Is Repentance Necessary?

My last post covered the topic of the sinner’s prayer. In particular, I was critical of the false assurance we give when we simply get people to say it. For example, seldom do we witness repentance when we lead others through the prayer. One person commented on my post that she doesn’t remember repenting when led through the prayer. Nor did she learn anything of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, she says she knows she was changed at that time. She was nine years old. Certainly, one might question from this: Is repentance necessary?

The short answer is, yes, it is. In Acts 3:19, Peter said, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” For a nice, brief examination of this, see Got Questions?. Is repentance necessary? Yes, it is.

The Timing of It All.

For a nine-year old, it is certainly possible that salvation happened at the time of the Sinner’s Prayer without a realization and repentance of sin – that she knew of. However, one can expect to see it manifest in her life. If she was genuinely saved, she should show it. I would argue that while she didn’t know it at the time, she was granted repentance, in that moment, by God. In fact, she received all the spiritual gifts she would ever need at that split second when God saved her. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless in him.” (Ephesians 1:3-4)

But what about another nine-year-old who, unlike this woman, didn’t know he was changed at that time? There is a good chance that he wasn’t saved at all. He will grow up with people saying he is and everybody’s assumption will be that he indeed is. Is it any wonder that kids completely trash the church when they get into college? He finally is free to say that he’s NOT saved. He knows it’s all been a lie all along, and now he’s finally going to say it! It’s no secret our churches see the exodus of their children. Let’s not kid ourselves in this matter.

Who Benefits?

I would argue that most of the time, we lead people through the Sinner’s Prayer to make ourselves feel better. We can’t stand the idea of loved ones burning in hell, so we make sure they say the prayer. All will be good then, right? There is a chance, but we really aren’t being honest about things this way. Will God bless dishonest actions? You tell me.

The bigger problem is that we are assuming we have influence in someone’s salvation. Ultimately, we feel that we can change someone’s mind, to “lead” them to Christ. If that is the case, we really have no excuse in not sharing the gospel with everyone we meet. Each that we let slip through our fingers will likely spend eternity in hellfire! This is no small issue, folks. If you are the one who convinces and awakens a soul, you had better get out in the streets, right now. Souls depend on you.

That’s not possible, you say. You’re right, it’s not, but not because of logistics. It’s because you can’t save anyone. You can share the gospel, yes, but you can’t change anybody’s mind. Look, many who read this consider infant baptism to be ridiculous, yet you will still lead a small child through the Sinner’s Prayer? This is really the same thing as infant baptism. The only ones who really benefit are the adults, not the kids.

Can We Trust God?

The bottom line is that God is trustworthy. He knows who he is going to save. You can be certain that none will miss the call when the time comes. If we carefully read our bibles, we know this to be true.

However, there are many who do read their bibles who nonetheless insist on leading others through the Sinner’s Prayer despite knowing the track record. In fact, some are very active in this activity. Some people I know personally have done so perhaps hundreds if not thousands of times. Imagine all the people who falsely believe they are saved!

It would be far, far, far better to share the full gospel, including the fact that they will likely lose family and friends and perhaps even their life due to saving faith in Jesus, and leave it up to them to communicate directly with God. Do we really think that this person will end up in the lake of fire if we don’t “seal the deal”? Do you think God is looking down, biting his nails, hoping against hope that you won’t forget to close the sale?

No, God knows his own and will save them with or without you. Yes, we are to share the gospel, but let’s not assume a role beyond that.

If you are one to use the Sinner’s Prayer, I ask you to really think about these things. The fact that most never exhibit rebirth should be evidence enough that something isn’t right. Once we do, you might see the doctrine of election in the pages of your bible – from front to back.

Prayer

Father, I thank you for your bible. I thank you that the burden of salvation is not resting on my shoulders. I am not strong enough for it. Indeed, it is a job only for you, my Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Copyright © 2021 Scott Powers

One thought on “Is Repentance Necessary?

  1. Thanks for this post. You expressed the concept of repentance very well.
    Although we are asked to share the gospel, ultimately it is God who draws sinners to repentance and new life in Christ. ⚘

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