Dear Pastor Andy, are there any examples in the Bible of sinners being forgiven without evidence of repentance?
No, there is no evidence of in the Bible of sinners being forgiven without evidence of repentance. There can’t be, for such is a contradiction against God’s plan for salvation. Actually, you know what, let me take that back. When Jesus died on the cross, He died for the sins of everybody. However, in order to receive this forgiveness and all that comes with it, there needs to be repentance on our part. Let me explain:
Being of God requires repentance, denial of self, and total submission (or surrender) to God through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, many seem to enjoy the idea of being saved without that part of the deal, and unfortunately also, many churches seem to promote it (see my post on the Abuse of God’s Grace).
Repentance is needed before we can turn, for we need to realize that we are in fact sinners. So we need to repent of our sins. But after the repentance, we need to also be baptized, as well as stop committing these sins. Granted, we do tend to slip on occasion, but that’s where the Lord’s mercy and grace step in, for when we get hit with the guilt, realize our sin, and repent again, He again forgives us for it and helps us to become strong against it.
The problem with not repenting is that it’s denying that we have sin. That doesn’t work though. Those who think this also often figure that when they accept Christ, not only are they forgiven, but that their sin is then justified. But God doesn’t justify sin, He justifies the sinner. You see, sin is poison, and justifying sin is to say that it’s alright to continue to do it…but it’s not! And one of the great many problems among many who claim the name of Christ today is unrepentant sin.
Keep in mind that Jesus’ ministry was “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand!” And in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus said that if one is to even SEE the Kingdom of God, they must first repent and be born from above, which comes with baptism.
But now to get back to your question, if one wishes to go to Heaven (or be of God), they must first recognize their need for forgiveness, and repent. If they don’t, then, according to John, they are saying that they have no sin, and are thus calling God a liar. And that’s no way to start an eternal relationship with the Lord.