Bible verses that say repentance is a requirement for salvation
In Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, his first sentence was the call of Jesus to a “lifetime of repentance” (Matt 4:17). In the past, people went to church to hear the truth & weep over sin. Today, many hear a motivational speaker and continue to live in sin.
The true meaning of repentance (metanoia in the NT) is “a change of mind,” not to do penance. A true follower of Christ has a strong desire to turn away from a sinful pattern and towards Christ-likeness.
The call of Jesus to a “lifetime of repentance”
→ The most terrifying Bible verse.
1. 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, will he choose to live a repentant life? Absolutely yes.
The thief chose to believe in Jesus. It was a decision he made to submit to His Lordship. Jesus affirmed his salvation, which meant there was repentance because both have to go together when we truly believe in Christ.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”
2. Repentance and faith are like two sides of the same coin
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.
“In the past, God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.”
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.”
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…“
“So having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now proclaiming to mankind that all people everywhere are to repent…”
“…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 who are 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.“
3. Jesus spoke about repentance as a requirement 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.
“I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish!”
“From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
“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.”
“I have not come to call the righteous to repentance, but sinners.”
“No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
“… 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 have no need of repentance.”
“… In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
“Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”