The right order of ‘what must we do to be saved’ is this, [1] CONFESS (that is, recognize you are a sinner) [2] receive FORGIVENESS; [3] REPENTANCE (turning away from sin, taking a new path, a new Way);  Consider the Prodigal Son story in Luke 15.  The father was watching and waiting for the son to come home so he could forgive him.  When the son ‘came to himself’ he recognized that he had sinned and needed to be delivered, which IS a personal confession since God is looking at our hearts.  He rose and went to the father and confessed out loud that “I am not worthy to be your son because I have sinned”.  His father totally ignored him and called for the fatted calf, because “my son was lost and now he’s found, he was dead and now he’s alive.”  Talk about forgiveness.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

When I was a kid I remember thinking that you had to repent (quit sinning) before God could or would forgive you.  That’s what caused me to be afraid every time I read this verse.  How CAN God forgive me, when I’m still a sinner?  I suppose everybody already knew this about getting forgiveness even before you repent, but for me, right now, right here, this is a great revelation to me.

Remission = forgiveness; in multiple different versions of the Bible, remission is DEFINED as forgiveness.

So maybe Acts 2:38 IS the right order for conversion if Peter just starts with the ‘repent’ because the men asking for help (in the preceding verses) have already experienced the change in their hearts which is evidenced by their confession of ‘what shall we do?’; which God sees, and then Peter says, “So turn around, be baptized .  .  . and receive the Holy Spirit.”

Often we run confession (recognition of our sin) together with repentance and then say, or assume, that we must repent BEFORE God will even consider forgiving us; when in fact, as soon as we recognize (in our hearts) that we have sinned, God forgives and we can repent.

Interpretation: you repent and be baptized in the Name of Jesus [for]  ‘because you have received’ the forgiveness of sins. (not [for] ‘so you will receive’ the forgiveness of sins because you have already repented.)

Interesting connection: remission also means that you have been delivered from some life-threatening illness, and you are ‘in remission’; hopefully for a long time.  In some sense we are ‘in remission’ from our life-threatening illness of Sin; but we are permanently delivered from it by Jesus’ Blood.

It’s all about the “Order of Conversion”


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