All this controversy about the purity and clarity of the gospel of eternal salvation may seem to be “nit-picking,” but I am pleading for the lost person who has been blinded by a faith-plus-works salvation message just as I had been for years. I intend for this study to be a declaration of the importance of getting the accurate Biblical saving message to the lost in a clear and understandable manner. So many are religious and sincere but have not believed in Jesus in order to have eternal life. The misuse of repentance is only one of many issues that Satan uses to blind the lost. He is content for people to do good works and try hard as long as they do not believe in Jesus for eternal life, or even if they believe in Jesus plus something else. Satan’s ministers are sometimes “ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:3-4; 13-15). This passage tells me that we can sometimes find Satan's ministers in church pulpits, and that they are teaching man's righteousness, not Jesus’ finished and perfect work.
“Repent and believe” or “turn from your sins and believe” is a commonly heard “gospel” message today. It is confusing as the unbeliever does not quite know how much of his own goodness is required. Many have repeatedly tried and failed, then finally “threw out the baby with the bathwater.” I have shared the John 3:16 message to many who had already wisely rejected the false message and then when they realized that salvation was by grace through faith, they believed in Jesus and received the gift of eternal life. Some of these have gone on into obedient living but all who believed in Jesus will live eternally with Him. This erroneous message confuses the unsaved and hinders reproduction of the believer. It is contrary to God's word.
The message of Acts 16:31, is “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” If we must do more of ourselves in order to merit our eternal life, we must discard this verse and many more which state that belief/faith in Jesus is the means for us to receive eternal life. Repentance does not necessarily enter into the event of a person believing in Jesus and being saved, but it is an important doctrine to apply when a believer becomes involved in a pattern of unconfessed and unjudged sin.
May we consistently speak the good news of eternal salvation to the lost in a clear, accurate, and loving manner. This is one good way to partially fulfill the mandate of Matthew 28:19, 20, and to glorify Jesus by bearing much fruit (John 15:8).
This study is not meant to be the “last word” on this topic as we all have much to learn of God’s holy word. It is likely that this study will be revised and added to in the future. We have concentrated largely on the word-study aspect of the teaching as we consider it fundamental and it has frequently been somewhat neglected in other studies. For more on the subject which is not covered here, again we recommend some of the Bible studies at the websites mentioned in the text and footnotes; especially the study at www.faithalone.org/bookstore/ten-sample.pdf and the 3-part study mentioned at the end of footnote 4.
 The only Bible verse which uses the term “repent and believe” is Mark 1:15. The context is the exhortation to believe the “gospel of the kingdom.” This was a message to national Israel and it had to do with the earthly kingdom offered to them and not to eternal life. The Jews wanted the Kingdom but the leaders rejected their King. For more on this verse please see footnote 23 and the associated text.