The Plan of Salvation 3
Plan of Salvation (3) - Repentance
This is the third of six articles dedicated to a review of God's plan of salvation as given in the New Testament. Recall what Jesus said about each of the following: (1) hearing - Jn. 6:44-45, (2) believing - Jn. 3:16, (3) repentance - Lk. 13:1-5, (4) confession of our faith in Him - Mt. 10:32-33, (5) being baptized -- Mk. 16:16, and (6) being faithful unto death - Rev. 2:10. True and living faith will motivate us to do what God commands (Heb. 11; James 2:26). Faith in God and His word is essential, but it does not exist unless it provides this motivation (James 2:14f; Heb. 11:6).
Vine defines the most predominant Greek word for repentance as signifying: "...to change one's mind or purpose; always, in the NT, involving a change for the better, an amendment, and always, except in Luke 17:3-4, of 'repentance' from sin." This is not a temporary or one-time action. Once that change takes place, it must stay in place; else we would repent of our repentance. This article will be devoted to understanding the full ramifications of the meaning of this important aspect of God's plan for us.
Our major article illustrates the word repentance as used in the New Testament. The Q&A section is devoted to 2 Corinthians 7:4f, which further defines repentance. And finally, our Ye Often Hear it Said section deals with common ideas on repentance.
Like love and faith, repentance motivates action. It motivates us to hate sin and love righteousness, and thus it motivates us to flee from sin and to "bring forth fruit ... worthy of repentance."
Unless Ye Repent . . .
One day several people came to Jesus and, like each one of us, they were trying to justify themselves by comparing themselves to some really bad people (Luke 13:1f). They felt that because these other people had been punished so severely, they most certainly were wicked people.
The response of Jesus them must have been quite surprising. He taught that they should not be concerned with others while they were not right with God. Jesus stated to them: "I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." He was telling them that they would find themselves in the same situation as the worst of sinners if they did not turn from their own sinful ways.
If such was a condition of salvation for these ordinary people, why would it not be for us? Is God a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34)? Indeed, when Peter was asked by the multitude to which he preached on the day of Pentecost ("What shall we do?"), his response was quite definitive (Acts 2:38): "Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins ..."
The process of repentance is not easy, and for that reason it stands between many people and their salvation. In Romans 6:6, Paul likened repentance to a crucifixion: "... knowing this that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin ..."
The longer one goes without repentance, the more difficult this becomes. Think how difficult it would be to get to the end of your life and have to admit that you have been serving Satan. Perhaps literal crucifixion would be easier for many in this condition.
Read the rest of Romans 6 and see that Paul does not describe this "crucifixion" as something that can be neglected once it is accomplished. Speaking to Christians, He implores: "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof ..." As Christians we have dedicated ourselves to be living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1). We will sin (1 Jn. 1:8f); but, we should fight that sin with every fiber of our being, knowing that God has something much better than sin prepared for us. Read Hebrews 11:40 and 12:1 to see just what that is.
Ye Often Hear It Said . . .
Ye must repent . . .
but John the Baptist commanded (Matthew 13:3):
"Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance..."
Technically, the first statement is accurate; however, John the Baptist's statement implies that it might not go far enough.
Most people are honest enough to be able to look back in sorrow at some consequences that they have had to suffer because of their own sin. Consequences always produce a type of sorrow. The person who robs the local store and gets caught is sorry that he ever conceived of the plan. But this is a sorrow for getting caught, not one motivated by a genuine desire to change.
John goes on to tell them not to take pride in their heritage. They would not be able to practice business as usual if they were going to be ready for the Messiah. We find them rejecting John's rebuke, and eventually they were not even able to comprehend what Jesus was all about (see Mt. 13:10-17).
Repentance is a most painful process, and the longer we put it off, the more painful it becomes. When we allow God's Word to work in us we learn what Jesus meant by a "light yoke" (Mt. 11:28) and Paul by the "peace that passeth all understanding" (Phil. 4:7).
You Find the Answers
These Bible study questions provide assistance to you in studying and teaching God's Word. The answers are quite clear, and they prove that we can have the same understanding as the apostles had by reading what they wrote (Ephesians 3:4). We challenge you to open your Bible and establish the truth.
DEFINITION OF REPENTANCE (2 Corinthians 7)
1. Did Titus tell Paul about the Corinthians' longing and zeal? (6-7)
2. Did this cause Paul to be comforted? (7)
3. Did Paul's previous letter cause them sorrow? (8)
4. Was Paul rejoicing that his letter had caused them to repent? (9)
5. Was this sorrow according to the will of God? (9)
6. Does sorrow according to the will of God produce repentance? (10)
7. Does repentance lead to salvation? (10)
8. What does the sorrow of the world produce? (10)
9. Did this godly sorrow produce good in the Corinthians? (11)
10. Was Paul's admonition primarily for the church? (12)
11. Did their repentance produce joy? (13)
12. Would these words cause the Corinthians joy? (14-16)