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Is teaching the necessity for repentance, teaching a "works" salvation?

q.gif (1639 bytes)     If a person has to repent of their sins to be saved, isn't that a works salvation? You have responded to another question with, "If a person will repent of his sin and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ, and place his total faith in Him alone for salvation, then the Lord will save that individual.”


a.gif (1659 bytes)   When John the Baptist began his public ministry, he started out with these words in Matthew 3:1,2, “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, REPENT YE: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

When Jesus started His public ministry, He started out the same way in Matthew 4:17, “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, REPENT: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Jesus later taught in Luke 13:3, “I tell you, Nay: but, EXCEPT YE REPENT, ye shall all likewise perish.”

Peter taught the same thing in Acts 2:38, “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.” The same thing in Acts 3:19, “REPENT ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Paul taught the same thing in Acts 17:30, “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to REPENT.” And the same thing in Acts 26:19,20, “Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should REPENT and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

A person cannot be saved without repenting. Repentance is NOT reformation. Repentance is NOT cleaning up your own life, and making it fit for God. That would be works, and it would never work to bring about salvation!

REPENTANCE IS THE DESIRE FOR GOD TO CLEANSE YOU FROM YOUR SIN. That is a turn-around from the sinner’s normal way of thinking. The sinner normally has no desire to turn from his sin, because he finds pleasure in it. We can see this illustrated in the life of Moses in Hebrews 11:24,25, “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.”

For a person to get saved, there MUST be the DESIRE TO TURN FROM SIN. If not, then that person is no different that the demons, who are afraid of God, but who never turn from their wicked way to serve Him. James 2:19,20 says, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

The reason that we have so many professing Christians today, who live no different than before they said a prayer to be saved, is because we have a generation that has failed to preach an important part of the gospel message — repentance. We have been taught soul winning plans that teach us to ignore instances where people bring up their sin. (Like when a man with a cigarette in his hand says, “I cannot get saved, because I cannot give up these cancer sticks!”, and we are told to ignore his statement and say we will deal with that later. Or when a man with a can of beer in his hand says, “I cannot get saved, because I do not want to give up my beer!”, and we are told to ignore his question until later, after we have gotten him to say a prayer.) Those salesman-type tactics have gotten us in the mess that we are in today in America.

A classic example of the way that repentance should be dealt with in soul winning is seen when Jesus was dealing with the woman at the well. John 4:5-18 says, “Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.”

The woman asked for the “living water.” What did Jesus do? Did He get her to say the prayer quickly, before she got offended? No. Did He get her to take the water, and then deal with her about her immoral life style? No. JESUS BROUGHT UP THE MATTER OF HER SINFUL WAY OF LIFE BEFORE HE WOULD GIVE HER THE WATER. Jesus was checking to see IF SHE HAD THE DESIRE TO TURN FROM HER SIN, OR IF SHE WAS GOING TO DEFEND HER IMMORAL LIFE. By her reaction (going to town and inviting the men to come to Jesus), we see that she truly did have the desire to turn from her sin (repentance), and wanted Jesus to cleanse her of her sin.

Remember, REPENTANCE IS NOT CLEANING UP YOURSELF. REPENTANCE IS THE DESIRE TO HAVE GOD CLEANSE YOU FROM YOUR SIN. John 1:12,13 says, “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: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

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