There is an old saying that almost everyone wants to go to Heaven but no one wants to have to die to get there. No truer words were ever spoken. The truth is, most people really have no idea what the Bible teaches they must do to get into the kingdom of heaven. The Bible is very clear that unless a person is “born again”, they will not enter into heaven or God’s kingdom. (John 3:3) Every person must be born of both water (repentance) and the spirit (faith) to enter into the kingdom of heaven (John 3:5), but how does this process work?
All of humanity from birth has two problems that keep all of us from entering heaven. The first of these problems is called “original” or “inherited sin” and the second problem is called “imputed sin”. These two types of sin make us unholy, unclean and imperfect. Revelation 21:27 states that nothing imperfect can enter Heaven because Heaven is a perfect place and God is a perfect God. Heaven would become imperfect if God allowed us to enter in our fallen, unholy, imperfect condition. Jesus declared in Matthew 5:48 that we must be “perfect” as our Heavenly Father is perfect. The question we must then answer is:
How do we become perfect?
The Bible repeatedly teaches in both the Old and New Testament and Jesus affirmed that two things are necessary to take care of both the inherited sin problem and the imputed sin problem. These two things are “repentance from the sin” and faith in the atoning sacrifice and finished work of Jesus on the Cross. Sadly, repentance is not taught in many churches today and is not well understood. It was repeatedly taught in the Old Testament and the Jews during the time of Jesus understood very well what it was. Repentance at its core is a “complete change of mind” about four critical areas. God demands this complete change of mind and total agreement with Him for repentance to be real. Without this change of mind NO ONE can get to the kingdom of Heaven.
So, What Is Biblical Repentance?
Repentance is first and foremost a complete change of mind about your object of Worship.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me…..John 14:6
Ask yourself this question. What or who do I really worship? Be honest. Your eternal destiny is at stake. EVERYONE worships someone or something. It may be self. Or another person, maybe your husband or wife or children or other love interest. Maybe you worship a career, money, greed, power, position, privilege, sports, leisure time, or a sports or Hollywood personality. Maybe you actually worship a false god from a false religious system. Whatever it is you worship, a mind change must take place where Jesus Christ is exalted as the ONLY object of your worship. No true repentance has taken place if Jesus is just one of many loves you have. True Christianity is a marital relationship with Jesus Christ and He expects your complete devotion. The Bible teaches that God is a “jealous” God. (Exodus 20:4) Worshiping false gods is spiritual adultery no matter who or what they may be. Jesus is not interested in a dating relationship. Jesus does not want fans, he wants followers. He does not want decisions for Him, He wants disciples who are with Him for life and worshipers who will exalt Him.
Repentance is secondly a complete change of mind about your object of Works.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast…Ephesians 2:8-9
The Bible makes is repeatedly clear that no human can do any works of any kind to earn or merit Heaven. Yet, most Americans believe based on marketing research that their good works will earn them favor with God. The problem mankind has is not how many works they do but the inherited and imputed sin problem. Unless they can find a way to overcome those two problems, NO ONE can enter Heaven.
In His grace and mercy God has designed a way for humanity to overcome these two problems. In fact, Jesus did several things that allow us to overcome these two sin problems. Jesus did all the work necessary for us to have eternal life when we rely upon and put faith in these four things.
A. The Virgin Birth
Through the Virgin Birth, Jesus conquered and overcame the “original” or “inherited” sin problem of mankind. Each of us has been born with a disease called original sin that we inherited from our first parents Adam and Eve. Not only that, but God has declared that each of us must suffer the death penalty for this original or inherited sin. We may think this unfair but this is God’s righteous decree. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, sin came into this world through Adam. We all have inherited this sin nature through our biological father. Jesus did not have a biological father. Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit of God bypassing the genetic mutation of sin passed to us by Adam. Jesus was born free of the sin nature that has infected mankind since the fall in the Garden of Eden. Jesus thereby accomplished for mankind what we were unable to do for thousands of years. He overcame the problem of inherited sin, performing a necessary work that man could not accomplish.
B. The Sinless Life of Jesus Christ
The second work Jesus performed that was impossible for mankind was to live a life, for thirty three years completely free of sin. Jesus NEVER once violated the laws of God. Jesus kept every law and every commandment perfectly. By doing this Jesus overcame the second sin problem mankind has, that of imputed sin. The Bible teaches that every time a person sins, they are creating a sin debt in Heaven against themselves. Think of it this way. If you were fined every time you broke the law of human government, if only for speeding, you would accrue a large fine of many tens of thousands of dollars against yourself. Since God knows each and every sin you commit, He levies a Heavenly fine against you each time you break one of the over 1,000 laws revealed in the Bible. Every lie, every evil thought, every word of gossip, every theft, every immoral act is held against you. Over a lifetime the sin debt you accrue would amount to many “billions” of dollars. (Matthew 18) This fine is “imputed” or levied against you. In order for you to be able to “earn” Heaven, you would have to pay this sin debt before God can let you in. Unfortunately, it is an amount greater than all the money and riches on planet earth. NO ONE can pay it. No one but Jesus that is.
C. The Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross
Jesus performed a third work on behalf of mankind that we could not perform. He removed the death penalty from man for those who would believe. By dying on the cross, Jesus atoned for (covered over) our original or inherited sin problem. Remember, because of original sin, all mankind is guilty before God and worthy of death. Jesus died on our behalf and in our place to placate the wrath of God so we could have eternal life. In order for a person to benefit from his substitutionary death, we have to trust that His death did indeed cover over the death penalty we deserve and in so doing we choose Jesus to be our object of worship and live a life of devotion and obedience to Him.
D. The Payment of our Sin Debt
The fourth and final work Jesus performed that mankind could not accomplish was to pay our sin debt to God. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead showed that God accepted Him as the final payment for imputed sin. The sin we actually committed. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the core teaching of true Biblical Christianity. If you deny the resurrection, you deny eternal life. Keep in mind, that if Jesus was not raised from the dead that means He is still in the grave and Christianity is a fraud. The life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ performed all the work necessary for mankind to have eternal life to those who believe. No work by mankind is necessary nor is it possible. Simply put, to add any kind of external work to salvation is to blaspheme God and His Son Jesus Christ. The only works by man are the internal works of repentance and faith alone.
Repentance is thirdly a complete change of mind about your object of Worth.
As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Jesus and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone. ….Mark 10:17-18
Due to inherited sin and imputed sin, Jesus declares that no human is good in God’s sight. No one is good except God alone. God’s character is the definition of good. God is good because God is morally perfect. Since all human beings are fallen due to sin no one is morally perfect. It is human nature for all of us to see ourselves as “good people”. Because Heaven is a perfect place only perfect people can be allowed there. We can only be declared perfect by God when we put faith in the life, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Repentance is a change of mind and faith is a change of heart. Paul describes it this way in Romans.
That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be savedfor with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation….Romans 10:9-10
Notice that faith or believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ results in a person being declared righteous or “perfect” in God’s sight. Confessing Jesus Christ as Lord with the mouth is an act of repentance. Therefore, repentance and faith or belief, are different sides of the same coin. Both are needed for God to grant eternal life and allow a person into Heaven.
Ultimately, NO ONE can earn Heaven because of their own goodness or because they are good people. According to the Bible there are no “good” people. Salvation comes when we fully rely on the goodness of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Repentance is finally a complete change of mind about your object of Wisdom.
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes And clever in their own sight!…Isaiah 5:20-21
The final act of repentance necessary for a person to have eternal life and enter Heaven is a change of mind from following the wisdom of the world to following the wisdom of the Word. The Word of God as revealed in the Bible. To call something good that the word of God calls evil is to place yourself in opposition to God. No one who opposes God can have eternal life. Murder, lying, stealing, abortion and support for the destruction of that which God created and loves (Biblically defined marriage as an example) or to support or believe a world view such as evolution which is completely in opposition to the Biblical account of creation are all examples of things the Bible calls evil. Repentance requires you change your mind about all these things and the other hundreds of things the Bible calls sin. Anyone who supports that which God’s word says is evil cannot have eternal life. Repentance requires that we have complete, 100 percent agreement with scripture, and that we take what it teaches by faith and believe it literally. We must in the end have the mind of God and the mind of Christ and be in total agreement with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Nothing short of that standard will do.
Nothing short of a complete change of mind about our object of worship, works, worth and wisdom can bring about the change necessary for a person to be granted eternal life. Coupled with faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, God can justify an undeserving sinner, declare them to be righteous and bestow eternal life and Heaven to them. Will you repent therefore and believe?
If you would like to meet with one of our staff to discuss these teachings more fully, please contact us at your earliest convenience!