Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?
It is true that there are
numerous Bible verses that speak of the promise of salvation,
with no mention of repentance. These merely say to "believe"
on Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31;
Romans 10:9). However, the Bible makes it clear that
God is holy and man is sinful, and that sin makes a
separation between the two (Isaiah 59:1,2). Without
repentance from sin, wicked men cannot have fellowship
with a holy God. We are dead in our trespasses and sins
(Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance,
we cannot be made alive in Christ.
The Scriptures speak of
"repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). We turn
from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached "repentance
toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ"
(Acts 20:21). The first public word Jesus preached was
"repent" (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist
began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus
told His hearers that without repentance, they would
perish (Luke 13:3).
If belief is all that is
necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion
is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells
us that a false convert "believes" and yet
is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a "worker
of iniquity." Look at the warning of Scripture:
"If we say that we have fellowship with him, and
walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth"
(1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, "He that
covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses
and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy"
(Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven
over one sinner who "repents" (Luke 15:10).
If there is no repentance, there is no joy because there
is no salvation.
When Peter preached on the
Day of Pentecost, he commanded his hearers to repent
"for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Without
repentance, there is no remission of sins; we are still
under His wrath. Peter further said, "Repent .
. . and be converted, that your sins may be blotted
out" (Acts 3:19). We cannot be "converted"
unless we repent. God Himself "commands all men
everywhere [leaving no exceptions] to repent" (Acts
17:30). Peter said a similar thing at Pentecost: "Repent,
and be baptized every one of you" (Acts 2:38).
If repentance wasn’t
necessary for salvation, why then did Jesus command
that repentance be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47)?
With so many Scriptures speaking of the necessity of
repentance for salvation, one can only suspect that
those who preach salvation without repentance are strangers
to repentance themselves, and thus strangers to true