Many of our neighbors believe faith alone will save. This doctrine, however, does not stand when examined in light of God’s Word. Rather that a soul-saving doctrine, faith only damns man.
The Bible teaches that a man must not only believe in Jesus as the Son of God, but also repent of his sins (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3). Jesus declared such in the great commission. He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Lk. 24:46, 47). Peter obeyed the Lord and told men from the start of the gospel that repentance is for the remission of sins, to have one’s sins blotted out (Acts 2:38; 3:19). In other words, if one wants to be forgiven and counted as a child of God, a Christian, then one must repent of his sins.
What is repentance? It is not sorrow for sin. It is not a change of behavior. Rather, it is a change of mind which comes from sorrow for sin and leads to a change in behavior. Paul said to the Corinthians that their “sorrow led to repentance,” “for godly sorrow produces repentance” (2 Cor. 7:9, 10). John said, “bear fruits worth of repentance” (Lk. 3:8). When a person repents, he changes his mind about the sinful things he has done. He makes up his mind not to engage in lawlessness anymore—and fights to stick to it.
The man who believes in Jesus but continues to get intoxicated, has not repented. The woman who has confesses Jesus as the Christ but remains in adultery, has not repented. The teenager who is convicted that Jesus is the Savior but persists in looking at pornography, has not repented. The same is true for anyone who believes but continues in sin. There is no repentance and, therefore, no salvation.
Repentance is vital to salvation. It will lead us away from rebellion and to submission to Christ’s commands, including baptism (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). It will lead us to a changed life, a life dedicated to serving the Lord.