Repentance From Dead Works

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,”


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Repentance (G3341, metanoia)

✦ A change of mind; especially of those who abhor (utterly detest, hate) their errors and misdeeds and have determined to enter into a better course of life.

✦ A changed mind leads to a changed life (changed mind —> changed life).

✦ Recognition of sin, sorrow for it and a hearty amendment (i.e. change from the heart) for it.

Key Verses

✦ Luke 24:47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” (remission of sins = baptism, Acts 2:38, Mk 16:15-16, Matt 28:19-20)

✦ Acts 20:21 “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.” [toward God]

✦ Acts  26:20 “but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” [meet=worthy, corresponding to (i.e. you will know them by their fruit Matt 7:16, 20)]

V18 = turning from darkness to light, from Satan to God

✦ Rom 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” [It’s God’s goodness that leads us to repentance.]

✦ 2 Cor 7:9-10 “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” [true repentance isn’t just feeling bad cuz you got caught or cuz someone scolded you for your act – worldly sorrow – but a deep inward sorrow that doesn’t want to do the thing anymore]

✦ 2 Pet 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”

Dead Works (G3498, nekros; G2041, ergon)

✦ Works devoid of that life which has its source in God.

✦ Works which at the judgment will fail of the approval of God and of all reward.

Two fold understanding of dead works.

✦ Works of the flesh that are sin.

✚ Gal 5:19-21 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

✦ Religious works that are in vain.

✚ Matt 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

✚ Any work that makes us feel justified apart from the work of Christ on the cross.

✘ No man is justified by the works of the law (Rom 3:20-28, Gal 2:16, 3:11, 3:24, 5:4) Our best works should never make us feel approved/accepted by God.

✘ Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). He is the vine & we are the branches. How do we get connected to the vine? Repentance from a pure heart. And that brings us full circle.

✚ “We work from a place of rest” (not striving in our own selves).

✘ Heb 4:10 “For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.”

✘ Rev 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” (both a future literal and present spiritual connotation.)

✘ Works are a byproduct of our abiding in Christ (the overflow). (John 15:4)

This is part 1 of the Foundational Principles series.

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