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By William (Bill) V. Beasley

Jesus said, "...except ye repent, ye shall all in like manner perish" (Luke 13:3,5). While Jesus was, in these verses, speaking only to the Jews who heard him, the same truth applies to the people of today. Men are commanded to repent of sins committed because of the coming day of judgment (Acts 27:30-31).

Repentance being mentioned, as it is, in connection with the judgment, shows that repentance is a pre-requisite, God-given, to salvation. In giving the Great Commission the Savior said, "...that repentance unto remission of sin should be preached in his name..." (Luke 24:27, marginal reading of the ASV). Peter applied this commission on the day of Pentecost, when he commanded the Jews to "Repent ye, and be baptized...unto remission of your sins..." (Acts 2:38).

Since it is evident, to those who believe the Bible, that repentance is essential to, and a pre-requisite of, salvation it behooves us to learn exactly what is meant by "repentance." Joseph Henry Thayer, described as "The Prince of New Testament Scholars," defines "repentance" (Gr., metanoeo; #3340) as "to change one's mind for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one's past sins" (Greek-English Lexicon of the Testament, page 405). The best working definition that we have found is the one given by the beloved J.W. McGarvey: " a change of will caused by sorrow for sin, and leading to a reformation of life" (New Commentary on Acts of Apostles, page 61).

From the definitions above we can see that there is more to repentance than being sorry (see 2 Corinthians 7:10). If a man makes a profession of repentance, and IMMEDIATELY returns to his old sins he has not, in fact, repented. We are not attempting to judge his motives or his sincerity, but are simply considering his fruit-less season (Matthew 12:33).

"Repentance only" like "Faith only" will NOT save. Not even if it is a genuine repentance that leads to a reformation of life. Repentance, to save must be preceded by faith in Jesus Christ (John 8:24), and followed by a confession of that faith (Matthew 10:32; Acts 8:37), baptism (Acts 2:38; 8:38-39; 22:16; Galatians 3:27; etc.), and faithful living (2 Peter 1:5-8; Revelation 2:10).

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