Repentance Comes BEFORE Forgiveness

Willful rebellion against God leads to death!

RepentanceReformed theology teaches that repentance comes AFTER salvation.  Wrong!

Repentance does not come AFTER someone has been supposedly saved. Scripture shows that godly sorrow produces the repentance LEADING to salvation (2 Cor. 7:10). For some people this might be over a period of time and for others it is instantaneous. Whatever the case may be, repentance must come first BEFORE the Holy Spirit is given.  The Holy Spirit is not going to fill a vessel still engaging in sin, but only to those who obey God. (Acts 5:32)

God clearly says that he is not willing that any should perish, but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Jesus said,

“And if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

Christ was lifted up from the earth on the cross. He draws all men, but that doesn’t mean all men will accept the offer of salvation.

I don’t like to use fancy words, but we must mention the word “Synergy.” Synergy is defined as two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable. This can be seen in the matter of repentance. Though God draws all men, it does not mean God is going to repent for us. WE must do that. When we do our part, God will do His. This is working together.

“We then, as workers together with him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Cor. 6:1)

We are workers together with him, not alone, both parties are involved.

It also mentions “the grace of God.” This is not just unmerited favor. The definition of grace is: “Good will, loving-kindness, favor of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.”

This grace is extended to everyone, but there are those who do not want to be obedient to this grace that God has extended to all mankind.

Grace teaches.  Grace instructs us:

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,”

To receive remission (forgiveness) of sins, we must DO something.

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.”

If we were to ask a person, “Must a child molester stop molesting children before he can be saved?” Or “Does a thief have to stop stealing before he can be saved, or a drunkard stop drinking before he can saved?” (And other vile sins we can mention.) The answers will vary, but the bottom line is that they will tell us one does not have to stop doing these things before they can be saved!

Wesley said the following:  (Note the bold fonts)

“We believe that man’s creation in God likeness included ability to choose between right and wrong, and that thus he was made morally responsible; that through the fall of Adam he became depraved so that he cannot now turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and works to faith and calling upon God. But we also believe that the grace of God through Jesus Christ is freely bestowed upon all men, enabling all who will to turn from sin to righteousness, believe on Jesus Christ for pardon and cleansing from sin, and follow good works pleasing and acceptable in His sight. We believe that man, though in the possession of the experience of regeneration and entire sanctification, may fall from grace and apostatize and, unless he repents of his sin, be hopelessly and eternally lost.”

He has the gospel in REVERSE.  And not only is the Gospel in reverse, he utters the foolishness of Reformed theology that obeying God is impossible! (See bold font again.)  In other words, sinners are incapable of repenting – they are unable to forsake their sins, which God commands all sinners to do to be pardoned (Isa.55:7).  Reformed theology says they must be saved first before they can forsake their sins.

The Bible is clear that the sin must stop (in repentance) BEFORE pardon can be granted.

Note the following:

“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55:7

“Now therefore, amend your ways and your doings, and obey the voice of the LORD your God; then the LORD will relent concerning the doom that He has pronounced against you.” Jer. 26:13

The message of the Bible assumes that man is fully capable of obeying God and doing what God has said to do, namely repent, STOP what you’re doing, and SEEK His mercy. This message is clear through the whole Bible.

People will say they can’t stop sinning without Jesus. How do they explain the people of Nineveh?

“So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them. Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water. But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish? Then God saw their works that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.” Jonah 3:5-10

Here is the preaching of repentance and the manner in which the mercy of God is dispensed on the people. They did not need some special grace (some call it Prevenient grace), Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to overpower them so they could repent. The prophet told them the consequences of their actions if they continued in sin, but gave them the way of escape through repentance.

Also note that they did not assume they would be forgiven…they sought the mercy of God.

“Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?”

It’s interesting that a drug addict can stop his dependence on drugs without Christ, a drunkard can stop drinking himself drunk without Christ, a thief can stop stealing without Christ, a person addicted to pornography can stop it without Christ, etc., but yet people who profess to be Christians have to sit back and wait for God to “clean up their life,” as though they have no free will to make the right choices.

As with the drug addict, the drunkard, the thief, the liar, the person addicted to pornography, etc., who say they can’t resist these temptations, often find new strength to do what they previously said they could not. For instance, tell the man addicted to pornography that if someone were to hold a gun to his head and threaten to shoot him if he were to look at the pornographic magazine, he will not look. This could be said of any sins. If the drunkard were told by his doctor that he only has six months to live if he keeps drinking, the drunkard suddenly has been empowered to overcome his bodily addiction.

What the unsaved person teaches us is that when they make a successful choice not to yield to their temptation, he has not only confirmed that one can cease from his wrong choices, but also the power of free will. However, people who profess to be Christians excuse their sins by saying they have not yet been delivered from their “sinful nature.” They are constantly fighting this “mysterious other self,” waiting for God to deliver them, but of course this struggle continues all through life and it won’t end until they die!

Having said all this, the first thing people will cry is, “You are saying you can save yourself! The Bible says salvation is not of works! If we can stop sinning, we don’t need Jesus!” But yet these same people claim they can’t STOP sinning when they HAVE Jesus. As my friend Tommy has noted when it comes to working together with God:

Working together with God isn’t being prideful, or trying to earn His mercy by bragging “Look what I did,” but it’s more of being a doer of His word, obeying it from the heart, and also realizing that any willful rebellion and disobedience to His word leads to spiritual death and separation from God and His saving grace and power!

We live in a day where good is called evil and evil is good. We are told that those who live righteous are self-righteous while those who are unrighteous, sinning everyday in thought, word, and deed are in the true faith! In other words, if you don’t sin, you are a hypocrite, but if you do sin, you are good with God and are in the faith. What utter foolishness to believe obeying God is impossible and morally wrong!

The Bible is full of proof that “conduct” matters, but not in the sense that we can save ourselves- that is, grant ourselves salvation.  Jesus is the author of salvation unto those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). What we need is a cleansing of sins, and this we CANNOT do. As a friend once said, “We need the atoning work of Jesus Christ because it is clear we haven’t obeyed God, NOT because we couldn’t obey God. In fact, it is because we have the ability to obey God that we are liable to punishment for our disobedience. And it is because we deserve punishment that we need His atonement. But if we couldn’t obey, we couldn’t be punished, and therefore wouldn’t need Jesus. While we are capable of obedience, our obedience is not capable of atoning for our sins.Therefore our ability to obey does not nullify the necessity for the atonement of Christ.”

It is true that the influence of the Holy Spirit draws us to Christ and conviction of sin, and what JOY to be FORGIVEN of those sins, but it only comes when we turn (repent) from our evil ways. We have to do the cleaning up (forsake sin) and God will do the pardoning. God is not going clean up anyone. Some people may give up certain sins for selfish reasons, but their hearts were never turned to Christ in faith and repentance.

There is no pardon of sins without repentance. Repentance is an attribute of authentic faith.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit is at work to convict people, to lead them to “godly sorrow.” It is a sorrow that is according to the will of God that produces repentance without regret, leading to salvation. (2 Cor. 7:10) If a person has the “sorrow of the world,” that means he has simply been “caught” and not sorry at all. He is void of godly sorrow that produces change in character.  Judas had the worldly sorrow. Peter, who denied Jesus, had godly sorrow.  Peter had a godly sorrow that brought about repentance and God was able to mightily use him.

If works do not matter, as some proclaim, they have been totally blinded to the truth by the lies of others. Don’t let this happen to you, because it is YOUR soul at stake.

God is not going to repent for you.

“Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the LORD, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.” Isa. 55:7

More later…

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