“I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)
There is a teaching out there that says, there is no repentance necessary in salvation. This is a faulty doctrine. Some gravitate to this because they think when we say repent, we means you begin to clean up your life, turning away from sin in order to be saved; and that would be wrong (they would be right). However, they are misunderstanding the meaning of repentance in its relation to saving faith. – When one comes to Christ for salvation, he must come being in a certain condition, and that condition is lost. What makes him lost? Sin. So he only comes to Christ for salvation when he recognizes he is a condemned sinner. As such, he calls upon Jesus Christ believing that He is able to save him based on His death, burial and resurrection. He has just exercised repentance (whether he knows it or not).
He saw that he was a guilty of sin and for that reason he was lost and would be lost in eternity; hearing the good news that Jesus can deliver him from his sin he turns to Christ and by faith he is saved. – Don’t you see that there is repentance in that? There is a desire to be free from the condemnation of sin and inherent in that is a recognition that his sin is wrong and an attitude of wanting to be free of the sin that has separated him from the Saviour. – He hasn’t cleaned up his life at this point but he is hoping in Christ to be freed from sin.
To strip repentance from faith opens the door to a faith that doesn’t save. How is it that some who you tell of Christ will make a profession of faith but never evidence salvation in the slightest? – You tell him that God so loved the world, He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. You explain this to them and say whosoever believes in Jesus Christ shall not perish but have everlasting life. You ask, “Do you believe all that I have told you?” He says, “Yes”. You read Rom. 10:13 – Whosoever shall call ….. “Will you pray and ask Jesus to save you?” “Yes”. He prays and you rejoice, saying he got saved. But wait, he won’t come to church, no change at all ……. What about it?
Some make a false profession. What does that mean? Did he make the whole think up? – “I don’t really believe a word of that stuff but I’ll just play along to make him happy? Maybe? Or, maybe they heard this – “If you believe the story I just told you about Jesus dying and rising from the dead, that it really happened and pray this prayer you’ll go to heaven.” (his mind processes it this way and he thinks) “Do I believe that really happened?” “I see no reason to doubt that it happened”. “Do, I want to go to heaven?” “Well, yeah, of course. So, all I have to do is pray, well, why not? It can’t hurt.” (prays) What’s missing? – Faith? No, he took your word for it that you were telling the truth. (that is a type of faith) Did he call on the name of the Lord? Yes. He believed, he prayed, but he doesn’t get saved. (no evidence at all)
You can conclude that he is saved, despite the absences of evidence, but there are undoubtedly converts who are not converted; what is missing is repentance – the actual recognition of lostness in sin so that when he prays he actually has something to pray about! You are not merely preforming one of the steps in the program as it was laid out to you but you are genuinely asking the Saviour to save you, because you have something to be saved from, and you are trusting that He can and He will; this is saving faith. Do you see the difference?