2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

"Here in this part of the text, God sets before us this very foundational truth: that the only way to avoid perishing is to come to repentance." — Albert Martin (1:48)

Introductory Notes

What it means to perish

  • We have a responsibility to understand what the word "perish" means, and to know all of the frightening realities that the Word of God itself attaches to that word. (2:40)
  • To perish does not mean to cease to exist (2:55)
  • "To perish means nothing less than to experience in your own soul and body all of the horrible things bound up in biblical language such as this: outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 22:13); wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever (Jude 1:13); going into eternal fire where their worm dies not and their fire is never quenched (Mark 9:48); and the smoke of their torment ascends up forever and ever and they have no rest day or night (Revelation 14:11). Those are just some of the biblical descriptions of what it means to perish. It means to be cast away from the presence of God into a place of indescribable and eternal torment in body and in soul, and according to the words of our text, the only way to avoid that reality is to come to repentance." — Albert Martin (3:03)

Faithful preachers strive to make plain the subject of repentance

"If I as a preacher have any genuine concern for your never-dying soul—no matter what your age or background may be—then surely among the things that are non-negotiable with me would be that I would seek with all of my faculties and whatever life and strength God has given to make plain to you what it means to come to repentance and to beg and plead with you that you give yourself no rest until you come to repentance." — Albert Martin (4:40)

Scriptural Evidence for the Necessity of Repentance (6:50)

God has clearly established in His Word the absolute necessity to come to repentance if one would avoid perishing.

The only gospel authorized by Jesus Christ and preached by His apostles contains a clarion call to repentance.

I. The Gospel Preached by the Lord Jesus Christ (8:40)

Passages on the Great Commission (8:50)

These passages:

  • Have this in common: they feature the risen but not yet ascended Christ commissioning His disciples with the great task of taking the gospel to the ends of the earth
  • Form a wonderful mosaic of the task in its comprehensive scope
  • Provide their own distinctive emphasis and helpful contribution to the whole picture
Matthew 28:19-20 (10:35)
Matthew 28:19-20 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Distinctive contribution: the comprehensive task of the Great Commission

Christ charges His followers:

  1. To make disciples of all the nations
  2. To baptize those who have been made disciples
  3. To teach them to observe everything Christ has commanded
Mark 16:15-16 (11:50)
Mark 16:15-16 Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Distinctive contribution: the sphere, the message, and the results of the task of the Great Commission

  • The sphere: all the world
  • The message: the gospel
  • The results: some will believe, being saved; others will disbelieve, and be damned

Baptism does not save, but true faith results in open confession and identification with Christ and His people

John 20:21-23 (13:50)
John 20:21-23 Then said Jesus to them again, "Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained."

Distinctive contribution: the authority by which the task of the Great Commission is taken

The heart of their message: the announcement of sins forgiven or sins retained

In accomplishment of and in obdience to the Great Commission, the great issue will be the sin question: whether sins will be retained or forgiven

Acts 1:8 (15:20)
Acts 1:8 Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Distinctive contribution: the divine enablement of the task

What the Lord hints at in John 20:23 becomes explicit in Acts 1:8

Luke 24:44-47 (18:20)
Luke 24:44 And He said unto them, "These are the words which I spoke unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me." Then He opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures, and said unto them, "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

In this passage alone do we have any fullsome description of what the message of the gospel is to be (18:10)

The Lord gives us the broad categories of the content of the gospel (18:28)

Christ makes it explicit that the only gospel He authorizes contains a clarion call to repentance

3 Essential Categories of Truth Required in a Faithful Gospel Proclamation

Gospel ministers/heralds must proclaim these 3 essential categories (21:10)

  1. Truths concerning the cross of Christ (21:30)
    • The necessity of His death
      • You must tell people why Christ had to die
      • This brings us into the biblical teaching of sin
      • This requires teaching of the law of God—by which alone comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20; 7:7)
    • The nature of His death
      • Christ's penal, substitutionary satisfaction of God's law
      • The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29)
    • The benefits of His death
      • Christ died, the Just for the unjust, to bring men to God (1 Peter 3:18)
      • In Christ's substitutionary curse-bearing, God can be both just and the justifier of the one who trusts in Jesus (Romans 3:26)

  2. Truths concerning the bodily resurrection of Christ (24:38)
    • The fact of His resurrection
    • The meaning of His resurrection
      • He was raised on account of the justification of believers (Romans 4:25)
      • It validates His identity (Romans 1:4)
      • It makes Him a living Savior
    • The benefits of His resurrection
      • It secures the resurrection of all who are in Him (1 Corinthians 15:20-23)

  3. Repentance unto remission of sins (26:48)
    • What it means to repent
    • What are the actings of the soul in repentance
    • Repentance must be preached in His name—Luke 24:47 (30:40)
      • The phrase in His name means: against the backdrop of the revelation of all that God has said and done in the person and work of Jesus Christ (30:50)
      • Repentance must be preached in His name unto remission, i.e., preached against the backdrop of the gospel proclamation containing the truths of His cross and resurrection (31:50)

The gospel is not truly and faithfully preached without:

  • Truths surrounding the death of Christ
  • Truths surrounding the resurrection of Christ
  • A clear, clarion call that men must repent

"As surely as Jesus taught His disciples out of the Scriptures that in their gospel proclamation they are to herald the truths that cluster around His cross and around the empty tomb, they are also to herald the truth of the necessity of that repentance unto the remission of sins without which all men must perish." — Albert Martin (27:34)

"If I proclaimed from the Scriptures the truths that cluster around the cross of Christ, and proclaimed the reality, fact, benefits, and implications of the empty tomb—that He is a risen Christ—but I never once gave a clear, clarion call that men must repent—what it means to repent, what are the actings of the soul in repentance—and I held out forgiveness of sins without ever mentioning repentance, would I have preached the gospel according to Jesus? No!" — Albert Martin (28:04)

"One of the tragedies is, in our day there are people at least preaching something of the truths that cluster around the cross … and the truths clustering around the resurrection, but in a church in this very area, they're going to celebrate the open tomb by opening their new stage full of showmanship, to reach the lost, when all that showmanship is an evidence they've never repented of the world; they've dragged it into the church and sprinkled it with a few Jesus "tombs" and charades, and no call for a radical break with this idolatry of entertainment, but they've turned the church into a place of cheap theater. And the note of repentance will never be sounded in that context; it's as out of place as anything can be." — Albert Martin (29:06)

"The only gospel authorized by Jesus Christ is a gospel that contains a clarion call to repentance." — Albert Martin (30:20)

"If in our communication of the gospel to people we do not sooner or later articulate the absolute necessity of the death of Christ or the necessity and reality of the resurrection of Christ, we have not preached the gospel. The gospel is good news announcing the great indicatives of God's saving mercy. What God has done in Christ for sinners—that is good news. But when that good news has been brought, and the sinner asks the question, 'What must I do to enter into the benefits of what has been procured for sinners such as I am?' We are not to tell them to raise a hand and walk an aisle; we are not to tell them to make a decision; we are to tell them to repent and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. They are to repent, and we have a solemn obligation to call them to that repentance." — Albert Martin (33:05)

II. The Gospel Preached by the Apostles (34:00)

"Not only do we see in our Bibles that the only gospel authorized by Jesus Christ contains a clarion call to repentance, but the only gospel preached by the apostles also contains a clarion call to repentance." — Albert Martin (34:07)

Why is it so important to know what the apostles preached? (34:24)
Answer: "They were given that commission directly, and they are constituted the foundation of the New Covenant community of the church. Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), but the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and all that is built upon it is to be squared by apostolic doctrine, and so it is crucial that the gospel we preach is paralleled to the gospel preached by the apostles." — Albert Martin

7 Passages on the Apostolic Gospel (35:00)

  • Apostolic evangelism was expository evangelism (37:05)
    • They explained the message of the gospel out of the Scriptures
    • This is what Christ prepared them to do—He opened their mind to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45-47)
    • When they went out to preach the truths surrounding the death and resurrection of Christ and the clarion call to repentance, they knew what Scriptures they could use to expound these truths
Acts 2:37-38 (35:08)
Acts 2:37-38 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" Then Peter said unto them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter's first word in response to the guilt-stricken people asking what they should do is repent.

The people received the whole word—not just the word promising forgiveness, but also the word demanding repentance, and the word explaining the implications of visible, open, public identification with Christ and His people (e.g., counting the cost, being saved from this perverse generation—Acts 2:40).

The Significance of Baptism (38:25)

To be baptized is a call to believe on the Lord Jesus with a faith that is willing to be identified with Him before men.

"The quality of churches is often determined by the caliber of the gospel that births the churches. Churches are birthed by the gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15) … A defective gospel births defective churches." — Albert Martin (41:55)

Acts 3:14-19 (42:40)
Acts 3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord

"He promises no blotting apart from repentance: 'Repent that your sins may be blotted out.' No repenting, no blotting. Repenting, they are blotted—on the basis of the work of the One whom you murdered." — Albert Martin (44:10)

Acts 5:29 (44:30)
Acts 5:31 Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Jesus is a Prince and a Savior—He has a crown, as well as the marks of His death (45:20)

Acts 8:13, 20-22 (46:20)
Acts 8:21-22 Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
Acts 17:29-31 (48:45)
Acts 17:30-31 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to repent because He hath appointed a day in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.

"Paul says God now commands all men everywhere that they should all repent, why? Because a day is coming when the resurrected Christ will judge all men, and there is only one thing that will stand you in good stead in that day: have you truly come to evangelical repentance?" — Albert Martin (50:34)

"The command to repentance is not law, it is gospel! If God commands me to turn from sin with the promise that in turning from sin and to His Son, I shall have forgiveness, that is grace, not law!" — Albert Martin (50:58)

Acts 20:20-21, 24 (51:28)
Acts 20:20-21 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul had the same message for both Jews and Gentiles!

A gospel that faithfully proclaims the grace of God has two great pivots: repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus (53:35)

Acts 20:21—not just faith in Jesus, but faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ—the whole Christ in the whole of His messianic and redemptive identity! (55:56)

Acts 26:19-20 (55:15)
Acts 26:19-20 Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: but shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.

Here the apostle Paul reviews his entire ministry up to that point

Miscellaneous Quotes

Works are the Evidence of True Faith

"Paul's gospel was a gospel of works—he just had works in the right place. If you try to put any works between the guilty, Hell-deserving sinner, and the naked embrace of Christ, then Paul says, 'Dead works, no good; repent of them.' Then you say, 'I've repented and embraced God through Jesus Christ,' and he says, 'You bring forth fruits to prove it; if you don't, you're trying to fool yourself, but you're not fooling God.' And he said that was part of his gospel. That is what he preached, wherever he went: that men should repent and turn to God!" — Albert Martin (56:36)

The Apostasy of Modern Evangelicalism

"'Trust Jesus as your personal Savior'—how in the world did that term become acquainted with orthodox evangelical Christianity? … No, that isn't what Paul preached; he said, 'That they should repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance!" — Albert Martin (56:00)

"This idea that you just tip your hat to Jesus to get all fixed up, and then you can have all that the world has with a little of its grosser manifestations stripped away, and worship can be turned into a multimedia spectacular show—God have mercy on us. … Next week in our county, an evangelical church will show off its new stage and its multimedia presentations, all with the express purpose to reach the younger generation by means that they feel comfortable with. Another generation going to Hell with wild rock music dulling its conscience—now we'll give them some of that in the name of Christ. Entertainment crazy, visually numb so that they cannot think and speak; image bearers of God grunting nonsense. What a tragedy! And now we are going to pander that junk in the name of Christ!" — Albert Martin (57:08)

An Urgent Plea to Repent

"If from your heart you are persuaded, 'If I don't experience what Jesus said must be experienced, I am lost, and lost forever. If I do not do what the apostles said I must do if I'm to have remission of sins—namely, repent—it would be better for me that I had never been born.' Are you persuaded of that? If you are, then you will not give yourself any rest until you know that by the grace of God, you are a penitent, believing sinner." — Albert Martin (1:00:42)

Repentance is an Ongoing State, not a One-time Act

"[Repentance] is the basic difference between us here tonight. All of us are sinners; that's level ground. Some of us, by grace, are penitent, believing sinners. Notice I did not say, 'We have repented and believed'—pointing to an act. I'm pointing to a state of soul—we are penitent, believing sinners, for repentance and faith are not the acts of a moment, they are the acquisition of an attitude that will be with us until repentance is no more necessary and faith merges into sight. Until then, those on their way to heaven are penitent, believing sinners. And if you are not one of those, I pray God you will give yourself no rest until you become one." — Albert Martin (1:01:15)

An Example Prayer of Penitence; God's Attitude Toward Repentance, and Toward Those who Hinder it

"You go to God and say, 'O God, I've seen that there is no hope that I will ever know forgiveness of sins if I am a stranger to repentance. O God, show me my heart; O God, in grace and mercy, enable me to lay hold of the offered pardon in Your Son, to break off with every idol I have known—all the purposes to serve and worship myself, choosing my own standards and setting up my own gods—Lord, I turn from it all. And I want to be Yours—Yours entirely, Yours now, Yours forever.'

Do you know what happens in Heaven when that happens, when you read Luke 15, the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son? People so often say the angels rejoice. In each of those instances it was the seeking person who called others to rejoice with him. The shepherd gathers his friends and says, 'Rejoice with me; the sheep that was lost is found!' The woman who finds her coin gets her friends and says, 'Rejoice with me!' And it's the father who embraces the son, who says, 'We're going to have us a party; bring out the fatted calf, bring the best robe, bring the ring!' Jesus said, 'Likewise, there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents.' Likewise—in this manner! When the sinner repents, God gathers all the glorified spirits and angels and says, 'Rejoice with Me; another one has come home!' But what must God feel when people are told they can have pardon without repentance?" — Albert Martin (1:01:55)