“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:15. Did Jesus tell any of His disciples to go out into the word and get people to repent first as a prerequisite for salvation? No. He was very clear when He spoke of the “one” requirement for salvation. He that believeth… shall be saved…believeth not…damned. Salvation is predicated on our belief in Christ, not on repentance.
In the following verse we find a multitude of people following Jesus who were very much works orientated when it came to their understanding of how to please God. They questioned Jesus as to what they had to do in the way of works to be accepted by God. “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29. Believe on Him who God sent. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16. There can be no doubt that salvation is afforded those who believe in the only begotten Son of God. Condemnation is upon all who refuse this simple precondition.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38. This verse is constantly misapplied as a prerequisite for salvation. If this verse is saying what so many believe it to say then we’ve got some pretty heavy duty contradictions in our Bible. If this verse is not saying “We must repent first in order to be saved” then what was the Apostle Peter talking about?
The Greek word “pisteuō” is translated into English as believe. The simple definition is “to think on something as true”. Thinking on something as true and being sorry for our sins are two very different concepts.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3b. Nicodemus had come to Jesus asking about salvation. Jesus never mentioned to Nicodemus anything even closely resembling repentance as a precondition to becoming born again. In the following verses, though, we are given the precise answer to the question that Nicodemus was seeking.
“For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:17-18. If God meant for repentance to be a precondition of the heart in order to be saved, then all Scripture verses regarding salvation would contain a clear reference to repentance. Interestingly, the words repent or repentance are never included as a condition of our heart prior to salvation. Once we become born again is when our hearts should be overwhelmed with an attitude of gratitude as well as remorse because of how we lived prior to our new life in Christ.
“For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed …For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:11, 13. Paul preached that salvation came by believing; he never preached that one needed to repent first of their sins then call (believe) on the name of the Lord to be saved.
So, what does repent mean? The Greek word is “metanoeō” and it simply refers to a change of mind. It takes a change of mind to understand who Jesus is and what He did for all humankind. People must first experience a change of mind to even consider God’s truth. Let’s consider this question that Jesus put to His disciples. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?” Matthew 16:15. This is the same question each of us is confronted with at some point in this life. If we respond as Peter “…Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” Matthew 16:16, then we, too, believe the truth about Jesus. Peter’s answer is what he believed. But whom say ye that I am? Now Jesus is asking this same question of you and me. If our response is as Peter’s, then we too have said yes to our Messiah (we believe). Jesus says this is all there is for any person to move from that horrible position of condemnation to eternal life with Him.
Believing is always the key when we speak of salvation. When we change our minds about Jesus Christ and believe in Him, who He is and what He’s done, we’ve come to a decision, a life changing right decision. The very same choice everyone on earth must face before being allowed entrance into Heaven. Sadly, many will remain steadfast in a mindset that fully rejects their Messiah Jesus.
When we look into a modern dictionary we find the following meanings for our English word “repent”: regret, be sorry, apologize, ask for forgiveness, feel sorrow, be penitent, atone, be remorseful. None of these terms can be associated with the Greek word “metanoeō”. In the Strong’s Concordance, the Greek word “metanoeō” (Strong’s G3340) is translated into English as “repent”. Throughout the New Testament scriptures, “repent” or “metanoeō” is repeated 22 times and “repentance” (Strong's G3341), is repeated another 25 times, yet they both mean the same thing, that of having a “change of mind”. Any time we read the word “repent” associated with belief, the premise is to initiate a change of mind first about God, and believe in His only begotten son, Jesus Christ. The Greek word “metanoeō” does not mean to be sorrowful or regretful.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Acts 2:36. We need to dig a little deeper into the context of this chapter of Acts to find the reason behind Peter’s use of the word “metanoeō” (repent) in Acts chapter 2 verse 38. Peter’s short dissertation in this chapter brought about some great results. As he spoke to his countrymen (fellow Jews) about who Jesus was and their offence against their Messiah, Peter’s words had an immediate effect as they tugged at the heart strings of his countrymen who were gathered around him.
Then immediately afterward they had a question for Peter “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Acts 2:37. Being pricked in the heart indicates a condition of sorrowfulness, and of regret. Had they changed their minds about our Lord Jesus Christ at this point? Since they were already expressing sorrow, why would Peter tell them to be more sorrowful? He wouldn’t. Peter’s response to their question (what shall we do) was that now, since they’ve been pricked in the heart (sorrowful, regretful) concerning what they did to their Messiah, they needed to change their minds about who Jesus truly is. Changing one’s mind about Jesus, from being in opposition to Him to being in affirmation of Him, is tantamount to believing in Him.
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” Acts 2:38. After Peter’s countrymen experienced what many would consider the sorrow of a lifetime and they asked their one question (what now?), they were ready to have a change of mind and become followers of the One true Messiah; all that remained for them to do was believe. In this case, since Peter was already speaking to men who believed in God and His Precepts, all they needed to do was change their minds about Jesus Christ as their One true God and Saviour. Once they believed they were instantaneously born again. Then Peter told them to be baptized in the name of the one who they had just changed their minds about.
There is some controversy concerning the phrase in the above verse “for the remission of sins”. The Greek word “eis” is translated “for” in English, but in the context of this verse it is meant to be read as “insomuch as”. The verse should be read thusly, insomuch as your sins have been forgiven you, be baptized. It’s the same as saying “now that you are born again the first act of obedience to God is to be baptized”. Baptism is not a part of being born again. If this were the case then everywhere in the Scriptures where we are told to believe in Jesus to be saved, the phrase “and be baptized for the remission of sins” would be included. But it is not so.
Erroneous doctrines become established and embedded as biblical when we fail to understand the context of the verse or verses in question. The translators used the word “repent” instead of using the phrase “change of mind” and the rest is history. When we neglect to seek the correct meaning in regards to the scriptures all sorts of problems can and do arise. I’ve seen numerous commentaries that conclude by telling their readers that if they don’t know Jesus then all they need to do is “repent” and tell Him that they are sorry for their sins and to accept Him into their lives. This teaching is so unbiblical it should raise the hair on the back of your necks. We are never told to apologize to Christ for our sins in order to receive everlasting life – only to believe.
Many websites, commentaries, street preachers, and even pastors standing in front of their congregations seem to be stuck on this same premise as they give the altar call to those who are lost. “Repent of your sins and thou shalt be saved”. Is that what Paul told the jailer when that man asked what he must do to be saved? No. Paul made it plain that salvation comes by believing on the one who was sent by God to take the sin of the world upon Himself. “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” Acts 16:31b. Repentance is nowhere to be found in that verse.
Telling people to repent to be saved is folly. Most people today have no idea that they are sinners or what sin really is. Most will tell you they are good people. People tend to balk when told they are sinners; it becomes as a stumbling block in their minds. At this point many will simply walk away from the well meaning evangelists while remaining – lost. If we tell them to tell Jesus they are sorry when they don’t even know who Jesus is will, in most cases, send them fleeing from us. They must first make a change of mind about who Christ is and this is better accomplished by following Paul’s example with the Athenians of Mars’ Hill, going back to the beginning to the creation and the fall of mankind. Then when the Gospel is explained to them they will understand the lost and rebellious state they are in, and that without believing in Christ there can be no salvation.
God bless you all,
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