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Does the Gospel Require Repentance?  /  Is Our Salvation Dependent Upon How Much God Loves Us?  /  What Does It Mean to Love Jesus?


The first word in the gospel is “repent,” which means “to change one’s mind or purpose.”1 This is seen in Matthew 3:2 and 4:7; Mark 1:15 and 6:12; Luke 13:3–5; Acts 2:38, 3:19, 8:22, 17:30, and 26:19–20. Salvation is conditioned upon our willingness to turn away from our sins and align our passions and actions with what the Bible says. Our salvation is not dependent upon how much God loves us. According to John 3:16, God loved everyone enough to die for us in order to offer us a way of salvation, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Certainly God has a passionate love for all men. However, not all men will be saved. 2 Peter 3:9 teaches that if the decision of who should be saved were entirely up to how God feels, then everyone would be saved, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” Not all men receive salvation because God’s love and desire to see all men saved is limited by His justice.

Certainly Jesus loves us, but Scripture teaches that this is not sufficient to secure our salvation. Matthew 7:21–23 teaches that we must have a relationship with Jesus in order to receive salvation, “‘Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” The word “know” in this passage means more than “to be aware of.” Clearly an omniscient God is aware of these people. Instead, this is a word which can mean “to understand completely” and “implies an active relation between the one who ‘knows’ and the person or thing ‘known.’”2 Jesus says to these people that they may have thought that they loved Him, but there was no intimacy—there was no relationship. Because of this, they do not receive salvation.

It is not enough that Jesus loves us; we must also love Him. Jesus said in John 14:15 that if we truly love Him, then we will keep His commandments, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” According to John 15:10, it is through obeying Jesus’ commandments that we abide in His love, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” Jesus was not so soft and sentimental that He had no standards. In Matthew 7:21–23, Jesus said that not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who DO the will of God. Certainly this is an impossible task on our own, but Ephesians 5:25–27 teaches that Jesus is actively sanctifying those who belong to Him, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Additionally, 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches that God empowers His people to overcome temptation, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

 


1. Vine, Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, 525.
2. Ibid, 347.

Works Cited

1. Vine, W.E., Merrill Unger, William White Jr. Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996.


 

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Author: Timothy Zebell, 2015