1. Is repentance necessary for salvation?
How can repentance not be necessary? The Greek word for repent means to think differently or afterward, that is to reconsider. Repentance is a (1) acknowledgment/ recognition of your state of sin, (2) a declaration/ commitment to turn from sin, and (3) a focus to turn to God in righteous conduct according to His standard. It is part of the process leading toward the forgiveness of sins as identified in Acts 2:38.
There can be two ‘areas’ to repent from. The first is the sin of man. This comes from all mankind as we are born into sin through the sin of Adam (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21). The second is the acts we committed while in a sin-filled state.
John wrote that if we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). With our sins forgiven (through the sacrifice of Jesus), we can dwell in His presence in the New Jerusalem.
Without repentance, people who come to believe in Jesus might feel they can live however they want without the fear of eternal punishment or separation from God. They will not understand that God is looking for those who overcome to inherit eternal life, and not those who remain in unbelief or are abominable, murderous, or a whoremonger, sorcerer, idolater, or liar (Revelation 22:5-8). Those individuals will not inherit eternal life.
Repentance is necessary.
2. How does the necessity of repentance relate to Paul’s doctrine of salvation by faith apart from works? (Rom 3:28; 4:1-8; 3:21ff.).
The key focus area here is salvation and how it is initially established/obtained. Today, we receive salvation solely because Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (1 John 2:2). What Paul is speaking of is that eternal salvation cannot be received by keeping the law of Moses. A man is justified by faith through grace in Jesus, not by keeping the law of Moses. If a man could be justified by keeping the law of Moses, there would have been no reason for Jesus to give His life:
For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.–Hebrews 8:7
Repentance should not be considered as a ‘work’ toward the establishment of salvation because it does not circumvent or replace Jesus’ sacrifice. Repentance acknowledges Jesus and His sacrifice. Keeping the law of Moses does not.
We are saved by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). It is a gift of God and not of works that any man should boast. We do not boast in repentance and baptism as they are ‘conditions’ of receiving the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). It is what Jesus identified for the disciples to preach and do (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47), and it is a ‘requirement’ for being identified as a disciple of Jesus. This is because salvation does not come through any other name, but the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12).
Photo courtesy of Unsplash/Luo Ping.
Message was part of a college assignment.