Nabeel Qureshi – a modern-day example of faith and steadfastness

On 16 September 2017, Nabeel Qureshi, a Christian author and apologist passed away a year after being diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. He was 34. An excellent overview of Nabeel’s conversion from Islam and his life’s work is outlined here by the Gospel Coalition. Eulogies in written form and a video from his memorial by his mentor and friend Ravi Zacharias give a powerful picture of Nabeel. 

When Nabeel got his diagnosis last August he posted the news on Facebook and I remember reading it in disbelief. “Not Nabeel”, I thought, “he is so young, he has a baby girl, he is doing so much for the kingdom”. As his Facebook post says, he shared his journey with the world via a YouTube vlog. This article is based on his courageous vlog and his sermons after his diagnosis among other sources.

The Bible gives us many examples of people of faith and steadfastness. The example that I think most closely resembles Nabeel, is Job. James 5:10-11, “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” In Job we see a man who was very blessed by the Lord and Satan accuses his faithfulness to God as merely coming from his blessings. Job 1:9-11, “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” Satan also accused Job of fearing God because he had his health, “Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 2:4-5). And as we read the book of Job, we know that he did not curse God even though he lost his possessions, children and health. Hence he is such a great example of faith and steadfastness for us. But how does that look like today? Do we see or know of such examples in the modern world? A tangible example, someone we know or know of, our own peer. Such an example is Nabeel Qureshi. 

Nabeel shared in sermons and talks that he gave after he received his diagnosis, that at the time of his diagnosis he was pursuing his dream PhD program at Oxford University, had a 1 year old daughter and a baby on the way, was a New York Times best seller and spreading the gospel throughout the world. He emphasised how well things were going for him, how everything he was doing was succeeding. But then he needed some tums for his stomach, that’s only how bad it had gotten and to find out it was stage 4 stomach cancer was a shock. To say that Nabeel was hated for leaving Islam is an understatement and when he announced his diagnosis he was told by some that he was cursed by Allah for leaving Islam. Some went as far as to claim that if he went back to Islam he would be healed. An enormous amount of pressure was applied but he stayed steadfast. He was steadfast when he first got his diagnosis until his death. In his vlog he explained why he wouldn’t go back to Islam regardless of what people were saying and he did this with love, gentleness and precision, like he always did. In one sermon, Nabeel stated that he believed God would heal him, as He’s a healer, but if not he doesn’t care if people laugh at him. Reminds me of Daniel Chapter 3, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were facing death by a fiery furnace for not worshipping king Nebuchadnezzar’s god, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:17-18). No, he would not turn away from the Lord.

As time went on and the treatment didn’t work, Nabeel held fast to his faith even when the healing didn’t come and the pain got progressively worse. In a sermon 3 months prior to his death he said, “I will not forsake His name in the face of any pain, in the face of any suffering, I will not forsake His name”.

Eating caused him pain, which, as something his friends attested to (one example is Abdu Murray’s piece here) that he really enjoyed prior to stomach cancer. An enjoyment he had was taken away, in fact his enjoyment turned to pain at every meal and the time it took to digest that meal. But he did not complain. In fact, he prayed to thank God on behalf of those who did not feel pain when they ate. At Nabeel’s memorial, his mentor, Jim Tour, who had been with Nabeel nearly daily in the months leading up to his death, spoke about how he didn’t complain about the pain (and that he did not deny Christ). That he only knew of it when the nurse would ask Nabeel to rate the pain he was having. He had been through multiple surgeries, including the removal of his stomach on top of the pain caused by the cancer and yet he didn’t complain. Didn’t say, “why me”?

The most God glorifying moment (in my view) of his vlogs was the one he announced that he was placed in palliative care. In it he said the doctors had given up on treating him and that he was told that his body was in the last stages of life. At the end of the video he prayed and asked for healing and then said, “If it’s not your will, if it’s not your sovereign will at the end of the day… I trust you and I love you anyway”. What an example of faith.

In one of his earlier vlogs Nabeel described a dream he had about Jesus and through it he realised that Jesus was cleansing/purifying him through his trial. I am reminded of James 1:2-4, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Nabeel’s trials that he graciously made public for us to witness and his example of firm faith and steadfastness is so needed today as it becomes more and more harder to see real faith in action. May we all also be faithful to our Lord. I am grateful that in the sermons and talks he gave during his final year of life he encouraged the Body of Christ to believe God’s word and to have faith in all of what it says.

Nabeel suffered through the loss of his family due to his conversion and suffered in the end due to cancer but he never wavered once in his faith and love for his risen Saviour. He remained steadfast under trial and received his crown from God. I will close with probably the most quoted Nabeel Qureshi quote, from his book “Seeking Allah, finding Jesus”, which fits his passing perfectly, “All suffering is worth it to follow Jesus. He is that amazing”.

Click here for the gospel. 


​Faith in humanity is misplaced faith

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States,  many in the African-American community trusted him to elevate their standing in America. Now Trump is elected president, many conservatives are hoping he will turn back the liberals and appoint conservative judges.

The Bible however says –  

Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD. … Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. (Jeremiah 17:5-7)

Here we see a blessing and a curse, a blessing for those who trust in God and a curse for those who put their hope and trust in man in the place of God. If we look for human saviors, then this curse comes to bring a barren reward.

  I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:1)

We must not look to human saviors. They are all pretend, because only the LORD is the savior. The futility of trusting in a human savior is dangerously disappointing. Consider how human leaders come into power with a surge of popularity, but then it fades and by the end of their term they have lowest rankings in polls.  People routinely look for a human savior and are routinely disappointed.

Just as Barack Obama disappointed so many, all human leaders fail to deliver. The bigger their promises the bigger their disappointment. If all humans are disappointing leaders, why would the next be different?

Thankfully there is a Savior who has fulfilled every promise for every soul who trusted in him. All the promises of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ, in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. 

To know more about the wonderful promises of God that never fail, click here.

    How did life begin?

    How did life begin? This is a question that intrigues scholars and the average person alike. Science has shown that the trillions of cells, that make up our bodies, are unfathomably complex with prescriptive information codes at their very core. This issue has two layers that point strongly in one direction: authorship

    Spontaneous generation

    In medieval times, it was commonly thought that rats, flies and other vermin spontaneously came into existence in certain conditions such as dark and moist cavities (rats) or meat (flies). This belief was handed down from pagan philosophy, centuries before. It was an ignorant and superstitious belief that was largely due to our ancestors’ lack of understanding of life cycles.

    Spontaneous generation was soon exposed as false by Rene and Pasteur who demonstrated the doctrine of biogenesis: that life comes from life. The idea that life could spontaneously arise in certain favourable conditions was disproved by robust experiments.

    But recently, atheists have revived the old superstition of spontaneous generation and given it a new name. But more about that in a moment.

    Chicken or egg? What came first?

    Life has many important components but DNA, RNA and proteins (made of amino acids) are essential. Without any one of these three components, life is impossible. DNA is the prescriptive information code that carries the instructions for the blueprint of life. Proteins perform many functions include reading, writing and proof reading DNA and RNA. RNA is a prescriptive information code that is less durable than DNA but more versatile. Proteins transcribe DNA instructions into the temporal code of RNA. A specific type of RNA is used by proteins to produce proteins. But a further type of protein is then needed to fold the proteins so they can function.

    Without DNA, there are no instructions or blueprints for proteins. Without RNA, the DNA instructions cannot be translated into proteins. Without Proteins, the DNA and RNA instructions cannot be read, replicated, executed or proof read.

    Subscribers to the newly revived superstition of spontaneous generation are trying to cloak superstition with science. Different ideas have been put forward. One idea is that life started when a strand of DNA accidentally formed. Those who push this view point out that proteins require DNA instructions. DNA is exceedingly more stable than RNA. Others argued that, DNA is too rigid, but RNA is more flexible and that is was what spontaneously strung itself together. While some others claim a protein world hypothesis, where a complex protein suddenly formed in a bubbling soup of amino acids. They would point out the RNA is far too unstable to support life.

    The fact is they’re all half right. DNA is too inflexible and cannot replicate itself. RNA is incredibly unstable and would not be able to remain stable for long enough to spontaneously generate into meaningful codes. Both DNA and RNA wouldn’t be able to replicate without proteins. And the protein world view is dead in the premordial soup, too, since proteins do not carry their own instructions. Protiens are completely dependant on DNA and RNA for instruction on how to form and function. They all have a deeper problem.

    Encoded Information

    The difference between life and non life is the existence of functionally specified complexity, which is information. This is not any type information either, but prescriptive information. The question “how did life begin?” can be phrased “How did all that prescriptive information get there?”

    The information encoded in DNA is incredibly complex. It is not merely functional or shannon information but a very specifically prescriptive information code. It has not only data but also metadata. In fact, there is more metadata than basic data. Much of the data is contingent on the metadata. This is apparent in DNA splicing. DNA splicing is a process where different parts of multiple genes will be cross read to reveal another code. For example, if you took the capitalised letters out of the following words, you would have “creation”: inCRedible Evidence ATtracts thInking Observers Normally. It can do this because of the metadata in the DNA that tells the protein how to read the code. This is just another reason why mutations can’t improve the genome overall, even when beneficial, since one improvement in one gene will inevitably destroy other genes.

    Authorship of life

    “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” (Heb 11:3)

    The best explanation for encoded prescriptive information is an intelligent author. Human experience, common sense and science supports this.

    The Bible teaches all things were made by the word of God (Hebrews 11:3; Genesis 1). So it is no surprise that there is a code in all living things and natural laws that underlie the universe. DNA is a written record of God’s prescription for living things. God made all things by His word and that is why it is so finely tuned!

    But something went wrong. We were separated from the Author of life. This led to decay and eventually death. The separation was caused by sin; we had disobeyed the Word of God and so we became separated from the Author of life.

    The Author of life

    Thankfully, the “Word became flesh”, the very flesh it created, “and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). He came to pay the penalty of our sin on the cross so that we could live in him, reconciled with the Author of lIfe. His name is Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

    People rejected and crucified “…the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” (Act 3:15)

    Christianity is counter-cultural

    Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15)

    The long awaited Olympics is celebrated in a dazzling display of decadent festivity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    As the sprinter chases down that gold medal, the athlete leaps his way up to his personal glory, and crowd roars in exhilaration, Jesus still says, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    People identifying as “transgender” are praised for their “bravery”, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    Masses march to parade their “gay pride” because they exalt their diversity, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    Margaret Sanger is celebrated as a feminist hero, although she claimed black people and Jews were human weeds, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    Planned Parenthood, who plan the killing of babies, are exalted among society, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    People despise creationists who believe God’s Word but exalt darwinists because they believe men’s opinions, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    People love man-made “peace” and “reconciliation” but don’t want peace with God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    People love guns and exalt themselves with them, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    A superstar exalted by his grovelling fans, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    The media adores a president working out a humanist peace treaty in an intractable conflict, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    The world will tell you that happiness is everything, ignoring the all-satisfying glory of God, but Jesus said, “For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

    “But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 

    What do you exalt that God sees as an abomination? What do you despise that God exalts?

    It is no wonder the mob who rushed against the church in Acts 17:6 claimed “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also…” The God of the Bible had chosen what the world despises to turn the world upside down.

    “so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:31)

    The New Religion [Part two]: Persecution


    The New Religion

    As I said in my previous post, there is a New Religion offending the separation of church and state. It has the four essential elements of a religion, which are answers to the following four questions every religion seeks to answer:

    1. who are we?
    2. how did we get here?
    3. what ought we to do while we are here?
    4. who is God?

    As it turns out, “Secular” humanism meets all the essential qualifications. It turns out that “secular humanism” is “secular” in name only. Its essential doctrines answer those questions. Secular humanism teaches that (1) & (2) we are “highly” evolved apes [Darwinism, Humanism], which explains who we are and where we came from. It also teaches (3) what we ought to while we are here, which is seek happiness and human advancement [Darwinism, Humanism, Environmentalism, Socialism and Capitalism]. Finally, it answers the question “Who is God?” in some rather lame kinds of ways.  It teaches that since there is no supernatural [atheism], therefore either the most evolved must be God, or the universe [mother nature] or aliens who must have seeded life on earth. Note that the definition of “religion” does not need to include a supernatural “god”, or that would exclude pantheism and animism. These explanations are really just pathetic attempts at reviving logically absurd pantheism, which claims the universe is a “god”. This is logically absurd because it postulates a self caused entity.

    Separation of Church and State

    The Separation of Church and State, was originally proposed by Christians, who wanted the state to stay out of Church affairs. Throughout history, “secular” authorities imposed religion on Christians as a test of loyalty, or tried to control Christian worship and define Christian faith. The Roman Emperors who burned Christians on stakes, fed them to lions, ants and a multitude of wild beasts for mob entertainment. When Christianity spread so fast that the Roman authorities couldn’t kill them fast enough, one Emperor tried to hijack the church through his “conversion” into and then control of the Church. So began the Church State religion that continued to burn Biblical Christians at the stake during the Reformation. Tired of persecution, some Biblical Christians decided a Separation between Church and State was needed to allow for the free exercise of religion. It seemed to work for a time.

    Then came along “secular”(in name only) Humanism. This new state sponsored, media hyped, intellectually elite, politically correct religion answers all four of those questions with its basic doctrines. No longer does the state wish to have an official church, but rather an ideology which replaces church with a new ‘secular’ religion. The institutions of society are now hijacked as places for religious education. In the school classrooms, mainstream media, and university lecture theatres, these doctrines are disseminated for the “non-experts” (laypeople). The Clergy of Academics are kept “pure” of nonconformists, since grant applications by scientists for funding are given special attention if they somehow promote socialism, darwinism or some other humanist rhetorical enterprise. In some cases, outright fraud are used to ensure the lapping up of doctrine by the non-elite devotees.

    Not only has it hijacked the state, but it also seeks to attack nonconformists. Think wedding cakes and bakers, gender identification and toilets, evangelism and so on. If you don’t want to participate in gay weddings or gender neutral toilets, you will be fined. If you don’t affirm a doctor’s right to kill unborn babies, you will be marginalised and called a bigoted misogynist. If you don’t believe the doctrine of Darwinism, they’ll call you an idiot and laugh you out of scientific grants till you career grinds to a sudden halt because science is funded by grants. If, however, you dare to think you’re persecuted, you must have the “Evangelical Persecution Complex”. They’ll laugh at you for thinking its wrong to be fined for being faithful to your conscience towards God. The New Religion sponsors attacks of Biblical Christianity and laughs at those who call them out.

    A History Lesson

    The Roman Problem

    If we look back into the last multicultural empire that sought to keep order, we find the Roman Empire. The Roman imperial rulers had territory covering all of the Mediterranean, most of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. With this huge territorial expansion, came a complex problem of maintaining unity among the various peoples, languages, religions and cultures as diverse as the Celts of Britain and Gaul, Berber of Africa and the Jews in the Middle East. The Romans were usually “tolerant” of other religions, but desperately needed a way of uniting the Empire behind a common religion. Their solution was the strange practice of Emperor worship. Every person in the empire could worship their own “gods” provided they sprinkled a pinch of incense to an image of Caesar (their emperor) and hailed him and the “gods” of Rome.

    The Jews  were exempt, providing they sacrificed daily for the Emperor in their Temple. Rome didn’t need an armed confrontation with the Jews. Also the Jews did not try to spread their religion and therefore weren’t likely to inspire other peoples refuse the worship of the Emperor.

    The Christians

    There was just one problem. A growing faith, called by their enemies “Christians”, would not sprinkle incense to Caesar. Not only were they unwilling to do this, but they also advocated their message and sought for others to join them in their pursuit of the Kingdom of Heaven. Their evangelism was spreading like a wildfire through the Roman Empire.

    One letter written by a governor of the region in what is now known as Turkey to the Emperor Trajan, explains the effect Christianity had on pagan worship. According to the Roman Governor of Asia Minor, the temples were nearly empty and the markets that once bustled around the temples, were now neglected.Christianity had almost wiped out Roman and Greek religion in what is now known as Turkey. Writing about 96-87AD, this Governor noted his confusion.

    I am very unsure… whether the name [of being a Christian] as such should be punished even if there is no crime, or whether only the crimes attributed [atheism etc] to this name should be punished. Meanwhile I have followed this procedure with those who are denounced to me as Christians. If they confessed I repeated the question a second  and third time and, moreover, under threat of the death penalty. If they persisted I had them led away to their death, for I had no doubt that, whatever it is was they confessed, their stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy certainly deserved to be punished.

    After describing his torture of two girls, the Governor then described the impact of Christianity on pagan worship in the province:

    For many of all ages, of every rank, and of both sexes are already in danger [of becoming Christian], and many more will come into danger. The contagion of this superstition has spread not only in the cities but even to the villages and to the country districts. Yet I still feel it is possible to check it and set it right. Of this I am sure, that people  are beginning once more to frequent the beautiful temples which have been also deserted, …so that fodder for the animals to be sacrificed, for which until now there was scarcly any demand, is being bought and sold again.


    Clearly, not only was Christianity seen as a threat to the unity and religion of the empire, but also the economy suffered when the religious sector was hit. Christianity swept through the Roman empire like a broom through a dirty room cleaning out the pagan filth in its wake and the Romans were not happy! Religion has always hated pure faith, and the old religion of Roman paganism was as state building oriented as the New Religion of Secular Humanism has become.

    Persecution ensued. Christians were beheaded, burned, fed to wild animals in public places for the amusement of mobs. One essential characteristic of the Roman persecution of Christians involved false accusations of infanticide, orgies and other sins (ironically things openly practised by Romans) yet as the Governor above acknowledged were really known for their love and purity.  The Romans were bent to ensure they kept their imperial authority and unity no matter what evil they had to do.

    All this was suffered because the early Christians understood that they could not betray Jesus by giving their loyalty to another. They certainly respected the emperor (Romans 16) but would not worship him (Exodus 20).

    Today, we live in a multicultural society, again. As in Rome, society is looking for unity in an increasingly fragile and divided world. Once again, the world is looking for a caesar to worship, something for unity. With the external threat of extremist religion and internal disunity, the world looks like the Roman empire as it sought to throw off the Gothic hoards without and remain united within. The solution to the modern unity problem is the New Religion, forced Secular Humanism. It boldly declares “you can believe what you like, but you can’t talk about it and live it out.” We are in the perfect melting pot for persecution.

    There is a way to respond to the New Religion. It is the same response that the early church used, which eventually brought down paganism in the Roman Empire without lifting a sword or shedding the blood of others. The Bible speaks of the “accuser” which means the one who accuses us of wrongdoing simply because of our faith. It tells us how to deal with him.

    How do we respond?

    We respond in the way the Bible declares:

    “And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
    (Revelation 12:10-11)



    Bibliography and Further Reading

    English Standard Version

    Eberhard Arnold “The Early Christians in Their Own Words” (1997) (Plough Publishing House)

    Bruce Shelley “Church History in Plain English” (1982) (Word Inc)

    God loves me just the way I am?

    God loves sinners so much he gave his only son to die for them to reconcile them to Him (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). This is an undeniable truth.

    Someone might ask, “So does this mean that God loves me just the way I am?” In response, let us make three points.

    (1) While God loves you “the way you are”, or rather in spite of the way you are, you cannot love him the way you are, because your sin interferes with your relationship. You need to be born again.

    (2) God’s love for you caused Jesus to come and die for you to change you. God doesn’t love “the way you are”, He loves you and wants to change the way you are so you can love Him. What we mean is that, God loves sinners and wants to remove their sinfulness to restore their relationship with Him.

    (3) God’s love for us is because God is love, not because we deserve love. We humans tend to think worthiness = love.This is human thinking.  God’s love is perfect and stems from his own nature not our deserving of it. He calls us to love the undeserving by loving your enemies, because He loves His enemies.

    Living our faith and sharing the Gospel

    Many love to quip “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”

    Now let me make two crucial points. (1) There is no evidence Saint Francis of Assisi said this (even if he did, it’s not scripture).

    (2) “Living out” the gospel is like eating a delicious meal (ie bread of life). Now, eating our delicious meal in front of others is not helpful to the hungry. It makes them want it, sure, but it is also heartless.

    At some point we must share our meal with the hungry. And the Bible makes it clear that the meal is shared through words because it is received by “hearing the word” (Romans 10). Jesus clarifies in John 6:63 that “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.” Another scripture says “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” We know that news is shared by words , whether audible or written. Preaching is the public proclamation of a message.

    What role does actions or “living out” the Gospel have then? It is to prove our words. When we share the gospel with words, we need to live it with actions, we demonstrate our truthfulness. If we eat from the same meal as them, they can trust us.

    Romans 10:13-17 “For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    Want to know how to share your faith? try learning the Romans Road.

    Should I repent?

    The first message recorded of Jesus in the New Testament is “Repent” (Matthew 4:17). If Jesus said “Repent” at the beginning of his ministry, why would many today cast aside the concept of repentance?

    Jesus goes further. In Matthew 11:20, He makes it clear that his mighty works of healing, deliverance and miraculous interventions were for the purpose of challenging people to repent. He admonished those who witnessed his mighty miracles because they did not repent – something that even Sodom would have done had they witnessed the same (Matthew 11:21).

    Throughout the gospel of Mark, “repent” is also recorded as Jesus’ first message.

    But, you may ask, if justification is by faith alone, wouldn’t repentance be adding works to salvation?

    Justification is by faith alone. Let’s not get confused though, justification is the first step of salvation before sanctification. Scripture has the answers.

    When the apostles were confronted at Pentecost by earnest souls seeking salvation who implored, “Brothers, what shall we do?”, Peter stepped forward – with fresh empowerment from above – and begins his reply with the word “Repent…” and follows up with “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.”

    Now before anyone accuses Peter of legalism, let’s remember this was after Pentecost and he was declaring the Gospel of Grace. Paul too repeats this word before the wise men of Athens, saying that God “commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).


    If we must repent of our sins, what is repentance? To answer this question, let us consider the starting point of sin.

    Sin begins when desire for it materialises. It is written, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

    The first stage of sinful desire is temptation. The second stage of sinful desire is sin, which occurs when sinful desire has produced sin. The third stage is death. But notice how it begins with “desire”.

    And 1 John 2:15 describes these further desires as “the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life”. These desires deceive us, as we look to them to satisfy our empty hearts. Hebrews 3:13 makes this clear:

    “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

    Sin’s deceitfulness is that it might fulfil us, but this is misplaced trust. If believed, it will harden our hearts to faith.


    Consider in the great “Faith Chapter” of Hebrews, how it says “By faith Moses… choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:24-26)

    The two opposite choices Moses was faced with, we are faced with today. We can choose between the “fleeting pleasures of sin” or the “reproach of Christ” that leads to a “reward”.

    The “fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:25) and the “deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13) is perfectly illustrated in the book of Proverbs, “Bread gained by deceit is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be full of gravel.” (Proverbs 20:17) The misplace trust in sin to satisfy will lead us to “fleeting pleasures” but “afterwards… [a] mouth full of gravel.” We need to abandon any hope in sin to satisfy.

    Since we are saved by faith alone yet commanded to repent, repentance must have something to do with faith. We can look deeper at its meaning.


    In Jeremiah, God declares, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD.” (Jeremiah 17:5) We shouldn’t trust in our own flesh because “The heart is deceitful above all things…”(Jeremiah 17:9). This is why “whatever does not proceed from faith is sin”(Romans 14:23). If repentance is turning from sin and sin is what does not proceed from faith, then turning to faith is repentance.

    Rather we are instructed (with a blessing), “Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD.” This is why “without faith it is impossible to please him”(Hebrews 11:6). When we turn from unbelief to trust God, we turn from sin to faith.

    Two key points arise in Hebrews 6:1, where “the elementary doctrine of Christ” is listed and begins with “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God”. If repentance is a work, how can we repent from “dead works”? Obviously, repentance, cannot be such a work. The second point is that Hebrews lists “repentance” together with “faith toward God”. To me it seems that when we repent of dead works (ie sin, which is failure to obey the law), we turn with “faith towards God”. It’s almost as if our departure from sin is closely related to, even a part of, “faith toward God”.

    I think we repent when we lose trust in the deceitfulness of sin, and instead put our trust in the faithfulness of God. That is essential to faith.

    The question is simple: Will you trust that lead weight of sin you’ve been clinging to or will you trust the life rope of Salvation to save you from drowning?


    Those who trust in Jesus are blessed with the joy of knowing God. This joy transcends our situation. As the Psalmist says, “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7) The joy of God is something that does not depend on our circumstances. This joy comes from the presence of God and has “pleasures forevermore”.

    “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11)

    But again the question remains will you choose those fleeting pleasures of sin or the eternal reward?

    Will your repentance be perfect immediately?


    When you spend something, you exhaust that thing. Say you have lots of energy, and you go for a run. That run would spend or exhaust your energy. Another example is a battery that still has charge, but if you spend its power, you will no longer have it. In both cases the energy or power has been exhausted on something. It doesn’t simply vanish!

    This is immediately relevant to us. We are building up something that is for us fearful, each day. When we sin, we store up wrath for ourselves. Wrath in this case means righteous anger that will be frightening on judgement day. The longer we go on, the more wrath is stored up that one day must be spent! and since it must be spent on us, we’re in trouble. Because God is just, he will expend that wrath. But there’s good news!

    The wrath of God against sin, which all mankind had earned, was utterly depleted, spent and exhausted on almighty Jesus! Someone strong enough to enter human flesh and receive the complete wrath of God, was found in Jesus! He did just that. If we trust in Jesus’ finished work, then we can receive this forgiveness. At the cross the wrath of God was spent or exhausted on Jesus, “for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1John 2:2) Spent means both fulfilled and completed. That it is completed means that God’s just wrath does not need to be against you, and fulfilled means that it was without any miscarriage of justice. Exhausted means used up, depleted, no more wrath against those who trust in Jesus.

    More fully, not only did God spend and exhaust the payment due to us (of wrath), Jesus gave to God, the Father, the obedience due from us, and the life we owed for using our God supplied lives for selfish pursuits.

    Therefore, whoever repents and believes in Jesus “will have eternal life.” Let go of the sins that sink you down into the dark place of death. Cling to Jesus, whose loving arms can draw you out of the darkness and into the light of life.

    But there is a warning:

    “how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?…”
    (Hebrews 2:3)

    “Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, “Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.”
    (Heb 10:28-39)

    Yet there is a promise:

    “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.””
    (Rom 10:8-13)

    The Lord Jesus Christ has brought us salvation by absorbing the righteous and just wrath of God to give us forgiveness. What a wonderful promise!