In and among many Christians (a Christian is defined, as someone who has repented and trusted alone in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation from the wrath of God against sin); there are many who speak about repentance, and some who never mention it. I believe that we must get this right, because so much is at stake, an eternity with God. Repentance is very important to God, so important, that in Acts 17:30-31 the word says; “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." This is why repentance should be both understood, and talked about, and must be a part of every gospel message.
Now I believe that the bible declares all men to be radically depraved and totally incapable of coming to God on their own. There is no greater passage in the Bible than Romans 3:10-18 to explain this.
“as it is written,
"There is none righteous, not even one;
There is none who understands,
There is none who seeks for God;
All have turned aside, together they have become useless;
There is none who does good,
There is not even one."
"Their throat is an open grave,
With their tongues they keep deceiving,"
"The poison of asps is under their lips";
"Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness";
"Their feet are swift to shed blood,
Destruction and misery are in their paths,
And the path of peace they have not known."
"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
A man will not, nor cannot come to God on his own, because it is not in his nature to do so; that in order for a man to come to God on His terms, a man must repent. To repent quite literally means to change your mind. A man will not change his mind; he will fight tooth and nail to declare himself right. Even in the face of insurmountable evidence against him, and proof to the contrary, the closest he will come to changing his own mind is in saying; “Will yeah, but!”. But what? But what he is really saying is, “But I’m not going to fully concede.” Repentance is a super natural work of the Holy Spirit done through the hearing or reading of God’s word, whereby the Holy Spirit takes out the man’s heart of stone, giving him a heart of flesh, so that he will then capitulate (give up). Repentance is throwing up your hands and saying, “I surrender Lord, you are right and I am wrong. What would you have me to do Lord? I am Yours and Yours alone, do with me as You will.”
There are some that believe a man must be baptized in order to be saved. I do too, but before you think I’m a heretic for saying this, allow me to fully explain. Read to the end of this note, so that you might understand what I mean, and what I believe the Lord is saying to us about baptism in Mark 16:16. I have recently looked at Mark 16:16 in a different light, I try to step back from what men have told me, and look at the word of God as it was written. I never thought that it was about Baptismal regeneration as some will claim, but I now do! Allow me to explain. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
It is obvious what The Lord is saying here, that you must believe and be baptized to be saved. Now what is He talking about here? Is he talking about a physical water baptism or something else? I believe something else, and here is why.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9). So therefore, Mark 16:16 cannot mean a physical water baptism, because that would be a result of works; so what then does it mean? And since the Lord is saying to us, that “he who believes and is baptized will be saved”, I think that it is a good idea to find out what He is saying.
At the end of “The Gospel According to Luke”, The Lord commands His apostles; "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) Now what did He mean by clothed with power from on High? Take a look at what He tells them at the beginning of Acts for the answer. "Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) Hmmm, could it be that Jesus meant what He said in Mark 16:16, that “he who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (baptized with the Holy Spirit that is)?
I think Jesus really drove this home with Nicodemus in John chapter 3 when He said; “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) Then he said, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:5-6) Some will take the first part of verse 5, “born of water”, to mean physical water baptismal regeneration, again it cannot mean that, because of what he said in verse 6, “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit.” So then what does He mean by water and the Spirit?
Propitiation! Romans 3:25 says; “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” As you can see, propitiation has two parts; blood and faith. One without the other does not equal propitiation, and without propitiation there is no redemption, and without redemption there is no salvation from the wrath of God against sin. But, where you have both the blood of Christ, and faith in Christ; you have propitiation, you have redemption, and thus salvation.
So what are the water and the Spirit that the Lord was talking about in John 3:5? Earlier, I mentioned that in order for a man to repent, the Holy Spirit must take out the man’s heart of stone and give him a heart of flesh. Take a look at this in a passage from Ezekiel 36.
“For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. You will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers; so you will be My people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Propitiation; “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean;” we are cleansed from all of our filthiness and idols by the blood of Jesus Christ! “I will put my Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes” repentance, being born of the Spirit!
There are many, who have head knowledge of Jesus Christ; that He is the only begotten Son of God, which He has died for the sins of men, and arose from the grave on the third day. But in order to be saved, you must be born again, be born of the Spirit of God, where He takes out your heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh, putting His Spirit within you; being baptized with the Holy Spirit, causing you to then walk in His ordinances. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
In order to be saved, you must repent and believe. We know, and trust brethren; that the gospel, is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, and that faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (See Romans 1:16, 10:17) So we faithfully preach the gospel, and in doing so, we are totally dependent on God. For when we tell people, that they must repent and believe in the gospel; we are both telling them exactly what they need to do, to be saved, and at the same time we know, that they are totally incapable of doing this on their own, without a super natural work of the Holy Spirit, causing them to be born again, believing and being baptized by the Holy Spirit. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned." (Mark 16:16)
Mike Peek a slave of Jesus Christ