Etikettarkiv | repent

We are created to seek and find God – Acts 17:26-27

acts 17.jpegWe are all created to seek and find God

Maybe this is self-evident, but there are reformed Christians who do not believe this at all. They rather believe that some are created to seek and find God while others are created to be spiritually blind and unable to do so (according to God’s will which is sometimes ”mysterious” for us).

Acts: 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should SEEK THE LORD, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be NOT FAR FROM EVERY ONE OF US.

The same text also tells us that we are all commanded to REPENT from our sins, and to make it clear we can read that this applies to ”all men every where”. This means that while God can be viewed as being very patient with us, the commandment still stands.

Acts 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now COMMANDETH ALL MEN EVERY WHERE TO REPENT 

Since all are commanded to repent it means that we are capable of doing just that. Compare with God’s command to Adam (and Eve) in the garden, where Adam is asked to not eat from a certain tree. God informed him about the consequences should Adam take the decision to eat despite of the commandment. (Note below that the English translation/phrase ”for in the day”, yowm, Strong’s 3117, according to Blueletterbible can be understood as ”when …”, as is the case in my own language in Svenska 1917 års Bibel ”när”.)

Gen. 2:16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

The fact that God informs Adam of the consequences for being disobedient proves that Adam has a genuine choice. The same is true with all of God’s commandments, such as the one in Acts 17. We are all commanded to repent from our sins, but not all of us will make this choice.

We are also told that God will still judge us in a very fair way. He knows our capabilities:

Rom. 2:5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;Who will render to every man according to his deeds:7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing SEEK for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile:11 For there is no respect of persons with God.12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law;13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)16 In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Reformed Christians might then quote Rom. 3:10-11 where it says that there is no one righteous and ”none that seeketh after God”, but they fail to see that the apostle Paul is quoting from a couple of Psalms (”as it is written”), and if we go to these psalms we can read about unrighteous people who do not seek him, but in the same context we can also about righteous people who DO seek him. On top of it all, Paul calls himself righteous and also to having lived with a totally clean conscience (1 Thess. 2:10, Acts 23:1), so he would have contradicted himself if he claimed there were no such individuals to be found. Read more here.

We are promised that we will find the Lord if we search for him with all of our heart:

Jer. 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart

Matt. 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you

More examples which show that we are able and requested to seek God:

Deut. 4:29 But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.

1 Chron. 22:19 Now set your heart and your soul to seek the LORD your God; arise therefore, and build ye the sanctuary of the LORD God, to bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and the holy vessels of God, into the house that is to be built to the name of the LORD.

1 Chron. 28:9 And thou, Solomon my son, know thou the God of thy father, and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind: for the LORD searcheth all hearts, and understandeth all the imaginations of the thoughts: if thou seek him, he will be found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.

2 Chron. 11:16 And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers. 

2 Chron. 15:4 But when they in their trouble did turn unto the LORD God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them. 

2 Chron. 19:3 Nevertheless there are good things found in thee, in that thou hast taken away the groves out of the land, and hast prepared thine heart to seek God.

Ezra 6:21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat 

Psalm 10:4 The WICKED, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. 

Psalm 70:4 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, LetGod be magnified.

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts.

Isaiah 58:2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God.

Daniel 9:3 And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:

Hosea 3:5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days. 

Hebrews 11:6 But 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.

The parable of the TWO SONS – who said one thing and did the opposite – Matt. 21:28-32

repent2”He repented and WENT” (Matt. 21:29)

We are supposed to ”walk the talk” instead of just paying lip-service to God’s request of being obedient. The first idiom means ”performing actions consistent with one’s claims” and the second one means ”giving approval or support insincerely”. There are numerous parables in the Bible and while they might each convey different principles, most of them also show that we are justified by works and not only by faith (Ja. 2:24). This is normally the opposite story of what you might hear in church due to the teachings of men like John Calvin and Martin Luther.

1 Cor. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. (NKJV)

Matt. 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall EXCEED the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Here is the parable (KJV) about the two sons who said one thing and did the opposite:

Matt. 21:28 But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard.29 He answered and said, I WILL NOT: but afterward he REPENTED, and WENT.30 And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I GO, SIR: and WENT NOT.31 Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.32 For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, REPENTED NOT afterward, that ye might believe him.

These sons can represent anyone of us, but they might also represent two distinct  groups. The first son might represent those pharisees/Jews who claim to obey God but do not, and the other son might represent the publicans/harlots (or gentiles) who choose to obey God after having repented of their deep sins. During the time of Jesus, there were Jewish leaders who claimed to be obedient to God but did not show it with their life style. They might automatically have thought that they were the never-ceasing obedient ones since they viewed themselves as the chosen ones, the first-born, the sons of Abraham, the group of privilege, etc.

The Jewish leaders likely identified themselves with the first son who obeyed God, but Jesus disagreed (Matt. 21:32). They forgot that the this son repented of his thoughts and turned around (unlike themselves). Also, when Jesus says publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you”, he does not promise that sinners can enter heaven without the need to change their lives. The reason why they were stronger candidates for God’s kingdom than the pharisees, is because they were more likely to confess their sins and repent – which the pharisees felt they had no need for.

This parable might make us think about the parable of the Publican and the Pharisee in Luke 18. Many misunderstand this parable and believe that the main teaching is that you should at all costs avoid thinking that righteousness has anything to do with salvation (it does), but rather that you should trust the idea that the sinners can be labelled righteous despite their sins, and righteous people can be labelled awful sinners just because of their conviction that they are righteous. This is not what the parable is saying. Just like in the parable of the two sons, repentance is still required for forgiveness and salvation. The point in the parable of Luke 18 is rather that the pharisees/Jews should not trust in their salvation just because they are born as Jews as though this would automatically make them righteous and accepted. They should rather confess their sins, repent and walk in the steps of that faith of Abraham (Rom. 4:12). The Pharisee in the parable did not even feel that he even needed to be saved from sin due to being convinced of that he lacked it. The publican on the other hand confessed his sins from a humble heart (he wanted to be freed from sin), and since repentance is a requirement for salvation, this confession must be viewed as part of this repentance. Righteousness (your own and not someone else’s) is not the same as self-righteousness.

This is what the publican did:

1 John 3:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 3:If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

John 8:11 (Jesus)— go, and sin no more 

In the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15, it is the oldest son who is usually regarded as the one representing the Pharisees/Jews (but the parable applies to anyone where the shoe fits). The great principle in that parable is that the Father always stands ready with open arms to welcome back his disobedient son, but he does not go out and force him back. It is the son who finally admits his sins, repents and chooses to return back to his Father. The son went from life, to death, to life again. Too many people are eager to get the forgiveness part of the story, without the ceasing from sin part.

Peter understood the mission of Jesus:

Acts 10:35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

The parable of the wise and foolish virgins (Matt. 25) tells the same story. Some virgins took action by bringing extra oil to their lamps, and this enabled them to join the bride groom in the wedding – not the others. The parable of the talents shows that obedient servants will enter into the joy of the Lord: ”Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” The parable of the sheep and the goats also shows the same principle. The sheep were called the righteous ones, and the reason for this is because they provided food, drink, shelter, clothes and visits (good deeds) to their fellow-man, and they therefore also inherited the kingdom of God – not the others.  

The other parable in Matt. 21:33 (apart from the one about the two sons), concerns at least two main teachings. One concerns the importance of accepting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the son of God and the corner-stone. The other concerns the importance of being a good servant and render him (God) the fruits in their seasons”.

Matt. 21:33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:34 And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.35 And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.36 Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.37 But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.38 But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.39 And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.40 When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?41 They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you,and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.46 But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

dove 2Matt. 21 also contains this marvellos promise:

Matt. 21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Something else to think about if someone claims that it is a sin to be too righteous (because of the weird idea that it would make you a self-righteous Pharisee who clings to works-based salvation):

2 Tim. 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. —3 — false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Is. 5:20 Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Forgive someone seventy times seven times according to the Bible?

hug 2Thinking the best about people, not the worst

It might not always be easy to forgive someone, but it will become much easier if we keep in mind that Jesus is always ready to forgive us our sins – if we are remorseful about our trespasses. We gain much by taking the role of a defense attorney when it comes to other people’s actions. This does not mean that we should always excuse and justify all sorts of wicked behavior that we see in others, but rather that we should try to find extenuating circumstances rather than aggravated circumstances.  

Real defense attorneys are not expected to deny their clients’ crimes and actions despite obvious evidence of their guilt, but apart from what is already proven it is sometimes possible to find circumstances in the case which could reduce the sentence or acquit the client altogether. There is a difference between acting knowingly compared to acting recklessly (or out of ignorance), and there are some perpetrators who act without a culpable mental state.

We should always be ready to forgive others since our Lord is willing to forgive us – under certain conditions. God does not accept an apology unless we truly mean it and show our repentance with our actions. We should do what we can to repair the damage that we have done, and if we are at fault for having mistreated someone it is not enough to just ask God for forgiveness in silence without also contacting the person we have hurt and make some efforts to rectify our trespasses.

Col. 3:13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

If someone is currently mistreating you and beats you with his/her fists, it is naturally not possible to be persuaded that this person is remorseful about his/her ongoing actions and deserves to be forgiven. Nevertheless, we can live with the hope that this person on a later occasion might regret his poor attitude and would have asked you for forgiveness if he/she had the chance to do so. For this reason we must always be ready to forgive. Christ forgives us our sins if we repent, and we should forgive others in a similar manner, using Christ as our role model. The Bible says ”IF he repent, forgive him” (Luke. 17:3). Notice the word ”if”.

Maybe we have had encounters with individuals in our past – either as children or as adults – who have mistreated us and sinned against us. Our attitude should not be that we are not required to forgive them because we have not met them for many years and  have no knowledge if they are remorseful. No, we must live with the assumption that they have indeed repented and would have asked us for forgiveness should they meet us. Is this not how we would like to be treated ourselves? We might have done things in the past that we deeply regret, and we live with the hope that those we have sinned against will not use it against us.

We gain a lot by not trying to think the worst about people, but rather always seek to find extenuating circumstances so that we can think the best about people – without living in denial. We might end up having a conflict with people who have offended us, but there are lots of things we do not know about their background and circumstances. Maybe they have misunderstood something? Maybe I have misunderstood something? Maybe I am not aware of the whole story leading up to the conflict? Maybe they have had previous bad experiences in life? Maybe they did not mean to offend you but said things as a joke? Maybe their upbringing was not normal? Maybe they did not intend to cause such drama? Sometimes we might get more light on the matter if we talk about it, and at other times we do not get such chances but have to make assumptions about what really transpired. God is the one who will make the final judgment. Maybe there are no valid excuses for being a jerk, and God can judge our hearts.

If we have not always behaved as the ideal friend/colleague/family member, then we are probably thankful for those who are willing to forgive us our wrong doings and who are willing to draw the best conclusions available about us.

Erasing memories not required

To forgive someone does not mean we must forget all his/her sins against us. The case might be that people have sinned against us for many years, and it is not possible to just erase those years from your memory – particularly not if those sins made a huge negative impact in your life.

The Bible says that your salvation is dependent on your willingness to forgive others who ask you for forgiveness. If you do not forgive people for their trespasses, neither will God forgive your trespasses.

Matt 6:14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Mark 11:25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven

John 20:23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

I do not believe we are required to forgive people who are in the midst of their sins, and who are fully aware of that they are sinning against us, without showing a shed of remorse. If someone is breaking into your house and is busy stealing your money, he/she clearly does not mean an apology if he/she keeps on doing it.

Jesus and Stephen forgave people who sinned against them and who did not ask for forgiveness, but in those cases (see below) they motivated their forgiveness with the other people’s ignorance – that they really did not think they were doing something wrong. We must be ready to forgive also during such circumstances. To forgive someone does not mean that we must at once cease to be cautious about this person and assume that he/she will never risk to fall back in to old habits.

Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; FOR they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.

Acts 7:59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Also Paul expressed thankfulness that Jesus showed mercy on him despite his actions since he (Paul) did not know better. Paul was convinced he was doing the right thing when he persecuted Christians because he desired to live as a righteous Jew according to the Jewish laws (as he interpreted them). Paul did not show any remorse as long as he lived in ignorance, but once he realized his sins against Jesus and his fellow-man, he repented and changed his mind.

1 Tim. 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;13 Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, BECAUSE I did it ignorantly in unbelief.

When  Jesus says that he remembers our sins no more (Hebr. 8-10), it means that he will no longer use them against us. It does not literally mean that God will select certain parts of his all-powerful knowledge about us and cease to remember them. (We also know this based on the parable in Matt. 18 below.) The promise to no longer remember our sins when we repent, concerns our past sins and cannot be used as a free card for any future sins.

”Forgive me”, means people must forgive?

There might be people who believe that it is the combining of the two words ”Forgive” and ”me” which requires the other person to forgive, just like a magical ”abracadabra” that open doors. The words mean nothing if they just constitute a lip service and when the heart says something different. IF we repent, God will forgive. It is the repentance which is the key, and it can be expressed with the mouth.

Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and IF he repent, forgive him. 

Eph. 4:32 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

+ Col. 3:13

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.

Acts 26:15 And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.— 17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.

Mark 4:12 That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.

Jeremiah 36:3 It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin.

Jesus taught us the importance of forgiving. ALL sins can be forgiven if a person is truly remorseful and decides to leave all the sins behind:

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Luke 7:47 Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.

Paul criticized the Corinthians for being too lenient when it comes to sins, as per i 1 Cor. 5, but when the sinner has been confronted and shown true remorse (an important condition), the congregation must be ready to forgive him and comfort him so that he will not give up in his grief.

2 Cor. 2:6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

Forgiving seventy times seven times

Below is the parable about forgiving seventy times seven times in Matt. 18. This means that there is no specific maximum number when it comes to forgiveness, but we should always be willing to forgive a person who shows true repentance. If someone combines righteous living with sins against you, he/she has clearly no repentant heart.

Something to note about this parable is that the servant who managed to get his debt erased (a symbol for getting his sins forgiven) unfortunately got back the same debt  when he in his turn refused to forgive another. This shows that ”once saved always saved” (or unconditional security) is not a Biblical concept, since a forgiven and cleansed person can become filthy once again and be spiritually separated from God. Note also that the servant started out asking the king for mercy (forgiveness) resulting in the cancelled debt, and it was not the king who initiated the idea.

The servant in the parable did not show true remorse, or perhaps we should say that he was truly sad about his debt and thankful for its removal, but he proved to not be ready to stay away from future debts/sins, despite that further debt would throw him right back into trouble. God can see in our hearts if we truly regret our sins and would like to leave all our sins behind. We must treat others the way we would like to be treated ourselves. We must be ready to forgive others the way Jesus forgives us our sins. We should always have a forgiving attitude.

Matt 18:21 Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.23 Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.24 And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents.25 But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.26 The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.27 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

We need to have forgiving hearts, but God is the one with authority to forgive people their sins.

Did one or both crucified thieves mock and reproach Jesus on the cross?

thieves cross

How many crucified thieves reproached Jesus?

Here is what the four gospels tell us about the thieves who were crucified together with Jesus.

Mark 15:27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left.28 And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors.29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days,30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.31 Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save.32 Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Luke 23:32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death.33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.—3And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us.40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.

John 19:31 The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.32 Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him.33 But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs:

Matt. 27:38 Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.39 And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,40 And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross.41 Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said,42 He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.43 He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.44 The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.

Matt. 27:44 with the same also the robbers, who were crucified with him, were reproaching him. (Young’s Literal)

”Cast” in Matt. 27:44 (KJV) is a translation from the Greek word oneidizō (Strong’s 3679) and could also have the meaning of reproach, revile and upbraid. 

So is it a contradiction that Matthew and Mark claim that the thieves (plural) reproached Jesus when Luke tells us another story in 23:39 – about one thief rebuking the other for his behavior and for not fearing God? Not necessarily. The easiest explanation is of course that the ”good thief” REPENTED after that he joined the crowd (soldiers, priests, people who passed by and the other thief) by making at least one negative comment which would include him among those who reproached him. The bad thief might have been much more condescending and active in his railing on Jesus, and when the good thief finally repented he rebuked the other thief by saying Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.” Some suggest that there may have been further thieves crucified in the same area, apart from those mentioned on each of his sides. Maybe this cannot be completely ruled out, but the text does not seem to suggest there were any more.

It is not uncommon to use the story with the good thief on the cross, to support the ideas that neither works nor water baptism are necessary for salvation – with the argument that the thief accomplished neither. When it comes to works (good fruit) he did confess his sins and showed evidence of true repentance (which was also the view of Jesus who promised him a place in paradise), which means that all his sins were rightly removed. On top of this he also defended Jesus (a good deed) before the other thief. As a totally cleansed person he would qualify for salvation, and apparently he did not sin again for the remaining of his brief life. It is sin that separates us from God. When it comes to water baptism of course the thief had no possibility to go through with one, and most importantly he died before Jesus so therefore still ”in the old testament”. We are indeed asked to get water baptized based on the Bible, but I do not believe a man will end up in hell if he happens to get killed on his way to do just that.

150 things we must DO to get saved, and the myth of salvation by FAITH ALONE

gräva”Ye see then how that BY WORKS a man is JUSTIFIED, and NOT by faith only” – Ja. 2:24

You will sometimes hear that we do not need to do anything at all to be saved apart from just having faith in God, because Jesus did all the rest for us. Some will even tell you that the salvation formula is ”Faith + nothing = salvation”.  The Bible, however, tells us that we must show our faith by doing good works – and without serving two masters. There is no salvation unless there is true REPENTANCE, which does not mean ”oops!”, but is a total change of heart where you confess your sins, make a complete u-turn and start walking in the light with Jesus. Faith without works is dead. Below are not really 150 different things we must do, but at least 150 verses which describe things we must do. All can be wrapped up in the one commandment ”love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself”. 

In order to be saved, the Bible tells you to … (NKJV if nothing else stated):

  1. ABIDE IN JESUS, to get eternal life – 1 John 2:24-25,28
  2. ABIDE IN JESUS, in order to not sin and to know him – 1 John 3:6
  3. ABIDE IN JESUS, so that he will abide in you, and you will not be thrown in the fire – John 15:4-7
  4. ABIDE IN THE DOCTRINE OF CHRIST and do not transgress it, in order to have God – 2 John 1:9
  5. ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUSTS, which war against the soul – 1 Pet 2:11
  6. AGREE WITH YOUR ADVERSARY quickly, lest he delivers you to the judge – Matt. 5:25
  7. ACKNOWLEDGE THE SON, to have the Father – 1 John 2:23
  8. BE A DOER OF THE LAW, to be justified – Rom. 2:13-14
  9. BE A DOER OF THE WORD AND NOT A HEARER ONLY, to not deceive yourself – Ja. 1:22
  10. BE A FAITHFUL SERVANT OF THE LORD, in order to enter into the joy of the Lord and not be cast into the outer darkness – Matt. 25:23,30
  11. BE A HOLY AND UNDEFILED TEMPLE, in order to not be destroyed – 1 Cor. 3:16-17
  12. BE A PEACEMAKER, in order to be called a child of God – Matt. 5:9
  13. BE A SLAVE TO GOD, to be set free from sin, and to get everlasting life – Rom. 6:22
  14. BE CONVERTED AND BECOME LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven – Matt. 18:3
  15. BE DILIGENT, to present yourself approved to God – 2 Tim. 2:15
  16. BE DILIGENT TO ENTER THE REST, lest you fall due to disobedience – Hebr. 4:11
  17. BE DILIGENT TO MAKE YOUR ELECTION SURE, to get an entrance into the everlasting kingdom – 2 Pet. 1:10-11
  18. BE GENTLE TO ALL, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, to be granted repentance and be a servant of the Lord – 2 Tim. 2:24-25
  19. BE HUMBLE, to get grace – Ja. 4:6
  20. BE LED BY THE SPIRIT, in order to not be under the law – Gal. 5:18
  21. BE OBEDIENT TO GOD, in order to be righteous and a slave to God instead of sin – Rom. 6:16
  22. BE PATIENT AND AVOID THE MARK OF THE BEAST, to keep your name in the book of life – Rev. 16:2, Rev. 13:8-10
  23. BEAR GOOD FRUIT, to not be cut down and thrown in the fire – Matt. 7:19
  24. BEAR FRUIT WORTHY OF REPENTANCE, to not be thrown into the fire – Matt. 3:8-10, John 15:2
  25. BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS, to fulfill the law of Christ – Gal. 6:2
  26. BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE ”I AM”, to not die in your sins – John 8:24-25, 28, 58
  27. BEWARE, LEST YOU ALSO FALL FROM YOUR OWN STEADFASTNESS, being led away with the error of the wicked – 2 Pet. 3:17
  28. BRIDLE YOUR TONGUE, to not deceive your heart and be in a useless religion – Ja. 1:26
  29. CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD, to be saved – Rom. 10:13
  30. CLEANSE YOURSELF, in order to be a vessel of honor and sanctified – 2 Tim. 2:21
  31. CONTINUE IN THE HOLY SCRIPTURES, which enables you to be wise for salvation – 2 Tim. 3:14-15
  32. CONTINUE IN THE FAITH, GROUNDED AND STEADFAST, so that Jesus will present you as holy and blameless in his sight – Col. 1:22-23
  33. CONFESS JESUS BEFORE MEN – so that Jesus will confess you before the Father – Matt. 10:32
  34. CONFESS THAT JESUS IS CHRIST AND HAS COME IN THE FLESH, in order to not be of Antichrist’s spirit and be a deceiver – 1 John 4:2-3, 2 John 1:7
  35. CONFESS THAT JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD, in order to abide in God – 1 John 4:15
  36. CONFESS WITH YOUR MOUTH the Lord Jesus, in order to be saved – Rom. 10:9-10
  37. COME TO THE LIGHT and expose your deeds, to be a person who does the truth – John 3:21
  38. COMPETE FOR THE PRIZE, to obtain an imperishable crown – 1 Cor. 9:25
  39. COMPETE ACCORDING TO THE RULES, in order to be crowned, and BE FIRST in order to partake of the crops – 2 Tim. 2:5-6
  40. CONTINUE IN GOD’S GOODNESS, in order to not be cut off from the olive tree – Rom. 11:2
  41. DENY YOURSELF, TAKE UP YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS, in order to come after him and be his disciple – Mark. 8:34, Luke 14:27
  42. DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT COMPLAINING AND DISPUTING, so that you may become blameless and a child of God without fault – Phil. 2:14-15
  43. DO NOT TAKE AWAY FROM THE BOOK OF THIS PROPHESY, or God will take away your part of the book of life and from the holy city – Rev. 22:18-19
  44. DO NOT LIVE IN AN UNRIGHTEOUS WAY, or you will be affected by God’s wrath – Rom. 1:18
  45. DO NOT TURN THE GRACE OF GOD INTO LEWDNESS, to not be condemned – Juda 1:4
  46. DO NOT BE a fornicator, an unclean person or covetous man, in order to inherit the kingdom of God – Eph. 5:5
  47. DO HIS COMMANDMENTS, to get the right to the tree of life and be able to enter through the gates into the city – Rev. 22:14
  48. DO GOOD, in order to be resurrected to life – John 5:29
  49. DO GOOD, be rich in good works, ready to give/share, that you may lay hold on eternal life – 1 Tim. 6:18-19
  50. DO GOOD DEEDS with patience, to get eternal life – Rom. 2:6-8
  51. DO GOOD WORKS, in order to be righteous/justified and not have a dead faith – Ja. 2:14-26
  52. DO GOOD WORKS and be righteous, in order to inherit the kingdom of God, like give food/drink, provide shelter for strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick/prisoners, etc – Matt. 25:34-36
  53. DO THE THINGS THAT JESUS SAYS, in order to not fall – Matt. 7:24-27
  54. DO THE WILL OF GOD, to be Jesus’ brother, sister and mother – Matt. 12:50, Mark 3:35
  55. DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER, in order to enter the kingdom of heaven – Matt. 7:21
  56. DO THE WILL OF GOD, to receive the promise – Hebr. 10:36
  57. DO THE WILL OF GOD, in order to abide for ever – 1 John 2:17
  58. DO THE WILL OF GOD, in order to be heard by him – John 9:31
  59. DO TO OTHERS WHATEVER YOU WANT THEM TO DO TO YOU, in order to fulfill the Law – Matt. 7:12
  60. DO WHATEVER JESUS COMMANDS, in order to be his friend – John 15:14
  61. DISCIPLINE YOUR BODY AND BRING IT INTO SUBJECTION, lest you might become disqualified – 1 Cor. 9:27
  62. DEPART FROM INIQUITY, in order to be known by God – 2 Tim. 2:19
  63. DRINK OF THE WATER GIVEN BY JESUS, to store a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life – John 4:14
  64. EAT THE FLESH OF THE SON OF MAN AND DRINK HIS BLOOD, to be raised up at the last day and get eternal life – John 6:53-56
  65. ENDURE TO THE END, to be saved – Matt. 24:13, Matt. 10:22
  66. ENDURE, AND DO NOT DENY JESUS, in order to reign with him and to not be denied by him – 2 Tim. 2:12
  67. ENDURE TEMPTATION, in order to be approved and to get the crown of life – Ja. 1:12
  68. ENTER BY THE NARROW GATE , to avoid the way that leads to destruction – Matt. 7:13
  69. EXAMINE YOURSELF whether you are in the faith, in order to not be disqualified – 2 Cor. 13:5
  70. FEAR GOD AND WORK RIGHTEOUSNESS, in order to be accepted by him – Acts 10:35
  71. FEAR GOD AND DO NOT BE HAUGHTY, in order to be spared – Rom. 11:20-21
  72. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, and lay hold on eternal life – 1 Tim. 6:12
  73. FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT, FINISH THE RACE, KEEP THE FAITH and LOVE HIS APPEARING, to get the crown of righteousness – 2 Tim. 4:7-8
  74. FOLLOW JESUS, in order to get eternal life – John 10:27-28
  75. FORGIVE YOUR BROTHER, so that the Father will forgive you – Mark. 11:25, Matt. 6:14-15, Matt. 18:35
  76. GIVE THE MORE EARNEST HEED TO THE THINGS HEARD, lest you drift away – Hebr. 2:1
  77. HOLD STEADFAST TO THE END, to become partakers of Christ – Hebr. 3:14
  78. HOLD FAST TO THE WORD OF JESUS, in order to be saved and to not have believed in vain – 1 Cor. 15:2
  79. HOLD FAST WHAT YOU HAVE, so that no one may take your crown – Rev. 3:11
  80. HUMBLE YOURSELF IN THE SIGHT OF THE LORD, and he will lift you up – Ja. 4:10
  81. HUMBLE YOURSELF UNDER GOD, to get grace and so that he may exalt you in due time – 1 Pet. 5:5-6
  82. IMITATE THOSE WHO THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE inherit the promises – Hebr. 6:12
  83. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS AND LOVE EACH OTHER, in order to abide in God – 1 John 3:23-24
  84. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, (Jesus lists 7), in order to enter into life – Matt. 19:16-19
  85. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, in order to be loved by the Father – John 14:21
  86. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, in order to abide in the love of Jesus – John 15:10
  87. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, in order to not be liars but be in the truth – 1 John 2:3-5
  88. KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, in order to truly love God and overcome the world – 1 John 5:3-5
  89. KEEP THE COMMANDMENTS, to show that you love Jesus – John 14:15
  90. KNOW the only true God and Jesus Christ who is sent, to get eternal life – John 17:3
  91. LABOUR FOR THE FOOD, which endures to everlasting life – John 6:27
  92. LAY ASIDE ALL FILTHINESS, and receive the implanted word which is able to save your soul – Ja. 1:21
  93. LAY ASIDE all malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, that you may grow in respect of salvation – 1 Pet. 2:1-2 NASB
  94. LET YOUR CONDUCT BE WORTHY THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST, to get salvation and avoid perdition – Phil. 1:27-29
  95. LET YOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS EXCEED THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE PHARISEES, to enter the kingdom of heaven – Matt. 5:20
  96. LIVE IN HOLINESS and not uncleanness, because rejecting this is to reject God – 1 Thess. 4: 7-8
  97. LIVE RIGHTEOUSLY, in order to inherit the kingdom of God – 1 Cor. 6:9-11
  98. LIVE WITHOUT DEFILEMENT, or causing an abomination/lie, in order to have your name in the Lamb’s book of life – Rev. 21:27
  99. LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, do good to those who hate you, to be the Father’s son – Matt. 5:43-44
  100. LOVE JESUS MORE THAN FAMILY MEMBERS, to be worthy of Jesus – Matt. 10:37
  101. LOVE THE BRETHREN, to pass from death to life – 1 John 3:14
  102. LOVE IN DEED AND IN TRUTH, to remain in God’s love – 1 John 3:17-19, 1 John 2:10
  103. LOVE ONE ANOTHER, to be born of God and abide in him – 1 John 4:7-9, 12
  104. LOVE ONE ANOTHER, to fulfill the law (5 commandments listed summed up in 1) – Rom. 13:8-10
  105. LOVE YOUR BROTHER, in order to not be a liar and to obey God’s commandment – 1 John 4:20-21
  106. NOTE AND AVOID THOSE WHO CAUSE DIVISIONS AND OFFENSES contrary to the true doctrine, in order to not be deceived – Rom. 16:17-18
  107. OBEY JESUS, to get eternal salvation – Hebr. 5:9
  108. OBEY GOD IN FAITH, in order to enter the promised rest – Hebr. 3:18, Hebr. 11:8
  109. OBEY THE GOSPEL OF GOD, in order to be righteous and saved – 1 Pet. 4:17-18
  110. OBEY THE SON, in order to see life and avoid the wrath of God – John 3:36 NASB
  111. OBEY THE GOSPEL OF JESUS, in order to avoid everlasting destruction – 2 Thess. 1:8-9
  112. OBEY THE TRUTH, to not leaven the whole lump – Gal. 5:7-9
  113. OBEY THE TRUTH, in order to purify your soul – 1 Pet. 1:22
  114. OBEY THE TRUTH, in order to not be considered bewitched and having suffered things in vain – Gal. 3:1-4
  115. OPEN THE DOOR FOR JESUS WHEN HE KNOCKS, so that he will come in and dine with you – Rev. 3:20
  116. OVERCOME, in order to be dressed in white garments and not blotted out of the book of life – Rev. 3:5
  117. PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS, to be considered born of Jesus – 1 John 2:29
  118. PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS, to be righteous just like Jesus is righteous – 1 John 3:7
  119. PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS, to be of God – 1 John 3:10
  120. PREACH THE UNPERVERTED GOSPEL, to not be accursed – Gal. 1:8-9
  121. PRESENT YOUR MEMBERS AS SLAVES OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, to be holy– Rom. 6:19
  122. PRESS TOWARD THE GOAL, for the prize of the upward call of God – Phil. 3:14
  123. PUT TO DEATH YOUR MEMBERS, like fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness in order to not be affected by the wrath of God which is coming upon the sons of disobedience – Col 3:5-6
  124. PURGE OUT THE OLD LEAVEN, that you may be a new lump and saved on the day of the Lord – 1 Cor. 5:5-7
  125. PURSUE PEACE WITH ALL PEOPLE, AND HOLINESS, without which no one will see the Lord – Hebr. 12:14
  126. PUT OFF THE OLD MAN concerning your former conduct, to not be corrupt through deceitful lusts – Eph. 4:22
  127. PUT TO DEATH THE DEEDS OF THE BODY, in order to live and be a son of God – Rom. 8:13-14
  128. REPENT FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS, to be forgiven and not perish – Luke 3:3, Luke 13:3, Acts 2:38, Acts 11:18
  129. REPENT through godly sorrow, leading to salvation – 2 Cor. 7:10
  130. RUN IN THE RACE, to get the prize – 1 Cor. 9:24
  131. SERVE IN THE NEWNESS OF THE SPIRIT, to not bear fruit to death – Rom. 7:5-6
  132. SERVE GOD ALONE AND NOT MAMMON, to be loyal to God – Matt. 6:24
  133. SERVE THE LORD JESUS HEARTILY, to receive the reward of the inheritance – Col. 3:23-24
  134. SHOW GOOD WORKS, in order to prove that you do not deny God but know him – Titus 1:16
  135. SHOW MERCY, to get mercy on judgment day – Ja. 2:13
  136. SHOW MERCY TO YOUR NEIGHBOR, to inherit eternal life – Luke 10:25-28, 36-37
  137. SOW TO THE SPIRIT, to reap everlasting life – Gal. 6:8
  138. STAND FAST, in order to not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage and Christ will profit you nothing – Gal. 5:1-2
  139. STRIVE TO ENTER THROUGH THE NARROW GATE, to be known by God and be saved – Luke 13:23-24
  140. TAKE HEED if you think you stand, lest you fall – 1 Cor. 10:12
  141. TAKE HEED TO YOURSELF, TO THE DOCTRINE AND CONTINUE IN THEM, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you – 1 Tim. 4:16
  142. TAKE YOUR CROSS AND FOLLOW JESUS, in order to be worthy – Matt. 10:38
  143. WAGE THE GOOD WARFARE with a good conscience, to not shipwreck your faith – 1 Tim. 1:18-19
  144. WAIT EAGERLY for the second return of Christ, for salvation – Hebr. 9:28
  145. WALK ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT,  to be in Christ, to fulfill the law and to not be condemned – Rom. 8:1-2, 4-6
  146. WALK ACCORDING TO HIS COMMANDMENTS, to have love – 2 John 1:6
  147. WALK IN THE LIGHT, to be cleansed from your sins – 1 John 1:7
  148. WATCH AND BE SOBER, in order to be prepared and obtain salvation – 1 Thess. 5:6-9
  149. WATCH AND DO NOT FORGET YOUR OIL, or else the son of man will not know you – Matt. 25:12-13
  150. WORK OUT YOUR SALVATION, with fear and trembling – Phil. 2:1

So there is at least some effort involved in order to be a child of God, and you should not trust those who try to make the cross that you must carry light as a feather. Apart from the above examples there are even more verses which tell us what we cannot afford to do if we want to remain saved. In summary these 150 requirements tell us one thing only:

”You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27)

If we believe in Jesus and truly love him, we also stay close to him and get help by the holy Spirit to overcome sin. God is merciful and will absolutely forgive you upon repentance, even if you are guilty of having disobeyed the entire list of requirements.

Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord REQUIRE of you But to DO JUSTLY,To LOVE mercy, And to WALK HUMBLY with your God?

God commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to REPENT – Acts 17:30

acts 17Acts 17 starts with the apostle Paul reasoning with the Jews in a synagogue in Thessalonica as his custom was, and he explained and demonstrated that Jesus is the Christ. Paul successfully managed to persuade some of them of this fact, indicating that our struggle and prayers for people’s souls can make a difference (i.e. people are not chosen to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world). NKJV:

Acts 17:2 Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” 4 And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas. (NKJV)

Paul continued on to Berea where we can read how Luke (the author) is praising these Bereans for being fair-minded because they ”received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so”. (Note that they didn’t accept whatever Paul told them just because he was an apostle, but they compared Paul’s preaching with the scripture to check if Paul was on target.) For this reason (”therefore”) many of them believed – and since Paul’s main mission was to preach that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah of the scriptures, this is what these Berean apparently started to believe (among other things). We can again see that our efforts and Bible studies can make a difference.

Acts. 17:10 Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

If God has predestined everything that takes place, there would be no reason for Paul to feel provoked by a city given over to idols, because then he would have praised God for arranging it that exact way. Instead Paul reasoned with the Jews to warn them about what was taking place in the city (as he often did) and also with the gentiles in their marketplace. Paul knew for a fact that his efforts could change the outcome of things and that everything was not set in stone from eternity past.

Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols. 17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there.

We learn many interesting facts about God and his creation from Paul’s speech on Areopagus (Mars Hill):

Acts 17:26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, 27 SO THAT THEY SHOULD SEEK THE LORD, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, THOUGH HE IS NOT FAR FROM EACH ONE OF US; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.30 Truly, these times of ignorance God OVERLOOKED, but now COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

  • We are all related to Adam and Eve (one blood) showing that Genesis seems to be a literal story.
  • He has ”determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings”, which likely means that he has set certain restrictions for us, such as maximum age and limits when it comes to our dwellings on earth.
  • God has created us in this way (perhaps referring to our ability to be aware of our mortality and also our ability to recognize that there is a God – which also Romans 1 confirms) in order to seek God, despite that Paul promises us that God is not far from anyone of us. It also says ”in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him”, and the reason Paul is not able to make any promises that we will absolutely find him (despite that he is always near each one of us) depends on our own sincerity when we seek him. Have we truly repented for our sins, and do we show him our love by what we do and by what we avoid doing? Some people might desire both God and their sins.
  • Paul calls us (human beings) the offspring of God, and he goes on to explain what we ”ought” to think about God. Not as tangible things such as gold, silver or stone (something shaped by man) but as something divine. He isn’t promising us that this is what we absolutely WILL do, but he is giving us good advice that we can be corrected by. As offspring of God, it wouldn’t make sense if some of his offspring were predestined to be wicked non-believers from the very start.
  • Apparently we have lived in times of ignorance, which is something that God has ”overlooked”, showing that our times of ignorance certainly haven’t been according to his will. He is, however, willing to forgive under certain conditions. Repentance!
  • God is willing to let go of our times of ignorance, but now he COMMANDS people to repent. He commands ALL MEN EVERYWHERE to repent. That indeed sounds like EVERY man in the entire world (so both men and women). Had Paul meant ”some” men (like a certain group of elect) there are a number of ways to express this. God is not the author of confusion, and he is able to explain things for us in a way that we can understand. It’s also natural for our God do make such commandment, because there is much JOY in heaven for each person who repents (Luke 15:7). Repenting signifies a person who has gone from spiritual death to spiritual life, and our merciful God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).
  • God commands all people to repent, but all people clearly do not repent. This is due to our free will which God has created us with, and if we choose to reject God WE are to be blamed and have to face the consequences for our choices. God is totally innocent of our unwise decisions. He doesn’t tempt anyone, much less cause people to rebel against him.

Thanks to Paul’s speech on the Areopagus, some people started to believe. Praise God for fishers of men! We have the right to become children of God if we prior to this 1) receive him, an 2) believe in his name. We are also requested to live righteous lives. The Holy Ghost is our Helper!

John 1:2 But as many as RECEIVED Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who BELIEVE in His name (NKJV)

1 John 10:3  In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever DOETH NOT RIGHTEOUSNESS is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. (KJV)

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The order is 1) seek/believe, 2) confess sins, repent, 3) become cleansed/regenerated/born again when our sins are removed, 4) receive the Holy Ghost and become a child of God!

Is it true that God GIVES the elect REPENTANCE as per 2 Tim. 2:25?

actsIn meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them REPENTANCE to the acknowledging of the truth. 2 Tim. 2:25 (KJV)

The word ”repent” is used multiple times throughout the Bible, but it’s the above verse that is the most popular one among the reformed believers since it might sound like we don’t have to do anything at all but just sit around and wait for GOD to perhaps inject us with a shot of ”repentance”. If the reformed position is true, it would be God’s fault that not everyone repents because apparently he doesn’t give everyone the possibility to do so. Only those he gives repentance can apparently repent…? This begs the question: Why does the Biblical teach ”repent or perish” if the elect can’t perish, and the non-elect can’t repent?

The Bible, however, tells us that God commands ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent (Acts 17:30), and not just ”the elect”.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to ALL MEN,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world

 Here is the verse in NKJV:

25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will GRANT them repentance, so that they may know the truth (NKJV)

If God predestined people to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world as calvinists teach, he would not place the elect among ”those who are in opposition”, but he would rather place the non-elect in the rebellious group. Yet we are told that it’s those in opposition who will perhaps be granted repentance. The uncertainty (the ”perhaps”) depends on if they have truly fled from iniquity or not. Apparently the others – those who in humility correct those who are in opposition – are already among Jesus’ sheep. This means that the winning team can expand even further if more people stay corrected. The verses prior to this verse explain what one must do to be among those who will have the chance to be granted repentance. Apart from purging oneself from sin, one is requested to: ”Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of ”a pure heart”. It’s the pure heart that God looks after, and which is judged when it comes to granting repentance or not.

To GRANT someone repentance

The word that NKJV and many other Bible versions translate as ”grant” is a translation from the Greek word δίδωμι (didōmi Strong’s 1325), and apart from grant it can also mean give, permit, bestow, let have, extend, furnish, entrust, etc. Here are some examples where didōmi is translated ”grant”:

Acts 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles GRANTED repentance unto life.

Above we can read that ”gentiles” are granted repentance unto life. We know that not all gentiles will be saved, but if we understand ”granting repentance” to mean what it says – as in granting, offering, extending repentance – then we avoid making this verse collide with many other verses which show us that we are all requested to repent. The verse suggests that all the gentiles will be granted (as in offered) the repentance that is unto life, but naturally only those who truly repent and truly love Jesus Christ will be forgiven.

We can compare it with the parable about the wedding banquet for the King’s son, which was offered to everyone. Those who were on the initial guest list chose not to come, but the invitation was extended to others and some of them chose to accept the invitation and arrived at the banquet. Those who chose to go to the banquet with proper wedding clothes were called ”chosen” – they are the special elect. We should not reinterpret the above verse to say ”giving repentance to the gentiles by force regardless of their behavior, and not giving them any opportunity to say no”. 

Mark 10:37 They said unto him, GRANT unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.

The disciples requested to get seats next to Jesus in his kingdom, and asked Jesus to grant them what they wished for. He replied that he had no authority to promise such a thing.

Rev. 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.21 TO HIM THAT OVERCOMETH will I GRANT to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

IF any man opens the door when Jesus knocks on the door… This clearly shows that it’s up to us to listen to Jesus and open the door for him. IF we choose to do so, he will come in and eat with us. Here we can see that the condition for sitting with Jesus on his throne is to OVERCOME, just like Jesus overcame by accomplishing his mission on earth and held out to the end. ”And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved”, Matt. 10:22.

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and GRANT unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

The above is from a prayer by Peter and other disciples, and it’s not uncommon for christians to ask God in a prayer to grant them various benefits which could aid them in their daily lives or in their pursuit to spread the gospel. Praying in itself is of course useless in a world that God has predestined and orchestrated, but that would not be the God of the Bible.

Acts 14:3 Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and GRANTED signs and wonders to be done by their hands.4 But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

God ”granted” them signs and wonders to be done by their hands. This doesn’t mean that he forced/predestined people to place their hands on people to heal and cast demons out of them, but he enabled them to have this power. We can read that part of the city was divided, because not all of them were on the apostles’ side. Clearly that would be against God’s will, because he would want everyone to be on the apostles’ side.

See also Rev. 19:8, 2 Ti 1:18, Eph. 3:16, Rom. 15:5 and Luke 1:74

If God no longer draws/calls people due to their choice to harden their hearts and turn their backs on him, then they will not be granted repentance. Repentance is commanded by God to ALL men everywhere, and it will be granted to truly repentant hearts  (Acts 5:31; 11:18; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:20; Rom. 2:4; 2 Ti. 2:25; 2 Pe. 3:9).

I can grant someone permission to come to my house, and I can also require that certain conditions must be met before a person can actually enter my house. I might suggest that the person must first tell me if he/she is actually coming, and I might also require a certain dress code. Granting someone the permission to come doesn’t mean that there are no conditions involved. It only means that had it not been for my offer, the person would not have been able to come.

The rest of the same chapter – 2 Tim. 2 according to NKJVgrant

2 Tim. 2:5 And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

The word competing (”strive for masteries” in KJV) suggests that there is something that we must DO, and that we are also requested to work hard to achieve something that we won’t get unless we strive. We are also warned that we won’t get our crown unless we compete according to the RULES. This suggests that there is a condition that must be met before we can get our promised crown, and that is to make sure to work according to the set rules. Paul doesn’t simply inform Timothy (and the rest of us) that we are all predestined to always obey the rules, because if that were the case his serious warnings would be a waste of time. 

7 Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.—

Paul’s admonishments indicate that he hopes to direct Timothy on the straight path, which further means that Paul’s eager warnings might make a difference for Timothy’s life and that all things are not predestined to happen beforehand. We can still change the outcome by prayers and sincere warnings.

10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.—

If people were predestined to be elect from the creation of the world, Paul should know that it’s not really immensely important for him to ”endure all things” for their sake, since absolutely nothing will make them lose their status as chosen elect that will never lose their salvation no matter what.

12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

IF we endure? Yes, we are promised to reign with him IF IF IF we endure, and IF we deny him he will also deny us. It doesn’t say that he will deny us and therefore we have no other choice but to deny him since we are predestined to be among the non-elect who by nature always deny him. God is true to his words (including promises of judgments) because he cannot deny himself.

14 Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers.

Apparently hearers are not chosen to be elect/non-elect from the creation of the world, since our unwise talk can affect people to the extent that they can be totally ruined.

15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we are not able to be approved of God, we are doomed. That’s why we should be diligent to present ourselves approved before God. WE are the ones that must do this. Jesus won’t do the job for us. We are not told here that we WILL be approved by God no matter what, but we are told ”BE DILIGENT…”.

16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some.

Hymenaeus and Philetus were two men who were overthrowing the faith of certain people due to the way they preached. This is evidence of that God in no way decided whom to save and whom to damn from the creation of the world, because then no one would be able to overthrow anyone’s faith in God. For the same reason, this verse is also evidence of that unconditional eternal salvation is not true.

19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

We know that a seal can be broken (like the stone that was ”sealed” before Jesus’ grave), and the ”seal” spoken about here is the assurance that God knows those who are his (and his sheep are those who decide to follow Jesus), and that those who mention Christ’s name should depart from iniquity. Being engaged in iniquity is always against God’s will.

20 But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. 21 Therefore IF ANYONE CLEANSES HIMSELF from the latter, he will be a vessel for HONOR, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work. 22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Above we can see that we are asked to cleanse ourselves (from iniquity), and if we do we will be vessels of honor. This is an opportunity for all of us. Naturally we don’t have the authority to forgive ourselves our sins, but the request to cleanse ourselves means that we must confess our sins, repent from an earnest heart and thus be cleansed/regenerated by God. We are the ones who get the ball rolling. IF we ”cleanse ourselves” we will be sanctified, useful and prepared for every good work. We are requested to pursue righteousness, which means that we are not simply promised that we will be injected  with some of Jesus’ righteousness, but we are actually asked to flee ”youthful lusts” and live righteous lives ourselves. WE are requested to have a pure heart, because we can’t hide behind Jesus.

25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

We have already covered v. 25. Young’s Literal says in v. 26 ”having been caught by him at his will”. This means that Satan’s will is a force to count on, and Paul also says elsewhere that we are slaves to the one we obey. If we obey sin, we actually obey Satan because he is the one who wants us to feel comfortable in our sins. This again shows that God’s will doesn’t always happen, unless we believe that Satan and God work together to ensnare people in sin. Fortunately, we are told that we can escape the snare of the devil, and we have the chance to be granted repentance – if we let ourselves be corrected, if we truly ”cleanse ourselves” and if we call on God from a ”pure heart”, as per the verses just before.

Repentance means that our PAST sins are forgiven, and obviously not our present and/or future sins

2 Pet 1:9 But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been CLEANSED FROM HIS PAST SINS. 

Romans 3:24, 25 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God.

We are asked to repent (and be baptized) for the remission of sins and AFTER that we will be given the Holy Spirit 

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE REMISSION OF SINS and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost

True repentance is a way to get  SALVATION

Our own godly sorrow might lead to repentance:

2 Cor 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance LEADING TO salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces DEATH. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Also christians might choose to sin and even choose to not forgive a brother. If he/she does and refuses to repent, our Father in heaven will not forgive them:

Mat 6:14,15 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But IF you do not forgive men their sins, YOUR FATHER WILL NOT FORGIVE YOUR SINS. 

Mat 18:32-35 Then the master called the servant in. You wicked servant, he said, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. —This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. 

Also christians might choose to disown Jesus before men, and if they refuse to repent they will be disowned by their Father in heaven. If a person naturally disowns Jesus, it might be an indication of that this person has not repented since he isn’t able to endure hardship. We are not able to be Jesus disciples unless we take up our cross and carry it, and disowning Jesus means that we don’t carry our cross.

Mat 10:33 But whoever disowns me before men, I WILL DISOWN HIM before my Father in heaven.–Mat 26:69-75Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”

2 Chron. 15:2 The LORD is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, HE WILL FORSAKE YOU.

Jesus started out to preach the necessity to 1) repent, and 2) believe the gospel. He also told his disciples to preach the same thing. Why? So people would heed the warnings and not PERISH!perish

Mark 1:15 And saying The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand REPENT ye and believe the gospel

Luke 13:3 + 5 I tell you Nay but EXCEPT YE REPENT ye shall all likewise PERISH

Mark 6:12 And they went out and preached that men should REPENT

Acts 20:19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:—21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, REPENTANCE TOWARD GOD, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:15 — I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;17 Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,18 To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.19 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, THAT THEY SHOULD REPENT AND TURN TO GOD, AND DO WORKS MEET FOR REPENTANCE.

If we are not forgiven we are not saved. We need to be repent in order to get our sins blotted out and be FORGIVEN

Apparently the rich man who said this had NOT repented before he ended up in hell:

Luke 16:30 And he said Nay father Abraham but if one went unto them from the dead they will repent 

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore and be converted THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE BLOTTED OUT when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lorddd

Acts 8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray God if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee

1 John 1:9 IF we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us OUR SINS, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Isaiah 55:7 LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him RETURN unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and FORSAKETH them shall have mercy

Luke 17:3 Take heed to yourselves If thy brother trespass against thee rebuke him and if he repent forgive him 4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day and seven times in a day turn again to thee saying I repent thou shalt forgive him

2 Cor. 12:21 And lest when I come again my God will humble me among you and that I shall bewail many which have sinned already and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness which they have committed

Luke 15:7 I say unto you that ”likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance”—10 Likewise I say unto you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth—32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Rev. 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent and do the first WORKS or else I will come unto thee quickly and will REMOVE thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent

Rev. 2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication and she repented not. 22 Behold I will cast her into a bed and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation except they repent of their DEEDS

Rev. 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard and hold fast and REPENT. If therefore thou shalt not watch I will come on thee as a thief and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee

Rev 3:19 As many as __ I love I rebuke and chasten BE ZEALOUS THEREFORE AND REPENT. 

Rev. 16:9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. 10And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, 11And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their DEEDS.

Rev. 2:16 REPENT or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth

 Early  church fathers

1 Clement 7:5 Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.

Justin Martyr, The first apology, Chapter 28 For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.

Being required to fill in an internet application in a way that the system prevents

åäöI experienced something the other day which reminded me of Calvinism . My daughter and I had to fill in an application on British Airways‘ website for her trip to the USA, and it was very important to fill in her name EXACTLY as written in her passport. I already knew the importance of this from before, and a few months ago I read in our local paper about a man who neglected to write an ”H” in his application which should have been there in his last name. He solved the matter by officially changing his name, which he luckily had time to do before his departure to the US…!

The only problem for us when we filled in our application was that the system prevented us from using any other letters than the ones between a-z – and that wasn’t the first time we’ve run into that internet problem. Our name is BJÖRK, and ö is a completely different letter than o, and neither are the letters å and ä forms of a. So should we LIE as we usually do when we fill in such applications and write BJORK, or should we use BJOERK (which resembles the pronunciation of ö better) and which is commonly done when it comes to airlines tickets and elsewhere? If that man with the lacking H got in trouble, maybe we will get in trouble for adding an extra E which shouldn’t be there? We weren’t quite sure how to fill in that important document, but we knew that it was EXTREMELY IMPORTANT and a REQUIREMENT that both the first and the last names were written EXACTLY as written in the passport, or else she might not be able to enter the country.

We tried with an O and hoped for the best, and we also had to lie in the same way when we filled in our little city (which has an Ä in it), and to top it off I had to lie a final time when I paid the 14 dollars that we owed and which had to be made by a credit card where my unfortunate last name appears once again. I chose O instead of Ö there too, right under the information that the name must be typed in EXACTLY as it appears on the credit card (which is Björk with an Ö). So once again the system asked me to do something that the same system prevented me from doing.

(Our most common lie when it comes to such applications happens when we must fill in a zip code, which we don’t have. We could try with our own address digits but that almost never works, but typing ”00000” or similar works at times.)

Anyway, this reminded me of Calvinism, because according to this doctrine God actually commands us to do something that he has prevented us from doing. We are told to REPENT, which we can’t unless he enables us and predestines us to do so, and apparently he has not enabled everyone to repent since most people will (according to the Bible) end up in hell for not having repented or believed in God.

Acts. 17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth ALL MEN EVERY WHERE to repent

There are also many other things we are told to do which we can’t – for instance stop sinning – and that is something God has prevented most people from doing (if Calvinism is right). Nevertheless, he will still punish them for not repenting and for their sins which he caused them to commit. Only the elect will be able to seek God and repent, and the non-elect are prevented from doing this. By God.

SIN is what you DO, and not what you ARE!

We are NOT born with a sinful nature, and we are not born depraved and unable to do good

We don’t have to sin

We are guilty because we could obey God but chose not to

There is no such thing as ”once righteous always righteous”

We are NOT saved by faith alone

We must repent and DO righteousness

1 John 3:7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

1 John 3:10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

Mike Desario makes an excellent explanation how christians are watering down the gospel by teaching that no one can ever stop sinning, and that we must sin until we die. Being tempted is not a sin.

Make yourself a new heart, for why will ye die? (Ez. 18:31)

love3God can clean us up and give us a new heart, but in order for him to do this we must choose to repent, come to him and place him as No 1 in our lives. WE are actually asked to cleanse, purify and circumcise our own hearts (which we can if we cast away our sins). 

Ezekiel 18:31 Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Psalm 119:9 Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.

Isaiah 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

Jeremiah 4:4 Circumcise yourselves to the Lord, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings.

Jeremiah 4:14 O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?

Amos 4:6 And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the Lord.

Ezekiel 24:13 In thy filthiness is lewdness: because I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged, thou shalt not be purged from thy filthiness any more, till I have caused my fury to rest upon thee.

Deutoronomy 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.

Matt. 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

To be regenerated is to be cleansed. We are not clean before we come to Jesus and repent for our sins, and we can’t get the Holy Spirit unless we are born again and have purged hearts. We must choose to come to Jesus to be born again and leave our old man behind. John the Baptist preached about repentance for the remission of sins, and Jesus picked up after him and did the same – by preaching about repentance and faith in him as the promised Messiah and son of God. Jesus work was to call sinners to repentance so that they could get life and he taught his disciples – and all of us – to continue preaching this gospel throughout the whole world. The path that you should walk is 1) come to Jesus and believe in him and his work on the cross 2) confess your sins and repent 3) you’re now cleansed, purged, regenerated and born again 4) you’re given the Holy Spirit as a Helper. A person can never be considered clean as long as his sins are not washed away, and the Bible doesn’t teach ”once cleansed, always cleansed”. We must endure to the end to be saved.

Mark 1:4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

Mark 1:14 Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.

Matthew 9:13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 And ye are witnesses of these things.49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

Matt. 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.

Thanks to Jesse Morell for the below concerning regeneration after faithheart3

Regeneration requires consent and cooperation. A man’s free will must be synergistically involved in his regeneration. God cannot change a man’s character without the cooperation of the man himself. That is why God said, “I have purged thee, and thou wast not purged” (Eze. 24:13). This is because unless a man is willing to have his moral character changed, it will and cannot be changed. It is impossible for Omnipotence to change a man’s moral character without the consent of his will because this would involve an intrinsic contradiction. Therefore, God and man both have an active role in regeneration. This is why the Bible says that God gives us a new heart (Eze. 11:19; 36:26), while also saying that men should make for themselves a new heart (Eze. 18:31). When a sinner’s will is changed from being disobedient to obedient, both God and the sinner have an active role in bringing about that change. God’s role is His gracious influence upon our will. Man’s role is the yielding of and obedience of his will.

Jesus said, “Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26). For Jesus to tell men to clean themselves on the inside (change their intention), takes for granted that it is their choice and that they can do this. Jesus was actually filled “with anger, being grieved, for the hardness of their hearts” (Mk. 3:5). This indicates that the state of man’s heart is man’s own fault, that the state of his heart is something which he causes and which he has control over.

The Bible even commands men to make unto themselves a new heart. God said, “make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die…” (Ezekiel 18:31). “Wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved” (Jeremiah 4:14). “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8).

What does it mean to change your heart? To change your heart is to change your intention. It is to change the motives for all your actions. It means that you are no longer living for yourself or have a selfish motive but are now living for God and the well-being of His universe, thus having benevolent motives.

Men are even commanded to circumcise their own hearts (Deut. 10:16; Jer. 4:4). Since they are commanded to do so, this means that it is their own responsibility and choice. To circumcise your heart means to repent or put off your sins (Col. 2:11). Therefore, to circumcise your heart means to repent of your sins but to have an uncircumcised heart is to have an impenitent heart.

When Stephen was open air preaching, he said to the crowd “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do ye” (Acts 7:51). Stephen was rebuking them for disobeying a specific commandment, “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked” (Deut. 10:16).

Why would Stephen rebuke them for being uncircumcised in their heart unless they were capable of circumcising their hearts? Why rebuke them for breaking a commandment unless they were capable of obeying the commandment? Why rebuke them for having uncircumcised hearts unless having such hearts was their own free choice? Why would he rebuke them for resisting the Holy Spirit unless they were capable of yielding to the Holy Spirit? Unless they were capable of doing these things, why rebuke them for not doing these things?

Stephen seemed to take for granted or assume the ability of his audience. He blamed them for their impenitent which must mean that their impenitent was their own free choice. You cannot rebuke a man for something which is not his choice. A man cannot be blamed for that which is beyond his control or for what he cannot help.