“He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).
God desires truth in the inward parts (Psalm 51:6) and commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).
1) The sinner must repent before he can become the recipient of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
2) The Christian must practice daily repentance if he is to enjoy unbroken fellowship with God (Job 42:1-6). Someone said, “I repented at conversion, before I understood the meaning of repentance, but since then as a Christian I have repented many times.”
Repentance is a gift of God (Acts 5:31; 11:18); “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). The goodness of God is not merited by the act of repentance. Repentance, like faith, is a gift. This gift of repentance is an inward change produced by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit as the Word of God is proclaimed (Acts 2:37, 38; cf. John 16:7, 11.). The results are “repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21); also faith that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).
Repentance alone does not qualify a sinner for salvation; faith is also necessary in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. True repentance is always coupled with faith. It is impossible to have saving faith and not repent. “Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” are essential and inseparable in salvation.
Faith without repentance is the ultimate of hypocrisy, and repentance without faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is futile.
22-1 Repentance Defined
(2 Peter 3:9)
First, let us see that repentance is not:
1) Merely sorrow—“godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:9, 10). Godly sorrow is a guilty feeling that leads to repentance, but it is not repentance.
2) Penance—an act on the part of the guilty to render payment for sin, an effort to atone for wrongs done against God or man. God calls all men to repentance, not to do penance.
a) Jesus did not say, “Do penance and believe in the gospel.” He said, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
b) Peter did not say, “Do penance and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.” He said, “Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
c) Paul did not say, “God…commands all men everywhere to do penance.” He said, “God…commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). If penance is repentance, then salvation is not the gift of God, and we are not saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
3) Reformation—a change brought about by the efforts of man for self-glorification (Matthew 12:43-45), such as:
a) Turning away from known sin
b) Giving up a bad habit
c) Trying to refine the old nature
d) Turning over a new leaf
e) Making restitution
Second, let us see that repentance is:
1) A change, always evidenced in three elements:
a.) The intellectual element—a change of mind
b.) The emotional element—a change of heart
c.) The volitional element—a change of will
2) The parable of the prodigal is a perfect illustration of repentance. He had a change of mind, a change of heart, and a change of will (Luke 15:11-32):
a.) The intellectual element—“He came to himself”
b.) The emotional element—“I have sinned”
c.) The volitional element—“I will arise and go to my father”
Repentance is a change. The prodigal son had a change of mind; his change of mind caused a change of heart, and his change of heart effected a change of will. No one is ever saved until he wills to be (Revelation 22:17). Repentance is a change of mind, of heart, and of will.
22-2 Repentance Preached
Repentance was preached in the Old Testament before the birth of Christ, during the life and ministry of Christ, on the Day of Pentecost, in the book of Acts after Pentecost, and in the Epistles and the book of Revelation. It is a doctrine to be preached and practiced in all dispensations and ages.
1) John the Baptist preached repentance:
a) He preached the baptism of repentance (Luke 3:3): “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matthew 3:2).
b) He was thus “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ ” (Matthew 3:3).
John’s preaching of repentance exalted Christ, denounced sin, and warned of judgment; it also cost him his head (Matthew 14:6-11).
2) Jesus preached repentance:
a) He preached, “Repent, and believe in the gospel” (vv. 14, 15). He went about doing mighty works, calling sinners to repent and have faith in the good news of God.
b) His preaching was an ultimatum: repent or perish (Luke 13:1-5). Salvation by grace is for the repentant soul, and judgment without mercy is for those who resist.
3) Peter preached repentance:
a) At Pentecost he commanded, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).
b) In his second epistle he wrote that the Lord “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Every soul that goes to hell makes that choice contrary to the revealed will of God, who calls upon all to repent.
4) Paul preached repentance. He declared that God “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). This message was given on Mars Hill to the intelligentsia of Athens. The results were threefold: some mocked, some procrastinated, but some believed (Acts 17:32-34).
22-3 Repentance from Dead Works
What does the writer of Hebrews mean by “repentance from dead works” (v. 1)? First, we need to see two other categories of works:
1) Good works. Only saved souls can do works that please God (Matthew 5:16). Of the lost He said, “There is none who does good, no, not one” (Psalm 14:1-3). The believer is not to hide his good works, but let them be seen to the glory of God.
Mary of Bethany anointed the head and feet of Jesus with precious ointment while he sat at the table of Simon the leper. Some of the disciples called her deed an extravagant waste. But Jesus said, “She has done a good work for Me…She has done what she could” (Mark 14:3-9). Like Mary, we are to do all we can to the glory of God, not in order to be saved but because we are saved. This is the way to do good works.
2) Wicked works (Colossians 1:20, 21). These deeds are done by the unregenerated, natural man (1 Corinthians 2:14). He lives according to this world system. He is motivated by the “prince of the power of the air [Satan].” His talk is filled with the lust of the flesh, and he lives to gratify the desires of the flesh and the natural mind. He is a child of wrath, and his works are wicked because he is dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1-3).
Dead works (v. 1) could be called “religious” works. They are done for the purpose of meriting eternal life. They are legalistic efforts to keep the moral and ceremonial laws of God for the purpose of winning God’s’ favor, and being saved by works (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Paul said, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20). Dead works are performed by the kind of religious people who, “ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish [by dead works] their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:1-4).
Paul is a good illustration of repentance from dead works. He clearly stated that he had “no confidence in the flesh.” Then he listed his dead works of which he had to repent (Philippians 3:1-9). When he compared this righteousness which is by dead works of the law, with the righteousness of Christ which is by faith, he counted the former but rubbish. He knew the meaning of “repentance from dead works” (v. 1).
22-4 Repentance and God
“God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent” (Numbers 23:19). Yet the Bible tells us that He can be sorry (Genesis 6:5-7). This is not a contradiction. It is paradoxical, but not contradictory. In a man, change is real; in God, however, a change of mind is only apparent.
God makes two covenants with man:
1) Unconditional. When He makes an unconditional covenant He never repents. He made such a covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). It will stand forever because, “The Lord has sworn and will not relent” (Psalm 110:4). He made such a covenant with Israel (Romans 11:25-36).
2) Conditional. “And the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years’ ” (Genesis 6:3). In the days of Noah, God gave the human race 120 years to repent. Only Noah and his family repented and “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Genesis 6:8). They met God’s condition and were not judged with the rest of the human race who refused to repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
It is clear that God invites all lost souls to be saved; He is “not willing that any should perish.” To be saved, the lost must meet His condition—“repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Now if a man does not repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God will judge that man. In love He bestows grace; but if salvation by grace is rejected, in justice He terminates it. In this way God appears to change His attitude toward man.
22-5 Repentance, Impossible to Renew To
The key that unlocks the mystery of this difficult Scripture is the word “impossible” in verse four. The writer is saying that the person who so sins will find it impossible to repent again.
1) Let us see what the writer does not mean. He does not mean a backslidden Christian. Simon Peter backslid (Matthew 26:69-75), repented (John 21:3-17), and was restored to fellowship with the Lord. King David sinned (2 Samuel 11:1-27), repented (Psalm 51:1-19), and was restored to fellowship with the Lord (2 Samuel 12:13). Any backslidden Christian can repent and be restored to fellowship with God.
2) Let us see what the writer does mean. Verses 4-6 are proof that being outwardly “religious” is not enough to save from sin. Some professed, but did not possess eternal life. In outward appearance they might be called Christians. But Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21-23). Such persons cannot be restored because they have not first repented.
Esau so sinned against the Lord when he sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew (Genesis 25:27-34). Later he tried to repent, but found it impossible to do so. The Scripture says, “He found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:16, 17).
At the Great White Throne judgment, where only the wicked dead are judged (Revelation 20:11-15), they too will try to repent but will find it impossible.
22-6 Repentance: Its Importance
Repentance is so important that God commands “all men everywhere to repent” (v. 30).
1) The lost are to repent. Jesus said, “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Matthew 9:13). Again He said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3-5).
2) Backsliders are to repent. Paul said, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:9). There were carnal Christians in the church at Corinth. In Paul’s first letter to them, he called upon the church to discipline the guilty. In his second letter he rejoices because the guilty repented.
3) Local churches are to repent. In the book of Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, our Lord sent seven letters to seven local churches. He called upon five of the seven to repent:
a) The church at Ephesus was to repent because she had left her first love.
b) The church at Pergamos was to repent because she permitted the doctrine of Balaam to be taught, as well as allowing the people to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.
c) The church at Thyatira was to repent because she allowed “Jezebel” to teach and seduce God’s servants to commit fornication.
d) The church at Sardis was to repent because she was a dead congregation.
e) The church at Laodicea was to repent because she thought she was rich and needed nothing. In her opinion she was self-sufficient. She did not know that she was neither hot nor cold, but lukewarm, and God was ready to spit her out of His mouth.
The Lord called upon these five local churches to repent, or else He would remove their lampstands, and they would cease to be a light in darkness.
The lost are to repent or perish. The backslider is to repent, or be disciplined. The local church is to repent, or lose its effectiveness in a world lost in sin.
22-7 Repentance: The Evidence
The evidence of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ is seen in many cases:
1) Unbelieving Thomas repented (John 20:24-29). Thomas would not believe that Christ had been raised from the dead until he saw the risen Savior, was given the opportunity to touch His nail-pierced hands, and thrust his hand into His wounded side. Thomas repented, believed, and made his confession of faith, “My Lord and my God!”
2) Three thousand changed their minds, hearts, and wills on the Day of Pentecost, and immediately gave evidence of repentance (Acts 2:41-47).
3) Saul of Tarsus experienced repentance when he met Jesus on the Damascus road, and gave evidence of repentance (Acts 9:1-22).
4) Cornelius, his family, and his friends repented when they heard the gospel preached by Simon Peter, and evidence of repentance followed (Acts 10:24-48).
5) The Philippian jailer and his house repented when Paul and Silas witnessed to them; the evidence of repentance followed (Acts 16:26-34). Repentance is a change of mind, heart, and will.
The proof of repentance is:
1) Turning from sin (Ezekiel 18:30);
2) Turning to God;
3) Good deeds following (v. 20).
Master Outline 22 – Repentance
 “He who _______________________ his sins will not ______________________, but
whoever _______________________ and ______________________them will have mercy.”
(Pro 28:13, pg 621)
 What must a sinner do before he becomes a recipient of salvation by grace through faith?
 What must a Christian practice daily?
 ________________________ is a gift from God. Explain.
 The goodness of God is merited by goodness. TRUE or FALSE. Explain.
 Repentance alone qualifies a sinner for salvation. TRUE or FALSE. Explain.
 Faith without repentance is the ultimate of ____________________________.
 Repentance without faith in death, burial and resurrection of Christ is
 What three (3) things is repentance not?
 Repentance is change evidence in three (3) elements. What are they and explain them.
 Repentance is a change of mind, of heart and of ___________________________.
 ______________________ is a doctrine to be preached and practiced in all dispensations
 John’s preaching ____________________ exalted Christ, ____________________ sin, and
_______________________ of judgment; it also ________________________ him his
 What three (3) New Testament men beside Christ preached repentance?
 Explain the difference between good works and wicked works.
1. “Good Works” :
2. “Wicked Works” :
 Dead works could be called “_______________________” works.
 _______________________ is a good illustration of repentance for dead works. Explain.
 Explain God’s two (2) covenants with man.
 What is the key that unlocks the mystery concerning Hebrews 6:4?
 Explain the statement, “Some professed but did not possess eternal life?”
 Repentance is so important that God commands what?
 How many of the seven (7) local churches in Revelations 2 and 3 did the Lord call to repent? Name and explain each one.
 The lost are to repent or _________________. The backslider is to repent or be
__________________. The local church is to repent or _______________________
 The three (3) full proofs of repentance are: