Early Church Repentance

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!

  • Bill Owen

    Dear Alexandra. Thank you for your extensive research into the OT, NT, and especially the teachings and practice of the early church regarding repentance. Please correct me if I am wrong…. In this you show that the normal Christian experience should be that we repent but once and then we should live sinless lives. We choose not to deny God partly through our love for God and partly through our fear of being condemned and then punished in fires of hell. Then you show that the early church started to compromise and allow for a second repentance, and thus this led up to the contemporary church allowing daily repentance and thus many professing Christians have a casual approach to sin and show little live for God or fear of punishment. Have I understood correctly? So do you believe that a Christian cannot repent a second time? Do you believe that there is no second forgiveness? Please advise me. Thank you. God bless you. Bill Owen

    • Alexandra Ghaly

      Hi Bill, That is a great question! We answered it in detail on today’s broadcast, “Fear Sin.” We hope that it encourages you to persevere in holiness with Jesus, and we look forward to hearing from you again!