What do we have to offer other than repentance?
37 When they heard this, they came under deep conviction[a] and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Brothers, what must we do?”
38 “Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
People often seem to have a strange view of salvation. Some will claim that you must do this or that in order to be saved. Others will claim that to do anything in order to be saved is trying to earn salvation. As usual, the truth lies somewhere in-between these two extremes.
I even read this evening a short blog article claiming that repentance is not required in order to be saved. Yet, that flies in the face of the introductory quote, not to mention many other scriptures. It flies in the face of common sense.
What does God truly require of us? The answer is easy: Everything. Everything we own belongs to God, and dedicating it all to God is nothing more than an acknowledgement of that fact. However, that begs the question, doesn’t it?
Think about it: What do we truly own?
Do we own our bodies? In a sense we do, but our bodies break down and do not work right. As we get older, they disobey our wishes more and more. Eventually, even our breath will fail us and we will die. So, we might “own” our bodies, but even those are subject to the laws of nature and the universe.
No, we really only own our minds. We own our intellect, and indeed we can even defy logic and believe all sorts of fanciful things. We own our hearts, which is a metaphor for the emotions we experience within our minds, but society tells us it is the other way around. Yet, we can learn to love, we can learn to hate, and we can learn to control our emotions with our intellect — or not, as the case often is.
To repent is to change one’s mind and even our attitude. However, the Bible points out there are different types and levels of repentance. I can think of three types of repentance right off of the top of my head. However, I want to focus on what we typically call “godly repentance”.
10 For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.
Esau had a type of repentance, and he even came to tears, but he did not change his life. Judas repented, but he chose to end his life rather than change it. How many singers, athletes, entertainers and politicians say they are sorry, but they are not sorry for what they did, but rather they are sorry they hurt anyone’s feelings? These are examples of worldly repentance. It is a sorrow that leads to death.
No, it must be a deep type of sorrow. It must be a sorrow that admits that we are wrong, that we have hurt others, and that we must be the ones that change.
It must be a sorrow that leads us to ask, “What must we do?” Simply being sorry is not enough. Simply saying we are sorry is not enough. We must be willing to do something.
So, what can we do? We show our sorrow through baptism. We gain the power to change when given the Holy Spirit. We then use that power to change, another word for conversion.
It is not earning salvation to repent! Repentance is simply the acknowledgement of reality. We must be willing to face reality in this insane world. We don’t earn salvation by acknowledging that gravity is real and jumping off of tall buildings will kill us. We don’t earn salvation by fearing falling off the edge and standing a healthy distance from it. Neither do we gain salvation by acknowledging our guilt before God and man and fearing enough to obey and becoming baptized. No, that is not earning salvation, but it is still a necessary part of the process.
If we are drowning, then we do not earn salvation by grabbing onto a life saver. It’s just common sense. Jesus offers us a lifeline. We do not claim to earn salvation by grabbing onto it.
Once saved, what is expected other than praise and thanks? What do we humans have to offer our Great God other than repentance, praise and thanks? The answer is nothing. We own nothing else. Yet, if we do not use the resources given us and show our repentance, thanks and praise through our actions, then our repentance is merely worldly sorrow.