“There are many who speak only of the forgiveness of sin, but who say little or nothing about repentance. If there is nevertheless no forgiveness of sins without repentance, so also forgiveness of sins cannot be understood without repentance. Therefore, if forgiveness of sins is preached without repentance, it follows that the people imagine they have already received the forgiveness of sins, and thereby they become cocksure and fearless, which is then greater error and sin than all the error that preceded our time.”
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“What should I say to someone who acknowledges his sins, but says, ‘I just hope God is forgiving’?”
This person could be referred to as “awakened, but not alarmed.” Explain that God is forgiving—but only to those who repent of their sins. Ask him, “If you died right now, where would you go?” If he says, “Hell,” ask if that concerns him. If it does concern him, ask, “What are you going to do?” Then tell him that God commands him to repent and trust the Savior. If it doesn’t concern him, speak of the value of his life, the threat of eternal damnation, and the biblical description of hell. Caution him that he doesn’t have the promise of tomorrow, and plead with him to come to his senses.
Some people insist “repentance” is an old-fashioned word that the world cannot understand. “Sin” is another word that falls into that category. However, we must carefully check our motives for avoiding their use. Do we want to substitute different words to help the world understand, or do we simply want to shake off the reproach that comes with their use? If the world cannot comprehend spiritual words, then we should explain their meanings. Sin is transgression of the Law (1 John 3:4), and repentance means to turn from sin
to repent means to confess sin and forsake it—to agree with God that it is wrong and to turn and go in the opposite direction. An old soldier once summed up repentance this way: “God said, ‘Attention! About turn! Quick march!’”
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)
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. he Scriptures speak of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). We must turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached “repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21)
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.”
“He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repents] shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who “repents” (Luke 15:1. If there is no repentance, there is no joy because there is no salvation.
If repentance wasn’t necessary for salvation, why then did Jesus command that repentance be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47)? When He sent out His disciples two by two, they “preached that men should repent” (Mark 6:12).
The necessity of repentance underscores the importance of going through the Law with a sinner. If a man doesn’t know what sin is, how can he repent? Any “repentance” would be merely “horizontal repentance.” He’s responding to the Savior because he’s lied to men, he’s stolen from
men, etc. But when David sinned with Bathsheba, he didn’t say, “I’ve sinned against man.” He said to God, “Against you, and you only, have I sinned, and done this evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4)