the sine qua non of salvation.

The significant “Pairings” of the preconditions of salvation, mentioned in the above paragraph, are entitled to a little further consideration.

  • Repent ye, and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15).
  • He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:16)
  • Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38).
  • Confess with thy mouth … believe in thy heart thou shalt be saved (Romans 10:10).
  • Repent ye and turn again that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:91).
  • “Turn Again” is here synonymous with “be baptized”

It is the grossest error to view any of these pairings of the conditions on which God promises salvation to people as excluding any of the conditions omitted from any one of the pairs.

All of the conditions mentioned in these pairs collectively are absolute requirements laid down in the word of God as being necessary in order to receive salvation.

They are coordinates in every sense of the word. One passage in Hebrews mentions no less than three of these, all except confession, naming them as coordinates and designating them as the foundation doctrine of Christianity (Hebrews 6:1,2).

In teaching that these are preconditions to be fulfilled prior to salvation, it is the primary justification that is meant.

Upon the individual’s believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized, he is brought through such a response “into Christ,” making him a child of God, whereupon he receives the Holy Spirit in consequence of his being a son (Galatians 4:6).

This is not the final condition either of his sanctification or of his final justification at the last day, for that is also contingent upon his remaining “in Christ,” “quenching not the Spirit,” and being found “in him” at the end of life.

The skill and persistence with which people of marvelous intellectual endowments have tried to shout baptism out of God’s redemptive plan requires and demands the refutation of their contradiction of God’s word.

All of the conversions recorded in Acts of the Apostles make it clear that there was only one way by which people became Christians in that first age.

Without exception, all heard the word of God, all believed in Jesus Christ, all repented of their sins, and though it is not mentioned that all confessed Christ, necessary inference includes it and all were baptized into Christ. That is still the way to become a Christian.

The widely-received, illogical SALVATION-BY-FAITH-ONLY contradiction of the word of God should not be permitted to deceive anyone. As the author of this epistle said, “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).

Therefore, Romans 10:9-10 refer to primary obedience to the gospel of Christ, the big point that Paul was making being that the message of salvation is “nigh” unto people, one which was then (and ever afterwards) being preached to them, and a message which they were already obligated to accept and obey, and which needed not to be any further confirmed (as by Christ’s coming down from heaven, or back from the dead), because it had already been overwhelmingly authenticated.

“REPENT, for the Kingdom Of Heaven is at Hand.”

Matthew 3:2 RSV

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