Repentance is Necessary for Salvation


Jesus’ first recorded words in Mark’s gospel are: “The time is fulfilled…repent and believe in the gospel.” (1:15).

Jesus’ last words in Luke’s gospel include: “The Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations beginning from Jerusalem.” (24:46-47)

Notice that repentance is named alongside faith as the means to receive the gospel and be forgiven.

The Apostles

This teaching is carried on by his followers.

  • In the beginning of Acts, when the crowd asks the apostles, “What shall we do?” Peter tells them, “Repent and be baptized…” (2:37-38).
  • Near the end of Acts, Paul reminds the Ephesian church leaders: “I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable…testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” (20:30-31).

Further, in Hebrews 6:1-2, the writer names 6 foundational elements of Christianity. The first 2 are:

  1. Repentance from dead works
  2. Faith toward God

Again, repentance and faith are both prerequisite for following Christ.

Faith and Repentance Assume Each Other

Now, sometimes in the Bible you see only faith mentioned as the means of salvation:

  • Jesus: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • His followers: “Then he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’” (Acts 16:30-31)

But other times only repentance is mentioned as the means of salvation:

  • Jesus: “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)
  • His followers: “They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you…’” (Acts 2:37-38)

The simple solution in light of the totality of Scripture is that when repentance is named alone, faith is assumed. And when faith is named alone, repentance is assumed. Neither are optional.

What is Repentance?

Repentance literally means, “to turn.” It can be seen very clearly in Luke 15 (the “Parable of the Prodigal Son”). After the younger son rejected his father and went his own way, he said to himself, “I will arise and go to my father,” (15:18), then, “he arose and came to his father,” (15:20). Notice the father’s response: “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” (15:20).

Thus, repentance, according to this story, has 3 elements:

  1. A change of will – he decided, “I will arise and go to my father” (instead of following his own way)
  2. A corresponding first action – “he arose and came to his father” (he took a first step)
  3. The Father making up the remaining distance – “While he was still a long way off, his father…ran” (in other words, God isn’t waiting with arms crossed for us to make all these changes; He’s looking for a change in our will and He runs to meet us when that happens)

Along with this picture, consider:

  1. “Repentance from dead works” (Hebrews 6:1)
  2. “Repentance toward God” (Acts 20:21)

The negative side of repentance is a turning away from sin and living for ourselves. The positive side is turning to live for God.

Repentance is, at its essence, a change of will. Said in another way, it is a change of “Lords,” or “Bosses.” Before you come to Christ, you are your own Lord/Boss. Or maybe your friends are. Or your family. But when you come to Christ, He becomes your Lord. Your will is now to follow Him.

Of course, the rest of Scripture (and experience!) proves that you will never achieve this perfectly in this lifetime. But repentance simply means you now reorient your course to strive to follow Christ, even though there will be subsequent times of repentance throughout your Christian journey (sometimes even 7+ times of the same sin in 1 day – Luke 17:3-4).


Thus, we are saved through:

  1. Repentance toward Christ as Lord
  2. Believing/trusting that God came as Jesus to take all our punishment for sins dying on the cross, then resurrected 3 days later so that God has fully pardoned us.

Both are necessary.

-Brian Holda

For a fuller treatment on this, see Lesson 6: Repentance

Tyndale House: Ink Magazine

Merry Christmas Eve 🙂

Thought you guys might appreciate this!

In my opinion, Tyndale House is pretty much the premier place in the world for biblical studies (and, miraculously, has seemed to stay conservative and humble in interpreting the Bible). Therefore, they are on the leading edge of many biblical teachings, discoveries, etc. Lately they have been pushing to make their resources accessible to all people. A few years back they produced one of my favorite tools: And now they are sending out a free journal of various research and findings (see below). I highly encourage you all to subscribe.

I simultaneously also urge this caution: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Prov. 3:5). In other words, even smart guys like these will leave you blind if you put trust in them. But if you trust in the Lord to speak through others and teach through others, I think these could be wonderful resources and teachers to learn from!

Subscribe to Tyndale House – Ink Magazine


What is Prayer?: Video + Outline

What is Prayer? (Video – 52m)

  • Luke 5:15-16; Acts 2:42; 6:4 – prayer = a foundation and priority
  • 650+ prayers in the Bible
  • Matt. 6:7-13 (cf. Luke 11:1)
    • 6:7-8 – often associated with “asking” (cf. Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13; John 14:16; James 4:2)
      • Declarations (e.g. Acts 3:6) may be requests (cf. Josh. 10:12)
      • Like incense, prayer goes up only (Psalm 141:2; Rev. 5:8; 8:4). It is not spoken of as dialogue in Scripture (God doesn’t pray to us; we pray to Him).
    • 6:9-13 – Prayer Template
      1. “Our” – corporate nature/identification
      2. Praise/Thank God for who He is (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1)
      3. Focus on His will (cf. Eph. 5:17; 1 John 5:14-15)
      4. Focus on needs
      5. (assumes we forgive – Matt. 5:23-24; Mark 11:25)
      6. Against Satan (cf. Luke 18:1-8)
  • Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8
    • we are poor
    • God is rich
    • we must plead (cf. Proverbs 18:23)
  • God’s will, in a sense, is reliant on our prayers: Isaiah 37:21; Dan. 9:1-4; Zech. 10:1; Matt. 6:10; James 4:2-3; 1 John 5:14-15; Rev. 5:8
  • Heb. 4:14-16; 10:19-22 – boldness in prayer comes through knowing God’s will and the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice
  • …with songs: 1 Cor. 14:15; Rev. 5:8
  • …in the Spirit and understanding: 1 Cor. 14:15
  • …with fasting: Acts 13:2-3

Prophets & Prophecy: Video + Outline

Prophets & Prophecy

Video – *** teaching begins at 8m ***

Prophet = one who communicates God’s utterances to others (Exodus 4:10-17; 7:1-2)

  1. Hears/sees God’s message (1 Sam. 3:1-14; 1 K 13:11-25; 22:13-23)
  2. Shares God’s message (Eze. 33:1-9 cf. Hosea 9:8; Eze. 4:4-5)

The Messengers (Prophets)

  • 1 of 5 ministries named: Eph. 4:11
    • Gifted from Christ (versus by appointment)
    • To build up Church
  • Male & Female: Ex. 15:20-21; Judg. 4:4-5; 2 K. 22:14; Lk. 2:36-38; Ac. 2:17-18; 21:8-9; 1 Co. 11:2-16
  • Continually and consistently prophesy – in word and deed (below)
  • Obedient living: Isa. 20:2; Jer. 16:2, Eze. 24:15-18; Hos. 1:2; Mt. 7:15-20; Lk. 3:2
  • Prayer: Gen. 20:7; 1 Sam. 12:23; 15:10-11
  • Rejection: Matt. 23:29-36
  • Still human: 1 Kings 19:3-5; Jer. 20:7-18; Eze. 4:14-15

The Messages (Prophecies)

  • 1 of 9 spiritual gifts: 1 Cor. 12:10
    • Gifted by the Holy Spirit
    • To build up Church (1 Cor. 14:4)
  • “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation,” (1 Co. 14:3, ESV).
    • Upbuilding – compare Jer. 1:9-10
    • Encouragement – Phile. 1:7; Heb. 12:5-6; 13:22 (cf. 10:26-31)
  • Includes Rev. 2:18-29; 22:18-19
  • Includes foretelling the future: Deut. 18:21-22
  • Examples:
    • O.T.: Judges 6:7-10; Isaiah 43:5-7; Jer. 18:6-10; Hag. 1:13
    • N.T.: Acts 5:9-11; 11:28; 13:2; 21:7-11 (20:23)
    • Contrast: Jer 23:9-40; Matt. 24:24; 1 Thes. 5:3
  • Applies:
    1. To self (Is. 6:5; Matt. 7:5; Acts 20:28)
    2. To church (Is. 1-12; Jer. 1-45; Ez. 1-24; 1 Co. 5:9-13; Rev. 1-3+)
    3. To the nations (Is. 13-21; Jer. 46-51; Eze. 25-32; Rev. 15-20?)
  • Exists Today: 1 Cor. 1:4-8; 13:8-12; N.T. assumes them as normative
  • By Non-Prophets: Num. 22-24; 1 Sam. 19:18-24; Dan. 2; Mt. 7:21-23
    • May be demonic: Acts 16:16; 2 Thes. 2:9
  • Judging Prophecy (1 John 4:1; 1 Thes. 5:19-21):
    • By Scripture: Deut. 13:1-3; Matt. 3:16-4:11; Acts 17:10-11
    • By Fruit: Deut. 13:1-3; Mt. 7:15-20; 1 Co. 12:3; Rev. 2:20; 19:10
  • How to Prophesy:
    • Desire prophecy: 1 Cor. 14:1
    • Ask God for this gift: Luke 11:13; 1 Cor. 14:13
      • Lay hands: Acts 19:6
    • Use it according to your gifting: Rom. 12:6; 1 Pet. 4:10-11
      • With love; for upbuilding (1 Cor. 13-14)
    • Aided by music: 1 Sam 10:5; 2 K 3:15-16; 1 Chron 25:1
    • Encourage it in the church: 1 Cor. 14; 1 Thes. 5:20; 2 Tim. 1:6
      • Prophets train church in this gift: 1 Sam. 19:20; Eph. 4:11
    • Seek Scripture above prophecy (e.g. 2 Pet. 1)

Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God

I recently read J.I. Packer’s Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God. Great book! Though the latter half seemed to drone on a bit for my liking.

But here are some highlights discussed:

  • divine sovereignty and human responsibility are both clearly affirmed as Scriptural truths
    • we can’t fully grasp/understand how they coexist
    • but we must affirm they simultaneously exists nonetheless
  • Paul’s evangelism was energized by:
    1. seeing himself as a commissioned representative of Jesus the Lord
    2. seeing his main task as teaching truth about Jesus the Lord
    3. ultimately aiming to convert his hearers
  • By extension, Paul’s evangelism underpinnings apply to all Christians
  • The Gospel Message is:
    • about God
    • about sin
      • signs of true conviction of sin:
        • awareness of wrong relationship with God
        • conviction of specific sins you have done
        • conviction of your general sinful character
    • about Christ
      • don’t present Christ’s Person apart from His saving work, or His saving work apart from His Person
    • a summons to repent and believe (simultaneously)
  • Why should we evangelize?
    • love/glorify/obey God when He tells us, for instance, to “Go and make disciples” (Matt. 28:18-20).
    • love of neighbor
      • if someone was literally in a house burning down, wouldn’t you want to help them if you could?
  • How should we evangelize?
    • use any method that faithfully represents what is said above
  • How can divine sovereignty and evangelism go together?
    • God’s sovereignty in changing someone’s heart does not alter any of the nature and duty believers have to evangelize
    • God’s sovereignty in changing someone’s heart gives us our only hope for success

Jesus = Unique Son of God – A Defense by D.A. Carson

The following is a paraphrase of points D.A. Carson makes to assert Jesus is the unique Son of God (fully God and fully man) in The Gagging of God (1996), pp. 257-260:

  • John 1:1-3, 14, 18 – Jesus = Creator and Revealer
  • Matt. 1-2; Luke 1-2 – Jesus brings together God and human beings
    • produces unique “Son of God” (Luke 1:35)
  • Old Testament foretells 2 strands of redemption: (1) God Himself comes down to rescue His people; (2) God sends “David” his servant (i.e. Messiah) to rescue his people – Jesus’ birth and life show both.
    • Rev. 4-5 – He receives the worship and homage due God alone
  • Jesus explicitly called “God” – John 1:1, 18; 20:28; Titus 3:4-5
  • Heb. 1:1-3 – Son = God’s last word and radiance of God’s glory; exact representation of God’s being
    • Heb. 2 – simultaneously Christ’s humanity is true and necessary
  • Paul routinely takes Old Testament verses about God and applies them to Jesus
    • Peter does the same (1 Pet. 3:14 cf. Isa. 8:12-13)
  • Col. 2:9 – “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form”
  • Revelation – links “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb”
  • Jesus’ parables – He self-identifies with figures who are reserved for God in the Old Testament
  • John 8:46 – Jesus asks, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?”
    • astonishingly clear conscience
  • John’s gospel shows Jesus calling Himself the “I am” – which refers only to God (see especially John 8)
  • John 5:23 – all should honor the Son as they honor the Father
    • “He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent Him”
  • In humanity, “genuine greatness is associated with a certain unawareness of greatness;” or someone gradually becomes “an arrogant poseur”
    • In contrast, Jesus displays astonishing authority (e.g. Matt. 7:28-29) while being known for his gentleness and humility (11:29). “For all that he goes to the cross, he sees himself as the focal point of history.”
  • Jesus insists John the Baptist is the greatest person born of woman (greater than Abraham, greater than David, greater than Solomon, Isaiah). Why? He was announcing Jesus’ arrival (Matt. 11:9-11a)
    • the least in the kingdom is greater than John the Baptist (Matt. 11:11b). Why? because they see, know, and announce Jesus with greater clarity.
    • Imagine someone saying that the person announcing them as a speaker is the greatest person in existence just because they announced you!
  • Phil. 2:5-7 – But Jesus, “BECAUSE He was in the very nature God, [THEREFORE] did not consider equality with God something to be exploited, but made himself nothing”
  • The “astonishing quality of Jesus’ love”
    • Matt. 23 – utters the sternest denunciations while weeping over the city
    • He speaks of hell and judgment, but also provides a way of escape
    • He operates as a “man among men” and finds followers among the wealthy (like Zacchaeus), but also loves children, poor, oppressed, handicapped, unclean, outcast
    • all of this is similar to God in the Old Testament
    • his love brings Him to the cross
  • N.T. writers get excited about His love just thinking of Him (e.g. Gal. 2:20).
    • Christian maturity is measured by a believer’s experiential grasp of Christ’s love (Eph. 3:16b-19)
  • Jesus’ coming ushers in the kingdom (Mark 1:15), and “among you” (Luke 17:21)
    • shown not least in Jesus’ power against darkness (Matt. 12:28; cf. Luke 10:17-20)
    • this is somewhat hidden from others at the time (compared to yeast, performing its silent work, for instance)
  • people are called to follow Christ, believe in Him, believe the good news that the reign of God is present, even though the evidence in the natural world is still ambiguous and disputable
  • kingdom is in conflict with powers of darkness – final victory occurs at cross
    • it was the hour of darkness’ power (Luke 22:53), but also accomplished Christ’s atoning work
  • His disciples must pray for the consummation of this kingdom (“Your kingdom come; your will be done…”) Until that time, Jesus reigns
    • Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted O.T. chapter in the N.T. – includes “The LORD says to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet'”.
    • Before the Jews, Jesus insists He is coming back – using Psalm 110 and Dan. 7 – “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (Mk. 14:62)

Traits of Healthy Churches?

Hey all,

As you may have noticed, I’ve been lately thinking and praying about what Jesus looks for in churches. So I set out to consider what makes a healthy church according to the New Testament alone. Here’s what I came up with (but I’d really love other insights you all might have on this):

Healthy Churches Look Like…


  1. People seek formulas and rules. God establishes principles.
  2. God alone causes growth and fruit.
  3. Ultimate Goal: corporately become Jesus’ likeness

Traits of Healthy Churches (in no particular order):

  1. Led/Empowered by Holy Spirit

  2. Sacraments

    1. Baptism
    2. Communion
  3. Leadership

    1. Offices: (1) Elders, (2) Deacons
    2. Ministries (Eph. 4:11)
    3. Oversee meetings
    4. Teach/preach publicly
  4. All members contributing

    1. 5 ministries
    2. 9 Holy Spirit gifts
    3. God-given talents
    4. At church meetings
    5. Includes singing
  5. Devotion to God’s Word – Scripture

    1. To learn, obey, teach others
    2. Heart of Scriptures: gospel – to be known and communicated by all
    3. Teaching includes singing
  6. Prayer/praise devotion

    1. Includes singing
  7. Pursue holiness

    1. Scriptural accountability/discipline
  8. Meet Sundays (and beyond)

    1. “One another” meetings where all are able to contribute
    2. “Apostolic” meetings – only a 1/few ministers
  9. Fellowship around Jesus/Gospel

    1. Often over meals
  10. Meet physical needs of church (and beyond)

    1. Elders and deacons oversee
  11. Reproduce themselves to 4th generation (and beyond)

    1. Through evangelism
    2. Through discipling in areas listed above