Is Repentance Necessary?

18When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.” Acts 11:18

21I have declared to both Jews and Greeks that they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus. Acts 20:21

45Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47

There’s an ongoing debate regarding the necessity of repentance in the salvation equation. Is repentance really necessary for salvation? I believe that repentance is essential for salvation. Without repentance you merely have a hint of spirituality and the basis for man-made religion and traditions. Let’s look at this a little further.

I think the church by in large has propagated the heresy of a false salvation. We coax people into praying a prayer with no life change, transformation, or revolution of life direction. Please hear me on this discussion; I’m not referring to man’s work or effort in repentance. I’m not talking about working towards perfection, which is a misguided and misunderstood idea of sanctification. I’m referring to repentance at the point of decision.

A simplistic definition of repentance is to “turn” direction. It is a deliberate change of course or pursuit. If we are all sinners (born), then it is necessary for us to change direction. Far too often repentance is referenced in the ongoing struggle between the new and old natures. Repentance as it relates to salvation is the conscious choice to change the direction of a previous pursuit (self) to a new direction in the pursuit of Christ. A salvation decision that doesn’t incorporate repentance isn’t genuine salvation. You don’t add Christ to your life and continue the original pursuit. In genuine salvation, you turn to pursue Him, as He now becomes your life. God isn’t satisfied with just a part of you; He wants all of you. And likewise, you’re not satisfied with just a part; you want all of Christ.

This repentance isn’t a cure for sin. This isn’t a decision for self-righteousness or self-inflicted holiness, that’s what grace is about. While repentance is a decision of the will regarding one’s direction, it is something God does in us. He brings us to the place of repentance. God grants repentance. We are saved by grace through faith. It is a gift that God offers, but it must be accepted. You will still struggle with sin; you are human. Yet, your internal compass is set in the direction of Christ rather than in the former direction of self-pleasure and self-pursuit. It is the decisive turning of one’s life.

Repentance is a necessary part of the equation. God’s moving, our response. He is our life!