Repentance and Faith

For some reason, controversy rages over what seems like a simple thing, that is, whether repentance has a role in salvation, as if faith could exist separately from it. There are some fairly influential teachers that preach against repentance. Some Christians must feel that it is a “work” that takes away from faith, perhaps confusing it with “doing penance for sin.” Some people are only troublemakers who gain a following by causing dissension. But I’m mystified about the discussion when it happens among true Christians because repentance is clearly taught in the Word of God.

The Lord Jesus spoke about repentance and preached it.

Luke 15:7

I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 24

44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things.

Paul preached and taught it:

Acts 17:29-31

29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

Acts 20

17 From Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the church. 18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: “You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you, 19 serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews; 20 how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, 21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 

Hebrews 6:1

Therefore 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,

Peter taught it:

2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

There is so much more about this subject in the Bible. Please take a look. . .


55 thoughts on “Repentance and Faith

  1. So, you have also noticed how, in the right (wrong) hands simple things can create problems, Maria? I am part of a private facebook group where some pretty good theologians comment. Recently, the entire faith/works/justification subject has created unnecessary discussion. The discussion has been caused by living theologians who have come up with a “new theological outlook.” We have tried to have a discussion with the person who is sharing this “new knowledge,” but I finally gave up because I was wasting my time. Others have been more patient than I. They are still trying to help him understand easy things but he keeps on posting. I’m praying for him and hopefully he’ll come around. Unfortunately, he uses put downs and sarcasm to try and make his point. Neither helps any discussion, particularly online where one can’t always tell the tone of comments.

    Liked by 3 people

    • A “new theological outlook” is an apt way to put it! Someone has started this new theology because of their own misunderstanding of repentance and the un-discerning has fallen for it. How easy it is for a false doctrine to catch on and spread!

      Liked by 3 people

      • Indeed, Sherry, particularly in our day it seems. So many false teachers and so many followers. It is very sad.
        Today, I listened to the last message that Walter Martin’s gave before he died. We could use a few more guys like that around today. Thank God for the faithful leaders still among us. Thank God, also, that we have almost everything that C.H. Spurgeon ever wrote. After my Bible, he is my “go to” guy when it comes to doctrinal issues. There are so many faithful preachers from the past that we can draw from. Sadly, so many today are wandering in unholy land for a variety of reasons, the greatest one being hubris in my opinion. It is getting harder to find a man faithful to the simple gospel message who hasn’t gotten tied up in strange, unbiblical thought.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There are those who not only believe repentance is not necessary for salvation (utterly ignoring what Jesus said, “Unless you repent you shall all likewise perish.”) but that religion is evil and they don’t believe in doctrines either. Old, ungodly memes that have been around for ages among those of the Pentecostal bent. I won’t say they aren’t Christians but they need to go beyond just their own interpretation of the Bible and dig into some commentaries from Church history! Reading Nehemiah 8 one can see that those who read the Law to the people made it understandable to them! I found it interesting that they gave a more modern version but did not go against the Author’s intent. God gifted teachers for a reason…I praise Him for it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Good mornin Maria. 😃
    I fully agree that repentance is a necessary component of salvation.
    It’s the way that it’s defined is the topic with people. Not whether or not it’s necessary.
    Some believe that it means to turn away from sin as a necessary requirement for salvation.
    I believe from interpreting scripture with scripture from the king James, it’s a change of mind.

    For example,
    If I were to tell a professing Jew to repent and believe the gospel.
    What I’m saying is…abandon Judaism, and believe on Christ exclusively.
    When Paul used it at Mars hill, (if I remember correctly) he was telling them to abandon superstition, and idolatry, and believe on Christ exclusively.
    God repented often in scripture, and He obviously wasn’t turning away from sin.

    I could go on, but I believe that pretty much sums up what I’m trying to communicate.

    Grace and peace to you.
    And good mornin.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree with you my brother, the Greek term for repentance is a change of mind meaning that repentance and the conviction of the Holy Spirit are synonymous. Without repentance or a change of ones mind they cannot be aware of their sins which by being aware meaning in the sense of being convicted that will bring them to the feet of Jesus which through faith alone will save them. Now, saying that, nowhere in the Bible does it say to stop sinning first than believe in Jesus, that would be an oxymoron. Even if one could stop sinning for a day, they still are considered sinners, only through the blood of Jesus can one be made righteous. Good works is a byproduct of a saving faith in Jesus not the other way around.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Let me add this to my previous comment please…
    Jonah 3.10 “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”

    See that it said that turning from evil ways is “works.”

    And salvation never includes our works. Only faith. 😃


    • True repentance causes action on our part. Its a fruit that is inspected to determine the sinceriity of one’s walk with Christ Jesus. It is not a work of our own doing to obtain salvation but a gift given by God that results from believing Christ.

      In his Doctrine of Repentance, Puritan Thomas Watson (ca. 1620–1686) writes: “Repentance is a grace of God’s Spirit whereby a sinner is inwardly humbled and visibly reformed.”

      Acts 11:18King James Version (KJV) When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
      ~see also 2 Timothy 2:25

      Liked by 1 person

    • Lee, you wrote, “See that it said that turning from evil ways is ‘works’.” Rather, it says the Lord saw their works, meaning that He saw their actions, that is, that they turned from their evil ways.

      Here is how this passage reads in the New American Standard Version:

      10 When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.


      • Good mornin Maria. 😃
        Sure, that’s what it tells us, turning from evil ways is works.
        Which is a good thing, that’s good works. 😃
        It just isn’t a part of getting saved.

        You don’t believe that one has to turn from any sin whatsoever to get saved do you?

        And a good ole Texas good mornin to you. 😃


          • Good mornin Maria,
            I’m trying to make sure I’m not misunderstanding you…
            Are you saying that one must turn from sin to be saved? That ONLY believing on Christ is insufficient for salvation?


            • Lee, you can see that I’ve responded fully but haven’t approved your latest comment, so let’s leave it there and agree to differ. Beginning a discussion about the doctrine of sovereign grace won’t help us or those listening or participating. If I have a question about the Lord’s part in our salvation, I will ask my husband at home.


  5. Thanks for this important post, Maria! How can a person trust in the Lord Jesus Christ unless they first understand they are condemned by their sin and repent of their sin before accepting Christ? It’s all part of accepting Christ. As you mention, there are some who strenuously object to mentioning repentance because they say it’s a work. It’s not a work, it’s the change of heart and mind that is an essential part of any genuine conversion. Let’s see, I just looked up variations of “repent” in my concordance and it’s mentioned 55 times in the New Testament including the verses you provided. I won’t even debate those people. No one holds to Sola Fide more than I do and repentance, as a part of realizing our sinfulness and turning from (metanoia: change of mind) our sin to the Savior is not a work but an essential element of salvation without works. “Repent then and turn to God…” Acts 3:19. I understand that some are trying to defend “faith alone” but they defy Scripture and good sense by describing repentance, the turning from sin to Christ, as a work. We must always strive for charity but some things we should just walk away from.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. You have done well with this. Maria. I fail to see why if Jesus Himself clearly said to repent that this an issue. Yes by faith we are saved. Clearly repentance is part of a saving faith. Just as clearly no one has even remotely hinted that one has to stop sinning, or try not to sin, or any such thing.

    I am even ok with the phrase turn from sin. Many use that and mean a change of mind.

    I think there are real risks when we insist others use exactly the same words as we do to describe a thought we might actually be in agreement on. That can become a form of rule making and legalism itself .

    Liked by 3 people

  7. At the beginning of his earthly ministry, Jesus said “Repent and believe the gospel.” Doesn’t get any clearer. As fro repentance being a ‘work’, how can that be when we are told God grants repentance? 2 Tim 2:25, for starters.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I think the problem lies in the the fact that Christians mean something different from repentance than the accepted English meaning .
    Repentance is something that most people do many times in their lives ; they regret their actions and wish that they could undo them.
    I’m 75 and I can look back with many regrets at my past behaviour. We try to change for the better but often our resolve falters and we fall into selfish ways again.
    Christians mean more than this they mean a change of direction and becoming a follower of Jesus Christ. Even this is still debated greatly and exactly what becoming such a follower means is interpreted in many different ways. Christians also have another problem in that being human like the rest of humanity they still fall into temptation to put their own interests first.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. No I am not a believer in the true sense of the word. I do not believe in an afterlife and I do not believe all humans are redeemable.
    I know we are moral beings and are often torn between our desires , ambitions and our consciences. Freud put it very neatly ‘we are at war with ourselves. I believe religious faith encourages separatism and cuts off the believer from his fellow men and women. In the wonderful parable of the good Samaritan Jesus warns humanity about separatism. It seems to me he is a Universalist believing all men and women are equal in the sight of God.
    It is impossible for me to believe that there exists a loving God when I see such terrible carnage wrought by amoral nature on the innocent.


  10. I have been retired for fourteen years and have had time to listen , read and learn much. I use the site Bible Odessey for my information as it is put together by experts. I know you would not like it as you believe in absolute Biblical consistency. I understand the Christian viewpoint and the human need to stand on a solid rock of faith, and it is true all other ground is shifting sand.
    Thank you for your gracious acceptance of my non-Christian input , I may well put my ore in now and again.

    Liked by 1 person

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