Last summer I heard a man preach on 4 separate nights. Each night the gospel was reduced to “Believe and Receive.” Not once was the notion of repenting proclaimed. I was shocked and saddened. Why would a man of God leave out such an important element to the gospel?
Didn’t the forerunner of Christ have a message of repentance? “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 3:1-2.
When Christ began to preach didn’t He preach repentance? “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” Matthew 4:17.
Wasn’t the Apostles sent out by Christ with the message of repentance? “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two…And they went out, and preached that men should repent,” Mark 6:7,12.
Does not God command all men to repent? “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent,” Act 17:30.
Why then would we leave such an important element out? Some would say it’s too offensive. Others would say it’s not a big deal. And some would state it just doesn’t matter. But let me ask, do we have a better gospel than Christ? Do we know more than the Apostles? Is God’s command to repent not relevant for today? Perhaps the reason repentance is left out is because it makes no sense to preach repentance unless you preach about the wrath of God. “For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” (Col 3:6) And many simply refuse to preach this. But sadly, it is equivalent to refusing to warn a blind that he is about to walk off a cliff. Or, you could compare it to a doctor refusing to tell a dying patient just how serious his condition is. Some will claim that they do not want to preach in a negative light due to the offense it causes. But, we must ask ourselves, how much more offended will man be when it is too late.
Repentance is very important. It fact, without it a person cannot be saved. To repent is to turn from our sins and to God. It is more than just being sorry. Did you know that you can be sorry for your sins without repenting of them? Look at Paul’s address to the Corinthian church, “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death,” 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.
The gospel without repentance is a false and dangerous gospel. Because of it there are a lot of professing Christians who have never repented or turned from their sins. They are false converts because they heard a false gospel. They still walk in darkness because they have never turned from their sins. Jesus said, “I tell you…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish,” Luke 13:3. Those who preach a watered-down gospel without repentance will one day answer for leading many astray.