Because of a false concept of God’s grace in salvation, the modern gospel has often been stripped of essential biblical elements that are considered incompatible with a message of grace. A false gospel, however, only produces false Christians, which is why such a large percentage of modern new “converts” will not be found even attending church within a few weeks after they “accepted Christ.” Moreover, many who do attend church are very often indistinguishable from the unregenerate population, possessing the same values and practicing the same sins as their conservative neighbors. This is because they don’t really believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and haven’t actually been born again.
One of those essential elements now removed from the modern gospel is the call to repentance. Many ministers feel that if they tell people to stop sinning (as Jesus did to the woman caught in the act of adultery), it will be tantamount to telling them that salvation is not of grace, but works. But this can’t be true, because John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul all proclaimed that repentance is an absolute necessity for salvation. If preaching repentance somehow negates God’s grace in salvation, then John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul all negated God’s grace in salvation. They, however, understood that God’s grace offers people a temporary opportunity to repent, not an opportunity to continue sinning.
For example, when John the Baptist proclaimed what Luke refers to as “the gospel,” his central message was repentance (see Luke 3:1-18). Those who didn’t repent would go to hell (see Matt. 3:10-12; Luke 3:17).
Jesus preached repentance from the start of His ministry (see Matt. 4:17). He warned people that unless they repented, they would perish (see Luke 13:3, 5).
When Jesus sent out His twelve disciples to preach in various cities, “They went out and preached that men should repent” (Mark 6:12, emphasis added).
After His resurrection, Jesus told the twelve to take the message of repentance to the whole world, because it was the key that opened the door to forgiveness:
And He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46-47, emphasis added).
The apostles obeyed Jesus’ instructions. When Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, his convicted listeners, after realizing the truth about the Man whom they had recently crucified, asked Peter what they should do. His response was that they, first of all, should repent (see Acts 2:38).
Peter’s second public sermon at Solomon’s portico contained the identical message. Sins would not be wiped away without repentance:
Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away (Acts 3:19a, emphasis added).
When Paul testified before King Agrippa, he declared that his gospel had always contained the message of repentance:
Consequently, King Agrippa, I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance (Acts 26:19-20; emphasis added).
In Athens, Paul warned his audience that everyone must stand in judgment before Christ, and those who have not repented will be unprepared for that great day:
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31, emphasis added).
In his farewell sermon to the Ephesian elders, Paul listed repentance along with faith as an essential part of his message:
I did not shrink from…solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:20a, 21; emphasis added).
This list of scriptural proofs should be enough to convince anyone that unless the necessity of repentance is proclaimed, the true gospel has not been preached. A relationship with God begins with repentance. There is no forgiveness of sins without it.
 Likewise, when God revealed to Peter that Gentiles could be saved simply by believing in Jesus, Peter declared to Cornelius’ household, “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what it right, is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:34b-35, emphasis added). Peter also declared in Acts 5:32 that God gave the Holy Spirit “to those who obey Him.” All true Christians are indwelt by the Holy Spirit (see Rom. 8:9; Gal. 4:6).