Do you need to repent to go to heaven? (what does the Bible say?)

As a theologian and devout Christian, I have developed a keen interest in Repentance. I am especially intrigued by the connection between Repentance and a believer’s faith journey and ultimately going to heaven. I recently embarked on research that led me to seek views about this topic from the local clergy and theology professors. I sort to know what the scriptures say about Repentance as a requirement to make heaven. Thankfully, the research bore fruit, and I got all the necessary information. As I was teaching my college students yesterday, they questioned me about the need for Repentance as a way to go to heaven. I was glad because my research gathered comprehensive knowledge on the subject. Many students had myths surrounding Repentance, and I put all the misconceptions to rest after we had an in-depth discussion on the topic. So, do you need to repent to go to heaven?

Yes, scripture clearly explains that to go to heaven, one must first repent in Romans 10:9–10. It is only through being saved that one gains entry to heaven. True Repentance is about turning away from one’s sin and recognizing that only God can redeem you. It is through sorrow borne out of our sinful nature that we turn to God in Repentance. Additionally, to repent, one must have accepted Jesus, as He is the one who convicts us of our shortcomings.

In this article, I invite you to join me as I delve deeper into what the Bible says about Repentance, what it means to repent and believe in Christ, why Repentance is important for Salvation and much more!

What does the Bible say about Repentance?

God orchestrated Repentance for people who believed in Him to turn away from their sinful ways. This was the only way to heal them and bring them restoration, as explained in 2 Chronicles 7:14. The Bible paints a clear picture of the importance of Repentance in our walk as Christian believers.

In the Old Testament, we see prophets calling upon the people of God to repent, and the same is continued in the New Testament, where we see John the Baptist in Matthew 3:2 and Jesus in Matthew 4:17 calling people to Repentance.

Repentance is a complete turnaround from one’s old ways to follow God fully. In Joel 2:12–13, God urges His people to turn away from their wicked ways. The Bible explains that this should come from a pure heart through mourning, weeping, and fasting.

We see David in the Bible repenting after he realized his mistake of killing Uriah and taking His wife. True Repentance, according to the Bible, is realizing our mistakes and that we need God, as David did in Psalm 51:4–10.

The work of Repentance is important to Salvation. Scripture describes this when it mentions that Jesus’ main goal was to lead sinners to Repentance, as recorded in Luke 5:32. Jesus also urged the disciples to preach Repentance to all the nations of the world in Luke 24:47. Repentance is essential to God, as it shows that one has completely changed and chosen to live a life that pleases and honors Him.

What does it mean to repent and believe in Christ?

Do you need to repent to go to heaven? 
What does it mean to repent and believe in Christ? Image source: Pixabay

Repenting means turning away from one’s wicked ways and choosing to follow Christ. Repenting means agreeing with God that sin is wrong and changing our minds about sinful ways. Repenting calls for a contrite heart; one needs to accept that they have sinned and, through conviction because of guilt and regret, turn away from their vices.

Repentance is a change of mind and attitude. Jesus, in the book of Mark 1:14–15, called people to Repentance. In His words, the kingdom of God was near, and sinners needed to change from unbelief to a state of belief. When we believe in God and trust in Jesus, we experience a full transformation. Our minds, thinking, behavior, habits, and attitudes change.

We begin to detest sin Just as God detests sin, and thus, with time, our minds are renewed daily, as explained in Romans 12:2, to a point where, like God, we are made Holy, righteousness is the ultimate goal, and it is borne through the act of Repentance and believing in Jesus Christ.

Believing is trusting and acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord over one’s life. It means surrendering to a life that is guided by God’s precepts. Confessing that, indeed, Jesus Christ died, was resurrected after three days, and rose again seated at the right hand of God.

God is elated when we repent, and the whole of heaven rejoices, as described in Luke 15:10. Belief and Repentance can be thought of as two sides of the same coin; one cannot exist without the other.

Why is Repentance important for Salvation?

The Bible in Luke 3:8–14 describes Repentance as a change of mind that results in a change in how we act. The first chapters of the book of Acts in the Bible clearly explain that Salvation cannot exist without Repentance. Repenting, according to the Apostle Peter, was not just about turning away from one’s sins.

Repenting meant believing in Jesus by turning away from the previous beliefs about who Jesus was, as elaborated in 2 Corinthians 5:17. Apostle Peter urged people to turn away from their unbelief that Jesus came to save the world to belief that He was the son of God sent to rescue humanity.

This was coming at a time when everyone had rejected Jesus Christ and surrendered him for crucifixion. In the book of Acts 2:36–38, Apostle Peter calls people to change their minds about what they believe about Jesus. He urges people to accept that Jesus is the Son of God and to turn from their wicked ways to get Salvation.

Salvation, which is the confession of Jesus Christ as the ultimate savior from sin, can only happen when, as sinners, we turn away from our previous ways of thinking. We are called to cross over to God’s side, where our thoughts about sin, Jesus, and holiness are transformed into ways that are pleasing to God and are part of his will and purpose for us.

Do I still go to heaven if I repent of my current sins but not my past?

Do you need to repent to go to heaven?
Do I still go to heaven if I repent of my current sins? Image source: Pixabay

Scripture tells us that we should repent of all our sins in Matthew 4:17. For one to go to heaven, God requires them to repent for all the wrong that they have done in the present as well as in the past. In Luke 18:10–14, a story is told of two people who went to pray; one was very remorseful in their Repentance, while the other boasted of how good they were. They did not repent.

The Bible explains that the remorseful one was exalted and justified, but the other sinner, who did not recognize his sin, was condemned. To go to heaven, the Bible, in John 3:3–8, says that you should repent to see heaven. Repentance should come from your heart, and one should repent of everything in their past and present. This way, they will be forgiven and can be allowed into heaven.

Can you repent at the moment of death and still have the same Salvation as someone who’s been a Christian for many years?

You can repent on your deathbed, but theologians believe that your Salvation might not be the same as that of someone who has been a Christian for many years. However, Jesus, in Matthew 20:1–16, tells of a parable whereby workers employed by one man were paid the same wage even after some of them had worked longer than others. It goes to say that it does not matter when one repents, whether on their death bed or as a child.

It is important to note that there are rewards in heaven, and everyone will get a crown according to how they lived their lives while on Earth. As one who repents on their death bed, you might only receive one of the five crowns when you go to heaven.

How do you repent your sins and get Salvation?

The Bible gives step-by-step guidelines on how one can repent of their sins and get Salvation. You must first recognize that you are a sinner and have fallen short of God’s glory, as the Bible explains in Romans 3:23. Sinners who are remorseful and are compelled to repent must also understand that their sins cannot be forgiven if they have not accepted Jesus Christ. That is where confession comes in.

In the book of Romans 10:9–10, the Bible explains that for one’s sins to be forgiven, they have to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in their hearts that He was raised from the dead. This will guarantee you forgiveness from God.

Once one has accepted Jesus Christ, they are convicted of their fleshly sinful ways, and as time progresses, their thinking, attitudes, and way of life start aligning with God’s idea of how Christian believers should live.

So, when repenting, you will be required, as the sinner, to first accept and admit your sinful ways, just like King David did in 2 Samuel 12:13 after he had committed adultery with Uriah’s wife.

In 2 Corinthians 7:9–10, we are urged to grieve our sin, as it is sorrow over wickedness that leads to true Repentance. You must also agree that you wronged God.

You should therefore confess your sins to God and ask him to forgive you. You should be intentional about wanting to turn away from all your sinful ways like David in Psalm 32:5. You must then accept God’s forgiveness and thank him for forgiving you. You get Salvation when you profess your faith in Jesus Christ and turn away from your old ways.

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