Foundational Doctrines – Part 2, Repentance

Foundational Doctrines – Part 2


By Bill Murchison

Repentance Last week we looked at the introduction to the six foundational teachings found in Hebrews 6. This week we will be looking at “Repentance From Dead Works.”

(Hebrews 6:1-2)  “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, {2} of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

There are two important principles to understand about this foundational teaching. First, the writer says repentance from dead works. By the context of Hebrews it is very clear that the recipients of this letter were Jewish believers. The writer gives a history of God’s dealings with His people in the first few chapters. Then, the writer goes into depth about the high priest and the ministry of Christ. All these details about the laws make it very clear that the recipients were Jewish believers.

The church at that time had gone through a major struggle over what was required to become a Christian. Many of the Jewish converts wanted the Gentile believers to follow the Law. The book of Galatians was written to remind the Galatians how they had been set free from the Law. The keeping of the Law was not going to save anyone. Our salvation comes from our faith in Christ, not our works. Therefore, when the writer in Hebrews talks about repentance from dead works, he is primarily addressing repentance from trusting in works for salvation. Our trust must be in what Jesus did on the cross, not the dead works that we do. That is the context of repentance in this passage.

It is also important to understand repentance. The Greek word for repentance is metanoia, (Strong’s 3341). It means to do an about face, or reversal, to think differently or afterwards, reconsider, or repent. Repentance from dead works is just one area of repentance. We find the New Testament full of Scriptures about believers repenting from sin when they came to Christ, or when they had sinned. When Peter preached the gospel at Pentecost, the people were pierced in their hearts with the gospel. They asked Peter, “what must we do to be saved?” Peter responds by telling them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins.

(Acts 2:37-38)  “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” {38} And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Our repentance should be manifested by a change in behaviour. If there is no fruit or change in behaviour, it is doubtful that we have genuinely repented. When someone comes to Christ, there should be evidence of a changed life. John writes that it should be obvious whether we are a Christian or an unbeliever. Our lives should reflect that change.

(1 John 3:10) “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Next week we will take another look at repentance, focusing on two types of sorrow. One sorrow leads to repentance and one sorrow is just angry about being caught.

“Father, we want to be a people whose lives reflect Your character, and Your nature. We want to be a people have soft hearts and continue to make changes in our lives as You reveal areas of our lives that do not line up with Your Word. We want it to be obvious whose children we are. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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