PART 1. REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS
Continuing in our study of Hebrews 6....
1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works….
Who is dead and who is alive?
John 3: 15That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 21But he that does truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.
If you don’t believe in Christ, then you are condemned already.
John 5: 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, He that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death to life. 25 Truly, truly, I say to you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
From these verses we learn what the crux of Christianity is all about. It’s all about life and death. If you don’t believe in Jesus, then you are dead already, condemned eternally. Belief in Christ brings with it salvation and eternal life.
1 John 5: 10He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God, has made him a liar; because he believes not the record that God gave of his Son. 11And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12He that has the Son has life; and he that has not the Son of God has not life.
Therefore, unbelievers are DEAD. Whatever they do is worthless and in vain. Their works are dead works. They are condemned no matter how much “good” they might do on this earth.
The Bible tells us that to become spiritually alive, we need to believe in Jesus.
So what does it mean to “believe in the Son Of God”, in Jesus?
Is it enough to just believe that Jesus existed, that Jesus was a special person that came to give guidelines on how to live our lives? The answer is NO. There are certain absolute principles in the Bible that determine what belief in Jesus Christ is all about.
Jesus answered and said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born
again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
We have to be born again with a new Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus.
Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water and
the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
This is another commandment to be born again of a new Spirit.
1 Cor 15:50 And I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Truly I say to you, Whoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little
child, he shall not enter into it.
This talks about humility and pride. We HAVE to be humble.
Gal 5: 19 Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, fightings, jealousies, angers, rivalries, divisions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkennesses, revelings, and things like these; of which I tell you before, as I also said before, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Cor 6: 9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Luke 3: 3 I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Once we have believed that Jesus is the Son of God, once we have truly repented, then we die to our old self and are born again with a new Spirit. Once this has happened, we are washed clean of all our old dead works and we strive from then on to walk in newness of life, following the Bible’s commandments by the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
What does the word repent mean?
The word that is translated as repent in the New Testament is the Greek word "metanoeo". It means to change one's mind, to turn back or to turn away. Therefore when one repents, we turn away from old things and leave them behind.
Forgiveness vs Repentance
Repentance is a very different concept from forgiveness. Asking for forgiveness of our sins is a fundamental principle of first becoming a Christian. We are instructed to continue asking forgiveness throughout our Christian walks, for the MANY things that we do that displease God, including the many “dead works” that we do while we are saved. Our belief in Christ grants us that forgiveness and ensures our salvation, but we must also repent of the sins that we do – God is longsuffering, but if we don’t repent, sooner or later, we risk His judgement.
So what do we do when we repent?
When we were unsaved, we lived in the flesh, but were Spiritually dead. The Biblical message of repentance is to turn away from the worldly/fleshly way of conducting our lives and turn to the path that God has set out for mankind. It means to reject man's system as the answer to the problems of life and accept God’s perfect system as the source of guidance – and that guidance comes from the Holy Spirit.
True repentance is accepting that we are
sinners, that all of us fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3: 23For
all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God;
Once we have accepted this principle, we will realise that there is NOTHING we can do to save ourselves. In our searchings, when we first come face to face with a perfect and Holy God, we soon accept and understand just how totally lost we are and how desperately we need a Saviour – someone to save us, and that’s where, through the Grace of God, His precious son, Jesus, comes in.
A good example is seen in Jesus' parable of the prodigal son, see Luke 15:11-32. The man has two sons, one asked for his inheritance. The father gives him his share of the estate. The son leaves to live a life of revelry. After the wealth is gone, he works at odd jobs. While feeding slop to pigs, the lowest job a Jew could hold, he repents, deciding that the servants of his father have it better than him. He sets out on a journey to return home to apologize to his father and to ask for a job as a hired hand. Upon seeing him coming down the road in his rags the father orders a feast to be prepared and orders that the finest of clothing be given this son.
When the son decided that the father’s way was right and his way was wrong,
and set out to conform to the father's Way, this is when repentance actually
occurred. As with the father in this story, God longs to welcome us back as
sons, but we must change our way of thinking, acknowledge that we were wrong,
beg forgiveness and accept that His way is right.
One cannot become a Christian until they have truly repented.
What did Jesus say about repentance?
Read Mark 1:14 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel,”
Jesus' first command was to repent.
Read Luke 24:46 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Jesus’ last command was for the disciples to preach repentance unto all nations.
In between, Jesus said: Luke 3: 3 I tell you, No. But unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Which is another absolute truth in believing in Jesus, in becoming a Christian. It is essential for salvation.
2 Peter 3:9: The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
So, what is meant by "repentance from dead works"?
We have already learnt that Dead works were all those works that were done when we were unsaved.
Heb 9: 11But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. 13For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies to the purifying of the flesh: 14How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
Once we become saved, the blood of Christ will change our conscience from the old dead works into the new works of serving the living God. These new works are embodied in the 2 most important commandments as laid out by Jesus: Matt 22: 36 Master, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
"Repentance from dead works", therefore, is the doctrine that says we must repent from trusting in our own works to save us, which are dead works. Instead, we must trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.
There are many verses that support the doctrine that man cannot be justified (or saved) by works. It is a free gift according to the calling of a particular person by God Himself and according to His grace as He sees fit.
We should never forget what we were once like, nor take for granted the great gift of salvation. As the Psalmist puts it:
"I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth-
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the LORD" (Psalm 40:1-3).