11. THE NECESSITY OF REPENTANCE
Jesus began to preach, saying: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." (Matt 4:17) The Lord wants everyone to repent (2 Pet 3:9) and only those who live according to the will of the Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven. (Cp. Matt 7:21) The message of the Holy Scriptures is: repent or die! (Cp. Ezek 33:11) Even within the church the call to repentance must be heard. (Rev 2:5,16,21; 3:3,19)
Those teachers who tell people it is not necessary to come to repentance, are like those teachers of whom Jesus said: "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's face. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to." (Matt 23:13; Luke 11:52) They are the blind guides trying to lead the blind (Cp. Matt 15:14; 23:16). May God remove the veil from their minds and their hearts, so that they can see (Cp. 2 Cor 3:12-16).
The same must be said of those teachers who tell people that it is not enough to accept Jesus as their personal Saviour, and that there are still other things they have to do to be saved. They are like those teachers of whom Jesus said: "They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them." (Matt 23:4) To them the words of Jesus apply: "They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men." (Mark 7:7)
In Proverbs 30:5,6 we read: "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar." The Lord, for example, commanded Joshua: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Josh 1:8) The same command applies to us. (2 Thes 2:15; 3:14)
Indeed, everything that was ever written in the Bible was written to teach us (Rom 15:4) or to admonish us for, and to warn us against improper behaviour (1 Cor 10:6,11). God once commanded Moses to take his staff and to command a rock to give water. (Num 20:8) But instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice with his staff. (Num 20:11) Because of this action, God prevented Moses from entering the promised land (Num 20:12) and despite of his desperate appeals to God, he was ignored (Deut 3:23-27). We must be obedient to every word of the Lord (cp. Matt 5:17-20) and must serve God with reverence and Godly fear according to His will, not ours, because our God is a consuming fire. (Heb 12:28,29) If not, we must be prepared to face the dreadful consequences when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in a flaming fire to punish those people who do not know God, and those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thes 1:7-9)
Paul writes that God was not pleased with most of the Israelites because they died in the desert (1 Cor 10:5), and warns: "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" (1 Cor 10:12) In his subsequent letter he admonishes: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you unless, of course, you fail the test!" (2 Cor 13:5) The intention of this command is that the self-examination by the members of the church in Corinth would lead to one of two discoveries: either that they had already been saved, or that they still had to be saved.