Repentance is necessary for salvation

Bible verses that say repentance is a requirement for salvation

For decades, progressive Christians have been saying that all it takes to go to heaven is to believe in Jesus (John 3:16 ). However, demons also believe in Christ (James 2:19). Several Bible verses underscore the essential components of salvation: good works (which result from faith) and repentance (which is a command).

Repentance and faith go together

Repentance is both a gift and a command that comes with faith. Jesus spoke about repentance as a requirement for salvation. We do not add repentance to faith. Instead, repentance and faith go together.

In Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, his introduction was the call of Jesus to a “lifetime of repentance” (Matt. 4:17). What shapes our character is a mindset, and character becomes who we are. Thus, the evidence of a true believer is a “changed life,” seeking holiness because God is Holy.

Today, we have a mile-wide Christian but only an inch deep. Professing Christians come to church for feasting and to be blessed, but they are never transformed.

Professing Christian come to church for feasting, but never transformed.


1. Repentance is both a requirement and a gift

The Biblical meaning of repentance (metanoia) is often oversimplified. God exalted Jesus as Prince and Savior to give and grant repentance and forgiveness (Acts 5:31). Jesus calls on people to repent (Mark 1:15), which appears to be an act (opportunity or work).

First, no one can come to Jesus unless the Father who sent Him draws them (John 6:44). Second, repentance (change of mind) is from God (Acts 5:31). The point is that we’re all born sinners, and we have a sinful nature that we may be able to rein in—but it will always get the best of us.

and just like believing Jesus (John 3:16), that gift (freely given) must be received (an act itself). [Read Gospel Apologetics]

Acts 5:31
“God exalted Jesus…, to give repentance to Israel and remove sins.”

Acts 11:18
… God has also granted the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.

2 Timothy 2:25
“… God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…”

Ezekiel 36:26–27
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you and bring it about that you walk in My statutes, and are careful and follow My ordinances.”


2. Genuine faith comes with genuine repentance

The thief on the cross went to heaven even though he was a sinner. His faith saved him. If he was given a second chance to live, would he choose to live a repentant life? Absolutely yes.

The thief chose to believe in Jesus and submit to His Lordship. Jesus affirmed his salvation, which meant there was repentance because both must go together when we genuinely believe in Christ.

Mark 1:14–15
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”


3. Repentance and faith, two sides of a coin

Dr. Rick Flanders explains that John’s book mentions “eternal life” more than a dozen times, yet it never once uses the word “repent.” John said we must believe to be saved.

In contrast, Luke shows us the way to “eternal life” but says little about “faith.” Instead, the term most used to describe the “decision for salvation” is a form of repentance.

The point is repentance and faith go together, and the Apostles urged us to repent.

Acts 17:30
“In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”

Acts 2:38
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Acts 3:19
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…”

Romans 2:5
“…But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.”

2 Timothy 2:25
“… with gentleness correcting those in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth…”

2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not willing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.”


4. Jesus spoke about repentance as a command to enter God’s kingdom

Daily repentance is part of “working out salvation” (Philippians 2:12). Like “good works,” it is a fruit of our relationship with Christ (James 2:25).

R.C. Sprouls explains where the response for repentance was required; those “converted” were described as believing (Acts 17:30, 34). Jesus removed any doubt about the requirement of repentance for salvation when he commanded it.

Luke 13:3
“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish!”

Matthew 4:17
“From that time, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Mark 1:14-15
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 5:32
“I have not come to call the righteous to repentance but sinners.”

Luke 15:7
“… I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who do not need repentance.”

Luke 15:10
“… In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

Revelation 3:19
“Those I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore, be zealous and repent.”


Bottom line, faith, and repentance go together

In the past, people went to church to hear the truth and weep over sin. Today, the internet is filled with motivational pastors and liberal Christians who ignore the call for repentance.

They embrace the “gospel of cheap grace,” while “woke churches” preach more about blessings than holiness. A true messenger of the gospel preaches repentance and faith together.

God gives repentance

Like the hungry crowd in Jesus’ parable, professing Christians come to church for the feasting but are never transformed because they lack repentance. However, God gives repentance to those who truly believe.

Acts 11:18
To the gentiles also, God has granted repentance that leads to life.

2 Timothy 2:25
God may perhaps grant them repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth.

The mind of Christ.
Are we born good or bad?
Man’s sinful nature.

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