“Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins” (1)
The New Testament
gospel does not
separate one from
the other, and we
In the New Testament gospel, repentance and forgiveness always go together.
I was reminded of this recently by a commentary on Luke 24:47, in which the resurrected Lord tells the disciples that “repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations.”
The New Testament gospel begins with John’s “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). And in his very first gospel message, the Apostle Peter, giving heed to the Lord’s word, told the Jews:
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.”
— Acts 2:38
And in his next message:
“Repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away.”
— Acts 3:19; cf. 8:22, 11:18
And later the Apostle Paul told the Athenians:
“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.”
— Acts 17:30
He also indicated that even his preaching of the gospel of grace included the matter of repentance. He said that he had gone about,
…“solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
— Acts 20:21
Then a few verses later he explains that this was to “testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 21:24).
Some Christians stress that if we simply believe and ask the Lord to forgive us, even without any conscious repentance on our part, He will, and we can then have the assurance that we will never be condemned. That is indeed true (John 5:24), but it is not the New Testament gospel, for in that gospel, forgiveness is always preceded by the demand for repentance.
In fact, if we make the focus of our gospel preaching the forgiveness of sins, without any requirement of repentance, we are missing the real point of the gospel in the New Testament.
And that is what we will consider in our next Note in this series.
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— 3 June 2023 —