Classical Christianity teaches that:
Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by confession of sin, remorse, repentance, faith, and obedience receives the great gift of salvation. Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment.
- Each person who responds to God's grace and the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ by
- confession of sin (Ps 32:3-5; 1 John 1:8-10),
- remorse (Ps 66:18; Luke 18:13),
- repentance (Mat 3:8; Rom 12:2, 13:14; Eph 4:23-24; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19),
- faith (John 6:29, 3:16-17; Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-10) and
- obedience (Mat 28:20; Luke 11:28; John 14:15; Rom 1:5, 6:16; Heb 5:9)
- receives the great gift of salvation (Acts 4:12; Rom 1:16; 2 Cor 7:10; 1 Thes 5:9; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:9, 18-19).
- Each person who resists God's grace is condemned to everlasting punishment (Mat 25:46; 2 Thes 1:8-9).
Christian belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Faith is not just an intellectual exercise (Jam 2:19) or an emotional experience (Jer 17:9).
But many modern churches have developed a method for skipping over confession of sin, remorse, and repentance. They say, “Just invite Jesus into your heart and you will be saved.” This presumed short-cut to salvation requires no confession, no remorse and no repentance. Moreover, it can give a green light to continued substance abuse, promiscuity, and all kinds of sin. It may, however, cause consternation within a certain portion of the congregation. To maintain serenity, the pastor frequently attempts to solidify his theology by teaching that, “Jesus loves you just the way you are.” Confession of sin, remorse and repentance are of no importance to such a church. Unfortunately for these modern, apostate churches, salvation from the consequences of sin is actually not possible without repentance.
Without confession of sin, it is not possible to have true remorse in your heart. Without remorse, it is not possible to repent. Without repentance, there is no faith; belief must be preceded by repentance and followed by obedience to qualify as faith. Without faith, there can be no obedience. Break any link in the chain and your salvation will be derailed! (See Section 2.3 of Theology Corner)
Consider the words of John Miley on repentance:
“The necessity for a true repentance, in order to forgiveness and salvation, is not only conceded, but firmly maintained in any proper doctrine of atonement. No provision of a redemptive economy could supersede this necessity. Impenitence after sinning is self-justification and the very spirit of rebellion; while penitence is the only self-condemnation and the only return to obedience. There must, therefore, be a genuine repentance. There can be neither forgiveness nor any real redemption from sin without it…
In the repentance naturally possible, sin is neither felt nor confessed in a true sense of its intrinsic evil, but only selfishly, on account of its result in personal suffering. It can therefore have no real redemptive or reformative power in the moral life. And even were forgiveness permissible on the ground of so defective a repentance, a true salvation is not so possible…
True repentance is only by grace. The moral disabilities consequent upon depravity and sin render a true repentance impossible in the resources of our own nature. Such a state is one of spiritual blindness, insensibility, impotence and death. So the Scriptures represent it. Hence, they attribute a genuine repentance, both in its privilege and possibility, to the grace of the atonement and the agency of the Holy Spirit so procured. Thus it behooved Christ to suffer and to rise again, that repentance and remission of sins might be preached in his name.”