Are You a Christian Who Has Never Repented?

Are you a Christian who has never repented? Did someone (erroneously) tell you that it was not necessary to repent before becoming a Christian, that all you needed to do was “believe”? If so, please read on. The following is an excerpt from the book The Spirit-Filled Believers’s Handbook, which was written by the late bible teacher Derek Prince.

The New Testament is unanimous on this one point: True repentance must always go before true faith. Without true repentance there can never be true faith.

The call to repentance begins at the very introduction to the New Testament with the ministry of John the Baptist.

The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord,
Make His paths straight.”
John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins (Mark 1:3-4).

John the Baptist’s call to repentance was a necessary preparation for the revelation of the Messiah to Israel. Until Israel had been called back to God in repentance, their long-awaited Messiah could not be revealed among them.

A little further on we read the first message that Christ Himself preached after John had prepared the way before Him.

Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel…and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1: 14-15).

The first commandment that ever fell from the lips of Christ was not to believe but to repent. First repent, then believe.

After His death and resurrection, when Christ commissioned His apostles to go out to all nations with the gospel, once again the first word in His message was “repentance.”

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47).

Here again it is repentance first, and after that, remission of sins.

Shortly after the resurrection, the apostles, through their spokesman Peter, began to fulfill this commission of Christ. After the Holy Spirit’s coming on the day of Pentecost, the convicted (but still unconverted) multitude asked: “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). To this inquiry there came an immediate and definite answer.

Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

Here again it is repentance first; after that, baptism and remission of sins.

When Paul spoke to the elders of the church at Ephesus, he outlined the gospel message which he had preached to them.

I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20-21).

The order of Paul’s message is the same: first repentance, then faith.

Finally, as we have already seen in Hebrews 6:1 -2, the order of the basic foundation doctrines of the Christian faith is first repentance from dead works, then faith, baptisms and so on.

Without exception, throughout the entire New Testament, repentance is the first response to the gospel that God demands. Nothing else can come before it, and nothing else can take its place.

True repentance must always precede true faith. Without such repentance, faith alone is an empty profession. This is one reason why the experience of so many Christians today is so unstable and insecure. They are seeking to build without the first of the great foundation doctrines. They are professing faith but they have never practiced true repentance. As a result, the faith which they profess procures for them neither the favor of God nor the respect of the world.

In many places today the simplification of the gospel message has been taken one step too far. The message often preached today is “Only believe.” But that is not the message of Christ. Christ and His apostles preached “Repent and believe.” Any preacher who leaves out the call to repentance is misleading sinners and misrepresenting God. For Paul tells us that it is God Himself who “commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). That is the general edict of God to the entire human race: “All men everywhere must repent”

In Hebrews 6:1 repentance is defined as “repentance from dead works”; in Acts 20:21 it is defined as “repentance toward God.” This means that, in the act of repentance, we tum away from our dead works and face toward God, ready to hear and obey His next command.

The phrase “dead works” includes all acts and activities that are not based upon repentance and faith. It includes even the acts and activities of religion- even of professing Christianity – if they are not built on this basis. It is in this sense that Isaiah cries out:

And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (Is. 64:6).

There is no reference here to acts of open sin and wickedness. Even those acts which are done in the name of religion and morality, if they are not based on repentance and faith, are not acceptable to God. Charity, prayers, church attendance, every kind of religious rite and ordinance – if they are not based on repentance and faith- are merely “dead works” and “filthy rags”!

There is one other fact about scriptural repentance which must be emphasized. True repentance begins with God and not with man. It originates not in the will of man but in the free and sovereign grace of God. Apart from the working of God’s grace and the moving of God’s Spirit, man left to himself is incapable of repentance. For this reason the psalmist cries out for restoration.

Restore us, O God … and we shall be saved! (Ps. 80:3,7).

The word translated “restore us” means literally “cause us to tum back.” Jeremiah uses the same word in Lamentations 5:21.

Turn us back to You, 0 Lord, and we will be restored.

Unless God first moves man toward Himself, man cannot of his own unaided will tum to God and be saved. The first move is always made by God.

In the New Testament Christ expressed the same truth.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him (John 6:44).

The supreme crisis of every human life comes at the moment of the Spirit’s drawing to repentance. Accepted, this drawing leads us to saving faith and eternal life; rejected, it leaves the sinner to continue on his way to the grave and the unending darkness of an eternity apart from God. The Scripture makes it plain that even in this life it is possible for a man to pass “the place of repentance”- to come to a point where the Spirit of God will never again draw him to repentance, and where all hope is lost even before he enters the portals of eternity.

It is fitting to close this study with the words of Christ in Luke 13:3 (which are also repeated in verse 5).

Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

Christ was speaking of men who died in the very act of performing a religious rite; that is, a company of Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their own sacrifices. While carrying out their sacrifices in the temple, these men had been executed by order of the Roman governor, and their blood had been mingled on the temple floor with that of their sacrifices.

Yet Christ tells us that these men perished; they went to a lost eternity. Even their religious act of sacrifice in the temple could not save their souls, because it was not based on true repentance.

The same is true of the religious ceremonies of many professing Christians today. None of these religious activities is any substitute for true repentance. Without such repentance, Christ Himself said, “… you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).

False Teachers Teach that Sin Need Not be Taken Seriously, or that Christians Can Practice Worldliness, or that Jesus Never Required People to Deny Themselves for His Sake

Does your pastor teach that sin need not be taken seriously? Or that Christians can live as they please like the rest of the world?

Beware – you might be listening to the voice of a false teacher!

In her book Ruled by the Spirit, the late evangelical nun Basilea Schlink had this to say about true and false teachers:

Because true teaching is a gift of the Holy Spirit, true teachers are specially commissioned for their ministry. God has “appointed” them (1 Corinthians 12:28). They are then called by God to this particular office. Because of this, James warns: “Let not many of you become teachers… for you know that we who teach shall be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1). For teachers can lead large numbers of people either to live or damnation. What is taught is believed and forms a basis for life. Teachers who have followed the precepts of Jesus will be great in the kingdom of heaven. Those who have taught that His commandments should be kept “shall shine like the brightness of the firmament; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars that for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:3). Conversely, those who falsify the teachings of God’s holiness and His laws, are small in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19). Indeed they will be judged in terms of James 3:1. The danger that such false teachings might intrude was great, even in the times of the apostles. For example, it was taught that sin need not be taken seriously, because it was already cancelled for sinners through the atoning death of Jesus (Romans 3:7, 8: 6:1). Or that the New Testament Church need no longer fear the wrath of God, but could practice worldliness (Ephesians 5:6), or that Jesus never required people to deny themselves for His sake. Thus the offense of the Cross was avoided, and it was no longer taught that the way of the Cross was the only one befitting to a Christian, for Jesus had said “whoever does not bear his own Cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” But, if Christians were no longer to follow the way of the Cross, they would no longer be “in Christ”, they would merely be a misrepresentation for Jesus. They would fall away from God, disgrace the Lord, and bring perdition and destruction upon themselves (Philippians 3:18, 19).

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Joel Osteen: I’m Not Cheating People by Not Talking About Hell

More than 40,000 members of Lakewood Church show up every week to soak up Joel Osteen’s latest message of hope, usually delivered with his trademark smile.

Osteen’s sermons are relentlessly positive, and according to CBS Sunday Morning, that has made him a target of critics, who say he sometimes sounds less like a preacher and more like a motivational speaker.

In an interview with CBS Sunday Morning, reporter Tracy Smith asked Osten, “You’ve been criticized for ‘Church lite,’ for ‘a cotton candy message. Do you feel like you’re cheating people by not telling them about the Hell part? Or repentance part?”

Osteen replied, “No, I really don’t, because it’s a different approach. You know, it’s not hellfire and brimstone. But I say most people are beaten down enough by life. They already feel guilty enough. They’re not doing what they should, raising their kids — you know, we can all find reasons. So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, ‘You know what? I may not be perfect, but I’m moving forward. I’m doing better.’ And I think that motivates you to do better.”

However, fire and brimstone preaching may be what the church needs again, given that thousands upon thousands of lukewarm churchgoers may unwittingly find themselves going straight into hell, because nobody warned them of their need for repentance and forsaking of their sins.

A young Korean artist taken to Hell_Picture 05
Scene of People Falling Into Hell as Depcited by a Young Korean Artist Who Received a Vision of Hell

According to the bible, Osteen could be held accountable for not warning his followers:  “If I warn the wicked, saying, ‘You are under the penalty of death,’ but you fail to deliver the warning, they will die in their sins. And I will hold you responsible for their deaths.” (Ezekiel 3:18, NLT)

The Dangers of Bitterness in the Lives of Christians: The Case of Simon the Sorcerer (a.k.a. Simon Magus)

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31; NIV; emphasis mine)

The Apostle Paul instructed believers in the church of Ephesus to get rid of all bitterness, and based on the book of Acts, we have also on record one believer  (Simon Magus, who was also known as Simon the Sorcerer) who was in bondage to bitterness, as well as other sins (Acts 8:18-24; NIV; emphasis mine):

18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money 19 and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”

20 Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

24 Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”

Unforunately, church tradition suggests that Simon the Sorcerer did not end well. According to The Search for the Twelve Apostles, this is how Simon met his eventual death:

The magician, vanquished by a superior power, flung his books into the Dead Sea, broke his wand, and fled to Rome, where he became a great favorite of the Emperor Claudius, and afterwards of Nero. Peter, bent on counteracting the wicked sorceries of Simon, followed him to Rome. About two years after his arrival he was joined there by the Apostle Paul. Simon Magus having asserted that he was himself a god, and could raise the dead, Peter and Paul rebuked his impiety, and challenged him to a trial of skill in the presence of the emperor. The arts of the magician failed; Peter and Paul restored the youth to life and on many other occasions Simon was vanquished and put to shame by the miraculous power of the Apostles. At length he undertook to fly up to heaven in sight of the emperor and the people; and, crowned with laurel, and supported by denons, he flung himself from a tower, and appeared for a while to float thus in the air, but St.Peter, falling on his knees commanded the denons to let go their hold, and Simon, precipitated to the ground, was dashed to pieces.” (“Sacred and Legendary Art,” Anna Jameson, p.209).

The church tradition of Simon Magus crashing to the ground at the feet of Emperor Nero when the Apostle Peter commanded the demons who suspended him in midair to let him go is depicted in an artwork commissioned in the 1460s by the Alessandri family in Florence, and which is now exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Saint Peter and Simon Magus Painting by Benozzo Gozzoli

Simon Magus is considered to be the first Christian heretic, the first Gnostic, and the founder of the sect of the Simonians. Had he been diligent in getting rid of his bitterness and other sins, it seems certain that history would have painted him in a different light.

Cheap Grace versus Costly Grace (An Essay Written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

We live in a world where many pulpits are teaching “cheap grace” — an imitation form of grace. In the essay below, WW2 martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, compares “cheap grace” with true and costly grace, that is able to save the soul

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the church’s inexhaustible treasury from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian “conception” of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a church the world finds a cheap covering for its sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God, in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God.

Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of grace! That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sin departs. Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

A Costly Calling

Costly grace, on the other hand, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock (Matthew 7:7-8).

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price” (1 Corinthians 6:20), and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world. It is therefore the living word, the Word of

God, which He speaks as it pleases Him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30).

The Terrible Price of Cheap Grace

Cheap grace has been disastrous to our own spiritual lives. Instead of opening up the way to Christ it has closed it. Instead of calling us to follow Christ, it has hardened us in our disobedience. Perhaps we had once heard the gracious call to follow Him, and had at this command even taken the first few steps along the path of discipleship in the discipline of obedience, only to find ourselves confronted by the word of cheap grace.

The only effect that such a word could have on us was to bar our way to progress, and seduce us to the mediocre level of the world, quenching the joy of discipleship by telling us that we were following a way of our own choosing, that we were spending our strength and discipling ourselves in vain—all of which was not merely useless, but extremely dangerous. After all, we were told, our salvation had already been accomplished by the grace of God.

The smoking flax was mercilessly extinguished. It was unkind to speak to men like this, for such a cheap offer could only leave them bewildered and tempt them from the way to which they had been called by Christ. Having laid hold on cheap grace, they were barred forever from the knowledge of costly grace. Deceived and weakened, men felt that they were strong now that they were in possession of this cheap grace—whereas they had in fact lost the power to live the life of discipleship and obedience. The word of cheap grace has been the ruin of more Christians than any commandment of works.

Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German Lutheran pastor and theologian who was hanged in April of 1945 for allegedly taking part in the attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler. Bonhoeffer publicly spoke-out against Adolf Hitler soon after his rise to power, and today, Bonhoeffer is still remembered for his courage in speaking out against the tyranny of the Nazis and their leader. His writings on Christianity’s role in the secular world have become widely influential.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

VIDEO: A Young Korean Artist Was Taken to Visit Hell and These Were The Pictures She Drew (Parental Guidance Needed)

In 2009, a young Korean artist who was attending an all-night prayer meeting, was visited by Jesus Christ. She was taken to see hell and told by Jesus to draw what she saw, so that the world would know.

In her first attempt, this is what she drew:

She later drew more pictures to give a fuller account of what she had witnessed, and her new pictures are displayed in this Youtube video below: