3 Reasons Why I Don’t Preach on Repentance (“Turn from Sin”)

Religious people often complain that we grace preachers don’t discuss repentance sufficiently. It’s true. I hardly talk about it at all. But then neither did the Apostle John.

Here’s something that will fry your mind: Repentance is one of the most important things you’ll ever do but John never mentions the word. Not once. Not in his gospel or in any of his three letters.

I guess John must’ve been a grace preacher.

I guess John understood that while repentance matters a great deal, you don’t get people to repent by preaching repentance.

Let me say that again: we all need to repent, but you don’t get people to repent by telling them to repent.

“How can you say such heresy, Paul?”

I’ll answer that question in a moment. But first, let me ask you which of the following is the best definition of repentance:

1.    Repentance means turn from sin
2.    Repentance means change your mind

Repentance, like football, means different things to different people. But Biblical repentance simply means “change your mind.” It’s what the word literally means.

You can change your mind about anything, but Jesus calls us to change our mind about God and believe the good news (Mark 1:15). Biblical repentance is evidenced by turning to God.

Your definition of repentance will reveal whether you are living under grace or works. In the Old Testament, sinners repented by bringing a sacrifice of penance and confessing their sins (Num 5:7). But in the new we bring a sacrifice of praise and confess his name (Heb 13:15).

We don’t do anything to deal with our sins for Jesus has done it all. Our part is to believe the good news and say thank you Jesus! Only when we receive his gift of no condemnation are we empowered to go and sin no more.

Yet no matter how much I preach on grace, some people just can’t see the cross for their sins. They tell me I’m under-selling repentance.

What they mean is, “Paul you’re not telling people to turn from their sin.” It’s true. I seldom do. I’d rather talk about God’s goodness than your badness.

Yet often the message we hear is this: “God is holy and he won’t accept you unless you turn from sin.”

It’s sold as a message of repentance and it appeals to our Adamic sense of “I can fix what I broke” but it’s utterly false. It’s a lie to promote the flesh and it will keep you from Jesus.

The fact is God is holy and he won’t accept your sacrifices and offerings no matter how costly they are. His acceptance comes by grace alone.

Got a sin-problem? Turn to the cross and behold Christ. Come boldly to the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace. His grace is your only hope.

Here are three reasons why you should reject any message that defines repentance as turning from sin:

1. It puts people under law

Preach “turn from sin or you’re not saved” and you are preaching pure law. You are prescribing sin-rejection as a means for salvation.

This false gospel actually leaves sinners worse off because it empowers the sin that enslaves them while scorning the grace that might otherwise save them (1 Cor 15:56, Rm 11:6).

The righteousness that God offers does not depend on your performance. Neither your good works nor your bad works enter the equation. The righteousness you and I need is a gift that is received by faith from first to last (Rom 1:17).

2. It doesn’t lead people to salvation

Let me give you a picture to illustrate true repentance. Suppose I call you up and give you an invitation to come to my house. You’ve never been here before so you need directions. There are two ways I could direct you. I could give you my address and provide an accurate picture of where I live. Or I could say, “flee from your house – just drive from your house as fast as possible and don’t look back.”

See the difference? In both cases you’re going to leave your house. That’s guaranteed. But only by trusting my directions will you arrive at my house.

Repentance is like that. It’s not fleeing from sin like a Pharisee; it’s turning to God in faith. In both cases you will leave your sin. But only by trusting God will you arrive someplace better than where you started.

To get people to repent (change their minds) Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom. He painted a picture of where God wanted them to be (with him here and now), and he gave them clear directions on how to get there (have faith in God).

It was the same with Paul. He didn’t walk into Corinth, one of the world’s most depraved cities and preach “turn from sin.” Instead preached “Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2).

People need to hear how much God loves them. They need to hear about his unconditional favor and grace, and the best way to tell them is to reveal the finished work of the cross.

When the Corinthian Christians fell into sin, even then Paul didn’t preach “turn from sin.” Instead he reminded the Corinthians of their identity in Christ. He understood that grace, not dead works, is the cure for sin.

3. We’re called to preach the gospel, not repentance

Should you repent? Of course! I actually think there needs to be more repentance, particularly from believers. Repentance should be our life-style. You cannot renew your mind without repenting for repenting means to change your mind. When I discover something new about the goodness of God, I repent – I change my way of thinking so that my life lines up with what is true.

I repent every day and it’s wonderful. I’m not the same person I was even six months ago because I am in the habit of repenting.

Repentance is one of the most important things you’ll ever do but you don’t get people to repent by telling them to repent. Instead, give them a reason to repent and they’ll repent.


Repentance comes as a consequence of hearing about the goodness of God (Rom 2:4). So if you want people to repent, tell them how good God is. Preach the good news: God loves you, he died for you and he offers you his righteousness. Do you believe it?

God’s power for salvation – for your forgiveness, healing, deliverance and provision – is revealed in the good news of grace. Do you believe it?

All the blessings of God come to us by grace alone. Do you believe it?

Faith and repentance are two sides of the same coin. Repentance, like faith, is a positive response to something God has said or done.

John says little about repentance but he talks about believing over and over. He wrote so “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). The key to life is not in turning from sin but trusting in Jesus.

You want others to repent? Then preach the gospel that reveals the goodness of God. Use words if necessary.

Jesus has done it all!


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138 Comments on 3 Reasons Why I Don’t Preach on Repentance (“Turn from Sin”)

  1. Repentance does not save a sinner. If you believe repentance does save, but after seeing the truth and you change your mind, because you realized that it is the blood of Jesus that saves, * then you have repented

    Repentance does not forgive sins. If you believe repentance does forgive sins, but after experiencing true forgiveness and you change your mind,because you realized that you have been forgiven and “the blood of Jesus cleanses (continuously)” you of all sin * then you have repented
    grace and peace

    • You are right, savedbygrace, it is Jesus alone that saves.

      • PASTOR ERVIN // April 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm //

        jesus also said .you can’t have 2 fathers . if you are of the world and its sin , you are of the father satan . jesus also said if you live you’re mother or father more than me . you are not of me … jesus also said for us to fellowship with christ , read Gods word , pray , ect … you can’t think will Gods grace is geting us into heaven … we have to live a certion life , we have to obey God and do it works ….. just like most think john 3:16 will get them into heaven …. NOPE

      • i have question, now i have knowledge of commandments after repentence, but i cant keep some of them for example im so week for fasting, preaching(my family dont listen to me) devil blinded them, and if we make mistake in commandments after having knowledge, are these things above i said become sin? because i cant fast

      • Eric, I was hoping one of the regulars would reply to your post. Read the post again and read the related posts (highlighted in blue) at the end of the post. I’m not sure what commandments you are talking about but there is no reason for you to have to fast or preach to your family. And no, not fasting & not preaching to your family is not a sin.
        God Loves You & Jesus Loves you. Set your mind on that.
        You seem to be new at this. Just hang in there and keep reading, eventually you’ll catch on.

  2. one more thing. repentance requires your mind. not emotion. “And he answered and said, ‘I do not want to!’ But later he ‘CHANGED HIS MIND’ (metamelētheis) and went.” – Matthew 21:29. “Then when Judas, the one who had betrayed him, saw that he had been condemned, he REGRETTED (metamelētheis) what he had done and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and elders” – Matthew 27:3

  3. Matthew Payne // November 28, 2011 at 11:18 pm //

    Good post

  4. Interestingly, the Greek for ‘repentance’ is great when used properly…these are the strong’s numbers…I copied and pasted this off of another document I had made for the “repent before you get baptized” peeps…

    Notice how in Acts 16:31, ‘repent’ isn’t mentioned as a prerequisite to baptism, not because it isn’t necessary but because the actual happening of belief (4100) is in itself, the very act of repentance (3340)… to consider (3539) what you have heard (Romans 10:17, Ephesians 1:13) and reconsider (3340) what you believe (4100).

  5. Thank you! Contemporaries who believe man is dead until regenerated still want to preach repentance to him.

  6. You know what is interesting is that when I used to preach repentance as a turning from all of your sins was to have another thought nagging me, “How can you say that salvation is apart from works when you are asking man to do something to be saved?”

    You rightly pointed out that John never preached repentance, but neither did Paul in the entire book of Romans that had much to say about salvation.

    I used to preach Luke 13:5 as proof that one must turn to be saved, but when I read the context was when I realized that being saved from sin was nowhere in the context at all. It was addressing a nation, and not some death, burial and resurrection gospel to be believed. Does not matter what angle you approach Luke 13 from as nothing there is about stopping sins to be saved.

    What is sad is how religion will preach the verse that says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” and will change the meaning into, “Believe on the ((((((LORD)))))) Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” They will always shout the word “Lord” and then pause a moment before reading the rest of the verse. They want you to think that Paul was stressing a surrender to the sovereign Lordship of Christ to be saved, as they will claim that Jesus cannot be your Lord until you give up your every sin first.

  7. Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 29, 2011 at 8:26 am //

    I’m trying to understand but still not understanding. I still think of changing my mind not only “to believe the Good News” but as a desire from the heart to turn from my old ways (of selfishness) to new ways of Love.in a devotion? to God. Not as a condition of receiving salvation but because of wanting to put off the old & put on the new. Exp: If I find myself wanting to strike at someone in defense of my ego ,I consciously stop, turn my direction (change my mind), and hold my angry tongue. I make a practice of this and ask the Holy Spirit to help me. It’s gotten easier in time but I still feel the desire to keep changing my direction when I see myself going the wrong way. Is this really wrong?

    • To want to put off the old and put on the new is a good thing. For that matter, the law is good! But your question troubles me for it sounds like you’re longing to be told what is right and what is wrong. Scanning the threads on my FB page this morning it is evident that many people are concerned with right and wrong. This is the wrong tree. It starts off in innocence but before you know it you’re listening to talking snakes. Choose life. If saying sorry and making amends brings life and healing, do it (Jas 5:16). If reviewing your sins brings death, suffering and condemnation, don’t.

      • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm //

        Trying to understand: Is it the “longing to be told” or “what is right and wrong” that troubles you. I’m not solid as a rock, I’m still learning. I think most of what we go through from day to day as far as right or wrong is in perception. Am I guilt ridden about my so called sins? NO, not usually but if I”m leaning in that direction, it’s time to change my mind. I’m sure to most religious people, I have many sins, but the Holy Spirit taught me not to dwell on my own shortcomings or the short comings of others and to “Go in Peace “, so that’s what I try to do. At one time, my ego was proud of the way I could use words to put a person in place or drive them into the ground. That doesn’t work for me anymore. In the beginning it was a little rough but the more I hold my tongue, say I’m sorry, let go of all the petty stuff etc, the easier it gets, and the less I’m effected by others words or actions resulting in more peace for both myself and others. It’s not important anymore to exhaust all the reasons I’m right and the other person is wrong anymore. It’s OK with me if I walk away from a situation allowing the other person to think they are right, better etc. I’m just happier being quietly OK with me. Changing my direction in mind & action has helped me to not only be more accepting of myself but more accepting of others. I still have times when I get upset & have to go off alone in prayer asking for the help of the Holy Spirit but those times are less & less frequent and I get over the hurts much faster. If my ego gets bruised, oh well. Yes, I wish we’d all do “right” whatever that is.. The most pathetic,whining, bratty, demanding prayer I ever stooped to resulted in an instant supernatural Peace & Joy that replaced months of anguish. What is right or wrong?

      • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 30, 2011 at 10:24 am //

        Hi Paul, I know I don’t use or even understand many of the phrases people on this site use and it’s hard for me to express things. I was reading today and I think maybe what I refer to as changing my mind is properly termed renewing my mind? Not sure but from what I read, it sounds like what I’ve been going through.


      • Hi Paul,

        I agree with you and your original post, and this one, too. The point needs to expounded and understood….”CHOOSE”. In essence that is what repentance is. It is choosing they way of the Lord. The problem is that now, there are those who are claiming we cannot choose. That we are robots and God forces His Will on us, so there is that false ‘religion’, too. I find they are making God in their own image, as Paul talked about that, too. I love your posts!..and, btw, I am not saying they are not saved, I am saying they need to repent, LOL. (choose to change their minds, for they are wrong on this!). I am speaking of the ones who are claiming that universal salvation is the gospel, who deny the truths that man has a choice in anything.

    • What you’re describing here is self control or self discipline, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it isn’t repentance. The self control can be applied because of repentance. You now think differently and so you’re working on training yourself to act in accordance. The danger here is that one is still focused on change, whereas the Gospel is not about that at all. From my own experience, I can tell you that trying to change usually has exactly the opposite effect from what I desire. I suppose it’s a focus issue. Trying to change requires focus on the problem. We all know that what you focus on, you become. I one then chooses to focus on Christ, on intimacy with Him, and on what HAS ALREADY BEEN ACCOMPLISHED in you because of the finished work of being born again from above, the fruit becomes much more tangible and less forced. In my experience, dwelling on the fact that I am the righteousness of Christ has brought about much more behavioural change than dwelling on what I feel guilty about.

      • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // November 29, 2011 at 7:15 pm //

        Hi Jan, Thanks for responding. I understand some of what you’re saying as far as efforts in changing turning into dwelling on faults and feeling guilty because I’ve been there before but that’s not where I am now. Maybe it’s a type of self discipline but to me it’s more a way of life. Turning in the other direction not because of guilt but because I’m more grounded on the inside. I’m more secure. I don’t usually focus hard on turning my car directional on , I just do it. I don’t think I’m preoccupied with changing myself because I’m pretty content with who I am but I don’t think this is about changing myself, just changing myself on the outside to be in harmony with the inside of me. (I’m laughing, this makes sense to me but maybe it sounds nuts to you. I’m not up on all the phrases that the people on this site use. I have a difficult time expressing this sort of thing.) Anyway, this way of living for me has greatly blessed me. Andrew Wommack talks about Spirit, Soul & Body. Maybe the changing of my soul mind is bringing me closer to my spirit self? I really don’t know how else to explain it. I wouldn’t exactly say I’m doing it all by myself either. Certainly the Holy Spirit has played a part in this. I could not have changed this much on my own. I don’t think very much about right & wrong anymore. It just is. I’m not perfect, my neighbor isn’t perfect, we just are. It doesn’t matter much. Maybe the change I was describing in the begging of this was a change to please others where the changing I’m doing now feels natural to who I am at this time? Does that make any sense?. It’s 1am where I am so I’ll say Good Night and quit trying to explain something that I don’t have words to explain. Thanks

      • Understand you perfectly. You don’t have to explain yourself, we’re not trying to find fault. I was merely pointing out the difference between repentance and self discipline, not saying one is better than the other. You sound like you’re on the right path, that is all that matters!

      • This issue about repentance is still pretty broad and weird. The points are very true, yes! Because repentance, however you may define it, does not lead to salvation but just a simple act of change.

        Our focus in evangelizing really should be about the goodness of God, not repentance..

  8. i love this post. it is so good to read about the TRUTH from GOd’s perspective. Yes, repentance does mean changing your mind, that is why we are instructed in Romans to renew our minds, so that we can prove for ourselves what is the good, acceptable, and perfect will of god for our individual lives.

    Christ in me is my hope of GLORY. The word glory means: view, opinion, reality. So i could say that Christ in me is the hope i have that my view, opinion, and then my day to day reality can and is changing, more and more, not because of what I DO in obedience to the Laws commands, But simply because of my simple childlike faith in the finished work of the cross. I am now, as a new born creation, alive unto GOd, but dead to sin. The same resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead, NOW operates in me, giving me the strength to live a new, holy, life,. THis is the message of Grace: I HAVE BEEN CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST, IT IS NO LONGER I THAT LIVES, BUT CHRIST THAT LIVES IN ME, AND THE LIFE I NOW LIVE I LIVE BY THE FAITH OF THE SON OF GOD WHO LOVED ME AND GAE HIMSELF FOR ME.


    • I wonder what the verse means to the world of grace and love preachers and listeners in Corinthians that says “godly sorrow works repentance leads to salvation leaves no regret, worldly sorrow produces death”
      The gospel is the power of God to salvation..but Repentnace is essential to salvation, for without repentance you have no salvation,grace,mercy or hope…….and, repentance can only come about by your knowledge of your unholy, unrighteous state before a Holy Just God..who will judge according to his standard of righteousness….that being his moral law…..law cannot save anyone…but without the law or knowledge pointing to your sin,that you have violated his law..your lost…..despite the grace ,mercy, hope, righteousness and salvation that is awaiting and only found in Christ…without the knowledge of sin..grace ,mercy,love of God are meaningless because they are unappropriated. The bible says they won’t come to the light for fear their deeds will be exposed..they need to tremble before the Holy judgment of God and receive his gift of mercy,grace and love found in Jesus…..then one walks out their life of faith in the spirit appropriating the grace and mercy and love of God to a lost world

      • Dear Rob, please read the posts before commenting on them. And then comment on them – save your sermons for your own blog.

      • Rob, well said! You see when the truth is spoken, what reaction you get & how there is no answer only to “Go preach on your own blog” Mr Paul Ellis you attitude here is wrong.

      • Russ, for what it’s worth, my blunt remark should be interpreted as nothing more than weariness. I am weary of editing comments that are essays. Life would be simpler if I just deleted comments that did not meet the criteria clearly outlined on E2R’s comment policy. Perhaps I should have done so with Rob’s.

      • I have a dyed in the wool hell and brimstone preaching “evangelist” friend who has not got the grace revelation. Only yesterday he was proudly boasting that someone we know who had been near death in hospital had asked him to go see him privately. I asked if he was going to share how much God loves this man with him and he said “oh no, I will sensitively tell him he’s a sinner who needs to repent and turn back to God as he is a backslider”. I remonstrated but my bible college graduate friend only became firmer in his assertion that “evangelists do this”. His friend is born again but he calls him a backslider. I cannot have any more of these perverse conversations because it is drawing me away from love.

      • PASTOR ERVIN // April 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm //

        ROB … u are right . most people wants to take out or add into Gods word to fit them or there life style or religion …….

  9. Excellent! If we had to do anything, if we had to change first, before God will accept us, then that just ruled out grace – that just sucked the power out of grace because it perverted it. I can hardly sit through local sermons anymore without getting upset, or getting a turned “stomach,” because almost always the Gospel of Grace is perverted by works, by added requirements. God knew this would be the case, so He embedded in His Word, even in His Name, a divine Way to hear only unperverted Grace for those who seek God with all of their heart to discover – which is to hear it from our own mouths! If He can make us priests, which He certainly can and will, then He can certainly make us all preachers as well – proclaimers of the Gospel of pure Grace! http://www.amazingpromise.com

  10. Scott Rieger // December 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm //

    do you ever wonder why you give special recognition to John NOT speaking on repentance and ignore the rest of the WORD of God where it DOES speak on repentance. Luke 24… our Lord Jesus, Himself telling us that repentance for sins should be proclaimed in His Name;
    2nd Peter, that God is not willing for any to perish (like in John 3:16) but for all to come to repentance;
    Luke 15, the lost sheep, coin, son /prodigal son ;
    Romans 2, specifically that those who do not repent are destined for God’s wrath. etc ?
    It seems a bit out of balance ?:!
    It also seems that you assume that repentance happens automatically, whereas, how many people think that they are into grace, and in reality for some it is a license to sin and walk in the stubborness of heart with selfish ambition, as mentioned in Romans 2.
    Why is John’s portion of the Bible more worthy of your teaching, than the rest of the Bible ?

    • Dear Scott, I will answer your question if you answer mine: What would you say to motivate a person to repent? And when did the lost sheep repent? Or the lost coin? You call for balance – so how do you balance it?

      • May I interject here with the longest run-on sentence ever? If you define repentance as reaching the point of desperation – because you have learned the hard way over many years of failure that you can’t fix your sin problem yourself by your own power even though you have tried everything under the sun and also you’ve learned that you can’t continue with your “sin management” lifestyle looking very good and religious to everyone around you (because you have been found out – your secret/pet/darling sin has been discovered and now you’re humbled/humiliated to the max) and you’ve been praying quickly all your life for God’s forgiveness every time you sin (playing tit for tat – ledger keeping with God, living by the law and not even knowing it) – to where you give up hope in the sin you’ve been committing to give you the love, acceptance, and fulfillment that your heart so deeply desires and needs, and you turn only to God and literally begin crying out to Him to save you (at the top of your lungs!) and to give you those things that only He can truly give your heart, and at the same time you develop an intense hatred and disdain for sin because of the havoc it has wreaked in your life (even though you don’t yet have the power to overcome it), and you begin to desire holiness, Him Who is Holy, with everything in your being with a white hot intensity (even though you have no idea how to receive it because Grace is not preached at your legalistic church), then I think you can begin to understand what happened to prepare my heart for the unperverted Gospel of Grace…which HAS to be what the Bible is trying to convey by “repentance.” This, friends, is what it means for the Law to do its job and cause you to reach the end of yourself! Talk about your heart being fertile soil for the Seed, the Word!…

      • Carl, thanks for taking the time to comment. I cut yours short because it was long. Please note my comment policy limits comments to 250 words. And please stick to the post. God bless.

  11. Scott Rieger // December 3, 2011 at 12:15 pm //

    Dear Paul,
    It sounds like you do not take me seriously. Why IS the gospel of John NOT speaking of repentance MORE important than what the rest of the Scriptures DO teach on repentance ? Why do you fail to recognize the words of Jesus in Luke 24:47, where he tells us to “PROCLAIM REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS” ? And why do you ask such a silly question about the sheep or the coin repenting. The comments of Jesus on the lost sheep and the lost coin are the obvious point, that sinners should repent. (and many other truths are here) You ask me what I would say to motivate a person to repent and I do not think that you really want an answer from me, but rather “what does the Scripture say?” “How does it read to you?” When you ignore what the Bible says on a topic and choose to see it all through the teaching of
    “grace”, I wonder if this is iniquity ? What I mean by balance is: recognizing all the relevant Scripture on this topic and letting the Word speak for itself. Peace , brother.

    • Dear Scott, I am indeed serious. You know what I think – it’s here for the whole world to see. I want to know what you think: What would you say to motivate a person to repent? I might guess from your agitation that you feel one must turn from sin to be forgiven? Is that correct? How then do you account for Luke 24:47 where Jesus says the forgiveness or remission of sins will be proclaimed in His name to all nations? Have our sins been forgiven or haven’t they? Paul thought so (Col 2:13). Peter thought so (2 Pet 1:9). John thought so (2 Joh 1:7, 2:12). I think so. Evidently you think otherwise. (Is it true?) You claim I am ignoring the Bible. One might claim you are ignoring the cross. I wonder if this is unbelief.

      Repentance matters because unless you change your unbelieving mind, you will not experience the benefits of forgiveness. Grace can only be received by faith. John called it confession or agreeing with God. Paul called it faith. Jesus simply said “change your mind and believe the good news.” The good news is that we are forgiven.

      • Hi, Scott. For years I thought it was my “diligence” that God wanted. What He wants, simply, is that I accept a relationship that He’s enabled. When I walked by effort, I continually stumbled. Since knowing that I’m seated, incrementally His involvement in my daily life staggers me. It’s the absence of my effort that has brought holiness into my life. And that, to me, is how I now understand repentance. I encourage you to love every word that Jesus spoke, but that you also liken it to this: under the Mosaic covenant, Yom Kippur had no effect whilst the High Priest ‘approached’ the Temple. It was only when blood was shed that circumstances changed, in a far inferior covenant. So everything that Christ – THE High Priest – said in His ministry prior to the cross has to be understood by the consequences of that same cross. We’re benefited only AFTER His blood. When He’d risen, did he condemn Peter for denying Him? No, because He knew that Peter was NOW a new creation, even when Peter didn’t. Pentecost, and Christ’s revelations to Paul were yet to come. Brother, think chronology. Don’t mix the gospels with the expression through Paul that Christ could only provide for us AFTER He was crucified.
        Much love to you, mate.

      • Dear Paul, I read with amazement at how you avoid answering Scott’s question regarding passages that speak about repentance. It is unhelpful to shift the burden of proof on others when it is your job to defend your claims. His point about your selective reading of Scripture is valid. At this point, I do not think Scott bears the burden to account for, in your opinion, what Jesus says in Luke 24:47. Scott simply raises a question. And it is respectful to answer him straight on and not deflect his sincere questions by throwing more questions at him. To have a real understanding of the biblical view of repentance, requires us to examine all passages regarding repentance and not the selective few that supports what we want to say. You’re sincere and loving pastor. I’d encourage you to “correct your opponents with gentleness. (2 Tim 2:4-25)” This implies that it is best to avoid Ad Hominem arguments, persuading instead with Scriptures.

      • Dear Aaron, you have mistaken me for The Question Guy or something. I leave plenty of questions unanswered. As you can see, there have been a lot of people in this thread who have challenged the post. Strangely, not one of them has actually disagreed with any of my 3 reasons. Not even Scott. Do you?

      • Dear Paul, i’m not sure who is the question guy. My response was to the way you handled Scott’s queries. With regards to whether I agree with you or not, it is irrelavant pertaining to Scott’s queries. I’m merely asking for you to answer Scott’s objection fairly by dealing with the text. Whether Scott agrees with your 3 reasons in general or not, it still does not dismiss the fact that he has raised objections to your selection of texts. Please answer the question head on and avoid answering by raising more questions.

      • Aaron, I am not trying to be difficult. One of the many things I have been set free from, is the need to please men, which includes the need to answer questions that have nothing to do with the post. There are about 10,000 verses in the Bible that I did not deal with in the post above, including the one Scott raised. Please note my comment policy requires comments to be limited to the post under discussion. If you have any objections to my 3 reasons, let’s hear them. If you have something else to say, I suggest you start your own blog. Cheers.

      • Hi, Paul. Thank you for being so candid. I appreciate your emphasis on grace on your blog. I wish there is a “like” button on wordpress so that I can “like” your comments and posts.

        However, as you rightly emphasized that we are to please God rather men, I hope to alert us to danger of making God’s word subordinate to the doctrines of men. And one way people do that is the selective use of Scripture to support their doctrines. I’m not sure if you realize that you have just made a huge admission; your assertion that one should not preach repentance (turning away from sin) is really based on a selection of passages and omitting those passages that Scot has highlighted. I’m convinced that when one deems to have the authority to employ selected texts to supportine’s doctrine, it is impossible to truly understand what the whole counsel of agod wants to say to us on pertinent issues. If you wish me to engage with you on this, then you must first be willing to take the whole counsel of God as the authority yardstick, amd resist the temptation to form a “canon within a canon” bases on your favorite text. What I have raised here is extremely relevant. But due to word limits, I will comment whenever I see such selective use of scripture in yout posts.

      • Aaron, I want to be very clear about what I am saying: One should NOT preach repentance as turn from sin. (I put it in the title, so yes, I realize what I am saying.) If you disagree, I would like to hear some reasons other than the whole counsel argument. That’s about as helpful as saying “Read the whole Bible.” The early Christians didn’t read the whole Bible. Many of them didn’t read any Bible. That didn’t stop them from turning the world right-side up for Jesus.

        Paul said we must rightly divide the word (ie: emphasize certain scriptures over others). It follows that it must be possible to wrongly divide the word (emphasize the wrong scriptures over others). It seems some people on this thread don’t want to emphasize any scriptures! Why have I emphasized these scriptures? Because I have seen the cross.

  12. Scott Rieger // December 4, 2011 at 1:49 pm //

    I agree with many of the things that you say, BUT Peter does not agree with you. Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. If repentance and faith are identical, then why do we have two things saying the same thing? I think that you are missing what Romans 2 explains on repentance. And I think that it is an issue of the heart whereas profession by tongue can be made of faith or trust, but surrender to the Lord as LORD and submission to HIs rule for your life is missing.

    • Repentance literally means “change your mind” – nothing more, nothing less. Peter has just preached the gospel to a bunch of Jews. He’s told them that the one “whom you crucified (is) both Lord and Christ” (v.37). In the next verse the Jews are convicted of their unbelief. Cut to their heart they asked, “What shall we do?” (v.38). Peter responds, “Repent (change your mind)…” They did and by faith 3000 received the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (v.39-41). It was an awesome day! The one thing every unbeliever needs to do is change their unbelieving mind and heart. Peter did not get the Jews to repent by preaching a message of repentance. Neither did He preach law, sin or wrath. He preached the gospel. “This Jesus is the One you’ve all been waiting for – the Messiah, the Christ.” They were Jews – they understood what that meant. Peter spoke about signs and wonders and particularly the resurrection. The Holy Spirit then convicted the Jews for their unbelief and they did a Romans 10:9-10 and got saved.

      Please reread the post above and the preceding one if this is still not clear.

  13. Hi Paul, I am not getting it sometimes. can you point me out. Is repentance influenced by the emotion, a true repentance? take on Judas. Is repentance influenced by the mind, a true repentance? take on the other thief beside Jesus?
    again, very good post.
    grace and peace

    • Judas didn’t repent in the sense that he changed his mind and turned to God. In fact, you could say he didn’t repent at all. The word sometimes translated “repent” in Mat 27:3 is metamellomai, not metanoia. Metamellomai is found 6 times in the Bible and can be interpreted as regret or remorse although it is translated repent in the KJV and ASV. (Click the link for more.) What is true repentance? It’s faith in God. The thief had it; Judas didn’t.

  14. Paul,

    I really like the article and thought the discussions afterwards were as interesting as well. I totally agree with your explanation of the definition of repent because I am from a legalistic background myself. When I first heard of this definition of repent I went to Strong’s and Thayer to see what their take on it was. Sure enough nothing about sin but both said to change one’s mind. I don’t see why we need to add to it. Funny thing is that as I repented by believing in faith that sin was not my issue anymore, the more sin and the frustration of dealing with just effortlessly faded away.


  15. Hi again, just one thing I would like to say to Scott, good on ya mate, I’m not the only one that can see through this false gospel of grace. If you, Paul (Ellis) see everything through the cross, then you are stuck on the old covenant. Jesus death on the cross dealt with sin under the old covenant, not the new. Our past sin, Rom. 3:25, Heb. 9:15, 2 Peter 1:9. The old has finished, the new has come, now we follow the Law that God has placed in our hearts and minds by His Spirit , (the same law that we cannot fulfil by our own actions), there is now, no more sacrifice for sin. We are told that the law is holy righteous and good Rom.7:12, if used properly, to discern what is sin and what is not.
    If faith and the word of God are our weapons against the enemy, and sin is the sting of death (the devil, Heb 2:14), we are called to battle against sin, not be luke-warm, and also endure the battle, even til death. Rev:2:10. God is in this battle with us, if we are tested and prevail, we will receive the crown of life, if we are luke warm, He will spit us out. The message of grace by the modern church is verging on lukewarm. If we are tested, it is God repoving and disciplining us as sons, so be zealous and repent, and afterwards, yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
    To claim that we are the rightousness of Christ, 2Cor 5:21, without reading the next chapter in context, is a serious mistake.
    We are called to holy, to purify ourselves to walk as Jesus walked, without sin. Don’t take sin lightly people, Jesus sits at the right hand of God until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. All I can say is to crush sin under your feet, have no mercy with the enemy, you have been enlisted in God’s army, so do your duty.

    • Peter, I think you just set a record for saying things I strongly disagree with. Sadly, none of them pertain directly to the current post (“preaching repentance”). You’re new here I think, so just this once I published your comment. In future, please stick to the subject at hand. FYI, comments you have pertaining to lukewarm religion can go under this post. Regarding the gospel of grace, see this post. Regarding the difference between the old and new, see this post. For everything else, I recommend the archives.

  16. Hi Paul, sorry if your offended, I’m sure your a really nice guy, who loves God and wants to see people set free.
    We do have some things in common, I met my wife in Beijing, while on a working/missionary trip in 1996.
    She was involved in translating to the underground church Pastors, for the American missionaries.
    She was shown to me in a vision, about 8 months before I went there, and God told me that this was my wife.
    I didn’t know any Chinese people, as I lived in Port Macquarie at the time.
    I didn’t even have any plans to go to China, but by the grace of God, He arranged it through work.
    I went in to get the sack for witnessing at work and ended up going to China.
    A Korean guy was caught with photos and videos with her teaching/translating to the underground church.
    The PSB were after her, just before we left, but God got us out.
    The full story is amazing, we serve an amazing God.

  17. scott rieger // December 6, 2011 at 12:11 am //

    the subject at hand: BIBLICAL REASONS to preach repentance….1) Jesus commands it in Luke 24:47 2) Peter did it in Acts and in his epistle 3) Paul explained it in 2nd Cor that sorrow acc to the will of God produces REPENTANCE leading to salvation. 3) without it, (acc to Jesus) “you too will perish” …and there are so many more vrs, if you would seek them out.
    …you know what the problems with me is: I look to specific Biblical verses to get my understanding of a topic, not some theological framework that puts God in a box. I wonder why you ignore so much of what the Bible does say. James says 2:22 YOU SEE THAT FAITH WAS WORKING WITH HIS WORKS AND AS A RESULT OF HIS WORKS, FAITH WAS PERFECTED.
    Hebrews 11 gives me much of what I comprehend on faith, as well as Romans Repentance and good works do not earn me a place with God but only show the response that GOD has commanded. Jesus said that you will know them by their fruits.
    Please keep praying for me, brother Paul….I need it.

    • (1) Re: Luke 24:47 – People don’t repent to get forgiven; they repent because they are forgiven. There’s no other way you can read this verse without diluting grace and emptying the cross of its power. Jesus said “proclaim it” meaning herald it, publish it. This is good news to be boldly declared, not a gun to hold to someone’s head.
      (2) Acts 2:38 – Peter mentions the word one time and from this you infer he’s preached a message on turning from sin? Read the whole chapter: Peter preached Christ and Him crucified and resurrected. Remember, repentance means “change your mind.” You don’t get unbelievers to change their mind by preaching either a message entitled “Change your mind.”
      (3) 2 Cor 7:10 – Not sure why you would interpret this as a message about repentance. As I explained in the last post Paul was referring to the relational strain between him and his beloved Corinthians. They had given him the cold shoulder, he rebuked them, they felt bad about it and repented. Godly sorrow can and does lead to repentance but it’s unlikely that you will cry every time you change your mind about the Lord.
      (4) Luke 13:3 – Sinners need to repent? You’ll get no argument from me. They do! So do you. So do I. Every day. But you don’t get people to change their mind by preaching “change your mind.” Preach the gospel.

      God does not inhabit a box defined by human repentance. He doesn’t need our permission to love us, save us or forgive us. He has done all of those things without any reference to our merits (Rom 5:8). Faith, like repentance, is a positive response to what God has done. If people are not told what God has done, how can they believe? How can they repent?

      • Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // December 6, 2011 at 1:41 pm //

        Hi Paul,
        I’ve been feeling like a ping pong ball being knocked back & forth in the past week or so on the subject repentance and the opposing views about repentance. Though the opposing views may get a little frustrating to some, it helps me to dig deeper and I need that.. I was getting mixed up and thinking that you didn’t think there was a need for repentance and was scratching my head until I read what you said about Luke 13:3 above. I went back and read your article and I understood it better. I think for the ones having a problem understanding you, you might refer them to The blueprint of “renewing your mind ” and there was also something that you gave a link to by Rob Rufus that helped. Sometimes if a person isn’t “getting it” , it can help to read the way another explains things. Those articles cleared up some things for me. In one comment a person was asking about a question their mother had re Titus, do you have anything on
        “to live self-controlled? THANKS
        Thanks to All

      • Thanks FT. Half the debates I have on these threads are with those who haven’t read the posts. As I say above, repentance is one of the most important things you’ll ever do. It should be our lifestyle. It’s a wonderful, life-giving thing to grow in the knowledge of Him who called us. The one message I hope people take away loud and clear from all this, is that it’s all about Jesus and what He has done. It’s not about me and what I do. See Him, know Him, fix your eyes on Him, marvel at Him and repentance will follow as naturally as breathing. I sincerely hope that these threads and my posts do not distract you from the simplicity of knowing Christ.

      • Tim Rector // January 20, 2013 at 2:42 am //

        I appreciate this post Paul and find the discussion edifying. I think it’s true, but interesting, how you said “People don’t repent to get forgiven; they repent because they are forgiven.” and “God does not inhabit a box defined by human repentance.” The discussion seems to be HOW and WHEN forgiveness takes place and how to preach the truth. But you too Paul seem to be struggling with making your own boxes for God on these issues. Jesus’ first words upon exting the wilderness in Matthew 4: 17 were “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.” John the Baptist’s in Matthew 3: 2 were the same and in verse 3 Matthew says John was the one Isaiah spoke of to prepare the way for the Lord and make straight paths for Him. In Luke 19 we see how Jesus showed grace to Zaccheus the “sinner” by calling him down from the tree and announcing He must stay at his house. It is true that it was after the grace of Jesus to call Zaccheus first then he announced he would give half of his possessions to the poor and pay back those he had cheated four times the amount he took. But mysteriously after Zaccheus said these things that was when Jesus announced “Today salvation has come to this man’s house”. We see a similar order of things, in Luke 18 with the Rich Young Ruler but with a much different outcome; the primary difference being that with Zaccheus Jesus called him. The ruler wanted to know what he must “do” to go to heaven. Jesus took him through the law. The ruler claimed he had kept the law. Jesus, in verse 22, then told him what he had to “do” to receive life; “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come follow me.” Jesus laid out the order to that person Paul, and it was to change his mind and “do” something first. And we know that is not always the case or so cut and dry with every individual, as was with the thief on the cross; faith after all is a gift from God. Maybe we should all do our best to avoid putting God in any box apart from His word. Making absolute statements about Him which absolutely ignore His word is something we all battle. Let’s submit to the mysteries God has left in His word, and trust Jesus as our Christ; the only Way to God.

  18. Brethren, let’s take a Rest 🙂

  19. Frustrated TOO but starting to see some light // December 6, 2011 at 4:58 pm //

    Hi Again. I think people probably do read the posts, they’ve just lived a life with a different teaching and can’t wrap their brain around it. It took me 3 or 4 times of reading it before I understood. (I think I’m what A. Wommack refers to as having a Peanut Brain, HA!Ha!)

    It’s odd that you say to me “It’s not about me ………” Among other things, the Lord recently told me “…………..it’s not about you.” When I asked:” How do I get my mind off of me?, he replied ” keep your mind on me.”

    The Lord gave me a long paragraph of information and I didn’t think too much about it. I got it out and read it once a day for about 3 days and still didn’t “get it”
    I finally typed it out in an email to someone and it came to life for me finally. I rememberd what I was frustrated about at the time and what I had been talking to the Lord about and it all made sense. My point, sometimes the Lord can give us a Personal “post” .If anybody should be able to understand, I should have. He was answering my questions and I almost just tossed it in a drawer & forgot about it. BIG PEANUT BRAIN!!

    Have a Good Day or Night (whatever it is where you are)

  20. You said: “I actually think there needs to be far more repentance, particularly from believers. … I’m not the same person I was even six months ago because I am in the habit of repenting.”

    And, you said: “Repentance is one of the most important things you’ll ever do but you don’t get people to repent by telling them to repent”

    Not trying to be hostile, just direct and brief. I find most of the article self-contradictory, due to these statements. I realize that “repent” so far as to “feel sorry” isn’t the intent of the Greek, but to turn from sin is evident from Luke 3 et al. However, if repentance has changed YOU, and you see it as essential to the Christian life, how dare NOT preach, and preach it RIGHT?! I understand the tension of motivation, but given the clear command to PREACH “metanoia”, you are in error to on purpose omit it and in danger (Matt7:25) to not do it and teach others not to. However, the second excerpt, upon which I assume the first is justified, is simply against the full counsel of scripture. John the Baptist preached precisely Repent (metanoia), and expected people to do so from his preaching. Jesus preached Repent, and expected people to from his preaching. Peter did in Acts 3. Romans 2:4 certainly cannot be implied to mean that we are not to preach against sin. The motivation IS different for a believer, but even read Colossians. Col 2 says we are not bound by the religious system because we died with Him. Col 3 says to set our minds on things above… It is BECAUSE of these that the very next verses say to put the things of the flesh to death. It does not call it “repentance”, and you could make the argument that the believer already has, but the command is very clearly to put those to death, in light of the finished work. I certainly don’t want to argue over words, though.

    What is the motivation to preach repentance? The same as Jesus, “Repent! For the Kingdom is at hand.” The same as Paul, “Put to death, therefore…”

  21. Scott Rieger // December 9, 2011 at 2:11 am //

    By the CONTEXT of God’s word, the Biblical definition of repentance is MORE than simply “change your mind about what you believe” but God’s call to change your heart and your life direction ( and agreed that the Bible does NOT say that you should “repent of your sin”) …by the following examples: 1) John the Baptist explains what he means when he cries out “Repent! ” (have you studied it ?) 2) Jesus began his ministry saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand”. just as John the Baptist . Both are looking for FRUIT. I is commanded in Acts, “Bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance” . But the loudest explanations, as I see it, are in Romans 2 where it says that the “stubborn and unrepentant heart” destines us for God’s wrath AND the example of the prodigal son, who clearly did not earn his salvation because he stopped sinning, but certainly had the mind, heart and life change in confessing his sin and returning to serve under his Father’s authority. Yes, repentance means change your mind, by dictionary definition. But by Biblical context, repentance means change of heart and life as well, as evidence or fruit of that change.

    • There are two issues going on simultaneously, that unstable people use to their “advantage”..
      First, perhaps “metanoia” should better be translated as a different word. “Repent” does include “sentiment” and is similar to the word “penance”. I don’t mind the word, defined as precisely what the Bible means by it.
      HOWEVER, and Second, people use the fact that “repent” has been used wrong, or perhaps a different word could have been used, and by it say that because “repent” has mean “feel bad” or “do it to get God to like you”, they throw out not the word “repent”, but they throw out “metanoia” from all practical preaching, however you interpret it. Integrity would demand that you either use a _different_ word and preach it as much of the word (3/4 of the Gospel presentations use “metanoia”, shouldn’t you?)
      Integrity would demand that you either use REPENT in the way the Bible does, or use a different word, understanding that “metanoia”, Biblically and contexually OBVIOUSLY means “TURN FROM YOUR SIN”, “STOP SINNING”, “DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT” “FRUIT” as above.(Luke 3, Rev 2-3, etc). It is preached wrong too often, and it is unfortunate, and it IS a rip off… And it is a *worse* rip off to then throw the whole word out.
      If it’s in the Bible, it demands to be preached, and preached correctly in full CONTEXT, or you are deliberately, and admittedly, not preaching the full counsel of scripture. Regardless of intent, the word actually retains its assumed meaning. The moment someone says “Don’t preach against repentance”, while you may still repent in your own life regularly, people immediately do begin to take this against even in its original meaning…. After describing dying w/ the Lord and being raised with Him, in Col 3, Paul immediately exhorts putting off the flesh, aka REPENTANCE (from the right heart). But, when someone says “don’t preach repentance” it is used by a large segment to throw out Colossians 3:5-10, practically, even though in their mind they are still growing in the Lord.. This is a result of preaching against “repentance” and not simply preaching it _right_. YOU might understand it, but if you’re in the position of a teacher, it is negligent to intentionally not teach it, and to teach it both in meaning and context (see post above).

      • Let me see if I got this straight: Are you saying the NT writers didn’t really know what they were talking about when they chose their words and that the Apostle John is unstable? (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.) Benjamin, you seem to miss the larger point: It’s a question of emphasis. If you start talking to someone on a bus, you don’t have time to preach the whole counsel of God. So what should you emphasize? I would emphasize the gospel. John clearly agrees because this is what He emphasized. Many evangelistic groups distribute copies of the gospel of John because it’s pure gold. It contains the good news! A seeker doesn’t need to read Micah or even Colossians 3 before repenting and coming to Christ. For them to repent, it is not even essential that they know what the word means (see Rom 10:9-10).

        And as for growing in the Lord? Peter says we grow in our knowledge of Him who called us – we don’t grow on the basis of our repenting activity. Repentance is a response. Emphasize repentance and you’re putting the caboose where the locomotive should be. We don’t put off the old man EXCEPT that we’ve had a revelation that we are seated with Christ.

        Religious people will always emphasize me, my sin and what I must do. I will always emphasize Jesus, His righteousness and what He has done.

      • Might I suggest an external look at Romans 2:4?

        Obviously all scripture is “gold”, and whether it’s any of MMLJ, they can get saved, or even a little tract with the Romans Road of about 5-6 verses. Salvation does, and always will entail repentance, which is genuine only when it changes your actions.
        Luke 24:47 clearly indicates “repentance for forgiveness of sins” would be preached in His name (meaning Jesus).
        Paul speaking to Agrippa includes “prove their repentance with their deeds” (Acts 26).

        The discussion is becoming circular. I greatly appreciate right understanding of repentance. Repentance for the believer is a response. It is clear from scripture that it must be preached. It is clear from scripture that while it starts at the “change your mind” level, the root produces the fruit, and if you have really repented, you have changed your actions, and they will not continue anymore. If you’re sitting in a room with someone who is a thief, they are probably not stealing right then. But they can repent there, change their mind, and in the future, meaning 5 minutes from now, they wont steal any longer. That is “change your mind”. If you were in the bank with him as he took the 50’s out of the safe, then you could say, “stop sinning”. Which may or may not have entailed changing his mind, he might just not have wanted you pestering him, and he’d just hit the next bank next week.

        “Rightly divide” seems apt, although I’m sure all sides know to use that quote at this point… heh.

  22. Hey Paul,

    I didn’t read through all the comment but enjoyed the note a lot.
    Its so wonderful to discover a God who does not even demand faith, but supplies it!
    So when we talk about repentance, it would certainly help to say, first of all, that the word comes from the catholic practice of penance, and later “Re-penance” A money making scheme where people could purchase tickets to heaven’ or even to save relatives from the so-called purgatory! This is the blood money foundation of all those beautiful cathedrals in Europe… The original text, however, certainly does mean to “change one’s mind”

    That brings us to, how exactly do you get someone to change their mind? If enough fear or a great enough reward is presented (a combination works well, religion has discovered) you might get a man to say or confess just about anything. But to change your mind… this is only possible when you are presented with a Truth that carries more weight and actually nullifies the way you thought before.

    And that is exactly what the Gospel is! It is the deceleration of Truth, God’s truth. It says: You are included in Me, I have begotten you, I have known you from before you were in your mother’s womb. My reference to your life is so much greater than your history on this planet. I have imagined you, you are My love dream. I have taken you out of myself to reunite you back to me in intimacy. Come look at yourself in the mirror of my Word… you are perfect! I have successfully redeemed my image and likeness in you. Nothing can come between us and nothing in the world can change my mind about you!

    See, we always thought Jesus came to change God’s mind about us. God just couldn’t handle the sin any more, wanted to destroy it all, and here Jesus came so now if we just do our little bit and believe in Him wham! God suddenly changes His mind about us! But Jesus came to reveal the Father… He came to change our minds about who God is. And it is His faith in us, His great love for us, that inspires faith in us!
    Repentance is that whole new way of seeing things when the veil in your mind tears at the revelation of your inclusion in His death. And suddenly you see yourself in Him as in a mirror, and the way you used to think about yourself and your world is never the same. The ugly ducking looking into those waters of reflection and seeing a swan… He could have thought it was someone else, could have walked away with a wishful sigh: oh if that could be me! But he recognized Himself, and he was free to live the life of his design!

    If you want someone to “repent” lift the mirror for that person, show them their inclusion in Him, and how His truth about who they are has the last and final say. How it is of greater authority than anything they have been through or heard or experienced…

    • Hi Merelda, thanks for your comment. Repentance, like confession, is definitely a word that has been hi-jacked for diabolical purposes by dead religion. It has been used to bind and control the masses. Happily, knowing the Truth still sets people free. We don’t need dictionaries to figure out how to enter the kingdom – we just need Jesus.

    • I definitely agree to your post Merelda! ^_^ This is exactly it.

  23. Paul, suppose a man commits adultery against his wife. Then two weeks later he decides to apologize to her because his conscience is plaguing him. Yet when he comes to her doorstep, he still has the other woman hanging on his arm. Would you assume that this man has any genuine sorrow over what he has done? Would you assume that he has really changed his mind about much of anything?

    Repentance is not a work. It’s an aspect of faith. Repentance occurs at the same time as saving faith and then afterward, but not before. I admit that far too many teachers have defined repentance as occurring before faith, sometimes simply by error of speech, sometimes in heresy. The blood of Christ is what saves you.

    • Also, a semi-logical proof that defining repentance as a turning from sin is NOT heresy:According to Galatians 1:9, anyone that preaches a false Gospel is to be accursed (implication: is a false convert). “It’s a lie from the pit of hell designed to promote the flesh and keep you from coming to Jesus.” [Defining repentance as a turning from sin is a false Gospel.] (Please correct me if I misinterpret you.) Therefore, those that preach a Gospel in which repentance is a turning from sin are false converts. Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Pink, D. James Kennedy, and David Wilkerson all preached this kind of Gospel. Therefore, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, A.W. Tozer, Leonard Ravenhill, A.W. Pink, D. James Kennedy, and David Wilkerson were all false converts. (A ludicrous conclusion considering their faith)

      • You can repent with regard to anything you like. My point is that you cannot preach sin-rejection as a means for salvation. That’s old covenant theology. It’s what John the Baptist and Jonah might have preached. In the new covenant grace comes first – grace empowers you to say no to ungodliness. Big difference. God doesn’t accept you on the basis of your works of repentance but on the basis of Jesus and His finished work.

      • Your emphasis that “grace comes first” to me stands contrary to the word which says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith”. Therefore, it is not grace that comes first, but faith. Abraham believed God, and it was credited to Him as righteousness. The grace might have been there before my faith was, but order of salvation is I believe in that grace, and it is credited to me as righteousness. I agree with Derek Prince, based on the ample evidence of scripture, that right repentance leads to true faith. Repentance does not save at all, but, Biblically, we come to faith through repentance. And, it is by the faith of the Gospel, that we receive His divine enablement. For the most part, most of this discussion is semantics, chicken vs egg stuff, but I think this is one of the core thoughts that you are presenting here and I disagree with based on the scriptures. Even as John the Baptist preached repentance to prepare the way for Messiah, so does repentance today prepare the way for faith, unto salvation, and thereby, an entrance into the Kingdom and Grace of Jesus.

      • If faith comes first what was Jesus doing here 2000 years ago? Grace came. Grace died for you. Grace rose from the dead. All this happened before you did anything. To think that God must do something in response to us is not only unBiblical, it’s cosmically arrogant. It’s faith in faith. True faith is a response to something God has said or done. Abraham’s faith was in response to God’s promise. God spoke, Abraham responded.

        This chicken and egg stuff is the difference between life and death. It’s the difference between salvation and dead religion. Dead religion says you must do something first – you must repent, you must give God a reason to act. Grace simply says, “It is finished.” Believe it or don’t believe it. Derek Prince preached on the perfectly perfect and completely complete work of the cross. You cannot improve upon perfection. Anything you add to it only sullies it.

      • G1:1 In the beginning God… Obviously Jesus comes first. But, the grace of God is as good as the treasure in the field before it’s found. All of the value is there all the time, from the foundation of the world even, but until it’s FOUND, it remains valuable, yet unknown. FAITH sees the treasure called Grace, and it can be seen in no other way. Without faith, it is impossible to please God! It is not faith in faith, it is faith in the grace you have seen, namely the blood of Christ. But, if faith comes by hearing (and it does), then that means you can at some point not have something that is the only basis to please God. Unless you believe, you perish, even though Grace is completely unsullied. Let God be true, and every man a liar. Derek Prince in that video points out the theological point that repentance on its own does nothing, but repentance so far as in it leads us to have faith to believe is preliminary work in the heart of the believer. Faith is still faith, whether a man has it or not, it remains the same, the same with grace. The point is, does the man have it? So, Derek’s video is “Through Repentance to Faith”. And so, while Grace remains perfect, the man can be completely disconnected from it, due to lack of faith. If repentance brings faith, or brings us to faith, then we believe in the perfectly perfect work of Grace, and so grace comes to us through it. In the heart, while Grace is there yet unknown, faith (through repentance) must connect us with perfect grace (I think of it as an extension cord), and His love, and life, and mysteries are brought into our selves, called salvation. Grace has remained unchanged, while faith in the cross brought it to a man, and it changed Him!

      • @Benjamin

        “…Therefore, it is not grace that comes first, but faith”

        being philosophical, its not faith that comes first

        “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ”
        – Romans 10:17

        Therefore we know its not faith that comes first. So is it hearing that comes first before faith?
        Is it not the good news being preached first? therefore the good news comes first

        and what is the good news?

        Grace is the good news. Grace became, came to be – no wonder Jesus said “I am the beginning…”


        grace and peace

      • @Savedbygrace Read my full comment. That is more or less what I said. Faith comes by hearing. However, the “preaching” of the “Good News” always includes repentance (Luke 24:47, and also Hebrews 6:1-2), as has also been indicated. You really simply restated the original question, which was whether the preaching of “Good News” requires mentioning repentance, to which I say, yes, at some point, at least. How will they hear, unless it is preached?

        But, again, the main thrust of my point was not whether grace came first, which it did, but what of Derek Prince, who preached the completely complete work, yet also taught that repentance was the first foundation stone which must be laid before the second, which is faith, which is the only Biblical basis for receiving the Grace that did come first, and is freely available for all… Whatever you think of Grace, it must be acknowledge that it is the F word that connects us to it, however you feel that that operates…

  24. Do any of you think with all your back and forth you’re actually teaching anything? As a person that doesn’t “know it all” and came to learn, I can tell you that it’s not working.
    Paul, it might do you well to attend to those that actually want to learn rather than spend your time & efforts with those that already know it all (& I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way but many of you are set in your beliefs and that’s OK)
    Can’t you all agree to disagree and leave it at that? It’s nothing new that scriptures and the Bible are interpreted differently by many sincere Christians.

    Paul, I hope you will go back and listen to Pastor R. Larman. ” REST ” (in him) & then get back to teaching. .

  25. Something interesting I found in the story of the prodigal son.

    While the son was still a far way off, the father saw him, and ran to him, and fell upon him and kissed him.

    This is VERY important, because the only way for the father to see the boy while he was still a far way off was to sit at the highest point of the house, scouring the horizon both day and night, not letting up for a moment, lest he miss a glimpse of his beloved son.

    And then, when he saw him, he dashed over (very inappropriate for a dignified elder) and threw himself upon his son (he didnt throw a punch or a slap) then, without waiting for the full speech to come from his son, immediately restored the boy.

    Now, did grace come first, or repentance?

    Let’s say hypothetically the boy was totally unrepentant, and came back only to ask for more money. What if, the words the young man had rehearsed was “Father, I am no longer worthy to be called your son. So give me more money so I can disappear from your sight forever.”

    The father would have done the same thing. Watch out for him 24/7, run to him, kiss him and lavish love. and the most important of all, bring the fattened calf to the boy, and kill it in front of him, to show that his sin had been paid for.( the punishment for rebellion was stoning, btw. If the father didn’t do it, the brother/neighbours/community would gladly oblige for dishonoring the father). Its also interesting to note that the father said “Bring THE fattened calf”, and not “A fattened calf”. There was a specific calf prepared since day one, waiting for the son’s return. We know this because a rich household would normally have several calves fattened for every member of the family, including servants according to Law. But there was this one on standby for the son.

    Now, which came first? Son’s apology (albeit rehearsed) or Father’s unconditional love?
    I speak true, if he had not repented before, he sure is now.

    Now, Jesus Himself narrated the story. A story about himself, and us. Love it!!

  26. I can’t say this has been a fun week here on E2R. I told Camilla last night that I think I need a holiday from my own blog. I appreciate your dismay – know that I too am dismayed for I really don’t see the best way forward. When grace and religion collide it gets ugly. There are two problems and if you have any insight on how to tackle them, I’d love to hear from you – either on this thread or by sending me a personal message.

    Here’s the first problem: My love of free speech means I tend to publish every comment, even those that probably should not be published. What should I do in response to the critics? Say nothing and leave others thinking that grace has no answers? Do that and it gives dead religion the last word. I find this a bitter pill because churchianity has long been based on a monologue. Dead religion sermonizes and we’re expected to swallow it. I say test everything. If someone tries to curse those whom God has blessed or put price-tags on the free grace of God, I like readers to know that that’s not true. My critics usually feel just as strongly as I do and before you know it, you have 50+ comments in a thread such as this. When Paul confronted Peter in his religiosity (in Antioch), Peter didn’t fight back. But on these threads Peter fights back. What would Paul have done?

    The second problem is that these threads convey little of my personal tone. Two days ago a friend of mine remarked on my sarcastic responses. I was shocked. I detest sarcasm and was not at all aware that I was sounding sarcastic. I tend to write briefly because there’s only one of me and lots of you. I also like to ask questions because I want to see how a critic defends their view. I do this with the utmost respect for those who’ve taken the time to write – I appreciate everyone who does. But without emotive cues readers project their own feelings onto me and these are usually wide of the mark.

    So I guess the short version is, how does one rest in the face of religious opposition? Jesus at times fought back with direct questions that made the religious look foolish. He also lay down and let the religious nail Him to a cross. Paul sometimes fought back and other times skipped town. I’m not going anywhere so what are my options? I look forward to your suggestions.

    • As for problem #1, Romans 14:1 is the answer I have received on similar inquiries… “Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” You can accept someone whose faith is weak, but not just to argue. Also, Proverbs 26:4-5, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly Or you will also be like him. Answer a fool as his folly deserves, that he not be wise in his own eyes.” You’re not the first w/ that problem.

      As for #2, I doubt there’s much remedy, but you can at least follow the words of Paul…2 Timothy 2:23-26… Thinking primarily of “in gentleness correcting”, which I believe disqualifies outright rejecting dialogue, which was what you desired in point #1 but Dismayed seemed to almost discourage altogether, but it does limit the type and quality of the disputing.. Ultimately, Some Will, Some Wont, So What.. (thanks to Barbara Wentroble for that).

      I realize comments here are direct, and for brevity, they can SOUND sharp, sarcastic, and sometimes downright mean. I try to keep my heart in the place of abiding in His presence, and if my comments costs that fellowship, it’s too high of a price to pay just to be “right”. But, sometimes, I do feel the Spirit say, “Go get em, son”. This is probably my highest wisdom on the subject, which, of course, I borrowed from someone else…

      Most Happy are you when you are persecuted for righteousness sake, for yours is the Kingdom of Heaven… If you’re right, you know you’re right, and you’re doing right, and every religious devil from hell comes after you, REJOICE! You can be MOST happy right then, because yours is the Kingdom of heaven, right then… Because you know the resources of heaven are yours, despite the uncomfortableness of being persecuted (which includes harsh words and THOUGHTS), you can actually be MORE happy then than at any time, if you can believe in Him. Happy are you, right in that moment of persecution, because not some time in the future, but right then, the Kingdom is yours, and the LORD will supply you with the breakthrough. It might not feel comfortable, but the Kingdom is much better than where you were, and you’ll actually find, as God backs you up time and time again, that you are more happy then, and all fear and weariness will flee from you as you step into your NEXT conflict…

      Be Blessed!

      • Hi Benjamin,
        I don’t have a problem with opposing views or dialogue, I just think enough is enough. I read your comment #20 and I agree with a small part of it but in Pauls’ way, he has given his teaching on repentance. If after all the responses he gave to you, you are not satisfied, I’m sure you can find a teaching that you find to your liking or if you prefer, you can find another teaching to debate. It gets to a point where it just appears to be a battle of ego’s. You & Paul can debate until the second coming, but don’t be surprised if you’re so busy disagreeing that you miss Jesus when he walks by.
        For some reason Paul feels it is his responsibility to reply to all the opposing views. At the very least, be kind enough to give him a break. I’m sure both of you could use a rest to spend some time in communion with the Lord.

        Blessings to All

    • Just a suggestion. The author of pureunadulteratedgrace.blogspot.com once told me the reason he never posts comments from those who disagree with him or want to argue is because it is unscriptural to do so

      Gal 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
      Gal 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

      When false brethren, jealous of the liberty Paul and others had in Christ, came in with their law and bondage (in this case, he is calling it the law of life and liberty in Christ, but I bet it sounds very much like the Mosaic law “don’t do this, don’t do that etc, touch not, taste not”, Paul didn’t even give them an hour of his time, because as dismayed said, it does nothing to help the truth, because people confused about the issue see both sides arguing. You should simply present the truth and let it stand.

      It’s really sad that people think that grace will promote sin instead of freedom, and that we need more law and self flagellation in the form of weeping and “repenting” daily. Most of today’s Christianity (whether it’s this “calvinistic resurgence” or charismatic or high or low or evangelical or baptist or fundamental etc) is a facade to hide the misery that the majority of Christians harbour because they can’t live up to the standards they think God is holding them to. Every preacher repeats the same 10 sermons with different titles – variations of die to self, stop sinning, God is angry etc etc.

      God bless 🙂

      Also, I can’t believe that Peter actually said this

      “Hi again, just one thing I would like to say to Scott, good on ya mate, I’m not the only one that can see through this FALSE GOSPEL OF GRACE.”

      Firstly, this is the majority of fruit I see from the “Way of the Master” “Living Waters” “Lordship Salvation” groups. They just pat each other on the back and tell each other how wonderful they are for repenting every day. Make up your mind and stick with it. Sin is bad. Why do you need to keep changing your mind (repenting) about that? Just stop it. Jesus said you are free from sin through His death and in turn, your death in Him (Gal 2:20-21).

      I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the GRACE of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

      I realise it’s much harder to do that that, but the reality is that we make it hard by trying, by putting ourselves through some process that we call “repentance”. I do it too, because I am a human in a flesh body. But if I can grasp the truth, that Christ, through His shed blood, has made me righteous, then I can hear the words “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more”.

      • Really love this reply. Wish I had found the time to say something similar but actually too busy living the abundant life and experiencing His grace 🙂 Love never fails. Keep it simple.

  27. Hey Paul. Breaks are good. Your message is so clear and wonderful that a break is better than a burn out. I think limiting the negative is needed. Just like a Facebook page, you have the control of your own blog. Someone with an agenda is not really looking for answers. Those people come at you with scriptures and accusations, not real questions. Do you pre-approve? That gets time consuming I would think. However, when a commenter knows the comment must await approval, often a troublemaker will change his or her mind. Otherwise you would have go in and delete and make a mess. Maybe just do fewer entries?

    Yours was the first grace message I heard a couple of years ago or so. I hate to think how stuck I’d be now without it. Don’t stop. Just pace yourself. If it’s not fun or rewarding, wait till it is maybe. You have a good amount of material!

  28. iluvtheword // December 10, 2011 at 10:22 am //

    I don’t think many believers have a true understanding of repentance……and this is shown up by many comments above.

    It just means to change your mind or change direction………..it does not mean feel sorry and beg for forgiveness.

    Religion tells us it is to beg and plead and grovel and feel sorry and condemned; that is a lie of religion and a lie of the enemy

  29. Never defend yourself. Let the HS do it and He will. Those who argue are usually wrapped up in intellectual pride or a religious spirit. Keep saying it how it is. That’s God’s dynamic for you. Always be ready to account for your faith, accept persecution, live in the luxury of God’s approval and stay in shalom peace and sozo life. There is a new awakening and you are part of it. Blessings on you and yours.

  30. i shared this to a friend and this is what he said. “I think he split the hairs the wrong way…the Jews connected belief and practice together- (no mind/action split) that’s why the Synoptics are so full of Jesus saying to repent. Paul warns the Corinthians that their actions need to come in line with their beliefs- a practical repenting. And he’s wrong about John- the concept of repentance is totally in there – he writes to the little children so that they will not sin and love, presumably because they were sinning and not loving -in other words, they needed to repent…and go the way of love. I see his main point, but he’s walking off the historical plank here. It’s James argument (which is so characteristic of Jewish thought) that he will show you his faith by his life…a repented life. In other words, if you haven’t repented, you haven’t believed…”

    • Probably pretty much the line of thought I try to express, even if I’m not as good w words..
      People take my tone to be argumentative, harsh, or otherwise.. I do work on this.
      I would have dropped this except I thought the phrase “grace comes first” in the New Covenant represented one of the core issues in difference of thought, so I addressed it. If, after reasonably addressing this specific and central issue, we continue to disagree, so be it, but I thought since it was brought up, it would be well to discuss it in the light, revealing the heart of our faith. Not to reiterate that point here, I simply wonder if you think Derek is wrong on his teaching of repentance.
      I believe the law is the schoolmaster that brings us to Christ, yet I also believe that Matthew 7:21 applies to us. Even Gal 6:1, in the same epistle as Paul’s “who has betwitched” call, he talks about the spiritual restoring one who is caught in sin.. The last thing I want to do is to take away from the finished work of the cross, it is what makes us holy, but I am also not willing to go the Calvinist route and say that my faith is somehow a work or that believing somehow to adds to grace.. Rather, it is the eyes that see the bronze serpent. We are perfect in the eyes of the Lord in the cross, and yet we are also perfected as we continue to allow the Spirit of Grace to work in our lives, and we will be perfected when we see Him.. It’s never a law thing in Grace, but as we live in the Spirit, we do not sin (Gal 5:16, again, the same epistle in which Paul calls finishing in the flesh “witchcraft”).

  31. Akingbule ayodele // December 10, 2011 at 11:12 am //

    I guess what u can do is what peter and john did after being flogged and told to stop preaching Christ. Go to your people like the went to their people,prayed and were filled with boldness. We,all that have been imparted by God through you, are your people. So if anything too much for you,turn it over to us your readers and by God’s grace we will overcome with Truth the lies that have held men bound.Truth ALWAYS prevails. Be encouraged in the Lord. Love

  32. I have been a reader for only a short time, maybe because my eyes have be open only for a short time. so I will keep this short. the church as a whole has missed the point of Jesus even dying on the cross. he died to TAKE THE ISSUE OF SIN AWAY! this was the only thing keeping us from the father. do you want proof terr is no sin? how about this one: does god work through you? does god speak to you? does god commune with you? then sin is NO MORE! why? because the father can’t be around sin, he is holy. therefore if he is about to hang out with me and talk to me and speak through me, then I have no sin, an neither do YOU! unless someone can explain why the HOLY (key word) spirit can dewell within us? that is all…

  33. Pat Shepherd // December 10, 2011 at 11:33 am //

    Paul, I feel for you. I am currently in the very midst of religious people and I don’t know what to do or say either . Paul what can I say that make things better , I don’t know. One thing I know is that you are doing a an excellent job in your blog and there will always be people who come against all that is good in something. Listen to your heart, Jesus will speak to you. God loves all of us, and something I feel all this is so pointless and tiresome. Be encouraged Paul, you are a warrior of Christ and He is behind you 100 %. We have to do everything in love.

    • I so agree Pat. I have found either people hear in the Spirit what you are saying and get into more freedom and grace, or they don’t and want you to understand their point of view. In love I listen and can usually see where they’re coming from, but there is only one Holy Spirit and He only speaks Truth. You cannot have unity with people who you cannot flow with in God. I have friends in the same situation. It can become frustrating unless you hide in Jesus. Its not about us after all. I have found it is best to keep your peace and rest in Him and not defend your revelation as Jesus called us to love one another. I am always willing to give an account of my faith (belief) and that is what Paul does in this blog. He is sharing what God has taught him and like Paul in the bible can expect the flack. That means it is worth it, not that he should stop! “I must decrease so that He might increase” has become more real to me lately I laugh with friends and say I want to be invisible. How wonderful if everyone who saw me saw Jesus and had to look hard for me! Hope Paul is encouraged.

  34. Hi,

    I wouldn’t feel the need to answer every critical response. It’s also a sign of belief in your own position as well as a sign of respect to let critical comments stand. You can always pick up on the main points raised in a later blog entry and deal with the key issues then.
    So I would be inclined to let people reply but not to reply personally to any of them, just use the comments section as a sounding board.

    Key point is to keep the main thing the main thing.Don’t get distracted into endless debates with people who are dogmatic and unwilling to really hear what you are saying or enter into a dialogue seeking truth.

    • In response to David John….I am really glad I found this blog. I am learning how to defend my new found life/belief of Grace and release from 30 years of Religion. So the fact that Paul Ellis responds to the critics is helping me immensely! I know what I have discovered is !00% true…I just don;t always know how to defend it yet. Several attempts with zealots and I was scripture whipped into silence. Ouch. So Paul, please keep responding with your position and scripture. It helps those of us who are just getting the truth of the Gospel of Christ(Grace) share with others who may or may not listen.

      • “Scripture-whipped into silence” – what a phrase! I think we all know exactly what you mean Gina.

      • Tim Rector // February 18, 2013 at 2:51 pm //

        Grace without truth isn’t grace at all. A homosexual who asks a corrupt question like, “are gays going to Hell?” won’t hear grace without truth. To answer that question unbiblically, like so many within evangelical Christianity today would, is to act without grace. While it might seem to be grace to tell a person with such a question that their sin isn’t sin, that would not be grace at all… because of the absence of truth. To speak truth in love, is to live grace.

      • I’m with you, Gina. Thank God for men like Paul Ellis who opened my eyes to freedom from sin and bondage, guilt and condamnation through their teachings. All by, and because of Grace. Paul, a ton of respect for your patience, wisdom and humor. Much love and much prayer your way!

  35. Stewart Patrick // December 10, 2011 at 4:25 pm //

    Paul, if you believe you are right, everything is working for you, even those who oppose you, so rest in that. Great post and discussion.

  36. Paul, I thank you for your patience.

    What is your take on Luke 14, Matthew 10:24-39 and 16:24-28, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-27?

    Part of Ryrie’s view on this issue (I don’t know if you respect him or not) is that Jesus in Luke 14 is actually distinguishing between salvation and discipleship. I don’t see it. Those that refused the feast refused it because they were unwilling to let go of other commitments, other passions. Besides, what does the Great Commission say to do? It says to make disciples. And Jesus said that unless you do these things, you cannot be His disciple.

    In Luke 14, He’s asking those that would follow Him to consider the cost (what discipleship will entail) BEFORE following Him, before making that decision. Doesn’t that imply a willingness to submit to His Lordship as a part of salvation? I don’t mean that you clean up your life before – I mean that you be willing to let Him clean up your life, and take away even those sins that are quite enjoyable to you – and sin, according to Luke 14, can include a love for things that are not inherently sinful taking the place of a love for God.

  37. dollice tan // December 10, 2011 at 4:50 pm //

    i fully understand where u are coming from, paul. and quite frankly, i do not envy your position. however, having said that, anyone who aims at declaring and making public His grace will become candidates of critics and attack, and you are no exception.
    i believe there are severe critics of His grace and like you had said are equally passionate and champion anti-grace sentiments with utmost zeal becos’ they genuinely do not see His grace.
    we all know that paul received and walked in grace cos’ of the revelation he had received from the Lord, just like all of us who are pro-grace; pro-Jesus! i believe if people are open, the revelation of His grace will come upon them!
    few scriptures come to me…
    2.tim 2.23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. (New living Translation)
    Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. (New Living Translation)
    1 tim 1.6 But some people have missed this whole point. They have turned away from these things and spend their time in meaningless discussions.(new Living Translation)
    titus 1.10 -For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation. (New Living Translation) – referring to people who insist on the law being a pre-requisite for salvation!
    paul, believe you me, you have multitudes who have been built up, enriched by your blog and only a hand few who opposes you and i’ll like to say, dont take a holiday if u can, but take a holiday, if u must, haha, keep your posts and your writings….we love them! be encouraged!

  38. i stay wit da tot “repentance is changing of ones mind” because God loves me, i repent; know da grace of God, Christ became poor, i thru His poverty, am rich, i repent; Christ in me da hope of glory, i repent; law strength of sin, hence in Christ, dead to law by extension dead to sin, i repent Amen

  39. John Senior // December 10, 2011 at 8:19 pm //

    Paul, so much of the confusion exhibited above by some of your antagonists stems from not clearly understanding how to interpret Scripture. Don’t give up – some seem to be getting it….

    1) The basic principle of biblical interpretation and understanding must be to determine who is speaking, to whom are they speaking, and what is the context. The interpretation of a specific passage must not contradict the total teaching of Scripture on a point. Individual verses do not exist as isolated fragments, but as parts of a whole. Thus there is a framework we have work within – which can be summed up as Jesus hidden in the Old Testament, and revealed in the New – or the Old hides the New, the New uncovers the Old. This is the only consistent way to understand the Bible – it is ALL about Jesus.

    2) Everything written in the Gospels before the Resurrection related to the Old Covenant – the Law and its demands. You can see Jesus fulfilling the Law, but you also see Him administering Grace, often in conflict or in opposition to the Law.

    The Sermon on the Mount was aimed at Jesus’ Jewish listeners, to show them that their understanding of the Law was not God’s understanding – Jesus set the bar so high that it was impossible to meet His requirements, which was contrary to the Pharisees’ teaching, who had watered down the Mosaic Law so that they could keep it to their satisfaction – but making everyone else, by their definition, not righteous. This is the ultimate example of self righteous condemnation, which demands one keep the Law, but does nothing to help you keep the Law, merely making you feel condemned. Condemnation (the Law) kills. The Sermon on the Mount is therefore not a rule book for believers to follow.

    In contrast, for example, you see from the story of the woman caught in adultery (where’s the man?) that Jesus never condemned her, never asked her to repent, but rather told her that He did not condemn her, and that she was now free to go and sin no more – the Grace of God (Jesus) set her free from condemnation (the Law and its demands) and empowered her to sin no more. That is such an eye opener!! Truly Amazing Grace!

    Also, unless you are a Jewish believer, according to the agreement between Paul, James, Peter and John (Galations 2:9), Paul’s epistles are primarily addressed to Gentiles, while James’, John’s and Peter’s epistles are directed to the Jews – Israel the nation (which included the book of Revelation) NOT primarily the Church. Our reference to understand/interpret Scripture for its application in our lives must therefore be primarily the Pauline letters – unless you want to accuse James, John and Peter of not having the integrity to stick to this agreement. Even then, Paul said that he always preached to the Jew first, before going onto the Gentiles.

    So, in summary, for us Gentiles, Paul did not teach that we needed to repent to be saved, just believe and confess (speak it out in agreement) from our heart that the Lord Jesus has been raised from the dead and we would be saved – Romans 9:9-10. In fact Paul made it even simpler – anyone who called on the Name of the Lord – literally Yahweh Jeshua – would be saved (Romans 10:13). Anything else becomes religious works, is not of faith and is therefore sin!

    It is really so simple. Thanks be to God.

    • John Senior- Wow, that is the best explanation I have heard. Very eloquent!

      • John Senior // February 18, 2013 at 4:56 pm //

        Thank you Gina – its only taken me almost 40 years to understand this myself. Much of the credit goes to Grace teachers such as Paul Ellis, Joseph Prince, Steve McVey, Rob Rufus and Cornel Marais. I’m still learning about the Gospel of Grace.

  40. Paul – just keep on keeping on. If you are like me, then it is yr passion for truth that drives you and I doubt whether you could stop doing what you are doing, even if you wanted to. There are people who think debating is not profitable but i disagree. yes, there are some out there who just seek an arguement. But there are others, like i used to be, who wanted answers, and sought them by arguing to be convinced. You dont know which is which, but if you break down the strong holds of the mindsets of some, so then they are free to see the truth and embrace it, you have done well. heaven rejoices when ONE sinnner repents. Even if you get thru to 1, in my mind its worth it. Well done.

  41. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not about empty change, fear-tactics, or “but/or else” statements. It is about the revelation of GOD’S LOVE in us, and that He loves us no matter what!

    Paul, I have been reading your blog posts. I was at a frustrated, confused point and I knew I wasn’t keeping my act well as a Christian. And I totally see the point and through your posts God opened my eyes to turn from religion’s lies! You have also encouraged me to blog about my small steps in Grace. Check out here –> http://greyskeilrainbow.wordpress.com

    I am still a bit confused because of all these opposing ideas, though, and my image of God is still a bit torn between what I grew up knowing to the new revelation of love right here and now. But I know what’s right and God IS pure love!

    One problem I see is, some of the false teachings and opinions in the comments MIGHT ACTUALLY creep into our hearts without us knowing it. I found out that lies can creep into small holes inside our hearts that we’ve left unguarded. The human heart is easily swayed, as I have experienced myself.

    Religion and grace just couldn’t come together and that’s what I am still experiencing now.

    May God give you peace and please continue blogging!

    Greetings from the Philippines.

  42. Paul, one other question: Are you preaching universal atonement – that is, that Christ actually has already forgiven everyone in the world?

    • That’s what Paul said – and a host of others in the Bible.

      • Do you believe in Hell?

      • I believe every single word that Jesus said. Of course, not all of His words were directed to me.

      • Yet Jesus preached “Repent!” And, you both choose and teach not to. You have good Grace theology, but I do believe you miss the “faith” theology to make it more complete… Grace alone justifies no one, yet is only Grace that justifies. This has nothing more or less to do w/ anything but the tabernacle of Moses, which was a picture of Christ. If you come in by the one door into the outer courts (of Christ), you meet the finished work of Christ, right there in the Brazen altar, at which is required repentance. Beyond that, you have the bronze sea, or the cleansing with the washing w/ the water of the word, or sanctification, before you enter into the holy place..

        Romans 5:1 clearly says we are “justified by faith”.. faith in grace of course. v2 again clarifies that it is BY faith that we have gained access to this grace, which is why Paul goes into the faith of Abraham. Grace without faith is perfect, and perfectly for someone else, not you. It is ONLY in this context, talking to the people JUSTIFIED by faith in that Grace, that Paul can talk about while we were sinners, Christ died for us. His Grace is sufficient to save the entire world, as prophecy indicates, and it is for EVERYONE, but it is only accessed by faith, in the same way that JESUS says unless you eat His flesh and blood, you have no life, plain and simple. The examples of people still in their sins is so replete through the whole of New Testament that to think that Paul was saying the UNBELIEVING were already forgiven would invalidate much of what Paul was saying throughout the rest of his writings. The sayings indicating that men are forgiven is only AFTER they are included in Christ, even the psalms of David you quoted in the other article. David was a part of the congregation of Israel. Israel is the picture of the body today, more or less. Unless you believe in the Grace (called faith), it does you not good, which means I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am [the one I claim to be], you will indeed die in your sins John 8:24. _JESUS_ said those who do not believe will die in their sins. Not forgiven. In them. 🙂

      • I’m not sure why you would interpret me saying “Preach the gospel” as “faith is irrelevant” – especially since I quote Rom 1:17: “The gospel of grace reveals the gift of righteousness that is received by faith from first to last.” And especially since I follow the gospel with not one but three challenges of the kind, Do you believe it?

      • @Benjamin

        What Jesus said in John 8:24 – was before Jesus shedding of blood for the forgiveness of sins.

        so @_JESUS_ said those who do not believe will die in their sins. Not forgiven. In them. :)@ is in that pre cross context.

        Rom 1:17: was after the cross. Grace is now available to ALL. ALL is now, has been forgiven. Do Jesus die every time somebody needs forgiveness?

        Hebrews 9:25-26
        and not in order that he can offer himself many times, as the high priest enters into the sanctuary year by year with blood not his own,
        since it would have been necessary for him to suffer many times from the foundation of the world, but now he has APPEARED ONCE at the END OF THE AGES for the removal of sin by the sacrifice of himself

        You see, In Human term Jesus did a very wise thing. Go to the end of Time, offer His blood for the Past, so that ALL OUR SINS ARE PAST

        This is the Gospel that we preached, that You are forgiven. If you do not accept that Gospel you are still forgiven, but will never experience its benefits..

        paul, long post… sorry bro.

        grace and peace

  43. Paul, I know you only have so much time, and it is the Christmas season, but I’ll ask again: What is your take on Luke 14, Matthew 10:24-39 and 16:24-28, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-27?

    I thank you for your patience.

  44. Hebrews 6:1 ” Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of REPENTANCE from DEAD WORKS and of faith toward God”

    So what works should we do that are accepatable to God?
    Jesus was asked this in John 6:28,29. He answered “that ye believe on him whom he hath sent”

    So we are asked to repent of DEAD works (self-righteousness, which is sin) and instead believe on Jesus which is the works God asks for.

    Once we come to Christ our repentance from our dead (self-righteous) works is finished.
    Christians have “turned away” from it. We have ceased from sin (1Peter 4:1). We’re set free from sin (John8:36).

    • Paul’s instruction to the Ephesians (eg: 4:28) was not ONLY to look to the finished work for our righteousness, but that through it, and through the power of it, in the Grace of the cross, to put off the old man.. According to what I read, Paul is not saying that it is enough to simply believe in Christ’s righteousness and completely ignore your way of life. Rather, he indicates what is written elsewhere: :It (Grace) teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age” (Titus 2:12). So that, the fuller message would say if the thing that you’re claiming is really God’s Grace, as described by Paul, then it will teach you to live godly, through which, what many people describe as an on-going work of “repentance” is a part. True Grace says we are accepted today (Col 1:22), yet continuously teaches us to live more and more like our Lord, thus, perfecting holiness out of reverence. A “Grace” that does not teach us to say “No”, therefore, would be a false grace, and not the gospel.

      • If grace is the only thing that teaches us to say no to ungodliness, guess what you should preach. Grace!

      • Thanks for your response Benjamin, but I agree with Paul here. Grace is what we should preach.
        A Christian’s old man is put off as Eph 4:22 says. Christians have repented of their old man-dead works (Heb 6:1).
        And in Christ we are a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), righteous (2Cor 5:21, Eph 5:24), holy (Rom 11:16) and perfect (Heb 10:14).
        The criminal on the cross next to Jesus never got a chance to be taught to say “No” to bad behaviours, as you suggest about “true grace”. Yet he was saved.
        If we start judging eligability for salvation on how good a life we live whilst under grace then we fall into a similar trap as the foolish Galatians who began in the Spirit but then sought to be made perfect by the flesh (Gal 3:3).

        Regarding your concern about a believer’s lifestyle, God disciplines us so we’re not going to profit by doing wrong (e.g King David’s adultery/murder).

        As for godliness, see 1 Tim 3:16 “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory”.
        Being in Christ is being godly. The criminal on the cross who called Jesus Lord repented and became godly without any behaviour/lifestyle proofs for it.
        Preach grace.

  45. A Grace that doesn’t preach “Repent!”, isn’t Grace. (Luke 24:47) Simply picking out the pretty words only makes you run the risk of being a liar in the end… If your interpretation of Scripture A contradicts with Scripture B, then your interpretation of Scripture A is either in error or incomplete (John 10:35). Regardless of how much you like it. Repent. Acts 3:19. It is the Gospel that we should preach, not simply “Grace”. Grace is a major pillar/part of the Gospel, but it is not as you say, “Grace comes first”. To redefine “The Gospel” as “Grace” is not a full picture so long as you then define “Grace” to be the narrowly defined concept you have. Grace and Gospel cannot be separated, but if the understanding “Gospel = Grace” neglects “Faith”, “Repentence”, and even “holiness” as active parts, you have separate what cannot be anyway. For the Gospel consists of Grace, Faith, Repentance, Holiness, Judgement, and even condemnation of the damned, and if you cannot separate Grace from Gospel, you cannot separate these. I preach the complete Gospel, not just the parts that are nice to me. I let the sword cut the way it wants, not how I want to be cut.

    • How can the gospel consist of judgment and condemnation of the damned when the word gospel means good news? The Gospel is entirely in contrast to judgment and damnation because it is our salvation from it. The Gospel is the Good News of the Grace of God. That is precisely what Apostle Paul says in Acts 20:24. Repentance, Faith, Judgment, Damnation are not the Good News.

      The good news is that, God, as Jesus, died for sinners to reconcile the world to Himself. You can’t wrap up every doctrine into the Bible into one word – Gospel, especially when Gospel means good news. You are guilty of precisely what you are accusing Paul Ellis of.

      And Christianity at large is guilty of redefining words to fit their brand of theology – gospel doesn’t mean good news anymore, it means God is holy and just and will smash you unless you repent. Repent doesn’t mean change your mind anymore, it means turn from all your sins. You referenced Luke 24:47 “…and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” And in the fulfillment of that verse is throughout Acts, but there is a verse in chapter 10 with the preaching of Peter. Act 10:43 “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

      The condition of forgiveness in Luke 24:47 is repentance, and the condition Peter gives in Acts 10:43 is belief. It is quite clear that the latter verse is referring to the former, since it is written with the same structure, forgiveness through his name. To me, that is one of many evidences that repentance is belief – a change of mind about who we are, and who God is.

      Blessings and Peace in Christ 🙂

  46. Jimmy O'Rourke // January 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm //

    Paul, I’m a first time visitor to your blog, and while I see this thread has long since run its course, I’d like to encourage you anyway. According to your comments I’ve read here, you’ve done quite well in contending for the faith once delivered (Jude 3). The only thing I could suggest (in communicating what saving repentance is and what it is not) is clearly distinguishing a) WHO is being commanded to repent in the text at hand…believer or unbeliever b) the OBJECT of said repentance and c) the CONSEQUENCE of that repentance. A good aricle on this subject by Ron Shea can be read here. I personally think you’ve done a great job in communicating that “we don’t get better to get saved, we get saved to get better.” Keep up the good work, Jimmy

    • I feel like I should point out that the word “repent” wasn’t even in the bible until 1611.

  47. Hi, I really do agree with your posts on this; tho I’m wondering about the reality of Paul; being a completely grace driven man; confronts sin in the church saying even the pagans aren’t doing this! And then goes onto say- remove the unrepentant man from amongst you and quotes you must purge evil from your midst; a little yeast mixed leavens the dough; then says he hands the ‘brother’ over to Satan so the flesh ( carnal) may die but his soul be saved. Ouch. Doesn’t sound very gracious yet it really is at heart. So… Where do we fit things like this in, by your perspective if a person like this example shows no interest in repenting Either direction.? Or even Porn, and refusal to give it up when it’s affecting a marriage or family?

    • Hi Cyndi,
      This handing of brothers over to Satan is a troubling business indeed! What on earth did Paul have in mind? I think we can answer that by looking at what the Corinthians did in response – they expelled the man. The thing that puzzles me is that Paul only expelled this guy. It’s not as if the other Corinthians were model Christians. They were divisive, haughty, litigious, and getting drunk at communion. I say expel the lot of them and let the Lord figure it out! 🙂

      Because of my position I have people writing to me all the time telling me about their sins. A lot of them are young men involved in sexual sin. So far I haven’t handed any of them over to Satan! I generally respond to such people as Paul spoke to the Corinthians. I remind them of who they are in Christ. They are sanctified and called to be holy. A believer who sins is living a lie. They are not living out their true identity. I wholeheartedly believe in the transforming power of grace which is why I preach grace and not “turn from sin.”

      The reason this one Corinthian man stands out is that Paul treated him so unusually. (Although he did also hand Alexander and Hymenaeus over to Satan as well – see 1 Tim 1:20.) But in the second letter he is quick to forgive the man. As I say in this post, I firmly believe that repentance is a natural and frequent response to grace. If we’re not seeing enough repentance, preach more grace. Where sin abounds, grace does more abound. I also talk a bit about turning from sin in my latest post.

      • Thanks for your reply. yes, I read both posts prior to commenting. Im a mother of five boys, a student of psychology & I suppose I’m looking at the difference between practicing sin, vs doing a sin, and why some people struggle to turn to God even with the message of grace in their face. When that message isn’t reaching someone, then what? It seems we must choose between practicing sin and turning to God. Not mixing two together. Perhaps honesty is the real issue? I’m simply looking for keys to help others while not excusing ‘practicing’ sin. I do believe the real key is gazing on Him beholding his glory transforms us. What then is the real issue for those who can’t seem to fix their gaze on Him instead of the entrapping sin? Thx for thoughts.

      • Ah Cyndi, I didn’t realize you were asking as a parent! I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I think the law is for children. Let me explain. In my house we have the Law of No Playing on the Driveway. My son is too young to connect the dots between playing on the driveway and becoming a statistic. His childish mind is incapable of acting like a responsible heir and choosing life. So I choose for him. He knows that if he tries to open the gate he’s breaking Papa’s Law and, for now, the fear of Papa is the beginning of wisdom. This is only a temporary arrangement. I want him to grow into maturity and when he does I will repeal all my laws. I don’t want him to have the slightest fear of me because my heart for him is unconditional love. When faith comes, he will no longer be under the supervision of the law. But for as long as he is incapable of walking by faith (ie: trusting me), then it is the law that restrains him.

        I hope I didn’t mess with your head too much by preaching law!

  48. I guess i have always interpreted that ‘handing over to Satan’, as meaning ‘Let the guy go do what he wants to do’… as in the end we cannot force people to stop sinning, and sometimes we can only pray that, a bit like the prodigal son, he will comes to his senses and repent ( change his mind lol).. and come back to the Father. Sometimes with my own kids, when i let them have the responsiblity of choice, they can surprise me by doing the right thing… i have offered them Grace.. not Laws and rules… and Grace must be freely given. Maybe Paul was doing the same thing. If he had applied pressure and the ‘you cant do that’ line, it would have pushed this guy further away? So by letting Satan deal with him, maybe Paul knew it would have the effect of sending him back by his own free will. Just my thoughts. 🙂

    • To Tracy : I appreciate your thoughts on this too and agree that that was the intent with Paul’s actions of turning over. And also have found this same response by my kids at times- they choose rightly given the choice. Thanks for thoughts- I hope all find the true freedom for which we are set free….

      • Oh I didn’t see your comment Paul, and I appreciate what you said, true enough. Although I wasn’t asking for my kids( that I know of, tho we have discussed some sensitive topics;) it was simply some background to let you know about me- grace minded, where I’m headed etc I’m not wanting to hand everyone over to satan or anything! : ) I was asking for people I know of who are struggling to get out of addictions. So…. Sorry for confusion, but no doubt it helps anyway. Thx much, C

      • Okay, now I see. Guess I got up behind the pulpit there for nothing. 🙂 I definitely would not preach law to those battling with addictions. The trouble is, what is an addiction? It seems people hide behind the word these days painting themselves as victims. This is where I part company with the good people at AA. They say that there is grace by claiming you are always an alcoholic. I understand the logic but it’s not what Paul used with (most of) the Corinthians. Anyway, it’s a subject for someone far wiser than me.

      • Yep, now we’re hitting the truth button, it does seem some people want to hide behind such things. I think addictions is ‘mans’ word, that at times enables, rather than Gods. I appreciate your comments. I think you are wiser than you may feel you are. Thanks again. C

  49. Pieter Lanser // July 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm //

    Dear Paul
    I am happily sinning away mine live, because Jesus died for mine sin and of stories. Regards Piet

    • What a foolish way to live.

      • Tim Rector // February 19, 2013 at 1:54 am //

        Why is it foolish of Pieter to live that way Paul?

      • Because sinning is foolish Tim. Willfully sinning is as dumb as sticking your face in a blender.

      • But why? Jesus said we ought not call a brother a fool or we are in danger of hellfire. So to say Pieter is living foolishly is to make a judgment pertaining to his character which borders on calling him a fool.

        Since you’re not the Lord, perhaps you could tell us why it is foolish of Pieter to happily rely on Jesus’ grace as he goes on sinning. This entire post is filled with the academic pursuit of sharing men’s knowledge and insight concerning God’s word which goes on to set up laws and rules pertaining grace, according to you and others, and then when a man challenges your laws all you can say is it is foolish of him?

      • Tim, if you can’t see the folly of sin, I don’t know what to say.

        You have had more opportunities to comment on this thread than most yet you persistently dismiss the supernatural gospel of God’s grace as man-made knowledge and, for reasons which I cannot fathom, assume those who preach it are preaching law. Thanks for taking the time, but now you’re just wasting it.

  50. Mike Hides // July 14, 2012 at 4:31 am //

    Matt. 3:1-2 – In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

    • Mike, I don’t normally publish comments that merely cut and paste scripture but I’ll give you a chance: What’s your point? Is it that we should follow John the Baptist in preaching conditional forgiveness (Mark 1:4)?

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