This shocking study of early church repentance likely flies in the face of everything you’ve been taught about repentance. For the first 150 years of the church, Christians believed in only one repentance. In this repentance, a person renounced his old life and all sin forever. God forgave all his sins. Then, he was to continue to live without sin until the day he died.
Until the second century, the church did not teach that a Christian who denied Christ, committed adultery, or any other sin, could repent a second time. The church did not readmit such believers, and doubted whether God would forgiven them. But with the increase of “lapsed believers”–those who denied Christ in times of persecution, then repented–the church began to investigate the idea of a “second, but only once repentance.”
This study makes naked the false, contemporary understandings of repentance. To say, “I repent everyday,” or, “I repented 20 years ago, and now I’ll go to heaven no matter what I do,” is utterly foreign to early church repentance.
Moreover, this sermon levels the idea of a “private, personal relationship with Jesus” apart from the church. Perhaps most importantly, it reveals that many Christians today have never truly repented.
Because repentance is the doorway to salvation, revival hinges on getting back to a correct understanding and practice of repentance. If you listen to this message and discover that you haven’t truly repented, please join us at the National Prayer Chapel this Sunday. We are eager to speak with those who will confess and repent publicly and begin a new life in Jesus. No turning back!