Foundational Doctrines of Christ 1

Repentance from Dead Works 

by Pastor John Hamel

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Live Table of Contents


Introductio  Pastors Are Called to Lead, Not Follow

Chapter 1:  Repentance First & Foremost

Chapter 1:  Repentance 101

Chapter 2:  All Old Testament Prophets Preached Repentance

Chapter 3:  John the Baptist Preached Repentance

Chapter 4:  Jesus Preached Repentance

Chapter 5:  All the Apostles Preached Repentance

Chapter 6:  Repentance Is a Gift in Manifestation

Chapter 6:  True Repentance Always Results in Three Things  




"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2)


The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, makes it perfectly clear that it is not possible to go on to spiritual maturity until we first lay a solid doctrinal foundation of basic Christian beliefs. Here, Paul makes perfectly clear what those basics are - repentance from dead works, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.


We will begin our six lesson study at the beginning of the list laid out for us by the Holy Spirit, "Repentance from Dead Works."


Repentance is a subject frequently overlooked in established religion today. Some would not dare to teach repentance for fear of offending their supporters. Some even dare to teach that because we are living in the Age of Grace, repentance is no longer even necessary. Both positions are extremely wrong and have extremely dreadful consequences.


Repentance has to do with turning away from sin, turning away from human efforts to earn a place in Heaven and trusting Jesus' Blood alone in order to gain access to Heaven. But before one can give up a lifestyle of sin, they must first swallow their human pride and admit they are a sinful person. This is why the Christian doctrine of repentance is not a popular subject in a society built upon human accomplishment, self-esteem, self-indulgence and personal achievement. 


However, the Scripture clearly reveals that repentance from dead, human works is indeed a Foundational Doctrine of Christ. It is not possible to go on to Christian maturity until one first understands the place repentance holds throughout the Bible. 


It is not possible to become a Born Again Christian until one is willing to repent of their former sinful lifestyle. 


Once Born Again, it is impossible to continue in God's grace unless one continues in regular, oftentimes daily, repentance.


Pastors Are Called to Lead, Not Follow


Dr. Lester Sumrall once aptly said, "The shepherd who follows the sheep ends up with doo-doo on his feet."  Dr. Sumrall was referring to the unnecessary trouble Pastors and spiritual leaders make for themselves and others when they do what the people want them to do and not what the Bible says they are to do. 


I was once standing in the parking lot talking casually with a Pentecostal Pastor after one of his services. I was sharing with him my thoughts concerning the importance of preaching inspirational messages on Sunday morning and informational messages on Wednesday evening.  Using a fishing analogy I put it like this, “We are to catch them on Sunday and we are to clean them on Wednesday.”  


The Pastor immediately stiffened and became highly defensive as he shot back at me, “Oh, no, I don’t clean them. That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.”  He later then said to me, “I am not called to correct anybody at anytime for anything.”


How shocking and distressing that this popular Nashville-based Pastor, who had been preaching and teaching the Pentecostal Gospel for well over 35 years, would make such an irresponsible statement.  Apparently he had never read, or was simply ignoring, all of the Apostle Paul’s admonitions to Ministers to be continually on the alert as to where their people needed correction.


“Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as Preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:2 Amplified Bible)


The Pastor’s job description is very clear in the Bible. One of the primary things he is called to do is to correct people when they are clearly wrong, and to encourage their repentance.  


I had opportunity to be around this Pastor and to even preach for him occasionally.  I soon discovered that because of his weak spirit, his people were weak-spirited as well.  His congregation had some of the worst problems with fornication and adultery, and its consequences, that I have ever seen.  


This Pastor allowed his people to live openly in sin and to serve in Ministry positions such as worship leaders, evangelism, altar workers, ushering and even to serve on his Church board. He and his wife often had lunch with a wealthy Church member and her known adulterous lover. The adulterous woman's husband was also a member of this Pastor's Church. 


It is no small wonder that this backslidden, Pentecostal Pastor refused to correct people when they were wrong.  He refused to repent when he himself was so obviously wrong. 


Sadly, the adulterous woman and her husband lost a very profitable business and their home as the laws of sowing and reaping finally caught up with her sinfulness.  This could all have been avoided had the Pastor only encouraged her to repent before having to pay such an extreme penalty for her sin. Rather, he literally cooperated with it, condoning it, and in doing so, encouraging it.  He was afraid if he corrected her, he would lose her generous tithe.  As a result of his selfishness and disobedience, this woman ended up giving up everything over one thing. The Pastor ended up losing her generous tithe anyway. Talk about stupidity gone to seed.


Fortunately, the adulterous woman's marriage was spared when I became involved, encouraging her and her adulterous lover to break it off and repent immediately before she lost her marriage and, even worse, someone died. They broke it off. All they needed was for someone with a spiritual backbone to tell them what they needed to do.  


I then personally taught the woman how to use her authority in order to withstand the spirit of lust and adultery that was consuming her. Sometime later I checked with her and she was still using her authority in Christ and staying clean of those evil spirits.  This was the Pastor's job, but in his fear, rebellion and selfishness he abdicated his Biblical responsibility and did what was easiest for him, not what was best for her and her marriage.


Most Christian people do not live in sin because they are rebellious.  They live in sin because they are ignorant of their authority in Christ.  They do not know how to resist temptation and evil spirits because the average Pastor does not teach his congregation how to resist temptation and evil spirits, how to live in authority over sin and how to repent immediately when they make a mistake. 


Chapter 1:  Repentance First & Foremost


“…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.”  (Acts 20:20-21)


Notice Paul made reference to the fact that he preached repentance first and faith second. 


It is just not possible to experience the supernatural when you refuse to repent if you have been living with sin in your life.  The Apostle Paul knew this, which is why he encouraged people to repent before God for their sin before attempting to release faith for salvation or to have their needs met. 


Repentance is a subject frequently and deliberately overlooked by Christianity today.  


Actually, it has become quite popular in this day to preach that it is not necessary for believers in Jesus Christ to ever repent of their sins because “sin is automatically forgiven.”  I call this doctrine of demons “Hyper-Grace.”  You can read more about this deadly doctrine in our JHM Online Book “The Dangerous Error of Hyper-Grace.” 


Some preachers, such as the backslidden Pastor I mentioned above, are actually more afraid to offend their hearers by talking about repentance than they are of offending God by refusing to talk about it.  


Dr. Billy Graham said, "In this society we are concerned about not offending anyone but God."


Dr. Graham also said, "My heart aches for America and its deceived people. But the wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance."


America, in her wealth, has become unconcerned about sin and has become self-centered and self-indulgent. 


America needs to hear the message of repentance now more than any other time in her great history.  However, it is going to take those who understand the Foundational Doctrine of Repentance to pray that Ministers would see the need to repent first themselves and then to start forcefully preaching that others repent, as well.


Dr. Kenneth E. Hagin said, "The only thing that can save America from the judgment of God is genuine repentance."  He also said, "There is nothing more lacking in the Charismatic movement today than commitment, consecration and respect for the things of God."


Recently I had an urgency to pray in the Holy Spirit. It seemed as if God was trying to get something across to me.  I no sooner began to pray in the Holy Spirit than the interpretation came as follows.  "Given the present condition of your country and the world, it is selfish to not make the subject of repentance the focal point of all your preaching and teaching. Many will answer to Me for this."


Repentance 101 


Repentance simply means “to regret having done wrong” and “to turn around and change directions.”  


The word “repentance” is used 101 times in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. 


Repentance must hold a pretty important place in the mind of God for it is the first Foundational Doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews chapter six. 


Although "Repentance 101" is one of the last things we hear taught from Christian pulpits today, if at all, according to the Holy Spirit and the written Word of God it should be the very first thing taught.  


When the Holy Spirit is moving upon a lost individual to come to Christ, or a saved individual to fix an area of sin in their lives through repentance, it is because He is wanting to protect them, to provide for them and to perform supernaturally for them.  


If you, the reader, ever feel an impression to repent for any reason, do so immediately. It is the Holy Spirit of God drawing you and you may not be given another such opportunity.


"No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44)


Planet Earth is full of sick, suffering lost individuals who continue to ignore the drawing of the Spirit of God.  


Planet Earth is also full of sick, suffering Christian people who continually ignore the Holy Spirit telling them to repent for their sinful lifestyles. You know when you are in sin and you know when the Holy Spirit is calling you to repentance. To harden your heart is to potentially miss your miracle.


Hell is full of people who continually ignored the Gift of Repentance when the Holy Spirit was offering it to them and calling them to salvation in Christ alone. Many had good intentions of getting right with God through Christ at a later date, only to wait too long. The road to Hell truly is paved with good intentions. 


Judging by the immense popularity of the Singaporean Hyper-Grace Preacher, one tends to think that the road to Hell is also paved with good conventions.  


If you, the reader, have not yet repented for your sinful past, accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you would be well-advised to do it now.  No one ever promised you a tomorrow.   


Heaven will also be full of people who, once they were saved by Jesus, refused to live a life of obedience to Him, refused to repent when they were wrong and thereby had rewards stripped away as opposed to given at the BEMA Judgment Seat of Christ. We will be studying this judgment in our final lesson.




Chapter 2:  All Old Testament Prophets Preached Repentance


“Yet the Lord testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”  (2 Kings 17:13)


Notice the Lord said “all” of His Prophets and Seers preached repentance.  


New Testament Prophets today are still called to preach the message of repentance because sin is still a major issue.  Human nature has not changed and the power of sin has not changed. 


Some New Testament Prophets and Preachers, Pastors included, would not dare to preach Christ’s message of repentance because it makes the sinners with the most money the most uncomfortable and angry.


John Wesley, the 18th Century English Evangelist, once said, "If you aren't getting people saved, or at least making them angry while you're trying, you are not doing your job." 


“If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)


When nations and individuals are in trouble, no longer receiving God's Blessing from Heaven and even being judged, the solution comes through humility, prayer, seeking God's face and turning away from wickedness. 


That is just another way of describing the power of human repentance.




Chapter 3:  John the Baptist Preached Repentance


“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1-2)


Just like all the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist preached repentance.  


Just like the Apostle Paul, John preached repentance towards God first and experiencing the Kingdom by faith second.  


Repentance must always come first in order for faith to be made effective.


John the Baptist’s style of preaching was as unpopular in his day amongst the impenitent populace and compromised religious and political leadership as it is today amongst the same.  


Irregardless, it is as necessary to obey God and preach repentance today as it was then - even more so. 


Why is this true?  


It is true because there are more people in the Earth today. Therefore, there is more sin in the Earth today.  


Do not miss your miracle because you are too prideful to repent where you know you have been wrong. 



Chapter 4:  Jesus Preached Repentance


“From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)


Jesus set the example for us as both Christians and Ministers, explaining that we should do all things as He did things.  Jesus Christ was the greatest Preacher of the Foundational Doctrine of Repentance to ever walk the Earth, and we must follow His example.


"For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily I say unto you the servant is not greater than his Lord; neither He that is sent greater than He that sent Him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them." (John 13:15-17)  


If Jesus preached repentance, all Preachers must preach repentance. Ministers who avoid the subject of repentance are denying and defying the Master Jesus. Jesus said if we deny Him in any area, including repentance, He will deny us when we face Him. 


"But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in Heaven. Think not that I am come to send peace on Earth: I came not to send peace but a sword." (Matthew 10:33-34)  


Without repentance it is absolutely impossible for people to have faith for any of the things of God.  


Whatever people need, or whatever people need to be rid of, will not be made manifest if weak-spirited, disobedient Ministers refuse to encourage people to repent for their sins.


Refusing to repent blocks the spout where God's help comes out.    


For three and one-half years of public Ministry, Jesus never stopped preaching the Foundational Doctrine of Repentance.


“…For I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13)


“I tell thee, Nay: But except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:3)


Ministers who refuse to preach repentance to God's sheep will one day stand before the Great Over-Shepherd, Jesus in judgment.  


These disobedient Ministers will face His solemn charge of “You refused to preach and teach My Foundational Doctrine of Repentance. You deliberately handed My sheep over to the wolf in your weakness, fear and disobedience.  All the good you have done will now count for nothing.”


“…and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered.” (Ezekiel 3:20)


Not only do Preachers who stubbornly refuse to preach the Foundational Doctrine of Repentance run the risk of losing their rewards in Heaven, they also run the risk of losing their Ministries here on Planet Earth. 


"Woe be unto the Pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture! saith the Lord ... Behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord ... And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 23:1-4)




Chapter 5:  All the Apostles Preached Repentance


“He called unto Him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; … And they went out, and preached that men should repent. … And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.” (Mark 6:7, 13)


Here again, as with all of the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist and the Master Jesus, the Apostles of Christ first preached that men should repent. Then, and only then, did the supernatural occur.  


Jesus knew what He was doing when He taught His Apostles to preach repentance first and then to release faith for the supernatural second. 


Five times in the first eleven chapters of the Book of Acts, immediately after Christ's ascension, the Apostle Peter preached a bold, strong message of repentance with supernatural results. (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:1-18)


Listen to what the Apostle Peter also wrote in his second Epistle.  


“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.” (2 Peter 3:9)


Here again we have clear Biblical evidence of the fact that repentance towards God must always come before exercising faith for whatever one needs from God.


As we have already seen, the Apostle Paul, although not one of the original twelve Apostles of the Lamb, said that everywhere he went preaching the Gospel he preached the doctrine of repentance first and the doctrine of faith second.


“…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.”  (Acts 20:20-21)  


The Apostle Paul also wrote the text Scripture from which we are taking these lessons.


"Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2)



Chapter 6:  Repentance Is a Gift in Manifestation


“Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Hebrews 12:16-17)


If repentance was something that could be worked up in the flesh, Esau would have worked it up.  He tried to work it up with many tears but he just could not do so.  


Although he desperately tried, Esau could "find no place of repentance.” 


Why could Esau find no place of repentance?  The answer is because repentance is not something we work up ourselves.  Repentance is a gracious gift sent to sinful individuals by the Spirit of God.  It is not something a sinful person conjures up apart from the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit.


“Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)


Repentance is a God-given gift. He sends it to the wayward out of His goodness


Repentance is imparted to individuals supernaturally when the Gospel is read, preached or heard in other ways.  Isn’t it wonderful that God would do that?  He could take a Jolly Green Giant stance and start throwing lightning bolts from Heaven, but instead He grants the wonderful Gift of Repentance. 


Repentance is a supernatural impartation that comes directly from the Throne of Holy God. Do not ignore or override it when it comes, for it  may not come again.


“And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” (2 Timothy 2:24-26)


So, it is clear from the Scripture.  Repentance comes as a result of God, in His goodness, sending it to those who are in sin. This is why it is a gift.  


Repentance cannot be conjured up.  Repentance cannot be earned.  Repentance cannot be purchased.  Repentance is a gift given only by the Spirit of God.


The Gift of Repentance is imparted individually and corporately to the sinful.  It can come as the Holy Spirit convicts the individual, one-on-one.  It can also come through the public proclamation of the Gospel corporately, to entire congregations, as the Servant of the Lord humbly and boldly encourages those who are in sin to get right with God.  


When the Gift of Repentance comes and the sinful yield to it, confessing their sin to God, He offers immediate forgiveness.


"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1 John 1:9) 


Forgiveness does not come as a result of listening to the extremely popular, yet extremely heretical teaching of Hyper-Grace.  


The popular Hyper-Grace Teacher from Singapore says, “God does not send repentance. If you think He’s calling you to repent, it’s really the voice of condemnation and you should ignore it. God does not send repentance to anybody.  He doesn’t need to because all sins are automatically forgiven the moment they are committed. To confess one's sin to God is an act of unbelief."


Of course, the popular Hyper-Grace Teacher gives little or no Scriptural support for this doctrine of demons. What Scriptural support he does offer is always deliberately spun and twisted right out of its original context.  The only reason he gets away with it is because of America's huge problem with Bible-illiteracy.  Unless the Singaporean Hyper-Grace Preacher repents himself, he will soon be judged and very possibly even removed from the scene as others have before him.


To listen to the popular lie of Hyper-Grace is to submit oneself to a death sentence.  


When God sends the Gift of Repentance it is not to condemn anyone for any reason.  It is to convict one of their sin in order that they would repent, enabling God to protect them and provide for them once again.  


Believers in Jesus Christ absolutely must come to an understanding of the difference between condemnation and conviction.


The devil’s condemnation is intended to bring the individual down and under, to destroy them.


The Holy Spirit’s conviction is intended to bring the individual up and over, to preserve them, through repentance.


In Heaven everyone will be forever rejoicing, “Thank God that He granted me the Gift of Repentance when His Word came to me and I had enough sense to yield to it!”


Believers in Jesus Christ must understand that repentance for sin always comes before faith for the miraculous, for the Holy Spirit will not go where the Blood of Jesus has not cleansed. 


Remember, repentance first.  Supernatural manifestations of the Holy Spirit second.



True Repentance Always Results in Three Things 


First, true repentance will result in a declaration of one's sin.  King David declared and confessed his sin before Holy God.


"For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin." (Psalm 38:17-18)


Some of the biggest saints in the Bible started out as the biggest sinners who had enough sense to confess their sin when the Gift of Repentance came and admit they needed forgiveness.


Second, true repentance will result in desertion of one's sin.  Desertion means "to turn, to run from and to forsake." 


"He that covereth his sin shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)


Here again, King David was wise enough to understand that true repentance would result not only in a declaration of sin, but in a turning, a running from and a forsaking of sin.


Third, true repentance will result in a change of direction.  After all, that is what repentance means.  It means "to turn around and change direction."  


It was not enough for the Prodigal Son to simply get up out of the pig pen.  He needed to declare that he was in the pig pen.  He needed to desert the pig pen and he needed to change direction, go home to his Father and ask forgiveness for choosing the pig pen. (Luke 15:11-32)


"Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:7)


Almighty God does not do things the way organized religion tries to tell Him to do things.  God requires repentance, not penance.  One cannot make up for all the wrong things they have done in life, but they can repent and receive forgiveness.  


Yield to repentance when it comes.  


Repentance is a wonderful Gift of God.


In our next lesson on Foundational Doctrines of Christ we will study "Faith Towards God."   

Be blessed ... John & Barbara Hamel



How to Be Born Again (Receive Christ as Your Savior)


How to Receive The Holy Spirit & Power


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