REPENTANCE FROM DEAD WORKS

 

Repentance is part of the foundation of becoming a Christian and it has to be laid in our hearts and is built on the gospel of the Lord Jesus.  Hebrews 6:1 says, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works...".  The writer of Hebrews is saying that repentance from dead works is part of this foundation and we should not be having this foundation laid again in our hearts, but that we should move on to perfection (completeness).

Jesus began his ministry after fasting 40 days and nights and overcoming the world and the devil.  (Mark 1:13).  In verses 14 and 15 of Mark 1, it is recorded, "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel."   We have established elsewhere on this web site that the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and that it is the power of God unto our salvation.  Jesus came into Galilee preaching (showing forth) the power of God (the gospel).  He didn't say "repent or your going to hell", or "repent and confess you sins".   He said, "repent and believe the gospel".

To repent is not to be sorry or sorrowful, but rather is a changing of the will or to have another mind.  We are to change from doing our will, to doing the will of the Father.  We are to change our mind and believe what God did for us when he sent Jesus to the cross and raised him from the dead.   To believe in something, we must trust in it, rely on it and adhere to it.  We are to repent and trust in the power of God.  The power that God worked in Jesus when He raised him from the dead is available to work in us if we will believe the gospel.  Repentance is an acknowledging of this truth.  (2 Timothy 2:25).

Even though Jesus commanded us to repent and believe, you cannot just decide to repent on our own.  Romans 2:4 tells us, "...that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance."  It is God's grace and mercy on our lives that he leads us to repent so we can believe Him.  When we believe the gospel, then faith comes and we can begin to please God.  For "...without faith it is impossible to please him:  for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."  (Hebrews 11:6).

Paul writing to the Romans was quoting Isiah chapter 52 when he wrote in chapter 10:16-17, "But they have not all obeyed the gospel.  For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?  So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."  Paul used the words gospel and word of God interchangeably.  When we hear and receive the gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, faith comes.  As Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), he builds his faith in us when we repent and believe the gospel.

As I quoted earlier, we are to repent from dead works.  That is, works that are not of faith.  These are works in the flesh and works where we do our own thing.  We can even do good and they will be dead works, if they are not done according to the will of the Father.  Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?  and in thy name have cast out devils?  and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."   Not doing the will of the Father is considered iniquity (rebellion).  Romans 8:14 says, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God."  Unless God is leading us, our works are dead and full of iniquity.

Again, when we repent from our dead works, we turn from them.  In Ezekiel 18:30, God was speaking to the house of Israel, His people, just as the church today is also His people.  He said through Ezekiel, "Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord God.   Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin."  Jesus commanded his disciples (both then and now) to preach the same things he preached.  "And they went out, and preached that men should repent" (Mark 6:12).

Paul in Acts 17 is talking about God's people before Jesus came into the world and how they were ignorant of God but now that Jesus has come, "...the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (verse 30).  And while it is God that leads us to repentance, it takes humility to even be able to repent.  Humility is submitting to the will of God and it requires effort.   David said and it is recorded in Psalm 35:13, "...I humbled my soul with fasting..."  And effectual fasting must be accompanied with prayer.

In the link "The Law of Moses" (see teachings below), I established that the law is not for a righteous man.  And when we try to keep the law (rather then let God lead us by His Spirit) our works are dead.   In Galatians 2:16, Paul states, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:  for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  In other words, the works of the law are dead works.  They profit us nothing and there is no life in them.  I also established that faith comes by hearing the gospel not by the hearing of the law.

James wrote in chapter 2, verse 14, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  can faith save him?"  And in verses 17-18, "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works:   shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works."  And in verse 20, "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?"  So faith without works is dead faith, and works that are not according to the Father's will are dead works.

Again, the gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which was a manifestation of the power of God.  When we repent and believe what God worked in Jesus through the gospel, faith will come.  And when we mix faith with the gospel (mix faith with the power of God), the Spirit of God will work through us, and these works will be works of faith and will be profitable to both those who minister the works and those who are ministered to.

All through the old testament, the scriptures talk about the great and mighty works of God and the empty and vain works of man.   God's works are life, man's works are dead.  When we do works of faith, it is God working through us as it is His faith that is established in us.  Remember what James said in chapter 4, verse 6, "...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble."  We can humble ourselves and then God's grace can lead us to repentance.  Then will we seek to be led by His Spirit and only do works that are His works; his power working through us.  Remember one of the first commandments Jesus gave us after overcoming the world in the wilderness,  "The kingdom of God is at hand:  repent ye, and believe the gospel."

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